Pablo Neruda Afternoon Section Literary Analysis
In the Afternoon section of Pablo Neruda’s 100 Love Sonnets, he focuses on the “afternoon” of he and Mathilde’s relationship, in other words, the part that follows their romantic and passionate beginning. Neruda begins his section by writing of a relationship that faces the challenges that every couple must ultimately face– from the establishment of a home, to the routine of day to day life, to the doubts that inevitably arise– and ends with the reassuring revelation that his love for Matilde is worthy and true.In the first few sonnets of the Afternoon section, Neruda makes many references to a home with his beloved. He begins the first sonnet with, “Love, we’re going home now” to indicate that they are literally going back to their home in Chile. In these sonnets he describes with vivid imagery their home and their life together in anticipation of their return; Neruda is depicting such things as the vines that “clamber over the trellis,” small details of their home that make it their own. He writes of their “nomadic kisses,” indicating to his readers that they had been traveling, but now he and his dearest return home, “like two blind birds.
.. to their nest in a distant spring” (Sonnet XXXIII, pg. 73).Here, his use of simile draws a comparison between he and Matilde and two blind birds that find their nest.
The fact that the birds are unable to see yet are still able to find their distant nest shows that although Neruda and Matilde may have been away for a while, they shall not have trouble rediscovering their home and falling back into their daily routine. When he writes “love cannot always fly without resting,” Neruda is touching on an important idea- that a love cannot always be full of burning passion, for it is equally as important to experience a leisurely, simple love, which he believes that the two of them will be able to share when they are resting at their home. By ending his sonnet with the phrase “our kisses head back home where they belong,” he is reiterating that he and Matilde are most comfortable at home and that they belong there together (Sonnet XXXIII, pg. 73).Beginning at Sonnet XXXVI, the two are home, and therefore Neruda’s emphasis shifts to describing his day to day life with Matilde, never leaving out his sincere affection for her. As he describes Matilde performing everyday tasks throughout the Afternoon section, he shows that his love for her is as powerful in the regular days as it has always been.
He states, “Your house sounds like a train at noon: bees hum, pots sing” using simile and personification to depict the busy, loud atmosphere in which she bustles about. Matilde is then referred to directly as “you– who rises, sings, runs, walks, bends, plants, sews, cooks, hammers, writes, returns” (Sonnet XXXVIII, pg. 83).This wide variety of tasks, from hammering to singing, shows that she has found contentment in the drudgery, with Neruda’s love at the root, transforming the mundane to the monumental. Neruda uses literary conventions to describe himself as “a scorched rock that suddenly sings when you are near, because it drinks the water you carry from the forest, in your voice” (Sonnet XXXIX, pg.
85). By comparing himself to the rocks that she spills water on during her daily chores, he is explaining that being near Matilde makes him “sing,” which symbolizes his joy. He describes his life with Matilde, touching on small, seemingly insignificant things that affect him in a largely significant way. His love for her has grown into a more genuine and mature relationship; however, he still emphasizes that as the time has passed, he has not taken his beloved for granted, and feels the same unfaltering affection that he experienced when their love began.As the sonnets progress, Neruda makes reference to turmoil in his relationship with Matilde.
He speaks of “January rough times,” which is significant in that Matilde is gardening in a majority of the sonnets in the Afternoon section; however, “January” implies that there is minimal growth in her garden and in their relationship. The first few sonnets possess a hopeful tone, where Neruda writes things such as “our problems will crumble apart… and here where we live will all be clean again, with fresh bread on the table” and “nothing should separate people but the sun or the night, the moon or the branches” (Sonnet XLI, pg. 89; Sonnet XLII, pg.
91).At the first signs of strife, Neruda is denying that there is a serious problem, and reassuring himself, more than anyone, that the issues that he and Matilde are facing are easily overcome- he does not want to admit that there may not be an easy resolution to their problems. The sonnets quickly lose their optimism, and by Sonnet XLIII, it would appear that Neruda and Matilde were seperated to some extent. The sonnet begins with the line “I hunt for a sign of you in all the others [women],” which implies that he is either considering, or perhaps actually pursuing, other women. His frustration becomes more apparent when he writes such things as “I searched, but no one else had your rhythms,” meaning that all of the other women that he encountered did not give him the same feeling that Matilde did (Sonnet XLI, pg.
89).The fourth and final point of the afternoon section is Neruda’s revelation that Mathilde is the woman that he truly loves, which leads to a newfound appreciation for her as an individual. The true pivotal moment of the Afternoon section occurs when Neruda states, “You must know that I do not love and that I love you, because everything alive has its two sides.” Here, he has realized that there must be two sides to every relationship, his and Matilde’s being no exception. He cannot expect to be faced with a life of pure joy with Matilde, because if it were not for the times of trouble, the joyous times would hold less significance.Neruda resolves this by claiming “that’s why I love you when I do not love you, and also why I love you when I do,” which describes love for the complicated thing that it is, and explains that his love is as much of a choice as it is a feeling (Sonnet XLIV, pg.
95). Once he understands this, it seems that he and Matilde repair their relationship, and he discovers a new appreciation for the woman that he has always truly loved. Now that he has her by his side once more, he does not want to risk being apart again, a concern that he voices when he says, “Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because then the little drops of anguish will all run together, the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift into me, choking my lost heart” (Sonnet XLV, pg. 97).This stanza demonstrates his anxiety and deep attachment towards Matilde– without her he is but a forlorn wanderer. A later sonnet in the Afternoon section reads, “Two happy lovers make one bread.
.. walking, they cast two shadows that flow together” (Sonnet XLVIII, pg. 103). As the sonnets progress, it is apparent that Neruda and Matilde have reestablished the routine that they used to share, doing all things together. Furthermore, this sonnet has the specific metaphor of he and Matilde making bread, which is alluding to an earlier sonnet in the Afternoon section, where the promise of fresh bread on the table symbolized the resolution of their troubles (Sonnet XLI, pg.
89).He appreciates Matilde by using imagery to describe her features in great detail, dedicating entire sonnets to her laughter and singing (Sonnet L, pg. 107, Sonnet LI, pg. 109; Sonnet LII, pg. 111). The Afternoon section ends with the phrase “this path, starry and blue as the night, this never-ending simple tenderness” (Sonnet LIII, pg.
113). Those last few words tie together the Afternoon section, because at the beginning of the section Neruda and Matilde were settling into a simpler, unwavering love, and, although there were obstacles along the way, by the last sonnet of the section, they have reached that true, simplistic love and devotion.Through the 21 poems that constitute as the Afternoon section of 100 Love Sonnets, Pablo Neruda has described the realities of love; the section is composed of sonnets of bliss and of sorrows. Although the poems are still dedicated to Matilde, they focus more on Neruda’s intrinsic developments. They explore his own thoughts and discoveries of life and of love, most prominently, the fact that there is no love without heartache, just as there is so day without a night to compare it to.
With that, Neruda himself was able to gain insight to the nature of his loving relationship; however, the realizations he came to apply to many other relationships and situations in life