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Pablo Neruda
Literary Devices
Theme Analysis
Imagery Analysis
Style Analysis
Literary Devices
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Theme Analysis

Pablo Neruda's works are abundant with poetic language. He utilizes various literary devices throughout his works; most prominent are his use of metaphors, similes, personifications, and imagery. Although many of his literary devices get lost in translation, the English versions hold on to some of his poetic language even after being translated.


Neruda's poems come to life through his metaphors. He uses these for most of the descriptions throughout his poetry. For example, in his poem "I crave your mouth...", he writes, "I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes...". In using this metaphor, he compares the batting of a woman's eyelashes to a 'fleeting shade'. This creates the image of black eyelashes fluttering as a woman blinks. Another example would be in his poem 'Two Happy Lovers...', where Neruda writes "their happiness is a transparent tower." This metaphor creates the idea that their happiness is so great that it towers over them, but happiness is not a physical thing which can be seen, and so he writes that it is a 'transparent tower'.


Neruda says that "the pallid woman with black hair / rose like a fish from the abyss...", which creates a clear image in one's head of a surprising sight. One does not expect to see a fish come out from an abyss, and therefore, it becomes clear that the woman's appearance was alarming. In addition, he clearly describes her 'pallid' face 'with black hair', which creates a contrast between the two, and creates an image in the reader's head, adding more of an element of surprise to the woman's appearance. Another example can be found in his poem "You will remember...", where he describes "a bouquet like a foam-covered stone." This simile creates the image of a packed, yet varied bouquet, because foam has many bubbles of different shapes and forms, and so the flowers in the bouquet are probably various different sizes, shapes, and colors, but when he places the foam on a stone, it seems that the flowers are packed together, creating a round bouquet.


In addition, the various personifications that can be found in his poetry add to the images in his poems. For example, in the poem "You will remember...", the first stanza reads "You will remember that leaping stream /where sweet aromas rose and trembled, / and sometimes a bird, wearing water / and slowness, its winter feathers." This entire stanza is full of personification. The 'leaping stream' creates the image of the busy, rushing water in a stream, instead of a serenely calm one, because a stream cannot 'leap', but can nonetheless be alive. 'Where sweet aromas rose and trembled' awakens the olfactory senses, and creates the idea of various pleasant scents wafting by and leaving before you enjoy them for too long, because although aromas cannot tremble, they can appear and disappear quite quickly. Furthermore, 'sometimes a bird, wearing water / and slowness, its winter feathers' is a personification because it implies that a bird can wear something, and usually, what is worn is clothing. In addition, it creates the image of a bird bathing itself, after a winter, after which it is still awakening, which is why it is still 'wearing slowness'.


These are only a few example of the plethora of literary devices that can be found throughout Neruda's poetry. His mastery of such poetic language brings life to his poetry, and makes it all the more enjoyable to read, and all the livelier as well. Beautiful images are created in the mind's eye, and he thoroughly gets his ideas of beauty across, as well as any other ideas he may be trying to portray.

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Website Courtesy Of: Ariat Cruz, Cristina Loreto, and Iyari Tolmos; Coral Gables Senior High , 12th AP/IB World Author Web Site Project. 2007.