What is the poem in Happiness for Beginners and is the film based on a book?

Here's what you need to know about the romantic poem featured in Happiness for Beginners and the origins of this film's story

Happiness for Beginners
(Image credit: Netflix)

Happiness for Beginners was released recently on Netflix, and fans have been enchanted by this heartwarming story of self-discovery.

Starring Yellowstone's Luke Grimes and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Ellie Kemper, Happiness for Beginners is Netflix's latest wholesome rom-com that provides some genuine laughs and a positive story about finding yourself and moving on from a divorce. Fans have loved this movie and it's topping Netflix's top 10 most-watched films in the UK right now. But some have some questions about the origins of this story and some of the finer plot points of this film. Here's what you need to know about the basis of Happiness for Beginners and the poem in that pivotal scene...

*Warning, there are some spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution!*

What is the poem in Happiness for Beginners?

At the end of the film, Helen (Ellie Kemper) opens the note that Jake (Luke Grimes) gave her during their hike. She realises that it is a love poem and that Jake has been in love with her for a long time, and his odd behaviour was because of his secret attraction to her. 

When she and Jake later cross paths she tells him "I read the poem," to which he replies "I didn't write it." Helen, an English teacher, then scoffs and says, "Yeah, I know you didn't write it. I loved it." So who did write the poem? 

The poem is by Pablo Neruda and is called 'XVII (I do not love you)…' The poem is about the poet's love for his wife and how he loves her simply and unlike beautiful objects or other things that women might be compared to in poetry.

Happiness for beginners

(Image credit: Netflix)

The poem in Happiness for Beginners

XVII (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.

by Pablo Neruda 

Happiness for Beginners

(Image credit: Netflix)

Is Happiness for Beginners based on a book?

Yes. This Netflix movie is actually adapted from a book with the same name by Katherine Center. The novel was first published in 2015 and received great reviews from readers who loved this earnest romantic comedy. There are some key changes that were made to adapt the book for the big screen, but at it's core the message, characters and the ending a much the same.

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.