In Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda, who is the persona talking to?

In Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda, the persona is talking to his beloved, to whom he feels exceptionally close.

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Pablo Neruda's Sonnet XVII is addressed to the speaker's beloved. The poem, however, is not about her, but instead about the nature of the speaker's love, which he attempts to explain with a series of comparisons and descriptions. He begins by saying that his love cannot be expressed by the usual symbols, flowers, or precious stones, but is secret and obscure. This imagery continues throughout the octave. In the second quatrain, the speaker does use the language of flowers, but compares himself and his love to the plant which does not bloom, but remains hidden in the earth.

In the sestet, the intensity of the language increases, with insistent anaphora at the beginning of lines nine, ten and eleven saying "I love you," and more anaphora, emphasizing exceptional closeness, at the beginning of the final two lines. While the octave may suggest unrequited love, the sestet describes a love so deep and intimate that it does not need to be spoken. The final image shows the two lovers inhabiting one body, as a couple is said to be made "one flesh" when they are joined in marriage. The speaker says that his beloved's hand upon his chest is his hand, and her eyes close when he sleeps and dreams.

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