Poet Feature: Pablo Neruda

As part of our celebration of National Poetry Month, we're featuring the work of a wide variety of poets, such as Pablo Neruda!

Born Ricardo Eliezer Neftali Reyes y Basoalto, Neruda hailed from the countryside near Temuco, a city in southern Chile.  He was a prolific writer even at a young age.  By the time he graduated from high school, he had already adopted the pseudonym that would later become his legal name, and was publishing poetry in local newspapers and winning writing contests as Pablo Neruda.  He was lucky enough to meet future Nobel Laureate Gabriel Mistral during his youth, and Mistral, recognizing a fellow poet in young Neruda, provided the support and guidance that helped shape Neruda's early writing.

While in the Chilean capital of Santiago, attending university, Neruda published his first book of poetry, Crepusculario, or Twilight, which gained little attention but did provide him the foothold he needed to find a publishers for his second book, Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, translated as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.  This earned Neruda almost immediate acclaim as a rising star of Spanish poetry, and, subsequently, a position as an honorary consul to Burma.  Poets in Latin America were frequently considered for such positions, and the more prominent the poet, the more prominent the consul position.  During his early travels as a diplomat, Neruda was surprised and horrified by the squalor, pain, and senseless misery he found in much of the world.  He channeled these feelings into the first two volumes of Residencia en la tierra, or Residence on Earth, exploring the despair and seemingly unanswerable questions of mankind's existence.  He softened this position somewhat in the third volume of Residencia en la tierra, Tercera residencia, which was written after he discovered the ideals of Communism and, in them, some of the answers he was seeking.

Neruda's increasingly political works began to cause concern regarding his position as a Chilean diplomat.  He was recalled from Spain during the Spanish Civil War after his politics were deemed potentially dangerous, but back in Chile, his works and their Communist underpinnings were increasingly popular.  He was elected to the Senate, but was expelled and nearly arrested when Communism was declared illegal in Chile.  Neruda contined to write prolifically while in exile, returning to Chile in 1952. Though known as "the people's poet" in Chile, his works are notoriously difficult to translate adequately into English, and only a fraction of his work is well known outside the Spanish-speaking world.  He received the International Peace Prize in 1950, and, in 1971, the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Neruda died of cancer in 1973.  He was 69.

 

Staff Pick Badge
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair: (Dual-Language Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, W. S. Merwin (Translated by), Cristina García (Introduction by), Pablo Picasso (Illustrator)
$14.00
ISBN: 9780142437704
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - December 2nd, 2003

One Hundred Love Sonnets: Cien Sonetos de Amor Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, Stephen Tapscott (Translator)
$19.95
ISBN: 9780292757608
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: University of Texas Press - January 15th, 2014

Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, Forrest Gander (Translator)
$23.00
ISBN: 9781556594946
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Copper Canyon Press - May 3rd, 2016

The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, Mark Eisner (Editor)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780872864283
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: City Lights Publishers - City Lights Publishe - April 2004

The Poetry of Pablo Neruda Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, Ilan Stavans (Editor)
$22.00
ISBN: 9780374529604
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 2005

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780061733574
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - June 30th, 2009

Residence On Earth (New Directions Paperbook #992) Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9780811215817
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - July 17th, 2004

Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion de desesperada y cien sonetos de amor Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780307474742
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Vintage Espanol - January 12th, 2010

The Sea and the Bells (Kagean Book) Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, William O'Daly (Translator)
$14.00
ISBN: 9781556591624
Availability: Backordered
Published: Copper Canyon Press - January 2002

Memoirs Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, Hardie St. Martin (Translated by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9780374527532
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - January 15th, 2001

Spain in Our Hearts: Espana En El Corazon (New Directions Bibelot) Cover Image
$10.95
ISBN: 9780811216425
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - November 17th, 2005