Wine, Words & Wednesday, No. 115

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.

pablo-neruda
Me, too, Señor Neruda.  Me, too.

Salud!

5 comments

  1. Found this interesting since poetry and wine and history all have resonance in my psyche. Curious, what kind of wine do you think Neruda drank at the time he lived in Chile? What vines did they have at that time and was it mostly home or local production or any larger labeled production?

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    1. Hi Cara . . . I read a couple of articles that indicated Neruda was especially fond of Chilean wines. Chile has been making wince since the 16th century, influenced greatly by French grape varieties, particularly those used in Bordeaux. The political instability during Neruda’s time put a lid on the growth of the wine industry; most of the wines were consumed domestically. Hope that answers your questions! Cheers!!

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  2. Neruda is one of my favorite poets – his writing is beautiful. I had the privilege of visiting his home (it is now a museum) when I lived in Chile. And although the dictatorship was over by that time, there were still many visible after effects in the country. Thank you for writing this!

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