Neruda's straightforward but elegant poetic celebration of a pair of woolen socks is one of many odes he wrote to pay homage to the ordinary material objects of daily existence. The poem, written in short, irregular lines of free verse, is poetry at its most pure and elemental, as it communicates in words that all people can understand a simple message about the wondrous nature of the physical world. With no affectation nor any attempt at intellectualizing, the poem uses a series of unexpected and unusual images to sing praise to the beauty and extraordinariness of a mundane but useful object.
"Ode to My Socks" ("Oda a los calcetines") appeared in the second volume of a series of four collections of odes written between 1954 and 1959. The majority of the almost 250 odes praise common things, including a lemon, an onion, salt, wine, the sea, clothes, a watch, and laziness, but there are odes too to personages, from poets to literary critics. These poems marked a significant turning point in Neruda's career as an artist, as he moved away from the high style and overt politicizing of his works written in the late 1930s and 1940s to a plainer form and interest in the particulars of everyday life. However, despite this artistic shift, the odes also show Neruda's continued commitment to the political ideals seen in his other works. A devoted communist, he sought all his life to write poetry for common folk, to speak for and to the dispossessed and reflect their concerns in his poetry. The odes, with their simple language and celebration of ordinary life, are indeed poetry for the people, a reconciliation of art and ideas with the concreteness life.
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