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The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot’s dread, fury of blind driver,
turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!

In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!

I made the wall of shadow draw back,
beyond desire and act, I walked on.

Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,
I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.

Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.

There was the black solitude of the islands,
and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.

There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.

Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!

How terrible and brief my desire was to you!
How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.

Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,
still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.

Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,
oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.

Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
in which we merged and despaired.

And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.

This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing,
and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!

Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,
what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!

From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.

You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.

Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,
lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
which the night fastens to all the timetables.

The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!

Short Poem Analysis

"A Song of Despair" by Pablo Neruda is a poignant and evocative poem that delves into themes of love, loss, and emotional pain. Through its vivid imagery and expressive language, the poem captures the intensity of heartbreak and the depths of sorrow experienced by the speaker.

The poem begins with the image of a night filled with stars, which is often associated with beauty and wonder. However, the poem quickly transitions to the speaker's emotional turmoil, describing the sea as "bitter" and "infested" with fish that resemble knives. This stark contrast between the natural world and the speaker's emotional state creates a sense of discord and unease.

Neruda employs sensory and tactile imagery to convey the speaker's anguish. The phrase "rusted on your tongue" suggests a physical sensation of pain, as if the speaker's heartbreak has a tangible presence.

The central metaphor of the "dark hazel of melancholy" symbolizes the emotional weight and darkness that the speaker feels. This metaphor connects the speaker's inner emotional landscape with the natural world, blurring the line between external and internal experiences.

The poem's tone alternates between moments of lament and moments of yearning. The speaker expresses a desire to escape the pain through dreams and death, seeking relief from the intensity of their emotions.

The final lines of the poem, "Through vaulted ocean and washed sky / your name washed over by the rain," emphasize the idea of purification and renewal through the cleansing imagery of rain. This suggests the possibility of healing and transformation over time.

"A Song of Despair" is a raw and emotionally charged exploration of the depths of sorrow and heartbreak. Through its vivid and sensory language, the poem evokes the intensity of the speaker's pain while also suggesting the potential for renewal and healing. It is a poignant reflection on the complexities of human emotions and the impact of love and loss on the human spirit.

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