(what a smile!)
Born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in southern Chile on July 12, 1904, Pablo Neruda led a life charged with poetic and political activity. In 1923, he published his first book, Crepusculario ("Twilight") under the pseudonym "Pablo Neruda" to avoid conflict with his family who disapproved of his craft.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 Neruda a celebrity, 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.
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 España 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.
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. 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 Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.
Diagnosed with cancer while serving a two-year term as ambassador to France, Neruda resigned his position thus 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 Ruben Darío, died of leukemia in Santiago, Chile.
Click below to watch an excellent short inspired by Neruda's acclaimed poem "Puedo Escribir..." (I Can write...):
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