Today’s words come to us from Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner, Pablo Neruda. Widely regarded as the greatest Latin American poet of the twentieth century, he was once described by Gabriel García Márquez (the 20th century literary heavyweight who wrote Love in the Time of Cholera) as the greatest poet of the twentieth century in any language.
A committed Communist, and charter member of the Joseph Stalin Fan Club, Neruda spent several years in hiding and exile (after Chile declared Communism illegal in 1948), before returning to Chile in 1952. Neruda won the Joseph Stalin International Peace Prize (something I probably wouldn’t display on my mantle) in 1953. Neruda died under extremely suspicious circumstances in 1973, just twelve days after the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet (who is widely regarded as not a very nice guy) to overthrow the socialist-leaning Allende government.
Historical Sidebar: Fearing Soviet influence in Latin America, the Nixon Administration and the CIA had its hands all over the Pinochet coup. Tom Clancy couldn’t make this stuff up. There’s a declassified (and extensive) report on the CIA website if you want to read more.
Fun Facts: Neruda wrote all of his poems in green ink; he believed green represented the color of life and hope. He was a great lover of wine, and insisted on drinking everything out of colored glasses. He said wine tasted better, and water was “less boring” that way. (I think this is where I’m going wrong with water — I need colored stemware.)
These words are from Neruda’s poem, Ode to Wine. Neruda published several odes during his writing career, including an ode to artichokes, the tomato, and even his socks. If I wrote poetry (which I do not), I would definitely write about socks.
Me, too, Señor Neruda. Me, too.