Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, who later changed his name to Pablo Neruda, was a famous poet and a politician in Chile. His father worked as a railway employee and his mother, who unfortunately died shortly after his birth, was a teacher. He lived with his father and stepmother in a town called Temuco where he spent most of his childhood. By the age thirteen he started contributing with some articles to the daily newspaper “La Mañana” where his first poem Entusiasmo y Preseverancia was published. One of his best-known and most translated works is Veinte poemas de Amor y una canción Desesperada. His literary works eventually lead him to study French at the University of Chile in Santiago.

During 1927 and 1935, Pablo was working through the government which opened him a path to travel and he visited cities like Madrid and Barcelona and countries like Singapore and Argentina. Soon after, he returned to his native country and many of his poetic work reflected what was happening around him politically. He was then appointed as counsel for Spanish emigration where he resided, in Paris. During this time he rewrote his poem Canto General de Chile which spoke about the South American continent.

Afterwards in 1945 he returned back to Chile where he was elected Senator of the Republic joining the communist party of Chile. During President Videla´s term, Pablo had many works published where he asserted his political stance.  As many of Nerudo’s statements at the time were politically charged and not in favor of the president, the police were ordered to arrest Nerudo. Before he was caught, Nerudo went into hiding and during this time he finished Canto Real. It is widely felt that his works are remarkable because there is so much history running through the words he wrote.

After his exile from Chile, Neruda retuned back to his native country in 1953 which was made possible because Gonzales Vileda’s government was weakened and the poet received support from many intellectuals and politicians. He spent the last twenty years of his life producing more poems in which his audience likes to describe as ¨Some of the finest love poetry.¨ He also began to move away from this political career when he was nominated as president. After he withdrew his nomination, he supported his colleague Socialist Salvador Allende. When Allende won the elections he renovated Neruda´s credentials making him poet ambassador to France. It was in Paris when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Short after he became sick and left back to Chile where he then died in 1973.

Pablo Neruda was an essential poet who made history all around the globe. In 2003 an anthology of 600 of Neruda´s poems were published in a book titled The Poetry of Pablo Neruda. His poems have moved people to see objects in life in a deeper perspective.

Some of his works we recommend:

  • 100 Love Sonnets (bilingual edition)
  • Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (bilingual edition)
  • World’s End
  • The Hands of the Day
  • The Book of Questions
  • The Yellow Heart
  • Stones of the Sky
  • The Sea and the Bells
  • Winter Garden
  • The Separate Rose
  • Still Another Day
  • On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea
  • Extravagaria (bilingual edition)
  • Intimacies: Poems of Love
  • The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems
  • Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda

If you are interested in Spanish literature, check out our recommendations for books in Spanish for begginers and more advanced students.