The title alerts us to its purpose: it is a poem in praise of socks. The ode is a poem of celebration or exultation. Originally odes were elaborate and stately compositions sung in public in honor of a great personage, event, or season. The form dates back to ancient Greece. The poet Pindar, who lived in the fifth century B.C.E., composed poems of praise or glorification in highly structured, patterned stanzas. The odes of the Roman poet Horace who lived in the first century B.C.E used a simpler lyric form. European Renaissance odists Pierre de Ronsard and Andrew Marvell wrote in both Pindaric and Horatian form. The odes of nineteenth-century English poets such as John Keats and Percy Shelley tended to be freer in form and subject matter than the classical ode. However, the ode in general is primarily formal in style and about a serious subject. "Ode to My Socks," like all the poems in Neruda's books of odes, announces itself as a poem of celebration and praise, but the objects that are the subject of glorification, surprisingly, are common, everyday things. Few people would expect that a humble pair of socks would be candidates for exultation in a poem, but this is what the title announces to readers will be done.
The poet explains that he received as a gift from Maru Mori (who, although this is not mentioned in the poem, was the wife of the distinguished Chilean painter Camilo Mori) a pair of woolen socks that she knitted for him. They are so soft that they feel like rabbit fur. Immediately the poet elevates the stature of these otherwise simple objects by likening them to jewel cases. But they are no ordinary cases; they seem to have magical yet earthy properties and he imagines them to be woven with "threads of / dusk / and sheep's wool.’’
The poet continues to exalt the socks by comparing them...
(The entire section is 773 words.)