An insight into one of the most influential poets of all time — Pablo Neruda. A man who some consider to be Chile’s national poet.
This next influential poet goes by the pen name Pablo Neruda. He was referred to as “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any langauge,” by Columbian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.
Pablo Neruda, originally Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, was born in Chile in 1904 and wrote around 3,000 poems during his lifespan.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.Pablo Neruda Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, Trans. W.S. Merwin
Pablo Neruda: Career and Influence
Neruda began writing around age ten and was first published in local papers and magazines at age thirteen in Chile’s capital, Santiago. He received his education from the Temuco Boys’ School through which he was encouraged by the principal of the sister school, Gabriela Mistral, who later became a Nobel laureate.
In 1921, Neruda traveled to Santiago to become a French teacher. It was through his struggles with poverty and loneliness during this time that he wrote his first book of poems. Crepusculario, published in 1923, hosts elegant poems that conform to Symbolist poetry.
One of his more famous books is Veinte Poemas De Amor Y Una Canción Desperada, or Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair in English, published just a year after his first. This is one of Neruda’s more recognizable pieces, being chock-full of imagery and metaphors that lend to the unhappy and passionate nature of the speaker.
Even at the young age of twenty, Neruda was one of Chile’s best-known poets. After publishing three more books in 1926, he was recruited by the Chilean government to represent them as an honorary consul in several different countries over the years. Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.
What makes Pablo Neruda’s poetry unique?
Neruda’s poetry never followed a strict pattern. It flowed as he moved about the world. During his formative years, it was rooted in Symbolist poetry in using an innovate meter paired with lush imagery to display their indiviual spiritual values to their audiences.
In his book Residencia En La Tierra, or Residence on Earth in English published 1925-1931, he abandoned the normal standards for poetry, including syntax, rhyme, and stanzaic organization, in favor of one that was all his own. This book was able to shine in the light of Surrealism while maintaining Neruda’s individual qualities.
Pablo Neruda: Legacy
All-in-all, it’s easy to see why Pablo Neruda is as revered as he is. His poetry encapsulated the story of his life, from beginning to end–through love, maturity, material, and finally the common. Pablo Neruda’s work is complied in Obras Completas, though much of his work is available in translations, as well.
Neruda was one of the most prolific poets to write in Spanish during the twentieth century. Throughout his collected works, each of them has their own purpose fueled by Neruda’s personality.
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