Imagery Of Nature In “Girl Lithe And Tawny” By Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda uses nature in his “Twenty Love Poems & a Song of Despair”, to express the love he has for a woman, and loneliness he feels when surrounded by her. One of his poems, “Girl Lithe and Tawny”, is a good example. Neruda employs stylistic imagery in his poetry to show how much he appreciates and loves an absent woman.

Nature is often beautiful, as it can be both dark and scary, but also lovely and pleasant. The natural world has always been beautiful. It was there before man and is still here today. The natural world has the power to capture the human heart with its beauty. However, it can also destroy. It is a powerful force capable of destroying surroundings and sometimes taking human lives. Neruda uses these seemingly opposing perspectives of nature in his poetry to express his feelings towards his lover who gives him joy, adoration and yet causes him sadness and pain.

Neruda said “and in the first stanza, your mouth is smiling like water”. Neruda uses the symbolism of “the water” to compare the smile of a woman to the beauty he sees in her eyes. In this example, he’s comparing her powerful, vast smile to the water. Neruda uses water to describe his love, comparing it with the importance of water for the body. In addition, water is also deadly for humans, as it can cause pain and anguish. Neruda reveals both sides to his lover by comparing “girl” and her smile with water. She is beautiful and deep, and he loves it, but she also causes him pain and anguish.

In the second line, Neruda uses nature as a powerful metaphor to describe the pain and love he is feeling. He compares the lover to the black sun. “A black yearning sunlight is braided within the strands in your black mane if you stretch your hands”. Neruda transforms a natural object that was once bright and cheery into something mysterious and dark. Neruda takes a sun that is typically warm and pleasant to show the beauty in her “black tresses.” But he also turns it black, a color synonymous with death and darkness. Neruda’s use of a dark color for a radiant object like the sun allows him to express his contradictory feelings for her. Neruda explains the influence of this woman’s beauty and the power of the sun as the universal source for life. Her beauty (in this instance, her dark hair) can influence him, and give him life. She has such a significant influence on his life that she can also destroy him.

Neruda describes the woman’s character in the third stanza as “the frenzied young bee”. The bee plays a vital role in nature. It helps to grow and bloom flowers. The bee makes the plants and flowers around it bloom. This is what allows the natural world to thrive. Neruda means that his lover’s presence is like the bee for him. She helps him grow, thrive and survive. The bee is dangerous, as it can cause pain when threatened. The poet is saying, by comparing the young girl to a wasp, that her presence is both uplifting and painful.

Neruda uses an image that is seemingly contrary to the previous one in order to convey the feelings he feels towards his beloved. He says in the third line “dark, definitive …” a beautiful butterfly that decorates nature lightly. In no way does it cause harm to anyone. Neruda adds a new twist to the common perception of a lover by calling her a dark butterfly. Neruda creates a mysterious and eerie feeling by using the term “dark”. The word “dark,” when used in a poem, conveys a feeling of hopelessness and sadness. Neruda appears to express this sentiment throughout the poem. Even though he thinks the woman is sweet and beautiful as a butterfly, his happiness is hindered with sadness.

Neruda uses nature to convey the feelings of sadness and love he feels for his lover. This is an important part of understanding the poem. He is able explain his feelings for his lover by using seemingly contradictory imagery such as the “dark butterflies” and the “black yearning Sun”. It is up to the readers’ interpretation of his indirect symbolic imagery, but it clearly conveys Neruda’s intense love for this woman and his deep pain.


  • ewanpatel

    I'm a 29-year-old educational bloger and teacher. I have been writing about education for about six years, and I have a B.A. in English from UC Santa Cruz. I also have a M.A. in English from San Francisco State University. I teach high school English in the Bay Area.