Whether Pablo Neruda wrote this poem for his country, Chile, or for his wife, Matilde Urrutia does not make much difference to me. I like the kind of love portrayed in this poem. I like the tone of the speaker as he warns his lover …
“If you forget me
I want you to know one thing. ”
It is not the sound of a desperate, pathetic lover who begs or promises to continue to wait even though the other has moved on.
It shows a speaker who thinks and is not controlled by silly emotions, a speaker/lover who demands reciprocity in a relationship.For truly, if one can be, and is reasonable, one will demand reciprocity in a relationship.
(Even God demands, commands love and faithfulness!)
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.”
Who wants to be forgotten by the one person you cannot forget? Of course, trying to forget someone is easier said than done. The more you try to forget, the more you will be reminded. This is perhaps the speaker’s way of saying, “Don’t think I will be pining for you. I will forget you before you can completely forget me!”
“If you think it long and mad, the wind of banners that passes through my life, and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots, remember that on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land.
“…and my roots will set off/ to seek another land.” This is how it should be. One should be brave in seeking and starting a new life and not waste time and energy on someone who has forgotten.
Though the poem begins with a kind of warning, a threat as to what the speaker can do should his lover forget him, it ends with a promise, an enticement as to what he can give if his lover remains true to him,
“…ah my love, ah my own, in me all that fire is repeated, in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten, my love feeds on your love, beloved, and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine.”