Books · Poetry · Read in 2022 · Reviews

(poetry) Book Thoughts: Selected Poems (Pablo Neruda)

When sentences turn into images…


Title: Selected Poems
Author: Pablo Neruda (Chile)
Translators: Anthony Kerrigan / W S Merwin / Alastair Reid / Nathaniel Tarn
Genre: Poetry / Classic / Poetry Collection
First published: Original poems: 1924-1967
Edition: Paperback, published by Vintage Classics in 2012

Selected Poems contains Neruda’s resonant, exploratory, intensely individualistic verse, rooted in the physical landscape and people of Chile. Here we find sensuous songs of love, tender odes to the sea, melancholy lyrics of heartache, fiery political statements and a frank celebration of sex. This is an enticing, distinctive and celebrated collection of poetry from the greatest twentieth century Latin American poet.


I have to be honest and say that it took me a little while to get into these poems. When I started reading them they did not make sense.

Neruda’s style is very visual for me, using mostly images from nature, and after a while I stopped trying to understand exactly what he was saying and just enjoyed the words and the images he was painting. This was when I started truly enjoying his work. I felt the ebb and flow of his work and the feelings that he was portraying.

He has a clear connection to the sea and nature and that shines through in this collection of poems, often using the water to portray a feeling, a restlessness or longing, but also wonder. I enjoyed the free verse style he uses. It makes it more of a narrative somehow.

I think this is a great collection that gave me a good taste of what Pablo Neruda was all about. This is a dual language edition and I liked looking at the Spanish versions of the poems, even if I am unable to understand the language.

If you enjoy nature and looking at the world in a different light, Neruda may well be the poet for you. I certainly enjoy his work and I will seek out more from him for sure.

6 out of 7 stars

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