A Spanish Revolutionist, A World Ambassador: Neruda
There had been verses of a poem written with its first letters covered under the clouds that get on top of each other with jealousy of cold whitecap waves of Andes Mountains in the 20th century. Chile: a place where icecap waters mix with the river to unify under verdant flora; a place where Elqui valley’s muscatel grapes' aromas float around the colorful streets; a home for the world’s one of the most important poets, Pablo Neruda. He became an aromatic poet who was a revolutionist, a political leader, and even at a time, he became the voice of people who could not make their voice heard. He was a poet in exile. He was born in 1904, in the south of Chile with the name of Ricardo Eliezer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto. In 1917, he published his first writing in a newspaper called La Mañana within the name of Neftali Reyes as his signature. A year later, he published his first poem in Santiago de Chile where his poem took part in a magazine called Corre Veula.
He entered a competition for two times where he used his pen name "Pablo Neruda" and won the competition in first place. After this competition, he went to Santiago to have an education in the French language and literature. During his education, he started to learn the Spanish language. He was not aware yet that he was building a bridge to a country that would always be a part of his heart. In 1924, he published his first book under the name of "Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.". In his poems, he ignited the terms of love and attraction. He also used expressive words in his verses to touch his readers' heart most profoundly.
"Your wide eyes are the only light I know
from extinguished constellations;
your skin throbs like the streak
of a meteor through the rain."
(XVI. 100 Love Sonnets)
He used simple language in his verses while he preferred to use everyday life elements in his writings. He used language in plain words, but he would refer to simple objects of life with deep meaning: "Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing." (Neruda, Line 28) – "Shining like a lighthouse of that trance hour." (Neruda, Line 51) He led the magazine of Caballo de Bastos at Santiago for a while, but the job he loved most as a writer had to end there as the money income was not enough for his needs. As a result, he started to work on diplomatic missions at the consulate to have a better financial stability in 1927. After many countries he had worked at the consulate, he was missioned to work at Madrid in 1936. By his assignation, he took the first steps to his life in Spain but not after a long time, on July 17, the Spanish Civil War outbroke while he was there. Spanish General Francisco Franco staged a coup with his military power, but his attempt was not fully successful as many people from different cities rioted against the coup attempt and many protests defending the Republican government started. No matter how the army declared its loyalty to their general, the government stayed loyal to their people. In this way, Spain was divided into two as Military and Politic. Republicans opened a popular front against the fascist and aggressive methods of Franco.
Many imperialist countries across the world supported Franco’s administration globally. While the popular front’s only support was from their people; Franco had money and gun support from many countries. Neruda’s faith was in the Republican government but the parties who had to come up with an electoral alliance failed to rule the country. The day when the Spanish Civil War started, Pablo and his friend had made plans to go to a show. Later he wrote, "But Federico didn’t come. At that time of the hour, the journey to death was already started. We had never been able to see each other again. The Spanish Civil War that changed my poetry begins with the death of a poet." (Neruda, 1967, p. 115).
The Spanish streets which carried the smell of history and art were about to be dipped into blood and fire which were going to occupy a bitter pain of cruelty of street stages for three years. The brutal General ordered all Republicans to be razed off the Spanish history. He gathered all Republicans at an arena of Badajoz and slaughtered all of them while he chose elite people to watch it. With steely shirts and bloody boots of Franco’s units slaughtering from elder to child and woman to man, there was a factor that Franco did not consider: Spanish people’s