Pablo Neruda's "Ode to Wine" Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

I'm drawn to poems that are discursive and difficult to comprehend (I'm a big fan of John Ashbery). I must have read it thirty times and I still have yet to agree on how each line, each word is connected. It's a challenging poem in this regard, and I like a challenge.

I have a personal connection to the poem because, quite simply, I like wine. Now, I don't know if I agree with the Speaker regarding wine's eternal (can never be contained in one glass) and critically important qualities (the community of man), but I do like a fine wine every now and again.

Lastly, as for two poetic elements, I would argue that what makes this poem memorable is its structure and its metaphors (as previously mentioned, comparing women to wine and wine to women).

The structure of the poem is like a purling stream of wine flowing from a bottle. That is to say, the poem seems to flow at different intensities, almost as if someone was pouring it out of a bottle. There's an arrhythmic tempo to it that
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is quite appealing. Some one, two word lines followed by some five, six, seven word lines. This carefully wrought structure underpins the subject, wine, quite nicely.

As for the metaphors used, it's clear that the speaker is comparing women to wine and wine to women, for example, hips to wine goblets, breasts to grape clusters, nipples to grapes, hair to spirits, navel to chaste seal, etc. These elements are riddled throughout the poem to show the speaker's love and obsession with wine. The Speaker loves wine like a mistress because his mistress is like a fine glass of wine. This loving almost sexually explicit relationship is explored, albeit briefly, at different points throughout the poem. The Speaker uses words and phrases like amorous, lascivious, spring dress, kiss of love, etc. To display the sensual and seductive qualities of wine, which are, to many, similar to those of a woman.

To be honest, I'm not done unpacking this poem. There are still aspects that, at this point, I haven't fleshed out. Perhaps what I need is a nice glass of Merlot, and then things might start to make a little more sense -…

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