“Tonight I Can Write” was published in 1924 in a collection of poems by Pablo Neruda titled Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada. The collection was translated into English in 1969 by W. S. Merwin as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. Although some reviewers were shocked by the explicit sexuality in the poems, the collection became a best seller and was translated into several languages. Marjorie Agosin writes in her article on Neruda, “One of the reasons that Twenty Love Poems draws the reader so powerfully is the sobriety of expression and the economy of the images.” René de Costa in his article on Neruda notes that all the poems in this collection contain “a highly charged confessional intimacy that challenged and charmed the sensibility of its reader, creating in the process a contemporary stil nuovo which continues to resonate in the language of love.” The poems chart a love story from the initial infatuation to the release of passion, and finally to a separation. “Tonight I Can Write,” the penultimate poem in the poetic sequence, expresses the pain the speaker feels after losing his lover. The bittersweet sentiment recalls their passionate relationship and his recognition that “love is so short, forgetting is so long.”
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