Pablo Neruda, a Special Character to Remember

People who changed the world - Column with Isabel Jubes


Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda

Changing the world, the story one great person at its time.

Every week for few minutes I’ll bring you a short story about an important character in the Latin and Hispanic culture, from history or the present, that had made an important contribution to our culture.

Pablo in few words

Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He chose his pen name after Czech poet Jan Neruda.

He was born in Parral, Chile, on July 12, 1904.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He Died on September 23, 1973, in Santiago, Chile.

Some of his early poems are found in his first book, Crepusculario (Book of Twilight), published in 1923, and one of his most renowned works was his book “Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada”(Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair). The later was published the following year (1924). This second book, Twenty Love Poems made Neruda a celebrity.  After its success, he devoted himself to his poetry.

Diplomatic Career

In 1927, Neruda began his long diplomatic career. This allowed him to move frequently around the world. In 1935, the Spanish Civil War began, and Neruda chronicled the atrocities, including the execution of his friend Federico García Lorca, in his  “España en el corazón: Himno a la Glorias del Pueblo en la Guerra” (Spain in Our Hearts: a hymn to the Glory of the people at war). This book was described as an epic hymn against fascism.

Neruda was a close collaborator to socialist President Salvador Allende. When Neruda returned to Chile after his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Allende invited him to read at the Estadio Nacional before 70,000 people.

The Poet

Neruda wrote in a variety of styles such as erotically charged love poems, surrealist poems, historical epics, and overtly political manifestos.

Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” One interesting  fact about the poet is that he always wrote in green ink as it was his personal color of hope.

His Death

Neruda was hospitalized with cancer at the time of the Chilean coup d’état led by Augusto Pinochet. Three days after being hospitalized, Neruda died of heart failure.

Already a legend in life, Neruda’s death reverberated around the world. Pinochet had denied permission to transform Neruda’s funeral into a public event. However, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew and crowded the streets.

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