Poetry and Simplicity The Odes of Pablo Neruda


Pablo Neruda wrote a total of 225 odes. The number stands as a pledge of alliance with a lyrical form he adored. He was also fond of other poetic forms (the sonnet, for instance), but as a practitioner of verso libre, unrhymed poetry, the ode was unquestionably the closest to his heart. He discovered it in his youth, becoming hypnotized by its fresh, elastic, invigorating freedom. His early readings of Horace, Pindar, Ovid, and Catullus left a deep impression on him. And he admired the way Romantics such as John Keats not only addressed universal themes in their odes but humanized those themes by turning them—Love and Psyche, for instance—into interlocutors. Neruda’s odes are his direct, uncensored dialogues with nature. And they are politically charged.

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Ilan Stavans — FSG | Work in Progress