“I have never thought of my life as divided between poetry and politics,” Pablo Neruda said in his September 30, 1969, acceptance speech as the Chilean Communist Party candidate for the presidency.
But because of a divided Left, Neruda never did become president.
He withdrew his candidacy after four months of diligently campaigning and took back to poetry. And in 1971, he was awarded The Nobel Prize in Literature “for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”.
Ricardo Eliecer Neftali Reyes Basoalto was better known by his pen name – Pablo Neruda. He captured the hearts and minds of dreamers and intellectuals, alike. And now, nearly 40 years after his death, his poems are still loved and read by thousands of people worldwide. He was one poet who knew about life and its problems and survived by pushing through the struggle, not able to be separated from nature. He lived for the ocean and the elegance of the woods.
His work is timeless. One of his first books, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, is still read by countless admirers.
People have always reacted to reading his work with immense emotions. This is probably due to the fact that all of his work was closely linked to his personal life. He was such a celebrity, that even back when he was alive, he had to have a special escort to protect him from the massive crowds that would surround him. The attention wasn’t always so positive.
While known more widely for his intense collection of prose, Neruda was a prominent political activist who often clashed with opposing parties. He is remembered as a supporter of socialist President Salvador Allende and for his staunch communist views. About two weeks before Neruda’s death, Allende was overthrown by a military coup on September 11, 1973. Forensic experts confirmed last year, upon exhuming his body, that Allende committed suicide in the presidential palace during the attack.
Now, Neruda’s body will be exhumed.
His former driver, Manuel Araya, testified that he was poisoned under Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship back in 1973, said a judge today.
According to Reuters, the famed poet is presumed to have died from prostate cancer on September 23, 1973 but his chauffer believes that during his last few months, while bedridden, agents from Pinochet’s dictatorship injected him with poison. Under Pinochet’s 17-year long rule, around 3,000 people are thought to have been killed.
Neruda’s body is buried inside of his coastal home of Isla Negra beside his third wife, Matilde Urrutia. This was his favorite house, where the two of them spent their time while in Chile. The house has since been turned into a museum, which is managed by the Pablo Neruda Foundation.
“He will be dug up during the first half of April,” Judge Mario Carroza said. “The same forensic experts who exhumed Allende will likely examine Neruda.”