Selected Odes of Pablo Neruda / Edition 3

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The atom, a tuna, laziness, love -- the everyday elements and essences of human experience glow in the translucent language of Neruda's odes. Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) wrote three books of odes during his lifetime. Odas elementales was published in 1954, followed in subsequent years by Nuevas odas elementales and Tercer libro de las odas. Margaret Sayers Peden's selection of odes from all three volumes, printed with the Spanish originals on facing pages, is by far the most extensive yet to appear in English. She vividly conveys the poet's vision of the realities of day-to-day life in her translations, while her brief introduction describes the genesis of the poems.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520269989
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 5/17/2011
  • Series: Latin American Literature and Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 792,084
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Pablo Neruda

Margaret Sayers Peden is Professor Emerita of Spanish at the University of Missouri, Columbia. The author of Emilio Carballido and editor of The Latin American Short Story, A Critical History, she has translated more than twenty works of fiction, drama, and poetry.


Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), whose real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, was born on 12 July, 1904, in the town of Parral in Chile. His father was a railway employee and his mother, who died shortly after his birth, a teacher. Some years later his father, who had then moved to the town of Temuco, remarried Doña Trinidad Candia Malverde. The poet spent his childhood and youth in Temuco, where he also got to know Gabriela Mistral, head of the girls' secondary school, who took a liking to him. At the early age of thirteen he began to contribute some articles to the daily "La Mañana," among them, Entusiasmo y Perseverancia -- his first publication -- and his first poem. In 1920, he became a contributor to the literary journal "Selva Austral" under the pen name of Pablo Neruda, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda (1834-1891). Some of the poems Neruda wrote at that time are to be found in his first published book: Crepusculario (1923). The following year saw the publication of Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, one of his best-known and most translated works. Alongside his literary activities, Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago.

Between 1927 and 1935, the government put him in charge of a number of honorary consulships, which took him to Burma, Ceylon, Java, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid. His poetic production during that difficult period included, among other works, the collection of esoteric surrealistic poems, Residencia en la tierra (1933), which marked his literary breakthrough.

The Spanish Civil War and the murder of García Lorca, whom Neruda knew, affected him strongly and made him join the Republican movement, first in Spain, and later in France, where he started working on his collection of poems España en el corazón (1937). The same year he returned to his native country, to which he had been recalled, and his poetry during the following period was characterized by an orientation towards political and social matters. España en el corazón had a great impact by virtue of its being printed in the middle of the front during the civil war.

In 1939, Neruda was appointed consul for the Spanish emigration, residing in Paris, and, shortly afterwards, consul general in Mexico, where he rewrote his "Canto general de Chile," transforming it into an epic poem about the whole South American continent, its nature, its people and its historical destiny. This work, entitled Canto general, was published in Mexico 1950, and also underground in Chile. It consists of approximately 250 poems brought together into fifteen literary cycles and constitutes the central part of Neruda's production. Shortly after its publication, Canto general was translated into some ten languages. Nearly all these poems were created in a difficult situation, when Neruda was living abroad.

In 1943, Neruda returned to Chile, and in 1945 he was elected senator of the Republic, also joining the Communist Party of Chile. Due to his protests against President González Videla's repressive policy against striking miners in 1947, he had to live underground in his own country for two years until he managed to leave in 1949. After living in different European countries he returned home in 1952. A great deal of what he published during that period bears the stamp of his political activities; one example is Las uvas y el viento (1954), which can be regarded as the diary of Neruda's exile. In Odas elementales (1954-1959) his message is expanded into a more extensive description of the world, where the objects of the hymns -- things, events and relations -- are duly presented in alphabetic form.

Neruda's production is exceptionally extensive. For example, his Obras completas, constantly republished, comprised 459 pages in 1951; in 1962 the number of pages was 1,925, and in 1968 it amounted to 3,237, in two volumes. Among his works of the last few years can be mentioned Cien sonetos de amor (1959), which includes poems dedicated to his wife, Matilde Urrutia, Memorial de Isla Negra, a poetic work of an autobiographic character in five volumes, published on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, Arte de pajáros (1966), La Barcarola (1967), the play Fulgor y muerte de Joaquín Murieta (1967), Las manos del día (1968), Fin del mundo (1969), Las piedras del cielo (1970), and La espada encendida.

Pablo Neruda died in 1973.

© The Nobel Foundation 1971

Good To Know

Always a political activist, Neruda was an anarchist for a time, but joined the Communist Party of Chile in 1945. He actually ran for president of Chile but eventually left the race to support Salvador Allende.

He had three wives throughout his lifetime: Mar a Antonieta Hagenaar, Delia de Carril, and Matilde Urrutia. He married Mar in 1930, but they divorced in 1936. He lived with Carril from the 1930s until they divorced in 1955 (they married in 1943). In 1966, he married Urrutia.

Neruda owned three homes in Chile that are open today as museums: "La Chascona" in Santiago, "La Sebastiana" in Valpara, and "Casa de Isla Negra" in Isla Negra, where he and his third wife, Matilde Urrutia, are buried.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 12, 1904
    2. Place of Birth:
      Parral, Chile
    1. Date of Death:
      September 23, 1973
    2. Place of Death:
      Santiago, Chile

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Translator's Introduction I
I. Elemental Odes 5
El Hombre Invisible / The Invisible Man 6
Oda a la Alcachofa / Ode to an Artichoke 18
Oda a las Americas / Ode to the Americas 22
Oda al Atomo / Ode to the Atom 28
Oda a las Aves de Chile / Ode to the Birds of Chile 38
Oda al Caldillo de Congrio / Ode to Conger Chowder 46
Oda a una Castana en el Suelo / Ode to a Chestnut on the Ground 50
Oda a la Critica / Ode to Criticism 54
Oda al Hilo / Ode to the Thread 58
Oda al Laboratorista / Ode to a Laboratory Technician 66
Oda al Libro (II) / Ode to the Book (II) 72
Oda a la Madera / Ode to Wood 78
Oda a Mirar Pajaros / Ode to Bird-Watching 86
Oda a los Numeros / Ode to Numbers 94
Oda al Pajaro Sofre / Ode to a Saffron Finch 100
Oda a la Pareja / Ode to a Couple 106
Oda al Pasado / Ode to the Past 112
Oda a la Pereza / Ode to Laziness 116
Oda a un Reloj en la Noche / Ode to a Watch in the Night 120
Oda al Tercer Dia / Ode to the Third Day 126
Oda al Tiempo / Ode to Time 130
Oda a la Tierra / Ode to the Earth 134
Oda al Tomate / Ode to Tomatoes 138
Oda al Traje / Ode to My Suit 144
Oda a la Tristeza / Ode to Sadness 148
Oda a Valparaiso / Ode to Valparaiso 150
Oda al Verano / Ode to Summer 156
Oda al Vino / Ode to Wine 162
II. New Elemental Odes 169
La Casa de las Odas / The House of Odes 170
Oda a los Calcetines / Ode to My Socks 174
Oda al Craneo / Ode to the Cranium 178
Oda a la Critica (II) / Ode to Criticism (II) 184
Oda a la Cruz del Sur / Ode to the Southern Cross 188
Oda al Diccionario / Ode to the Dictionary 194
Oda a Don Diego de la Noche / Ode to a Mirabilis Jalapa: The Night-Blooming Four O'Clock 202
Oda a la Gaviota / Ode to the Sea Gull 206
Oda a la Lagartija / Ode to the Lizard 210
Oda a la Luna del Mar / Ode to the Moon of the Sea 214
Oda al Nino de la Liebre / Ode to a Boy with a Hare 222
Oda al Picaflor / Ode to the Hummingbird 226
Oda a Pies de Fuego / Ode to Firefoot 232
III. Third Book of Odes 239
Odas de Todo el Mundo / Odes for Everyone 240
Oda a la Abeja / Ode to Bees 246
Oda al Albanil Tranquilo / Ode to the Gentle Bricklayer 254
Oda a un Albatros Viajero / Ode to the Voyager Albatross 256
Oda al Algarrobo Muerto / Ode to a Dead Carob Tree 266
Oda a las Algas del Oceano / Ode to Seaweeds 270
Oda a un Gran Atun en el Mercado / Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market 276
Oda a la Bicicleta / Ode to Bicycles 282
Oda al Buque en la Botella / Ode to a Ship in a Bottle 286
Oda a la Casa Abandonada / Ode to an Abandoned House 290
Oda a la Casa Dormida / Ode to a Sleeping House 294
Oda a un Cine de Pueblo / Ode to a Village Movie Theater 298
Oda a la Edad / Ode to Age 302
Oda al Gallo / Ode to a Rooster 306
Oda a la Jardinera / Ode to a Woman Gardening 314
Oda al Libro de Estampas / Ode to a Stamp Album 318
Oda al Limon / Ode to the Lemon 324
Oda a la Luz Marina / Ode to Light on the Sea 326
Oda al Maiz / Ode to Maize 332
Oda al Nacimiento de un Ciervo / Ode to the Birth of a Fawn 336
Oda al Doble Otono / Ode to Two Autumns 340
Oda a la Pantera Negra / Ode to a Black Pantheress 346
Oda al Picaro Ofendido / Ode to an Offended Picaro 350
Oda al Viejo Poeta / Ode to an Aged Poet 358
Oda a la Sal / Ode to Salt 366
Oda a las Tormentas de Cordoba / Ode to the Storms of Cordoba 368
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