How is Pablo Neruda's poem "Tonight I can write" an elegy?
The Random House Dictionary defines the word “elegy” as “a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.” Pablo Neruda’s poem “Tonight I can write the saddest lines” is clearly an elegy by this or practically any other definition. The poem is intensely mournful and melancholy and might even be considered a kind of funeral song in some respects. Indeed, initially it is not clear whether the speaker is mourning the literal death of a loved one or simply the death of their relationship. It turns out, eventually, that the latter is the case, as becomes clear when the speaker says,
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.
By this point, however, the speaker is half-way through the poem, and so the possibility that until that point he might be mourning a literal death cannot be dismissed. That possibility adds even more poignancy to the poem, at least at first.
Interestingly enough, near the end of the work the speaker remarks,
I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
This line might at first suggest that the speaker now feels anger toward the woman he once loved and that perhaps he even hates her. However, he soon changes his mind and makes it clear that his feelings for her are still strong, even though they are now quite complex and ambivalent. This is true even at the very end of the poem when he says that this is
the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.
Here the tone is not only mournful but perhaps even somewhat bitter, so...
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