Stones of the sky

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Copper Canyon Press, 1987 - Poetry - 75 pages
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Neruda assures us stones are alive as the "man of decay" sings his last love song.

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Stones of the Sky

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Typifying a mellow and introspective Neruda, and thematically and structurally similar to the nostalgic Still Another Day ( LJ 6/1/84), this slender bilingual volume redirects the Chilean's amorous ... Read full review

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About the author (1987)

Neruda's poetry moved through a variety of periods and styles, beginning with the youthful romanticism of Crepusculary (1919), which shows the seeds of his later social commitment. In Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair (1924), his tone becomes more despairing, a mood amplified in The Attempt of Infinite Man, an experiment with the avant-garde expressing the painful confrontation with human limits. The three hermetic volumes of Residence on Earth (1933) are surrealistic in style and subject matter, characterized by twisted syntax, audacious metaphors, and truncated phrases that express the chaos of the modern mind and an ontological despair. The Canto General (1950) is an effort to capture the epic tone of Latin America's history; highly political in large part, it contains some of the poet's finest work, as in his single greatest work, The Heights of Machu Picchu (1945). In later work, Neruda ranged from experiments with "conversational" poetry in Extravagaria (1958) to lyric autobiography to the rapturous contemplation of the natural world's wonders. In volumes such as Spain in the Heart and Intimate Letter to Millions, his verse becomes less hermetic, more accessible, and particularly more political. In 1927 Neruda entered Chile's diplomatic corps, and after an unpleasant tour in the Orient, he became consul to Barcelona and then moved to Madrid in 1935. He devoted himself to the cause of the Spanish republic, and its destruction by Franco's forces led him into political activism and a conversion to communism. He saw as his mission the education of the proletariat, and the pessimism of his early period changed to optimism about humankind's solidarity and the future of communism. Neruda remained an international figure throughout his life, as well as an important force in Chilean politics. His extraordinary poetic talent and his active social role made him a legendary and symbolic figure for intellectuals, students, and artists from all of Latin America. "The tension, the repression, the drama of our position in Latin America doesn't permit us the luxury of being uncommitted," he said. Neruda won the Nobel Prize in 1971 "for poetry that, with the action of an elemental force, brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams." He died in Chile shortly after the coup d'etat that deposed President Allende in 1973, and this coincidence gave a renewed resonance to his name in the opposition to the dictatorship of General Pinochet.

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