The great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971, two years before his death at age 69. Called “The greatest poet of the twentieth century—in any language” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, he is certainly one of the most important poets of the 20th century, and his Canto General – his Song of the Americas — is his greatest book. His breadth of vision and wide range of themes are extraordinary, and his work continues to inspire new generations of readers and writers.
Neruda acknowledged the twofold path of his poetry when he wrote, “I have a pact of love with beauty: / I have a pact of blood with my people.” The earth’s glory was the portal to truth for Neruda, and his poems are as ravishing in the splendor of their brilliant metaphors and the eroticism of their luscious detail. The poet’s deep compassion for humankind, ardor for history, and attention to politics also inspired him to write incisively of conquistadors and tyrants, war and corporate imperialism. Passionate and prolific, Neruda himself was a force of nature, filling 35 books with poetry remarkable for its “simplicity, honesty, and conviction.”