How to say I love you in Spanish can be a tricky task. As a romance language, there are many ways to express romatic feelings or even give the allusion of love without saying the exact words. Often times, as in other cultures, love was forbidden, or sacrificing, leading to even more delicate and even lustworthy poetry. Two of the greatest love poets in the Spanish language are Pablo Neruda, inspiration for the poetry-teaching exile in the movie ‘Il Postino/the Postman,’ a fictional tale inspired by Neruda’s own exile with his wife.
Federico Garcia Lorca struggled with his sexuality throughout his life. At the time his lifestyle would not have been accepted. He expressed some of his repression through his work, although disguising it quite well.
Common themes of Spanish love poetry include those found in other languages of poetry such as repressed desire, lust, repression, devotion and yearning or pain.
Born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Chile, Pablo Neruda’s poetry won the Nobel Prize. Neruda is most well known for his love poems, having filled several books with romatic verse. Below is one of his best poems, entitled ‘Absence.’ It describes the feeling immediately after the speaker leaves their loved one, already hurting and suffering thirst and hunger pangs for her. He begs her to hold on to her sweetness in exchange for a rose.
Apenas te he dejado,
vas en mi, cristalina
o inquieta, herida por mi mismo
o colmada de amor, como cuando tus ojos
se cierran sobre el don de la vida
que sin cesar te entrego.
nos hemos encontrado
sedientos y nos hemos
bebido todo el agua y la sangre,
y nos mordimos
como el fuego muerde
guardame tu dulzura
Yo te dare tambien
The Captain’s Verses-The Love Poems is an entire anthology of such word games of desire, a highly recommended work of romance and a glimpse into Neruda’s soul. Other Neruda poems, as well as love poetry by other Spanish poets can also be seen at www.poema-de-amor.com
Federico Garcia Lorca
Federico Garcia Lorca, known for his poetry and controversial love life, was born in Granada, Spain. Upon moving to Madrid to study and meeting other masterful minds such as Salvador Dali, Garcia Lorca’s poetry matured and became even more memorable and moving. It seems that repressed and secret love is responsible for the most passionate and beautiful poetry.
La nina va por mi frente.
Oh que antiguo sentimiento!
De que me sirve, pregunto,
La tinta, el papel y el verso?
Carne tuya me parece,
Rojo lirio, junco fresco.
Morena de luna llena.
Que quieres de mi deseo?
Here Garcia Lorca describes a familiar feeling of desire on a first anniversary. He wonders what purpose his writing serves next to such a beautiful golden body that glimmers in the moonlight. Look for Garcia Lorca’s Romances y Canciones to read more of his work.