Pablo Neruda's work is often written in the second person, directed at "you," or written with second-person considerations. Furthermore, his poetry is often confrontational, positioned as a type of combative defensiveness, protecting himself from his vulnerability to emotion. His poetry is often treating feelings of despair, hopelessness and loneliness. Most of all, Neruda is the poet of love lost. His poems about former lovers are nearly sublime.
For instance, "If You Forget Me" discusses a sort of deal Neruda imposes between himself and his ex. He states that in the case that his former lover should ever forget how they used to feel together, Pablo himself would already have forgotten, but if she remembers her love for him, his love burns still. Also, in "Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines," Neruda frames his writing as an ironic brag. Through that poem, he explains to the reader that the power of his poetry comes from his real felt pain and emotional trials. In "When I Die," Neruda explains that it isn't just the feelings that produce poetry, but rather, the meaning of his perseverance for love's sake. Even when people leave from his life, Neruda continues feeling deeply for them, and that is the source of his melancholic insight.
The type of poetic irony Neruda demonstrates so clearly in these poems is a type of situational irony in which many of the poem's lines are designed to be taken differently than they seem at first. Neruda demands that the reader understand how he feels before the poetry unfolds itself to them. Therefore, Neruda's poetry is not unlike impressionistic paintings where the meaning lies not in the subject but in the poetry itself. Ultimately, Neruda seems to be attempting to view life as an irony, to find meaning that somehow overcomes the actual pain of life's burdens.