You Start Dying Slowly Poem by Pablo Neruda Summary & Explanation 10th Class


Nobel prize winning poet, Pablo Neruda has written this poem to portray the importance of living life properly. He says that life is simple if we listen to our voices that comes from within and believe in ourselves. To his readers, he urges them not to live life as a rat race, but however we want to live our life, otherwise we might start losing hope for a happy life.

Stanza 1

If you do not travel.
If you do not read,
If you do not listen to the sounds of life,
If you do not appreciate yourself.
You start dying slowly… 

The poet starts by telling us to live life fully and not have any idle or negative thoughts. He tells the readers to travel it’s the only way to experience new things. He further tells readers to read as it’s the only way to experience life through small things. The poet also says we should see and feel the unseen by listen to the sounds of life.

Listening to the sound of life is listening to music, to the voices of nature and also to others. Understanding the sound of silence around us can help us conquer everything. The poet sums up by saying that we should believe in ourselves.

If we fail to appreciate yourself, we give place to negativity and despair in a life. Appreciating oneself is important more than what others conceive of ourselves. To ensure that we don’t start dying slowly, we should believe in ourselves and encourage others. 

Stanza 2

When you kill your self-esteem;
When you do not let others help you.
You start dying slowly…

In the second stanza, the poet puts forth the notion that humans cannot survive alone. Human beings are social animals and so color, class, caste, religion or any other social strata should not matter.

The poet says that when we start to think of others to be superior, we lose our self-respect and in that situation, we are unable to respect others. Hence, the poet urges the readers not to kill your self esteem. By not mixing and communicating with people, we close the doors of hope and remain amidst all loneliness and negativity.

Stanza 3

If you become a slave of your habits,
Walking everyday on the same paths.
If you do not change your routine,
If you do not wear different colours
Or you do not speak to those you don't know.
You start dying slowly…

In the third stanza of the poem, the poet says it’s easy to become a slave of your habits. Habits are much easy to inculcate, but can also cause a lot of harm in our lives. It is important to recognize them and get rid of  them. Good habits are meant to be walked on every day on the same paths, whereas bad habits should be gotten rid of.

The poet urges us to change our old paths and that if we do not change your routine, we might miss out on new things in life. Here the poet actually implies us to change the attitude of our inner self and to look at things under a new light. We should mix in society as a colorful social butterfly.

The poet urges us to wear different colors as they might help to express different emotions in our lives. We must acknowledge all our inner emotions and express them. The poet says we must talk to the known and to the unknown in order to explore life, because if we don’t bring changes in our life, we would start dying slowly.

Stanza 4

If you avoid to feel passion
And their turbulent emotions;
Those which make your eyes glisten
And your heart beat fast.
You start dying slowly…

In the fourth stanza, the poet says that all of us have dreams and ambitions. We strive to achieve our goals and feel the chase towards it. However the poet warns us of the time after one becomes successful. One might start to avoid to feel passion and that we’d go inconsistency in turbulent emotions. Emotion is required in the mind. It makes your heart beat fast and we remember what it’s worth fighting for. By avoiding emotions, we let go of our passions and start dying slowly, mentally. 

Stanza 5

If you do not change your life
when you are not satisfied with your job,
or with your love,
If you do not risk what is safe, for the uncertain,
If you do not go after a dream,
If you do not allow yourself,
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice…

In the final stanza, the poet urges the readers to have a different outlook towards life. He says that if we do not change your life, it will become boring. One has to follow what one loves, even if it’s that with one’s career or with love. We might be scared to change ourselves, but if you do not risk what is safe, we will be living dissatisfied with ourselves.

The poet says that he understands that we don’t want to come out of our comfort zone but we need to challenge ourselves. We need to challenge the talent within us as it will allow us to choose our dreams. He urges us at least once in your lifetime we need not follow sensible advice but to live life like we want. If we don’t live life to the fullest, we might start dying slowly, maybe not from the outside but definitely from the inside. 


In this poem the poet tells us to live life fully and not waste days by delving into negative thoughts. He tells the readers to travel and experience different things and read and listen and try to live life like we want. He says that life is small and we should see the unseen and hear the unspoken. He urges the readers of this poem to appreciate ourselves and to challenge our talents and not to shy away from believing in ourselves and respecting others.