“But when I hold you I hold everything that is—/ sand, time, the tree of the rain,/ everything is alive so that I can be alive:/ without moving I can see it all:/ in your life I see everything that lives.” ~
At only 19 years old, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda published his second collection of poetry, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada), quickly establishing his place in the literary canon. His erotic and often explicit works celebrate sex, love, desire, and longing — amorous odes he equated with the forces of nature, influenced by the wilderness of his home country. In Neruda’s poems, the beaches, fields, sky, and seasons are active agents of love, underlining its cyclical nature. In celebration of Nerda’s 110th birthday and the torrid heat ahead of us, we’re sharing fragments of Neruda’s poetry that capture the passionate, fleeting nature of summer romance.
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