Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 385
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924), which launched Neruda's reputation, is one of the most widely read collections of Spanish poetry. The poems describe the poet's affairs with two women, and move from sensual passion to melancholy and detachment to bitterness.
In a celebrated essay, "On Impure Poetry" (1935), Neruda calls for "a poetry as impure as old clothes, as a body with its foodstains and its shame, with wrinkles, observations, dreams, wakefulness, prophesies, declarations of love and hate, stupidities, shocks, idylls, political beliefs, negations, doubts, affirmations, and taxes."
In Poems and Antipoems (1954), the Chilean poet Nicanor Parra practices the "impure poetry" called for by Neruda but without the gentleness or uplifting spirit of Neruda's verse. Parra's "antipoetry" is often ironic, savage, and iconoclastic.
Josée Donoso's collection Charleston and Other Stories (1960) tackles questions of psycho-social identity, marginality, social caste, and the stifling codes of Chilean society.
Neruda's posthumously published collection The Book of Questions (1974) poses questions in poetic form about all manner of subjects—from the meaning of life to what hell must be like for Adolf Hitler—with humor and pathos.
Neruda's Memoirs (1974) offer insights into Latin American politics, art, and history with the poet's characteristic passion, breadth, and intimacy. The book includes portraits of such prominent figures as Lorca, Picasso, Gandhi, Mao Tse-tung, Castro, and Allende.
Black Mesa Poems (1989) by Chicano poet Jimmy Santiago Baca celebrates the elemental aspects of life and pays special tribute to the earth as well as the courage, tenacity, and dignity of the people of the barrio, or Mexican-American ghetto.
Eva Luna (1988), a novel by Isabel Allende, the daughter of the slain Chilean President Salvador Allende, recounts the life of a poor young woman who finds friendship, love, and worldly success through her ability to tell stories. The Stories of Eva Luna (1991) is a collection of twenty-three passionate, human tales told by Eva to her European lover.
Four famous practitioners of the ode from across cultures and centuries include the Greek lyricist Pindar (518-440 B.C.E.), the Persian Sufi mystic poet Rumi (1207-1273), the English Romantic John Keats (1895-1821), and the contemporary Mexican-American writer Gary Soto (1952-). Examples of their work can be found in The Odes of Pindar (1982), These Branching Moments: Forty Odes by Rumi (1996), The Complete Poems of John Keats (1994), and Neighborhood Odes (1994).
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