Pablo Neruda - Poems by the Famous Poet - All Poetry

Famous poet /

Pablo Neruda

1904-1973  •  Ranked #4 in the top 500 poets

Pablo Neruda [1914-1973] was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, but adopted his pen name legally in 1946. Under that name he has become one one of the most famous poets of all time. 
From the 1940s on, his works reflected the political struggle of the left and the socio-historical developments in South America. He was also very famous for his love poems.  Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924) have sold over a million copies since it first appeared.

Ricardo Reyes Basoalto was born in Parral, a small town in central Chile. His father, don José del Carmen Reyes Morales, was a poor railway worker and his mother, Rosa Basoalto de Reyes, was a schoolteacher who died of tuberculosis when Neruda was an infant. Don José Carmen moved with his sons in 1906 to Temuco, and married Trinidad Candia Marvedre.

Neruda started to write poetry when he was ten years old. At the age of twelve, he met the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, who encouraged his literary efforts. Neruda's first literary work, an article, appeared in 1917 in the magazine La Manana. It was followed by the poem,      Misojos, which appeared in 1918 in Corre-Vuela. In 1920 he published poems in the magazine, Selva Austral, using the pen name Pablo Neruda to avoid conflict with his family, who disapproved his literary ambitions. From 1921 he studied French at the Instituto Pedagógico in Santiago. In 1924 Neruda gained international fame as an writer with VEINTE POEMAS DE AMOR Y UNA CANCÍON, which is his most widely read work.

At the age of only 23 Neruda was appointed by the Chilean government as consul to Burma (now Myanmar). He held diplomatic posts in various East Asian and European Countries, befriending among others, the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. Neruda continued to write for several literary and other magazines, among them La Nación, El Sol, and Revista de Occidente. He also started to edit in 1935 a literary magazine, Caballo Verde para la Poesía.

After Neruda ended his affair with the possessive and violently jealous Josie Bliss, he married María Antonieta Hagenaar  in 1930, a Dutch woman who couldn't speak Spanish,  they separated in 1936. At that time Neruda lived in Paris, where he published with Nancy Cunard, the journal Los Poetas del Mundo Defiende al Pueblo Español. Nancy Cunard was the sole inheritor of the famous Cunard shipping company.  She later followed Neruda to Chile. In the 1930s and 1940s Neruda lived with the Argentine painter Delia del Carril, who encouraged Neruda to participate in politics. Neruda and Delia del Carril married in 1943, but the marriage was not recognized in Chile; they separated in 1955. Neruda married again in 1966 to the Chilean singer, Matilde Urrutia. She was the inspiration of much of Neruda's later poetry, among others One Hundred Love Sonnets (1960).

Neruda's, Residence on Earth (1933), was a visionary work, emerging from the birth of fascism. In 1935-36 he was in Spain but he resigned from his post because he sided with the Spanish Republicans. After the leftist candidate don Pedro Aguirre Cerda won the presidential election, Neruda again was appointed consul, this time to Paris, where he helped Spanish refugees by re-settling them in Chile.

In 1942 Neruda visited Cuba and read for the first time his poem, Canto de amor para Stalingrado, which praised the Red Army fighting in Stalingrad. His daughter, Malva Marina, died in the same year in Europe. Neruda joined the Communist Party, and in 1945 he was elected to the Chilean Senate. He attacked President González Videla in print and when the government was taken by right-wing extremists, he fled to Mexico. He traveled to the Soviet Union, where he was warmly received, and to other Eastern European countries. Neruda was especially impressed by the vastness of Russia: its birch forests, and rivers. He met Ilya Ehrenburg, whose home was full of works by Picasso; and the Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet, who lived in exile in Moscow. The Soviet Union was for Neruda a country where libraries, universities, and theaters were open for all. He referred to dogmatic views in the Soviet art, but optimistically believed that the views had been condemned. Neruda's colleagues also read him Boris Pasternak's poems, but they did not forget to mention that Pasternak was considered as a political reactionary.

In exile Neruda produced CANTO GENERAL (1950), a monumental work of 340 poems. In this work Neruda examined Latin American history from a Marxist point of view, and showed his deep knowledge about the history, geography and politics of the continent. The central theme is the struggle for social justice. Canto general includes Neruda's famous poem Alturas de Macchu Picchu, which was born after he visited the Incan ruins of Macchu Picchu in 1943. In it Neruda aspires to become the voice of the dead people who once lived in the city.

While in exile, Neruda traveled in Italy, where he lived for a while. After the victory of the anti-Videla forces and the order to arrest leftist was rescinded, Neruda returned to Chile. In 1953 Neruda was awarded the Stalin Prize. He remained faithful to "el partido" when other intellectual had rejected Moscow's leash. However, Neruda's faith was deeply shaken in 1956 by Khrushchev's revelation at the Twentieth Party Congress of the crimes committed during the Stalin regime.His collection EXTRAVAGARIO (1958) reflects this change in his works. In it Neruda turned to his youth. He presents the reader with his daily life and examines critically his Marxist beliefs. During a visit to Buenos Aires in 1957 Neruda was arrested and spent a restless night in jail. Just before he was released, a policeman gave him a poem, devoted to the famous author.

Establishing a permanent home on the Isla Negra, Neruda continued to travel extensively, visiting Cuba in 1960 and the United States in 1966. When Salvador Allende was elected president, he appointed Neruda as Chile's ambassador to France (1970-72). Neruda died of leukemia in Santiago on 23 September in 1973. His death was probably accelerated by the murder of Allende and tragedies caused by Pinochet coup. After Neruda's death his homes in Valparaiso and Santioago were robbed.

During his long literary career, Neruda produced more than forty volumes of poetry, translations, and verse drama.

Thanks to for the extended biography.
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Tonight I Can Write (The Saddest Lines)

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, 'The night is starry and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Translation by W. S. Merwin


I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.

Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars,
and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass.

What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her.
The night is full of stars and she is not with me.

That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away.
My soul is lost without her.

As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her and she is not with me.

The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, we who were, we are the same no longer.

I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As she once
belonged to my kisses.
Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her.
Love is so short and oblivion so long.

Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is lost without her.

Although this may be the last pain she causes me,
and this may be the last poem I write for her.

Translation by ???

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96   Translated by W S Merwin and A.N.Other


Because of you, in gardens of blossoming
Flowers I ache from the perfumes of spring.
I have forgotten your face, I no longer
Remember your hands; how did your lips
Feel on mine?

Because of you, I love the white statues
Drowsing in the parks, the white statues that
Have neither voice nor sight.

I have forgotten your voice, your happy voice;
I have forgotten your eyes.

Like a flower to its perfume, I am bound to
My vague memory of you. I live with pain
That is like a wound; if you touch me, you will
Make to me an irreperable harm.

Your caresses enfold me, like climbing
Vines on melancholy walls.

I have forgotten your love, yet I seem to
Glimpse you in every window.

Because of you, the heady perfumes of
Summer pain me; because of you, I again
Seek out the signs that precipitate desires:
Shooting stars, falling objects.

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Here I Love You

Here I love you.
In the dark pines the wind disentangles itself.
The moon glows like phosphorous on the vagrant waters.
Days, all one kind, go chasing each other.

The snow unfurls in dancing figures.
A silver gull slips down from the west.
Sometimes a sail. High, high stars.
Oh the black cross of a ship.

Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.
Far away the sea sounds and resounds.
This is a port.

Here I love you.
Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.

The piers sadden when the afternoon moors there.
My life grows tired, hungry to no purpose.
I love what I do not have. You are so far.
My loathing wrestles with the slow twilights.
But night comes and starts to sing to me.

The moon turns its clockwork dream.
The biggest stars look at me with your eyes.
And as I love you, the pines in the wind
want to sing your name with their leaves of wire.

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