In the process of reading the love poems of Neruda, it becomes clear that different strong emotions can be felt by the reader. However, the close relationship between love and sex is apparent in these poems. Both emotional and physical aspects of love are described in the respective poems. Such craving for the women loved by the poet seems multidimensional, as the sentimental dimensions of love are interrelated with the simply physical ones. The objective of this essay is to explore to what extent Neruda separates love and sex in his poetry, or they appear always connected.
In the poem “XVII”, the poet clearly expresses his craving for the woman expressed through quite vivid descriptions, “I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair…I hunger…I want to eat your skin.” Apparently, Neruda uses metaphorical expressions to demonstrate the close connection between love and sex in this poem. In fact, hunger emerges as a metaphor for the love he desperately craves for. The physical aspect of the woman’s body truly amazes the poet letting him indulge into the deepest parts of his imagination. Another instance of such craving is illustrated in the following line, “I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body.” The poet uses superlative adjectives to indicate his close physical attachment to the object of his love. Moreover, Neruda says, “hunting for you, for your hot heart, like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.” It is clear that the poet portrays himself as an animal which is constantly on the hunt. This process of hunting is nothing more than the realization of how love and sex connect to reach the sublime emotion of oneness. The fact that he goes on “the prowl for a girl” shows clear associations with sex. It looks like sex is everywhere around him, and he awaits the suitable moment to capture a girl’s heart.
In another poem, entitled “XVI”, Neruda again focuses on that tiny line between love and sex that the reader witnesses in his love poetry. The poet states, “I love the handful of the earth you are”. This implies not only his simple realization of the sentimental love the poet has for the woman but also the emerging sexual feeling. The comparison of the woman with the earth has apparent sexual connotations in the sense that he can simply touch her like the earth. There is a strong element of natural love, which is interrelated with the growing sexual emotion, as seen from the above line. In addition, the poet calls the woman his star, which represents something more than a simple sexual feeling. There are deep, intense emotions expressed by Neruda in a frank, vivid manner in the poem “XVI”. The poet makes references to the aspect of equality by indicating that the woman is his equal, “You are my replica.” Although he makes direct implications about the huge love he has for her, he suddenly goes on to describe her hips and “deep mouth”. A physical aspect can be witnessed in such an expression, with an extensive amount of sexual energy manifested by the poet. He looks and feels in a way that makes him believe that love and sex are always connected.
In the poem “Nuptial Substance”, the poet directly refers to the power of sexual feeling and attraction. He uses numerous descriptions to indicate how the object of his love has both deep platonic and sexual elements. For instance, the poet mentions, “Special, burning, with veins and saliva, and fingers and testicles.” There are vivid references to the shocking sexual emotion that acquires violent dimensions at time, as in the line, “I shall enter her with inches of weeping epidermis, and pressure of crime and soaked hair.” Supposedly, this is one of the frankest love poems of Neruda due to the powerful sexual wave he describes inside of him when he refers to the woman he loves. Yet the poet expresses the idea that love is a unique feeling, which can be most properly expressed through the physical act, respectively through sex.
This is the reason why Neruda refers to clear sexual dimensions in his love poems. The mentioned aspect can be found in the poem “XXVI” as well. In this poem, the poet uses the adjective “naked” multiple times to reflect the way he feels about his loved woman. He describes, “Naked, you are simple as one of your hands, smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round.” Such a series of descriptions of the physical dimensions of the woman has been dominated by the presence of a sexual storm. The ocean of sexual emotions experienced by the poet implies that the optimal expression of his love is only possible through vivid sexual descriptions.
As indicated in this essay, Neruda does not differentiate love from sex but considers them as constantly connected dimensions. According to the poet, sex is an inseparable part of love. This means that the physical connection one receives through sex is incomparable in the sense that love cannot exist without sex. There are strong aspects of emotional and physical connection in Neruda’s love poems, as seen from the poetic lines discussed in this paper. The attraction felt for the partner is the driving force of love through the unique poetic prism of Neruda. The description of the poet’s feelings of love for the woman is always related to the strong, overwhelming physical attraction.