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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)

Nothing But Death

Pablo Neruda, 1904 - 1973
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 there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,
death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain. 

Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail, 
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,
caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
	finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
	throat.
Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I'm not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral. 

By Pablo Neruda, translated and edited by Robert Bly, and published by Beacon Press in Neruda & Vallejo: Selected Poems. © 1993 by Robert Bly. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

By Pablo Neruda, translated and edited by Robert Bly, and published by Beacon Press in Neruda & Vallejo: Selected Poems. © 1993 by Robert Bly. Used with permission. 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
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
The truth is in the prologue.  Death to the romantic fool,
to the expert in solitary confinement,
I’m the same as the teacher from Colombia,
the rotarian from Philadelphia, the merchant
from Paysandu who save his silver
to come here.  We all arrive by different streets,
by unequal languages, at Silence.
poem

Furrowed motherland, I swear that in your ashes
you will be born like a flower of eternal water
I swear that from your mouth of thirst will come to the air
the petals of bread, the spilt
inaugurated flower. Cursed,
cursed, cursed be those who with an ax and serpent
came to your earthly