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Sonnet XVII, by Pablo Neruda

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Rhetorical Analysis of “Sonnet XVII”

An analysis of Pablo Neruda’s “Sonnet XVII,” from the book 100 Love Sonnets: Cien sonetos de amor, reveals the emotions of the experience of eternal, unconditional love. Neruda portrays this in his words by using imagery and metaphors to describe love in relation to beauty and darkness. The poem also depicts the intimacy between two people. I believe the intent of the poem is to show that true love for another abolishes all logic, leaving one completely exposed, captivated, and ultimately isolated.

Neruda begins his sonnet in a most unusual manner. He states in the first few lines ways in which he does not love his companion. He does not love her as if she were “the salt-rose, topaz, or arrow of carnations.” These are all examples of beautiful things that are to be admired. Each one is a bright and colorful breed of rose. The poem is not implying that this person is unattractive. Rather, it is simply stating the unimportance of her appearance in relation to his love for her. The beauty within her soul charms him. The narrator is completely captivated with this person. Neruda uses emotions to portray love in his poem. “Sonnet XVII” does not describe a love for someone who has done kind things or someone who has been there emotionally, mentally, and physically for another. It describes a love that is illogically based on intense affection alone.

The second line of “Sonnet XVII,” begins to elaborate in the ways he does love his significant other. The poem states that he loves as “dark things are to be loved.” He

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loves her secretly, “between the shadow and the soul.” The narrator does not love arrogantly or in vain. His love is precious and personal. Dark things are to be loved pri...

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...a dense fragrance that lives in his body.

In “Sonnet XVII,” the text begins by expressing the ways in which the narrator does not love, superficially. The narrator is captivated by his object of affection, and her inner beauty is of the upmost significance. The poem shows the narrator’s utter helplessness and vulnerability because it is characterized by raw emotions rather than logic. It then sculpts the image that the love created is so personal that the narrator is alone in his enchantment. Therefore, he is ultimately isolated because no one can fathom the love he is encountering. The narrator unveils his private thoughts, leaving him exposed and susceptible to ridicule and speculation. However, as the sonnet advances toward an end, it displays the true heartfelt description of love and finally shows how two people unite as one in an overwhelming intimacy.
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