Toda la noche he dormido contigo

From Pablo Neruda, here is a sensuous and sensual love poem, describing the sensations and feelings of sleeping with his lover on an island. Although unstated explicitly, it is a small step to imagine the two lovers on a beach, wrapped in a blanket, with the waves just a few feet away. It is an evocative and lovely poem, capturing a moment of pleasure and fulfilment in a loving relationship.

It is called “La Noche en la Isla”, A night on the island.


Toda la noche he dormido contigo
junto al mar, en la isla.
Salvaje y dulce eras entre el placer y el sueño,
entre el fuego y el agua.

Tal vez muy tarde
nuestros sueños se unieron
en lo alto o en el fondo,
arriba como ramas que un mismo viento mueve,
abajo como rojas raíces que se tocan.

Tal vez tu sueño
se separó del mío
y por el mar oscuro
me buscaba como antes,
cuando aún no existías,
cuando sin divisarse navegué por tu lado,
y tus ojos buscaban lo que ahora
-pan, vino, amor y cólera-
te doy a manos llenas
porque tú eres la copa
que esperaba los dones de mi vida.

He dormido contigo
toda la noche mientras
la oscura tierra gira
con vivos y con muertos,
y al despertar de pronto
en medio de la sombra
mi brazo rodeaba tu cintura.
Ni la noche, ni el sueño
pudieron separarnos.

He dormido contigo
y al despertar tu boca
salida de tu sueño
me dio el sabor de tierra,
de agua marina, de algas,
del fondo de tu vida,
y recibí tu beso
mojado por la aurora
como si me llegara
del mar que nos rodea.

From <;

The most important phrase in the poem is “he dormido contigo”, I slept with you, which first occurs in the very first line, and then at the beginning of each of the last two stanzas. The whole rest of the poem describes the different ways the poet experiences this and its impact on him. The poem is entirely focused on the feelings and thoughts of the poet himself, while the lover is there as the catalyst and object of his feelings, but entirely absent as a person or personality.

The first two stanzas contain a sequence of contrasts – salvaje/dulce, fuego/agua, arriba/abajo – which capture the all-encompassing nature of passing the night together, there is no room to be aware of anything else. The third stanza seems to describe the fantasy of the female searching out the male to be the provider, and she be the recipient of the good and bad things of life.

The fourth stanza reemphasizes the intensity of the experience, it almost seems as if the whole earth is revolving around the pair of lovers, and finishes on a tender image of his arm round her waist and nothing can separate the loving couple.

The final stanza, ending with a kiss, brings the tastes and smells of the beach to enrich the experience with saltiness from the water, the smell of seaweed, the damp of the dawn air all becoming part of the kiss which confirms their love and the lovers becoming part of their surroundings.

Love on a desert island indeed…


The Poetry Dude


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