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Pablo Neruda:
The Greatest Poet Of The
Twentieth Century

Postmodern poet Pablo Neruda was one of many twentieth century poets in Chile and was called “the greatest poet of the twentieth century in any language by Columbian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His life is full of adventure and intrigue and all of these aspects are detailed throughout his poems.

Neruda was born Ricardo Eliecer Nefali Reyes Basoalto in Parral, Chile on July 12, 1904 to Jose del Carmen Reyes Morales and Rosa Neftali Basoalto Opazo. His father was a railway employee and his mother was a school teacher. Neruda lost his mother two months after he was born and his father immediately moved to Temuco and remarried. Neruda also had an illegitimate brother and half sister.

Neruda began writing poetry at an early age and at thirteen he was published in the local newspaper. At age sixteen he started using his pseudonym, Pablo Neruda, and achieved fame as a journalist, poet, and writer of prose. In 1921, he moved to Santiago to further his writing career. Two years later he used his own money to publish his first book, titled Crepusculario. Neruda’s most well known and most popular work was Veinte Poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada, which translates into Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair. Neruda legally adopted his pseudonym in 1946.

While Neruda achieved more fame internationally than he did in his native Chile, he did not make enough money to subsidize his living. Poverty forced Neruda to accept a position as an honorary consul in Ragoon. This opened the way for him to become more involved in politics for many years to come. Politics earned Neruda the money to continue writing poetry, but it also gave him inspiration.

Neruda also spent time traveling to different countries to represent Chile to Southeast Asia leaders. This is where he wrote some of his more unorthodox and mysterious poetry.

Pablo married the first of his two wives - Malva Marina Trinidad and Delia del Carril - during this time as well. During his time in the South Pacific, Pablo Neruda began to associate himself with communism. He spent a brief period of time as a diplomat in Mexico City until returning to Chile. Shortly, however, he left for a temporary stay in Peru.

When he returned to Chile on March 4, 1945, Neruda was elected to serve as senator for the Communist Party. Because of his political beliefs, he was forced into exile when all the left-leaning politicians were forced from office. After three years of exile in which poetry was a primary focus, he returned to Chile permanently. He left his second wife and married Matilde Urrutia.

After his third marriage, and a settling political time, Pablo Neruda had the chance to publish most of his poetry, which made him famous and gave him some financial stability.

Neruda was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1971. However, a few years later he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Neruda never had the chance to regain his health as a fierce battle for government in Chile continued to brew. He died of leukemia on September 23, 1973 in Santiago’s Santa Maria Clinic.

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