If You Forget Me

 If You Forget Me

By Pablo Neruda

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
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.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Summary of If You Forget Me

  • Popularity of “If You Forget Me”: Written in 1952, this beautiful poem “If You Forget Me” by Pablo Neruda, who happens to be a multitasker, multidimensional and prolific artist, politician, and writer, presents the situation of his love and his determination to carry forward that love. The poem occurred in his phenomenal collection, The Captain’s Verse. The popularity of the poem rests on the expression of truth about love and the indifference the speaker has shown toward the frigidity of his beloved.
  • “If You Forget Me” As a Representative of Altruistic Love: Pablo Neruda presents a lover speaker. He opens the poem by saying that he wants to inquire his beloved about one thing. It is that if she wanted to forget him, he would have already done it. Therefore, she should do it immediately. However, before saying this, he clarifies her love saying that whatever he sees, whether it is a moon, a red branch at his window, or fire, he sees her body and image in all of these beautiful things. Calling his beloved the isles, he states that everything goes to her.
    However, he alerts her that if she wants to forsake him, he may leave for some other island or land to have roots over there. In fact, he wants to warn her that although his love rests on her love, it does not mean that he will continue waiting for her. He rather wants to state it openly that his sincerity in love must have reciprocated emotions, or else he would forsake her.
  • Major Themes in “If You Forget Me”: Selfless love, reciprocation in emotions, and sincerity are three major themes of the poem “If You Forget Me.” The poet, who has also taken part in active politics, knows that he may not be in the government next year or face political opposition. Therefore, he keeps the window for his beloved open so that if she wants to leave him, she has that option. He would also be leaving her, but he sincerely and selflessly loves her, and everything he enjoys leads him toward her. However, one thing he wants to clarify for her is that if she truly loves him, no matter what happens, he will be waiting for her. And if there is any wavering in her emotions, it means that he has already left her.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in If You Forget Me

Pablo Neruda uses various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of his poem. Some of the major literary devices he uses are as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /a/ in “the impalpable ash” and the sound of /o/ in “You know how this is.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /t and w/ in “the slow autumn at my window” and again the sound of /t/ in “if little by little you stop loving me.”
  3. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Pablo Neruda uses imagery in this poem, such as “the wind of banners”, “I shall lift my arms” and “my love feeds on your love, beloved.”
  4. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet used different metaphors, such as the moon, the branch, the aroma, the light, and the metals, as if they are little boats.
  5. Personification: It means to use abstract ideas as if they have human emotions. The poet has personified love saying, “my love feeds on your love.” The poet also has the flower as a personification saying that it climbs up to the lips of his beloved.
  6. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as the moon, the ash, the autumn, and the window to show his love for his beloved.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in If You Forget Me

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows simple and romantic diction.
  2. Free Verse: It means to use verses without a metrical pattern or rhyme scheme. The poem shows the use of free verse.
  3. Repetition: It means to repeat words and phrases for impact. The poet used several phrases repeatedly, such as “little by little.”
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are a total of six stanzas in this poem, with each comprising a different number of verses.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a loving, neutral, indifferent, and passionate tone at different places.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote about good people.

if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.


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