Tonight I Can Write

by Pablo Neruda

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What is the speaker's final attitude in "Tonight I Can Write"?

Quick answer:

In “Tonight I Can Write,” the final attitude of the speaker is one of great sadness at the loss of his lover. Although earlier in the poem he claimed that he no longer loved her, it's clear that he still does and that the absence of his lover is causing him great emotional pain.

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As with many people who've gone through a painful breakup, the speaker of Neruda's poem is finding the situation difficult to handle. So much so, in fact, that his attitude towards his former lover changes rapidly throughout the poem.

At a couple of points in the poem, the speaker openly states that he no longer loves her. Yet it soon becomes patently obvious that, despite what he says, he still holds a torch for the woman who has clearly had such a profound impact on his life.

In his vivid physical description of his former lover—her “bright body,” her “infinite eyes”—the speaker reveals, even if he doesn't intend to, that this was a very special woman indeed, someone who meant an awful lot to him.

Eventually, as the speaker comes to the end of the poem, he makes it clear that his former lover is still making him suffer a great deal of emotional pain. This would not be possible if he didn't love her or, at the very least, if he didn't have any residual affection for her.

That being the case, we must take the poem's final lines at face value:

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer

and these the last verses I write for her.

It is not unreasonable to expect that the speaker will go on to write, whatever he might say, more verses for his former lover. It is hard to believe, to say the least, that someone he loves so deeply, someone who's had such a profound effect on his soul, will no longer inspire him to greater poetic heights.

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