What does the last line, "The moon lives in the lining of your skin" in "Ode to a beautiful nude" mean?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The last line of the poem "Ode to the Beautiful Nude" is an example of a metaphor. A metaphor is a figure of speech used to implicitly compare two things that are unrelated as if they had something in common.

The moon lives in the lining of your skin

refers to the inner glow that seems to emanate from the portrait of this striking woman. This inner glow metaphorically transforms the shape of the woman making her profile contrast against her background, glowing even more strikingly.

Therefore, Neruda uses the moon, which is our universal glowing light in the darkness, to suggest that it is the moon itself that is actually enveloping the woman because such is the grandiosity of her beauty.

Keep in mind as well that this last verse came after a stanza which equally treated the topic of "light" flowing out of the woman's shape:

It is not only light that falls over the world spreading inside your body
Yet suffocate itself
So much is clarity
Taking its leave of you
As if you were on fire within

The use of the moon brings out a sense of light in the middle of darkness, which is juxtaposed to the brightness that is illustrated with the use of the fire as an element of light. Therefore, the verse also serves as a balancing image to complete the poem.