Pablo Neruda, born in Parral, Chile on July 12, 1904, was the pen name of the poet and political activist Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes.
On July 18, 1917, the young author had an article titled Entusiasmo y perseverancia published in the daily La Mañana, the first work of his to appear in print. trong>
trong>Drawn to poetry from an early age, he chose his pseudonym because he liked the sound of “Pablo” and because he admired Czech poet Jan Neruda.
Through his friendship with Gabriel Mistral, Chile’s first Nobel Literature laureate, he was able to meet some of the Russian novelists he admired throughout his life. Neruda, with his friends’ help, covered the costs of publishing his first volume of verse, Crepusculario, in 1923.
The next year, his Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada was a huge commercial success and earned him a place as one of Latin America’s most prominent poets.
In recognition of his literary achievement, Neruda was granted an honorary consulship in Rangoon (nowYangon, Myanmar) in 1927 and served various stints in the diplomatic service in Asian, Latin American and Spanish cities until 1944.
Neruda’s many love interests – he was married three times and had at least another half-dozen lovers – helped inspire some of the most widely read, erotically charged verse ever written. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971, two years before his death in Santiago on Sept. 23, 1973.