What imagery is used in the poem "If You Forget Me" by Pablo Neruda?

In "If You Forget Me," Pablo Neruda communicates the multi-faceted nature of love with such images as the crystal moon, a red branch, the wrinkled body of a burned log, roots, flowers, and fire.

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Imagery consists of descriptive language that is meant to appeal to our senses. It can convey physical experience that feels very familiar, but it can also allow us to experience—via language—new sensations. It can be visual (for something we might see), olfactory (for something we might smell), auditory (for something...

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Imagery consists of descriptive language that is meant to appeal to our senses. It can convey physical experience that feels very familiar, but it can also allow us to experience—via language—new sensations. It can be visual (for something we might see), olfactory (for something we might smell), auditory (for something we could hear), tactile (for something we might touch), or gustatory (for something we would taste). There is also kinesthetic imagery, which describes physical tension or movement in our bodies, and organic imagery, which describes our internal physical feelings like hunger.

In "If You Forget Me," there is a great deal of visual imagery, and the visual predominates throughout the poem: there is the "crystal moon," the "red branch," the "wrinkled body of the log," the "little boats," and so on. This visual imagery continues when the speaker talks about his "roots" and a "flower" that "climbs up to your lips." Neruda also uses tactile imagery in the description of the "impalpable ash" that one might reach out to "touch / near the fire." A phrase like "the wind of banners" is also visual as well as auditory, perhaps, too. We can certainly imagine the snapping sound made by banners that blow and flicker in the wind.

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"If You Forget Me" is full of imagery, beginning with the contrasting visual images of "the crystal moon" and "the red branch." The first of these is pale, translucent, and unattainable. The second is red and connected to the earth. Together, these images present two aspects of love. Then there is the fire. Love is often described as a fire, but Neruda presents a fresh image, the "impalpable ash" and the "wrinkled body of the log." This suggests that the speaker's love is as indefinable and elusive as it is enduring. There is also a curious sensory imagery in the description of the ash as "impalpable." You only discover that ash is impalpable upon trying to touch it and finding that it dissolves.

The line "aromas, lights, metals" provide a trio of images, which then immediately turn into "little boats." Like the dissolving ash, these images are unstable, as is that of "the wind of banners," particularly since the primary image is not the banners but the wind that animates them. The poem concludes, however, with the imagery of roots, then of flowers, and finally with a fire that is inextinguishable, appearing to mirror the love of the addressee and to be nourished by all the other images that build up to it.

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Imagery is description using the five senses of touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. Neruda's "If You Forget Me" is a lyrical love poem: a lyrical poem expresses emotion in beautiful and creative ways.

Neruda uses lyrical imagery to describe love in this poem. For example, he compares the sweetness of love to "a flower" that climbs up his lover's lips to greet him. We can visualize a lover's lips blooming like a flower, and also feel the softness of the flower and the smell its sweet scent, making this a potent image.

Neruda writes of his own love as a "fire" that "feeds" on the love of his beloved. We can imagine the way a fire grows and gets warmer as it is fed.

Neruda tells his lover that the love he has for her will always be in her arms as a warming fire. At the same time, this love will not leave his own arms. We can visualize the two lovers joined together by the warmth of lovers' shared fire.

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Pablo Neruda's "If You Forget Me" is the quintessential love poem. It is beautiful. The author's use of imagery is a powerful tool in driving home his dedication to the woman he loves. There are many uses of imagery in the poem: I will highlight three.

Imagery is anything that brings an image into the mind of the reader; in fact, imagery is found in the use of similes, metaphors, hyperbole, personification, or detailed descriptions, especially those using sensory details. Neruda's poem has lovely imagery. The first describes nature, the world seen outside the author's window at night, especially with the "crystal moon," "red branch" and "slow autumn:"

...if I look

at the crystal moon, at the red branch

of the slow autumn at my window...

Another example of imagery is found at the fireplace, in the impalpable ash (so fine a powder, that it contains no "grit") of old fires, and the promise of another—in the "wrinkled" log. Sensory details appealing to touch and vision make the imagery that much more impactful; the description of "near the fire" may bring to mind associations he holds with the literal fire and the fire of their passion.

...if I touch

near the fire

the impalpable ash

or the wrinkled body of the log...

One more example of imagery is found in the metaphor found at the end of the first full stanza. The speaker comments on a list of sensory elements, appealing to the sense of smell (aromas), of sight (light) and of touch (metals). These elements, or senses, he describes as small boats that journey between he and his lover.

...everything carries me to you,

as if everything that exists,

aromas, light, metals,

were little boats

that sail

toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Throughout the poem the speaker notes that he will mirror whatever behavior is exhibited by his lover. If she forgets him or leaves him, he will immediately do the same...so he says. However, the vivid images of devotion (even if lost), up until the strength of the last stanza, leaves me with the feeling that the speaker is deeply in love, and regardless of his words, his love will not disappear as easily as he might light to let the reader believe.

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