Perhaps it’s a bit too on-the-nose to review a collection of love poems by Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda right on the heels of Valentine’s Day? But as much as the pink, foil-stamped repackaging of Neruda’s The Captain’s Verses is clearly meant to attract the kind of casual reader who does not typically consume poetry, I was struck by how this slender volume (cloying trappings included) speaks to the truth of the experience of romantic love: sensuous, earthy, ethereal, and unapologetically sentimental. The effect of reading Neruda’s exploration of his relationship with Matilde Urrutia is a cumulative one, reaching its apogee as a conversation between lover and beloved, one wrought with the frenetic impatience of new love, the kind of energy with which many of us are achingly familiar.
Pablo Neruda, Love Poems. Trans. by Donald D. Walsh. Published by New Directions (2008). 64 pages.