Happiness for Beginners released on Netflix in July 2023, and it’s quickly becoming a fan-favorite romantic comedy. Ellie Kemper and Luke Grimes co-star in the ensemble film that takes its quirky cast of characters into the woods for an unforgettable adventure.
Based on the book of the same name by Katherine Center, Happiness for Beginners follows the newly divorced Helen (Kemper) as she embarks on a soul-refreshing journey on a beginners hiking trip. On the trip, she’s confronted with facing her problems, and she just might find a new spark, too.
In one of the pivotal scenes of the movie, Jake (Grimes) gives Helen a handwritten note of some sort but instructs her not to read it right away. When she finally reads the note, she’s surprised by its contents: a poem. Who wrote the poem featured in the movie?
Warning: Spoilers ahead from Happiness for Beginners.
Who wrote the poem in Happiness for Beginners?
It’s true, the poem Jake gives Helen in the movie isn’t a Jake original. He wrote Pablo Neruda’s poem titled “XVII.” The poem has also been known as “I do not love you” after its opening line. Helen and Jake have Neruda to thank for bringing them together.
Jake hand-wrote “XVII” especially for Helen as a means to express how much she means to him, which wasn’t especially easy to express while on the hiking trip. Between the necessity of dealing with their own issues and the pressure of saving Hugh, Helen and Jake weren’t often on the same page, but they end up together once the lessons learned in the wilderness settle in.
Pablo Neruda poem in Happiness for Beginners
Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician. In 1971, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature. His works are extensive in poetry, including his popular love poems, and he also wrote an autobiography. Neruda passed away at age 69 in September 1963.
Read the Pablo Neruda poem, via the Poetry Foundation, from Happiness for Beginners below:
"I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:I love you as one loves certain obscure things,secretly, between the shadow and the soul.I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carriesthe light of those flowers, hidden, within itself, and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose from the earth lives dimly in my body.I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you directly without problems or pride:I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,except in this form in which I am not nor are you, so close that your hand upon my chest is mine, so close that your eyes close with my dreams."
Watch Happiness for Beginners only on Netflix.