Neruda’s Voice

David Mason at Hudson Review:

Forty-five years after his death, Pablo Neruda’s poetry still has the power to astonish and appall, awaken and chill us and leave us shaking our heads in bafflement or respect. There is such breadth and profligate intelligence in the work, which ranges from opaque surrealism to bighearted populism to Pan-American epic to shocking propaganda, that one hardly knows where to place it in our era of thwarted emotions. Clearly it is not of our time. Given Neruda’s relations with women, it is certainly not of the time of #MeToo. The work will not always sit well beside a mature feminist consciousness, and of course it will not please ideologues who can’t tell one form of socialism from another. Neruda changed, and his circumstances changed. As a man he could be a monster of egotism and a courageous dissident, a purblind Stalinist and a Roosevelt democrat. His poetry incarnates these shifts and siftings and restless experiments. The past is a moving target. Poetry keeps it alive.

more here.