In roughly twenty nine couplets, Pablo Neruda uses figurative language to discover the depths of love and loss concerning a woman. He likens her to the sea. The poem is imagistic and deploys many of the poetic devices any reader would consider entertaining and noteworthy. The sea is deep. The poet’s despair is also deep. As is par for the course, Pablo Neruda uses metaphor to describe his emotional situation in a Song of Despair. One will note, upon reading A Song of Despair uses a formalistic approach to deliver the material at hand; such as the couplets, and occasional slant rhyme. The poet also uses a formal address when addressing the woman/sea. Note: ‘Oh deserted one’. ‘Oh, flesh’. ‘Ah, woman’, etc.
The tone of Neruda’s A Song of Despair is serious and foreboding, unlike many of his poems which are humorous and light. The reader might get the sense that here is a dense and lush poetic backdrop which laments love lost on an ever-deepening level. Again, the reader should note the heightened diction and tone in order to best understand the conflict found here. The central conflict found in A Song of Despair is loss, but the poet never simply comes out and says he is lonely; he was in love, etc. The writer deploys many of the imagistic devices found in poetry to enhance the central theme and maintains the metaphor through. The poem is fresh and candid, however and never relies on stock images or cliché. Furthermore, the author never lets the material take over but brings his reader back to the address of a second person. The poem can also be considered to have overt sexual overtones.
About the author: Pablo Neruda was born in 1904 and died in 1973. Many of his poems were written in the surrealist tradition. A Song of Despair is more of a modern/imagistic poem wherein the poet takes to disparate subjects and links them together through the use of simile or metaphor. The reader many find his poetry to be among the best original verse of its day. Regarding Neruda, Columbian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez once called him ‘the greatest poet of the 20th Century in any language.” He was the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature and often used figurative and erotic language in many of his poems. His poem, A Song of Despair, is as fresh, honest and noteworthy as it was upon publication.