Pablo Neruda

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"The ‘Fickle’ One"?

On his birthday in July of 1954, Pablo Neruda confessed to the University of Chile that "it is worthwhile to have struggled and sung, it is worthwhile to have lived because I have loved" (Neruda 331). In nearly all of his works, Neruda attests to the simplicity, valor, and importance of love, whether for country, "common things," or another human being. Throughout South America, he was known as "un poeta del pueblo," a poet of the people, and his talent for composing such passionate verses propelled him to Nobel Laureate status. In a collection published in 1972, he exemplifies his mastery of language by entwining his own passionate love life with an admiration for nature, producing realistic, yet mystical expressions of devotion. In "The Fickle One," the author creates a paradox confirming that the persona’s sincere affection transcends the physical attraction and lust by which he initially appears imprisoned. Furthermore, Neruda presents an opposition by dividing the poem into parallel halves, demanding that even the receptive reader peruse the poem more than once to discern the genuine meaning of the experience that the text conveys.

Neruda, with much attention to detail and manipulation of language, demonstrates the persona’s inability to control his human, sexual nature, causing the reader to disapprove of him. By stating, "My eyes went away from me," he conjures a persona with eyes that are disconnected from the rest of his body, as though they are a separate entity, acting against the will of the brain, bones, and heart. Seemingly, he desires all the females that pass by him. He gazes longingly at each woman while absorbing all their physical details, corroborating the notion that the only qualitie...

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...eruda accentuates the persona’s eternal faithfulness to the third female. The persona, though he may be fickle in his thoughts and cravings, is steadfast in this fidelity. In fact, the persona’s unflinching integrity lends irony to the title of the poem. His flaws are those of the common man, yet he proves the maturity of his affection by honestly admitting his shortcomings. His true love is the paramount interest in his life, and it is through the characterization of the persona in "The Fickle One" that Neruda demonstrates that the struggle that is love makes life worthwhile.

Works Cited

Neruda, Pablo. "The Fickle One." Discovering Literature: Stories, Poems, and Plays. 2nd edition. Eds. Hans P. Guth and Gabriele L. Rico. Upper Saddle River: Blair Press, 1997. 735-6.

Neruda, Pablo. Passions and Impressions. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1984.
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