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Pablo Neruda

Neruda's poetry:

✔ consistently celebrates love, nature, and human experience, and was in

certain periods intensely political.

✔ represents woman and nature as “two aspects of the same reality” and
uses nature imagery to describe women.”

✔ is extremely personal and characterised by a melancholy view of the world

and preoccupation with unrequited love.


'Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair':

✔ was considered unpublishable because of its frank celebration of sex.

✔ when published, 'caused a sensation and made him famous at 20'.
✔ is filled with striking images that capture the ecstasies and torments of
young love.
✔ is filled with familiar themes, such as sex as a way to unite with the earth
and love as an salvation from isolation.
✔ contains the idea that women are symbolic vehicles for the poet's
salvation and self-discovery.



✔ Connectivity: Neruda felt a real connection with so many different things

in his life – the night, the ocean, rivers, rain. Much of this love came from
growing up in the 'rainy south of Chile'.
“I could not live separated from nature ... I'm happy in the woods, on the
sand, or sailing, in direct contact with fire, earth, water, air.”
✔ Love: “startling direct language”, imagery, “gut-wrenching angst and
✔ [Also see other note on themes]


✔ Poems are written mostly from Neruda's point of view.

✔ Poems are filled with imagery: metaphor, simile, alliteration, allusion,
personification etc.
✔ Much can be lost in the translation of Neruda's poems from Spanish to
✔ Structure: in his earlier poetry, we see stanzas of 4 lines or 8 lines but he
often seems to allow the verse to flow onto the page in whichever form it
✔ Many claimed that Neruda had a “musical intelligence”. Many of his poems
have been recorded and sold like records in the Spanish-speaking world.



✔ Octavio Paz: born in Mexico in 1914.

“His various collections of essays engage culture, linguistics, literary theory, history, and
politics with a level of originality and erudition that is unrivaled; these and his poems
form a breadth of work that expresses, in the words of Carlos Fuentes, "the existence
of a plurality of possibilities for harmony and truth, outside the limited range of our
inherited dogmas.”


✔ Frederico Garcia Lorca: born in Spain in 1898.

“Lorca published numerous volumes of poetry during his career, beginning with
Impresiones y Viajes (1919). His lyrical work often incorporates elements of Spanish
folklore, Andalusian flamenco and Gypsy culture, and cante jondos, or deep songs,
while exploring themes of romantic love and tragedy.”


In Response:
As you study each poem:

Criterion A: Context and Knowledge/Understanding

• Which of the other poems from 'Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair' is
it similar to and in what ways is it similar?
• Where did the main ideas/influences come from?
• What is the poem about?
• How are the main ideas organised into stanzas?
• When was the poem written?

Criterion B: Interpretation and Response

• How does this poem make you feel? List emotions with supporting quotes.
• What themes/ideas does the poem make you think about? How does it do
this? List ideas with supporting quotes.
• Major images and their effects? Find supporting quotes.
• Significant sound devices and their effects? Find supporting quotes.
• Choice of diction and effects?
• Other noteworthy techniques and their effects?

Criterion C: Presentation

• How could I structure my response to this poem?

• Are my ideas logically developed?
• Have I used transitional devices to signpost the development of my
• Do I have enough supporting references to the works?
• Have I correctly integrated these references?

Criterion D: Use of Language

• Check that you have included appropriate literary terminology.

• Have you used formal, academic language?
• Have you edited your work to make sure that your writing is free of careless
grammatical errors?