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Germanic Collections

Homepage History: GDR Poster Art GDR Poster Art and Chile GDR Poster Art and Nicaragua GDR Poster Art and other Latin American Countries GDR Poster Art and other Developing Nations Anti-USA Posters


Wieland Foerster (1974)

Chilean poet and political hero, Pablo Neruda is often viewed as a visionary. While many of his poems have a political content, many do not and he is often more commonly known for his love poems, and his lyrics filled with nature metaphors. However, his political activity and membership in the communist party propelled him to political leadership. He was even nominated for president, but declined in support of Salvador Allende.

His political identity took a big leap in its development when he lived in Spain, working as consul in Barcelona. Later he lived in Madrid, all the while developing close friendships with Spanish poets including Garcia Lorca, Alberti, Guillen. The Spanish Civil War begun in 1936 disturbed and upset him; he suffered the brutal death of his friend Garcia Lorca at the hands of Franco's troops, and he witnessed bombings of Madrid. In 1937, he returned to Chile to works on his poems and to organize anti-fascist solidarity. There he formed the Alliance of Intellectuals and participated in the electoral campaign of the leftist Frente Popular (Popular Front).

In 1940 he traveled to Mexico as the Chilean consul, where he stayed for a few years, and further intensified his anti-fascist activity. There he wrote many poems included in "Tercera Residencia", a book he had begun in Spain. A number of events of the early 1940's led him to a greater consciousness of the unity among peoples, a consciousness which would later be reflected in his epic Canto General; the attack of the Germans against the Soviets in 1941, the extension of war throughout the world, a visit Neruda made to Cuba in 1942 and Guatemala in 1941 all contributed to his new awareness of humanity.

Another pivotal moment in his political thinking took place in a visit to Macchu Picchu in 1943, which inspired the writing of "Alturas de Macchu Picchu" ("Heights of Macchu Picchu") in 1945. This book has been described as a "poetic testament" to Neruda's support of a Marxist view of the world. In July 1945, he officially joined the Communist Party of Chile.

"Peace rules in Chile - Pablo Neruda"

Walter Womacka (1973)

He developed his Marxist thinking in Canto General, the "General Song" of Chile, where he pays tribute to indigenous leaders of the Americas, political heroes, historical battles and the natural , political and social histories of Latin America. In 1948, Chilean President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla launched a program of open persecution of labor unions, of the Communist Party, and particularly, Neruda. Although President Gonzalez Videla was a Radical and part of the Frente Popular (an alliance of Communist and Radical Parties), and had given three seats in his cabinet to communists, mining strikes in 1946 provoked general strikes, leading to an escalating social conflict with spurred the President to impose a state of siege. US government pressure to eliminate communism in Latin America spurred the conservative in the Chilean Congress to outlaw the Communist Party, and a hunt began to arrest all involved. As a result, Neruda went into hiding and then into exile, living in France, Mexico, Guatemala, and other parts of Europe. Two-thirds of "Canto General" were written in 1948-49 while he was in hiding.

"Noone knows"

Guillermo Nunez (1978)

Excerpt from Canto General

These words are found in Neruda's epic poem, Canto General, in the section called "La arena traicionada", in the subsection "Las Masacres."

Here is the original version:

Nadie sabe donde enterraron
los asesinos estos cuerpos,
pero ellos saldran de la tierra
a cobrar la sangre caida
en la resurreccion del pueblo.

En medio de la plaza fue este crimen.

No escondio el matorral la sangre pura
del pueblo, ni la trago la arena de la pampa.

Nadie escondio este crimen.

Este crimen fue en medio de la Patria.

excerpt taken from: Pablo Neruda, Canto General, Seix Barral, Buenos Aires, 1997. p. 186.

English translation:

By John Schmitt, trans.
Pablo Neruda, Canto General, University of California Press, Los Angeles, 1991. p. 186
From the section "The sand betrayed:"

Nobody knows where the assasins
buried these bodies,
but they'll rise from the earth
to redeem the fallen blood
in the resurrection of the people.

In the middle of the Plaza this crime was committed.

The thornscrub didn't hide the people's
pure blood, nor was it swallowed by the pampa's sand.

Nobody hid this crime.

This crime was committed in the middle of the Plaza.

Much later in 1969, communism on the rise in Chile, he was nominated to be the presidential candidate for the Communist Party. In 1971, he received the Nobel Prize for literature. Two years later he fell ill, and he died shortly after the military coup in 1973 in his home in Isla Negra, Chile, surrounded and isolated by military police. Memorial services took place at the General Cemetery in Santiago, where mourners were carefully watched and controlled by the military.

"The Sandman"

German Arestizabal (1975)
Neruda gives Chile numerous gifts while she sleeps--gifts created in his lyrical poems about everyday objects.

"The night - dedicated to Pablo Neruda"

Michael Morgner (1974)

"Yours is the land, people"

Jose Balmes (1974)

Homepage History: GDR Poster Art GDR Poster Art and Chile GDR Poster Art and Nicaragua GDR Poster Art and other Latin American Countries GDR Poster Art and other Developing Nations Anti-USA Posters



Last modified: June 27, 2005

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