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Sierra Christensen

“We Have Lost Even”: An Analysis of Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda wrote a collection of love poems when he was nineteen and living in his

home country Chile. This collection, called, ​Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair​, is

extremely popular, though some elements of his works, like its general erotisicm, are critized. ​In

the poem “We Have Lost Even”, Pablo Neruda expresses themes of loss, confusion, and love

through the literary devices of symbolism, personification, and subtle enjambment​.

The main theme in this poem is loss, specifically loss of love. The first two lines are, “We

have lost even this twilight./No one saw us this evening hand in hand.” Using the words “We

have lost even this…” in the title and beginning of the poem immediately sets the dark tone, and

brings the audience down to an almost mournful response. More subtly, his comments made in

present-tense are all sad, while any happy comments are all past-tense. This makes the audience

feel the absence of positivity, and the more pressing sadness.

Neruda also utilizes the symbolism of a hurt dog, the color blue, the insecurity of twilight

and the darkness of night to signify the emotion of loss and sadness. The hurt dog at a man’s feet

is an interesting symbol, as Neruda seems to put this symbol of a broken-hearted animal asking

for help at the foot of the man the dog represents. Neruda also takes the sun, a symbol of

happiness, and turns it into an object which burns the character.

Confusion is also communicated in this poem. The entire fifth stanza is a list of rhetorical

questions that are asked by a confused, disappointed, and rather depressed character. It seems as

though the lyrical “I” here is either distantly remembering a past love, or hallucinating a fictional

love. Hallucination is a valid conclusion because he mentions that no one saw them on their walk
(in the first stanza), then asks her, “Where were you then?... Why will the whole of love come on

me suddenly/when I am sad and feel you are far away?” The combination of these comments

indicates a protagonist who is struggling with affection for someone who is not present: literally

or metaphorically.

Love is the unaddressed theme of “We Have Lost Even”. The other two are more

prominent, but they orbit around love. His loss is a loss of love, he is confused about his own

emotions and the recipient of those emotions. In the first line, it says “we have lost…”

suggesting that the couple as a pair have lost something, like the spark in their relationship or a

happy memory that has recently been tainted. But after that stanza, there is no more use of “we”,

just you and I as separate entities. His soul clenches with sadness (which is great imagery) while

she is receding through the evenings towards the erasing twilight. This separation further

supports the theme of love, because it creates an antithesis between their togetherness with their

distance.

Throughout the poem, Neruda uses enjambment to put emphasis on emotionally-

provoking images or words. Enjambment is used in almost every stanza, breaking the thought

process or sentence in powerful places. For example, the anguish of a “clenched soul” is

emphasized in line eight by the startling end of the line. Neruda does the same with the images of

walking hand in hand with a significant other and love coming upon someone suddenly.

In conclusion, Neruda masterfully used many literary devices to pack several themes,

feelings, and even a small narrative into “We Have Lost Even”. With the use of enjambment,

symbolism and personification, Neruda effectively translates the experiences of the character

into relatable emotions of loss, love, and innocent confusion.

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