Born Neftal-Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Southern Chile, Pablo Neruda led a life full of poetry and political activity. He published his first book, Crepusculario ('Twilight') in 1923; his second book published the following year Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desperada ('Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair') turned him into a celebrity.
In 1927 he began a long political career as a diplomat, serving as Chilean consul in numerous places, including Burma, Madrid, Mexico, and France. Elected to Chilean Senate in 1943 he was later expelled for being a Communist. He began a period of exile from Chile, returning in 1952. For the next twenty-one years, he continued a career that combined public and private concerns, and he became known as the people's poet. It was also during this period that he produced, what is considered to be his greatest love poems.
Numerous literary critics considered him the greatest poet writing in the Spanish language during his lifetime.
He was received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. It was said by the Nobel Prize Committee, that he was awarded the prize 'for poetry with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams'.
Tarn, Nathaniel. Pablo Neruda: selected poems, translated by Anthony Kerrigan, et al. London, Vintage Books, 2012. Preface.
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