Books / Review / Culture / Pablo Neruda / Communism / Chile / Mark Eisner / Books & The Arts / July-August 2018

Poet of the People

Posted On: Jul 2, 2018   |   Posted By: The New Republic

Poet of the People

The poet Pablo Neruda was born in 1920 at the age of 16. It was in October of that year, anyway, that a young man whose unsuspecting parents had baptized him Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto first signed with the name Neruda the poems that he felt he existed in order to write. Already, at 15, Neftalí (as his familiars addressed him until he escaped to college in the big city) had described himself, in excited drafts, not just as a poet but the poet, Mark Eisner points out in his new biography, Neruda: The Poet's Calling. A sonnet titled “The Poet Who is Neither Bourgeois nor Humble” alluded to his potent, unknown poet-ness: “The men haven't discovered that in him exists / the poet who as a child was not childish.” Neruda as an adolescent poet amounted almost to a parody of the type, worryingly thin, melancholy and shy, and got up, unlike other local boys, all in black. Sickly and frail, he was unsuited to the physical labor done by most of his neighbors, and, a lazy pupil at school, he did not suggest...

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