If you've ever wished for a fresh and imaginative way of saying "I love you" to your beloved, peruse Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's 100 Love Sonnets. This intimate bilingual collection overflows with the master poet's signature sensuality and inventive imagery. Written in the 1950s for his cherished wife Matilde Urrutia, Neruda's earnest adoration leaps off the page in poem after poem: "Your heart is a clay toy shaped like a dove"; "Your kisses are clusters of fruit, fresh with dew." Thanks to translator Stephen Tapscott, Neruda's dreamy images carry over vividly from the Spanish and dance in the mind for days after they're read.
Neruda pays only loose tribute to the sonnet by employing a 14-line structure for each poem. As he says, his sonnets are made of wood, rather than the "silver, or crystal, or cannonfire" of a more refined sonnet. Neruda's humility is apparent as he refers again and again to the natural landscape of Isla Negra (the Pacific island where he and his wife lived) to describe his simple dedication to Matilde: "...I am like a scorched rock / that suddenly sings when you are near, because it drinks / the water you carry from the forest, in your voice."
Journeying from the erotic celebration of the body to the spiritual depths of eternal union, 100 Love Sonnets shows why "two happy lovers make one bread" and "waking, they leave one sun empty in their bed."