''In his beach-house (Isla Negra). Behind him a figurehead, one of his favorite collections.''
Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904 - September 23, 1973) is the pen name of the Chilean poet Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. Neruda was born in Parral, Chile. His mother died soon after he was born and his father was a railway employee. Neruda and his father soon moved to Temuco, where his father remarried Dona Trinidad Candia Malverde. At thirteen, he submitted a few of his poems to the daily newspaper, La Manana. His first poem was titled "Entusiasmo y perseverencia", or "Enthusiasm and Perseverance". In 1920 he sent more poems to the literary journal Selva Austral under the pen name Pablo Neruda. He used a pen name to avoid conflict with his parents because they did not want him to become an author. He eventually got his name legally changed to Pablo Neruda (after Jan Neruda, Czech writer and poet).
Neruda had his first poems published in Crepusculario, in 1923 The following year he published his second book of poems, Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, or Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair. This is one of his best-known works. The Heights of Macchu Picchu is considered one of his best works.
Literary experts agree that the poet's defining work was Canto General, an extensive work about the Americas that he wrote while living in clandestinity in 1948 and 1949, when he was persecuted by the government of Gabriel González Videla (1948-1952), which banned the Communist Party, for which Neruda had been elected senator.
Neruda studied French and education at the University of Chile. In 1927 the government gave him honorary consulships to many countries. These jobs let him travel to seven different countries, including Spain. While he was an ambassador, Neruda read and tried many different types of poems. During that time, he wrote many surrealistic poems for which later became famous.
Neruda had three wives, María Antonieta Hagenaar, Delia de Carril, and Matilde Urrutia. He married María in 1930, but they divorced in 1936. He lived with Delia from the 1930s until they were divorced in 1955. They were married in 1943. In 1966, he married Matilde Urrutia.
Neruda joined the Republican movements in Spain and France in 1937 after the Spanish Civil War. He was an anarchist for a while, but later joined the Communist Party of Chile in 1945. He also ran for president of Chile once, but stepped out of the race to give his support to Salvador Allende. Politics influenced many parts of his life, including his job, his poems, and his death. He was very concerned about social justice and equality, which is reflected in many of his poems.
He died of prostate cancer in the evening of Sep. 23, 1973 in the Santa María Clinic of Santiago.
Two days later, his funeral took place surrounded by military machine guns. (the military coup against Salvador Allende democratic government was 12 days before), but nonetheless it turned into the first act of rebellion and public denunciation against Gen. Augusto Pinochet, whose dictatorship lasted until 1990.
Neruda owned three houses in Chile: today they are open as museums:
- La Chascona in Santiago.
- La Sebastiana in Valparaiso.
- Casa de Isla Negra in Isla Negra, where him and his third wife Matilde Urrutia are sepulted.