Study Guide

Love Sonnet 17 Darkness

By Pablo Neruda


For a poem about love, there is plenty of darkness floating around. The speaker says that he loves his paramour the way "certain dark things" are loved. He also describes how a "quickening aroma" lives "darkly" inside of him. This is all very strange, and it makes us think that there is something dangerous or mysterious about the speaker’s love. Pretty edgy.

  • Line 3-4: The speaker loves his paramour the way that "certain dark things" are loved; we get the feeling that this means he loves her secretly (he does say "in secret" after all), in a way that might not be acceptable to everyone else. The word "as" (como) tells us that this is a simile that compares two disparate things.
  • Lines 5-6: The plant’s light is "hidden within itself," which is a clever way of saying it cannot be seen (it's in the dark, if you will). The "plant that does not flourish" symbolizes something or someone whose true beauty is not visible on the surface, but is hidden away on the inside.
  • Lines 7-8: The speaker says an aroma "lives darkly" inside him. This means that the aroma is hidden inside of him and can't be seen by others. (Again, aroma is a metaphor for the speaker’s feelings as a result of his paramour’s love; love is like an infectious smell that he carries around with him.)