Continuing our series on some of the most influential Spanish speakers, this week we take a look at the Chilean diplomat and politician Pablo Neruda who is hailed as one of the most important poets of the 20th century. Born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in 1904, Neruda was something of a prodigy, having composed his first poems at the age of ten and been published by the time he reached his early teens.
By 1920 he had adopted the pen name Pablo Neruda, in honour of the Czech poet Jan Neruda. Neruda is celebrated for the wide variety of styles in which he wrote. He is renowned for his use of metaphor and imagery, and first came to critical acclaim at the age of just 19 with his second major published work, a series of erotic poems entitled Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada or, as it was translated in English, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. His other works include styles as diverse as historical epics, political manifestos and surrealist poetry. He also penned his Memoirs detailing his early life in rural Chile, his student years in Santiago, his political career and his exile from and later return to Chile after the banning of communism, of which he was a fervent supporter.
Neruda’s poetry ultimately won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, just two years before his death. His works have been widely translated and you can enjoy many of them in English, though others have been deemed too difficult to translate and are best experienced in their original Spanish. Need some help to attain the required language skills? Try our Private Spanish Lessons.