Pablo Neruda stated in a prologue to one of four editions of Caballo verde, a literary review he had founded in 1935 with Manuel Altalaguirre, that the poetry he was seeking would contain the confused impurities that people leave on their tools as they wear them down with the sweat of their hands. He would make poems like buildings, permeated with smoke and garlic and flooded inside and out with the air of men and women who seem always present. Neruda advocated an impure poetry whose subject might be hatred, love, ugliness, or beauty. He sought to bring verse back from the exclusive conclave of select minorities to the turmoil from which words draw their vitality.
Neruda’s work is divided into three discernible periods, the turning points being the Spanish Civil War and his return to Chile in 1952 after three years of forced exile. During the first phase of his work, from 1923 to 1936, Neruda published six rather experimental collections of verse in which he achieved the poetic strength that carried him through four more decades and more than twenty books. He published Crepusculario himself in 1923 while a student at the University of Santiago. Crepusculario is a cautious collection of poems reflecting his reading of French poetry. Like the Latin American Modernistas who preceded him, he consciously adhered to classical forms and sought the ephemeral effects of musicality and color....
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