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Let nothing unite us, so that nothing can separate us.

This quote is from the second stanza of the poem "Farewell" (English translation) — the original Spanish text is

Para que nada nos amarre que no nos una nada.

Does this mean that if you love someone, you should "set them free"?

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    Where does this quote come from? Can you please provide a source?
    – Mithical
    May 6 '17 at 21:40
  • @Mithrandir It's cited here as "So that nothing separates us, nothing shall unite us.”
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 6 '17 at 21:54
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    I did some digging and found the source of this quote. I've suggested an edit to provide the necessary context, and a rough translation can be found here, although I suspect some nuance is lost. (I found the translation of the phrase via this thread)
    – Aurora0001
    May 9 '17 at 15:00
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    Minor nitpick: a more literal translation of the poem is "So that we are not bound, nothing should unite us." It says absolutely nothing about being separated, in the original text. amarre is a conjugation of the verb for tying/binding, and una is unite.
    – user72
    May 9 '17 at 19:02
  • @Riker's remark is not a minor nitpick: the meaning of the translated verse is very different from the original text. While the meaning and the idea of the whole poem could be the same, trying to understand the original and translated verse out of context would yield very different conclusions.
    – Pere
    Dec 5 '17 at 12:01
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Reading the entire poem, I think it is clear that he is talking about a child.

DESDE el fondo de ti, y arrodillado,
un niño triste, como yo, nos mira.

The narrator is the father of the child, but he does not want to have a child ("YO NO lo quiero, Amada"/ "AMO el amor de los marineros / que besan y se van. / Dejan una promesa. / No vuelven nunca más.", etc.). So he is saying that he does not want to be tied ("amarre"), so he does not want anything to tie/unite them (the kid).

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    No worries, you don't have to be majoring in Literature to post an answer here :-) What matters is just that answers be properly backed up (e.g. by references, quotes, or simply sensible reasoning), not who posts them.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 3 '17 at 15:20
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I tend to think that Neruda is talking about the possibility or potential of the man in the poem engendering a child with the unnamed woman and that, were this to occur, this potential child (or the life flowing through the child’s veins) would then, through her/his existence, “ground”him (a “sailor” who, instead, would like to have a woman waiting at every port). Meanwhile he is likely playing here with the words “amarrar” - “to tie up, to bind” - and “amar” - “to love.” Later in the poem he also seems to play with “a amar” and “a mar” as in “to love” and “to the sea,” probably explaining his introduction of the male lover as a sailor.

The line quoted is also full of alliteration and semi-hidden meanings:

Para que nada nos amarre que no nos una nada.

For example the word “nada” means “nothing” and “swims,” as in “una nada” or “a female swims.” Moreover, the word “una” means “joins,” which carries the surface meaning of “nothing join (us)” as well as “a nothing(ness)”.

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