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Neruda's 

Veinte Poemas

   
 

  Love and despair . . .

   

 

  

 

Ecstatic, mournful, and lyrical, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada (Twenty poems of Love and a Song of Despair), captures the searing emotions of young love lost forever.  Published in 1924 when Neruda was only twenty, the book announced the arrival of a great poet.  Writing in a simple, sensual language, Neruda used images from nature--a mountain, a rose, honey, milk--to describe an erotic love.  He was greatly influenced by the imagery and mysticism in the work of Rabindranath Tagore and the volume includes a paraphrase of Tagore's In My Sky at Twilight.  The eroticism in Neruda's poetry was shocking at the time.  In poem after poem, the beloved's body morphs into a forest path, an untamed jungle; the poet's own emotions are ferocious waves or howling winds: "I have marked the atlas of your white body with crosses of fire."

Born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, he took the name Pablo Neruda--a combination of Paul Verlaine's first name and the Czech poet Jan Neruda's surname.  He wrote voluminously, and also lived a public political life as a communist and diplomat.  Crowds thronged the streets of Santiago when he passed away in 1973, only two years after he received the Nobel Prize.

Yet, this slim first volume of poetry remains his most exquisite work and one of the most powerful works of love poetry ever written. "Tonight I can write the saddest verses. I loved her, and at times she loved me too." 

 

Read: Neruda's Veinte Poemas de Amor 

Read: The Gitanjali, Rabindranath Tagore

 

Tags:  literature  poetry      

 

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