Another beautiful sonnet by another wonderful poet was read to us in the film Patch Adams, the true-story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams. In this scene, Patch, a patient-turned-medical student is seen mourning the death of this girlfriend. In her honour, Patch recites part of Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII (Sometimes referred to by it’s first line I Do Not Love You).
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
– Pablo Neruda
I can confidently say that this is by far my favourite Shakespearean sonnet. Simply called Sonnet 29, it is simple and beautiful and has therefore been mentioned and recited in film and television many times over the years. It has featured in all sorts of places, from Star Trek to Pretty Woman, which is why I’m baffled as to why I can not seem to find an actual clip of the sonnet being recited in any such form.
Of course, that’s no reason to overlook this masterpiece, and what better way to hear it than from the lilting voice of the great Al Pacino?
When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least.
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
– William Shakespeare