Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

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by Pablo Neruda, Jan T. Dicks
     
 

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First published in 1924, Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada remains among Pablo Neruda's most popular work. Daringly metaphorical and sensuous, this collection juxtaposes youthful passion with the desolation of grief. Drawn from the poet's most intimate and personal associations, the poems combine eroticism and the natural world with the

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Overview

First published in 1924, Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada remains among Pablo Neruda's most popular work. Daringly metaphorical and sensuous, this collection juxtaposes youthful passion with the desolation of grief. Drawn from the poet's most intimate and personal associations, the poems combine eroticism and the natural world with the influence of expressionism and the genius of a master poet. This edition features the newly corrected original Spanish text, with masterly English translations by award-winning poet W. S. Merwin on facing pages.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This collection of poems, first published by Neruda at the age of 19 in 1924, caused something of a scandal because of its frank and intense sexuality:

``I have gone marking the atlas of your body / with crosses of fire. / My mouth went across: a spider, trying to hide. / In you, behind you, timid, driven by thirst.''

It later became one of Neruda's best-loved works, selling two million copies by the 1960s. Why? With image after arresting image, Neruda charts the oceanic movements of passion, repeatedly summoning imagery of the sea and weather:

``On all sides I see your waist of fog, / and your silence hunts down my afflicted hours; / my kisses anchor, and my moist desire nests / in you with your arms of transparent stone.''

As irresistible as the sea, love is engulfing

(

``You swallowed everything, like distance. / . . . In you everything sank!''

, but also departs as mysteriously as it arrived, leaving the poet's heart a ``pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.'' These unabashedly romantic poems, wonderfully translated by Merwin, are illustrated in this edition by the paintings of Jan Thompson Dicks with aptly Fauvist tones and iconic formality. (Dec.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811803205
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
01/01/1993
Series:
Cape Editions Series
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
5.69(w) x 7.64(h) x 0.57(d)

Meet the Author

Neftali Ricardo Reyes, whose pseudonym was to be Pablo Neruda, was born in Parral, Chile, in 1904. He grew up in the pioneer town of Temuco, briefly encountering Gabriela Mistral, who taught there for a time. In 1920 he went to Santiago to study, and the following year published his first collection of poetry, La Cancion de la Fiesta. A second collection, Crepusculario, brought him critical recognition; and in 1924 the hugely successful Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desesperada appeared. From 1927 to 1943, Neruda lived abroad, serving as a diplomat in Rangoon, Colombo, Batavia, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, and Mexico City. This is the period that saw the publication of the first two volumes of his celebrated Residencia en la Tierra. He joined the Communist Party of Chile after World War II, was prosecuted as a subversive, and began an exile that took him to Russia, Eastern Europe, and China. Already the most renowned Latin American poet of his time, he returned to Chile in 1952. He died there in 1973, having just seen the fourth edition of his Obras Completas through the press. In receiving the Nobel Prize in 1971, he had said that the poet must achieve a balance "between solitude and solidarity, between feeling and action, between the intimacy of one's self, the intimacy of mankind, and the relevation of nature."
W.S. Merwin has published many highly regarded books of poems, for which he has received a number of distinguished awards—the Pulitzer Prize, Bollingen Award, Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets and the Governor's Award for Literature of the state of Hawaii among them. He has translated widely from many languages, and his versions of classics such as The Poem of the Cid and The Song of Roland are standards.

Cristina García is the author of Dreaming in Cuban, which was nominated for a National Book Award.

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Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
July 12, 1904
Date of Death:
September 23, 1973
Place of Birth:
Parral, Chile
Place of Death:
Santiago, Chile
Education:
University of Chile, Santiago

Read an Excerpt

The Morning is Full

The morning is full of storm in the heart of summer.

The clouds travel like white handkerchiefs of good-bye,
the wind, traveling, waving them in its hands.

The numberless heart of the wind beating above our loving silence.

Orchestral and divine, resounding among the trees like a language full of wars and songs.

Wind that bears off the dead leaves with a quick raid and deflects the pulsing arrows of the birds.

Wind that topples her in a wave without spray and substance without weight, and leaning fires.

Her mass of kisses breaks and sinks,
assailed in the door of the summer's wind.

Es La Mañana Llena

Es la mañana lleno de tempestad en el corazón del verano.

Como pañuelos blancos de adiós las nubes,
el viento las sacude con sus viajeras manos.

Innumerable el corazón del viento latiendo sobre nuestro silencio enamorado.

Zumbando entre los árboles, orquestal y divino,
como una lengua llena de guerras y de cantos.

Viento que lleva rápido robo la hojarasca y desvia las flechas latientes de los parajos.

Viento que le derriba en ola sin espuma y sustancia sin peso, y fuegos inclinados.

Se rompe y se submerge su volumen de besos combatido en la puerta del viento del verano.

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