Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

GENRE: Poetry | PAGES: 70

My rating: ★★★★

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair is an amazing collection of poetry. His words caress the senses; imagery so delicious and fulfilling you can not only see it but smell and taste and feel it… portraying journeys of love and likening them to the sea, the shore, the sun – a heady mixture of heat and dampness much like the beauty of physical love.

He takes nature’s finest and effortlessly portray love affairs.

‘…I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees…’

On the other hand…

‘…Love is so short, forgetting is so long…’

With a single sentence, he can summarise the anguish of lost love.

His single song of despair at the end of the collection is, by far, my personal favourite simply because he captures the essence of heartache in such a way it left me reeling.

 

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 Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

 

Drawn from the most intimate and personal associations, Pablo Neruda’s most beloved collection of poetry juxtaposes the exuberance of youthful passion with the desolation of grief, the sensuality of the body with the metaphorical nuances of nature. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W. S. Merwin’s masterly translation faces the original Spanish text. This edition also features an insightful Introduction by Cristina Garcia. More than eighty years after its publication, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair stands as an essential collection that continues to inspire lovers and poets around the world.

The Colossus and Other Poems by Sylvia Plath

GENRE: Poetry | PAGES: 84

My rating: ★★★★

I found the poetry of The Colossus absolutely haunting. I love how Plath can take something–like nature for instance like other poets have–but she instead shows us the darker, bleaker (more intense) side. There is such power in her words and she has never shied away from that which scares the rest of us. Her raw, unfiltered view of the world has me falling in love with her work all over again.

I do not feel quite as connected to this collection as I am with Ariel but there is no doubt of her brilliance. Her poetry is like a slow, night-time walk inside her mind and sometimes the things that lurk there are frightening; frightening but beautiful.

My favourite from this collection is Medallion.

 

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  Colossus

 

With this startling, exhilarating book of poems, which was first published in 1960, Sylvia Plath burst into literature with spectacular force. In such classics as “The Beekeeper’s Daughter,” “The Disquieting Muses,” “I Want, I Want,” and “Full Fathom Five,” she writes about sows and skeletons, fathers and suicides, about the noisy imperatives of life and the chilly hunger for death. Graceful in their craftsmanship, wonderfully original in their imagery, and presenting layer after layer of meaning, the forty poems in The Colossus are early artifacts of genius that still possess the power to move, delight, and shock.

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

GENRE: Poetry | PAGES: 105

My rating: ★★★★

Bleak yet powerful and intense, Ariel by Sylvia Plath is, by far, my favourite collection of poetry. Undoubtedly, Sylvia Plath has a unique way with words. She transforms them into bewitching lyrics that resonate in endless and uniquely personal ways.

I read these poems over and over, caught up in the imagery she creates, the emotion she evokes. Each time, I take away a little more than I did the time before. Her work speaks to me (and countless others). Her open, uncensored outpouring of raw feeling is perfectly translated to the page.

Whilst each of her poems have meaning, I have some particular favourites in Ariel. The poem Elm spoke to me and so did Tulips, and since no amount of analysis can do her poetry justice, so instead, here’s my favourite piece from this collection:

Elm

I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root:
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.

Is it the sea you hear in me,
Its dissatisfactions?
Or the voice of nothing, that was your madness?

Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.

All night I shall gallop thus, impetuously,
Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,
Echoing, echoing.

Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons?
This is rain now, this big hush.
And this is the fruit of it: tin-white, like arsenic.

I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root
My red filaments burn and stand, a hand of wires.

Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence
Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.

The moon, also, is merciless: she would drag me
Cruelly, being barren.
Her radiance scathes me. Or perhaps I have caught her.

I let her go. I let her go
Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.
How your bad dreams possess and endow me.

I am inhabited by a cry.
Nightly it flaps out
Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.

I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.

Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?

I am incapable of more knowledge.
What is this, this face
So murderous in its strangle of branches?——

Its snaky acids hiss.
It petrifies the will. These are the isolate, slow faults
That kill, that kill, that kill.

— Sylvia Plath

 

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Ariel by Sylvia Plath

 

“In these poems…Sylvia Plath becomes herself, becomes something imaginary, newly, wildly and subtly created. — From the Introduction by Robert Lowell