poem index

About this poet

Born Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto in the town of Parral in southern Chile on July 12, 1904, Pablo Neruda led a life charged with poetic and political activity. In 1923 he sold all of his possessions to finance the publication of his first book, Crepusculario ("Twilight"). He published the volume under the pseudonym "Pablo Neruda" to avoid conflict with his family, who disapproved of his occupation. The following year, he found a publisher for Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada ("Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"). The book made a celebrity of Neruda, who gave up his studies at the age of twenty to devote himself to his craft.

In 1927, Neruda began his long career as a diplomat in the Latin American tradition of honoring poets with diplomatic assignments. After serving as honorary consul in Burma, Neruda was named Chilean consul in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1933. While there, he began a friendship with the visiting Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. After transferring to Madrid later that year, Neruda also met Spanish writer Manuel Altolaguirre. Together the two men founded a literary review called Caballo verde para la poesîa in 1935. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 interrupted Neruda's poetic and political development. He chronicled the horrendous years which included the execution of García Lorca in Espana en el corazon (1937), published from the war front. Neruda's outspoken sympathy for the loyalist cause during the Spanish Civil War led to his recall from Madrid in 1937. He then returned to Europe to help settle republican refugees in the United States.

Neruda returned to Chile in 1938 where he renewed his political activity and wrote prolifically. Named Chilean Consul to Mexico in 1939, Neruda left Chile again for four years. Upon returning to Chile in 1943, he was elected to the Senate and joined the Communist Party. When the Chilean government moved to the right, they declared communism illegal and expelled Neruda from the Senate. He went into hiding. During those years he wrote and published Canto general (1950).

In 1952 the government withdrew the order to arrest leftist writers and political figures, and Neruda returned to Chile and married Matilde Urrutia, his third wife (his first two marriages, to Maria Antonieta Haagenar Vogelzang and Delia del Carril, both ended in divorce). For the next twenty-one years, he continued a career that integrated private and public concerns and became known as the people's poet. During this time, Neruda received numerous prestigious awards, including the International Peace Prize in 1950, the Lenin Peace Prize and the Stalin Peace Prize in 1953, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

Diagnosed with cancer while serving a two-year term as ambassador to France, Neruda resigned his position, ending his diplomatic career. On September 23, 1973, just twelve days after the defeat of Chile's democratic regime, the man widely regarded as the greatest Latin American poet since Darío, died of leukemia in Santiago, Chile.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Viente poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada (1924)
Anillos (1926)
Residencia en la tierra (1933)
Espana en el corazon: Himno a las glorias del pueblo en la guerra (1937)
Alturas de Macchu-Picchu (1948)
Canto General (1950)
Los versos del capitan: Poemas de amor (1952)
Las uvas y el viento (1954)
Odas elementales (1954)
Estravagario (1958)
Cien sonetos de amor (1959)
Cantos ceremoniales (1961)
Plenos poderes (1962)
Las piedras de Chile (1961)
Memorial de Isla Negra (1964)
Las piedras del cielo (1970)
El mar y las campanas: Poemas (1973)
La rosa separada (1973)
El corazon amarillo (1974)
Jardin de invierno (1974)
Libro de las preguntas (1974)

Prose

El habitante y su esperanza (1925)
Discurso pronunciado con ocasion de la entrega del premio Nobel de literatura (1971)
Confieso que he vivido: Memorias (1974)
Correspondancia (1980)

Anthology

Paginas escogidas de Anatole France (1924)
Visiones de las hijas de Albion y el viajero mental (1935)
Romeo y Julieta (1964)
Cuarenta y cuatro (1967)

Drama

Fulgor y muerte de Joaquin Murieta: Bandido chileno injusticiado en California el 23 julio 1853 (1967)

Poetry in Translation

Residence on Earth (1962)
The Heights of Macchu Picchu (1966)
Twenty Poems (1967)
A New Decade: Poems, 1958-1967 (1969)
Pablo Neruda: The Early Poems (1969)
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1969)
Selected Poems (1970)
Stones of the Sky (1970)
Neruda and Vallejo: Selected Poems (1971)
The Captain's Verses (1972)
Extravagaria (1972)
New Poems, 1968-1970 (1972)
Splendor and Death of Joaquin Murieta (1972)
Five Decades: A Selection (Poems 1925-1970) (1974)
Fully Empowered: Plenos poderes (1975)
Memoirs (1976)
Pablo Neruda and Nicanor Parra Face to Face (1977)
Isla Negra: A Notebook (1980)
Passions and Impressions (1982)
Windows That Open Inward: Images of Chile (1984)
A Separate Rose (1985)
100 Love Sonnets (1986)
Winter Garden (1986)
The Stones of Chile (1987)
The House at Isla Negra (1988)
The Sea and the Bells (1988)
Late and Posthumous Poems, 1968-1974 (1989)
Selected Odes of Pablo Neruda (1990)
The Yellow Heart (1990)
The Book of Questions (1991)
Spain in the Heart: Hymn to the Glories of the People at War (1993)
Pablo Neruda: An Anthology of Odes (1994)
Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon : Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda (1998)
The Essential Neruda (2004)

Love For This Book

Pablo Neruda, 1904 - 1973
In these lonely regions I have been powerful
in the same way as a cheerful tool
or like untrammeled grass which lets loose its seed
or like a dog rolling around in the dew.
Matilde, time will pass wearing out and burning
another skin, other fingernails, other eyes, and then
the algae that lashed our wild rocks,
the waves that unceasingly construct their own whiteness,
all will be firm without us,
all will be ready for the new days,
which will not know our destiny.

What do we leave here but the lost cry
of the seabird, in the sand of winter, in the gusts of wind
that cut our faces and kept us
erect in the light of purity,
as in the heart of an illustrious star?

What do we leave, living like a nest
of surly birds, alive, among the thickets
or static, perched on the frigid cliffs?
So then, if living was nothing more than anticipating
the earth, this soil and its harshness,
deliver me, my love, from not doing my duty, and help me
return to my place beneath the hungry earth.

We asked the ocean for its rose,
its open star, its bitter contact,
and to the overburdened, to the fellow human being, to the wounded
we gave the freedom gathered in the wind.
It's late now. Perhaps
it was only a long day the color of honey and blue,
perhaps only a night, like the eyelid
of a grave look that encompassed
the measure of the sea that surrounded us,
and in this territory we found only a kiss,
only ungraspable love that will remain here
wandering among the sea foam and roots.

From The House in the Sand by Pablo Neruda. Copyright © 1966, 2004 by Fundacion Pablo Neruda. Translation copyright © 1990, 2004 by Dennis Maloney and Clark Zlotchew. Reprinted by permission of White Pine Press. All rights reserved.

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda

Born Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto in southern Chile on July 12, 1904, Pablo Neruda led a life charged with poetic and political activity.

by this poet

poem
There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And
poem
The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the
poem
III.


Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder 
than a train standing in the rain?