Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

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Penguin, 1969 - Poetry - 94 pages
4 Reviews
Neruda's most beloved poems in Spanish and W. S. Merwin's brilliant English translations

First published in 1924, Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada remains among Pablo Neruda’s most popular work. Daringly metaphorical and sensuous, this collection juxtaposes youthful passion with the desolation of grief. Drawn from the poet’s most intimate and personal associations, the poems combine eroticism and the natural world with the influence of expressionism and the genius of a master poet. This edition features the newly corrected original Spanish text, with masterly English translations by award-winning poet W. S. Merwin on facing pages.

Includes twelve sketches by Pablo Picasso New introduction by Cristina García A Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition packaged with French flaps For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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Perhaps the bestselling book of poetry, ever. And for good reason.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Plus, I love Cristina Garcia, and her intro to this edition is really great.  

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nice one

Selected pages


Body of a Woman
The Light Wraps You
Ah Vastness of Pines
The Morning Is Full
So that You Will Hear Me
I Remember You As You Were
Leaning into the Afternoons
I Have Gone Marking
Every Day You Play
I Like for You to Be Still
In My Sky at Twilight
Thinking Tangling Shadows
Here I Love You
Girl Lithe and Tawny
Tonight I Can Write

White Bee
Drunk with Pines
We Have Lost Even
Almost out of the Sky
Your Breast Is Enough

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (1969)

Neftali Ricardo Reyes, whose pseudonym was to be Pablo Neruda, was born in Parral, Chile, in 1904. He grew up in the pioneer town of Temuco, briefly encountering Gabriela Mistral, who taught there for a time. In 1920 he went to Santiago to study, and the following year published his first collection of poetry, La Cancion de la Fiesta. A second collection, Crepusculario, brought him critical recognition; and in 1924 the hugely successful Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desesperada appeared. From 1927 to 1943, Neruda lived abroad, serving as a diplomat in Rangoon, Colombo, Batavia, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, and Mexico City. This is the period that saw the publication of the first two volumes of his celebrated Residencia en la Tierra. He joined the Communist Party of Chile after World War II, was prosecuted as a subversive, and began an exile that took him to Russia, Eastern Europe, and China. Already the most renowned Latin American poet of his time, he returned to Chile in 1952. He died there in 1973, having just seen the fourth edition of his Obras Completas through the press. In receiving the Nobel Prize in 1971, he had said that the poet must achieve a balance "between solitude and solidarity, between feeling and action, between the intimacy of one's self, the intimacy of mankind, and the relevation of nature."
W.S. Merwin has published many highly regarded books of poems, for which he has received a number of distinguished awards—the Pulitzer Prize, Bollingen Award, Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets and the Governor's Award for Literature of the state of Hawaii among them. He has translated widely from many languages, and his versions of classics such as The Poem of the Cid and The Song of Roland are standards.

Cristina García is the author of Dreaming in Cuban, which was nominated for a National Book Award.

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