“If you forget me” is one of the most famous poems by Pablo Neruda. Despite it was written around a century ago, the poem is still very popular nowadays. As love is a never ending topic, “If you forget me” with the main themes of passionate love and sacrifaction has become a living moral for many people. The sentimental sonnet is the confession of a man to his lover, saying how much he loves her and willing to sacrifice for her.
The poem opens with a very short stanza of two lines. The use of punctuation immediately creates a dearing atmosphere and brings the audience closer to the speaker.
A list of evocative objects follows in the second stanza. “Silver moon”, “red branch”, “slow autumn” bring up a sense of peace and calm. “Fire”, “impalpable ash”, “wrinkle log” evoke something passionate and strong, yet soft and tender. All of them remind the speaker of his love, all of them just to show how much he loves her: “As if everything that exists/ Aromas, light, metal/ Were little boats/ That sail/ Toward those isles of yours that wait for me”.
Pablo uses metaphor to describe his lover. She is referred to as “isles” that are waiting for him.
He hopes that she loves him just as he does and will always be there for him. Describing the speaker’s feelings as “little boats” that are floating toward her isles, Pabblo has created a beautiful and unique imagery. The rhyme of the poem suddenly changes at the beginning of the third stanza, creates a swift in tone of the speaker. “If” is repeated at the beginning of the next three stanzas, followed by presuppositions about his girlfriend not loving him anymore, then his reaction will be definitive. If she stops loving him, he will do the same.
If she forgets him, he will forget her first. If she leaves him, he will has left already. It might sound apathetic at first, but decoding the use of metaphor in the sixth stanza reveils how much his love is for her, underlying within his bitter tone. He himself is described as a tree. In the heart are his roots. All the love will go there and he is living from it and because of it. Without this love he wouldn’t be himself. The last metaphor is that he is describing other girls, potential girlfriends, as another land.
He will seek there if his present girlfriend will forget him. this is significant because the hardest thing to do is to let the person you love go and face the truth. The speaker, promising himself to move on, has shown that his love for her is stronger than any spoken words. The last stanza is probably the most important one, where his deepfelt sentiment is shown clearest. Very short lines are put at the beginning of the stanza. Punctuation once again has immediate impacts on the tone and mood.
Despite his lover’s betrayal, at any moment if she changes her mind, he will always be willing to take her back again, as if they have never been detached. Determination is expressed by the quick pace, whereas love and caring is shown in longer lines. Pablo Neruda has composed a stunning piece of his most sincere confessions. A variety of language techniques is used throughout the poem. Imagery, connotation and metaphor are the key devices that contribute to the success of “If you forget me”. The poem leaves the audience a lingering feeling after they have long finished reading it.