How can you connect the poem "Ode to My Socks" to larger cultural issues? What does the poem say about our culture?
Towards the end of the poem the speaker says
"...I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
as learned men collect
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon."
He then concludes that: "“beauty is twice / beauty / and what is good is doubly / good / when it is a matter of two socks / made of wool / in winter.” The poem argues against the aesthetic of "art for art's sake," that the greatest art has little function except to simply "be"--and many would argue that is the function of a poem, a painting, or even a piece of music. Beauty has a function, the poem suggests, and it is made more beautiful by its function. It's no good putting something beautiful someplace safe so that it cannot be touched or lived; rather, we should intetrate beauty into our lives in such a way that we can appreciate the beauty in even the most everyday, mundane sort of objects or activities.
An ode to such a commonplace thing may mean lethargy. It is a humorous subject, so it could comment on the humor of the age. One could argue that since not all persons in the world currently have or have ever had socks, that it is not a universal theme. I love Neruda, and I think much of that is do the beauty of the language he chooses regardless of the theme.