Pablo Neruda, pseudonym of Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (Parral, July 12, 1904 – Santiago de Chile, September 23, 1973), was a Chilean poet, diplomat and politician, considered one of the most important figures in Latin American literature of the 20th century.
He chose the pseudonym Pablo Neruda, in honor of the Czech writer and poet Jan Neruda. The name was later also legally recognized for him. Described by Gabriel García Márquez as “the greatest poet of the 20th century, in any language” and considered by Harold Bloom to be among the most representative writers in the Western canon, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971.
He also held prominent diplomatic and political posts for his country, such as Senator. He is also known for his adherence to communism (for which he suffered censure and political persecution, even having to expatriate because of his opposition to the authoritarian government of Gabriel González Videla), his candidacy for president of Chile in 1970, and his subsequent support for socialist Salvador Allende. He died in a Santiago hospital shortly after General Augusto Pinochet”s coup in 1973, officially of cancer but under circumstances deemed dubious, as he was about to leave for a new exile.
The early years
Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto was born in Parral, a small town in the province of Linares (in the Maule region), on July 12, 1904, the son of José del Carmen Reyes Morales, a railroad employee, and Rosa Neftalí Basoalto Opazo, a teacher, who died of tuberculosis when little Pablo was but a month old. In 1906, at the age of two, the future poet moved with his father to the city of Temuco, in the southern region of Araucanía, where the parent soon married Trinidad Candia Malverde (a woman whom the young Pablo used to call “Mamadre” and to whom he also dedicated some of his poems), by whom he had previously had a son nine years older, Rodolfo de la Rosa. Laura Herminia known as “Laurita,” on the other hand, was born of a subsequent extramarital affair of her father with Aurelia Tolrà, a Catalan woman. Both father and stepmother would die in 1938.
The young Neruda, to whom his father added the name Neftalí at the registry office, after his deceased mother”s middle name (by which, by the way, he was often called by family members), showed an interest in writing and literature, opposed by his father but encouraged by the poet Gabriela Mistral, future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945, his teacher during his schooling. His first official work as a writer was the article “Entusiasmo y perseverancia,” published when he was just 13 years old in the local newspaper “La Mañana” edited by Orlando Mason, whom Neruda thought was his uncle but was actually the result of a much earlier relationship between Trinidad Candia Marverde and Rudecindo Ortega and had been adopted by Micaela (Trinidad”s sister) and her husband Carlos Mason .
In 1920 he began to use the pseudonym Pablo Neruda for his publications, in homage to Jan Neruda, by which he is still almost exclusively known today, so that he could write poetry without his father (who considered this art an un “respectable” activity) discovering it. The following year, 1921, he moved to Santiago to study the French language and with the initial intention of later becoming a teacher, an idea soon abandoned for poetry.
In 1923 he published his first volume in verse, Crepusculario, which was appreciated by writers such as Alone, Raúl Silva Castro, and Pedro Prado, followed a year later by Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, a collection of love poems, with a modernist and erotic style, a reason that prompted some publishers to reject it. Thanks to these two works he was acclaimed and translated in some foreign countries: to this day they are among his most appreciated works.
Neruda found himself in a state of poverty that forced him to accept in 1927 a post as honorary consul in Southeast Asia, Burma, followed by countless other assignments. On the island of Java he married Dutch banker Marietje Antonia Hagenaar (later Hagenaar Vogelzang) known as Maruca. During his diplomatic assignments, Neruda was able to compose a large number of poems, experimenting with various poetic forms including the surrealistic ones that can be found in the first two volumes of Residencia en la tierra that date from this period.
Before returning to Chile, he obtained other diplomatic posts, first in Buenos Aires, then in Spain, in Barcelona, where he later replaced Gabriela Mistral as consul in Madrid. During this period he got to know other writers such as Rafael Alberti, Federico García Lorca and the Peruvian poet César Vallejo. While in the Spanish capital, daughter Malva Marina Trinidad (1934-1943) was born, suffering from hydroencephalitis, who died at an early age. It would be the frustratingly prostrate and incurable state of the poet”s only child that was the real cause of the increasingly irrepressible disagreements that led to a family crisis with Hagenaar, which came to a climax following Neruda”s association with Delia del Carril, an Argentine woman twenty years his senior and who was to become his second wife. A passionate advocate of communism, it was she who steered Neruda”s early anarcho-individualist tendencies toward Marxist ideals.
The embrace of communist ideas and civil solidarity also found further humus for Neruda in the revulsion he felt toward the abuses carried out by Francisco Franco”s fascists during the years of the Spanish Civil War. His “turn to the left” was even more decisive after the barbaric killing by General Franco”s forces of Federico García Lorca, whom he had become friends with: Neruda”s support for the Republican Front, which opposed the then nascent Francoist dictatorship, was total, both in speeches and in writings, such as, for example, the poetry collection España en el corazón.
Following the election as president of Chile of Pedro Aguirre Cerda in 1938, for whom Neruda had been a supporter, the poet was commissioned to evacuate from the French camps the 2,000 Spanish exiles, for whom he organized a transfer by sea to Chile using the ship Winnipeg. On this occasion he was reprimanded for favoring evacuees of the Communist faith at the expense of others, although it seems that the choice on who to take on board was made primarily by the president of the Spanish republic in exile, Juan Negrín.
The insubstantiality of these grievances is then further demonstrated by the great affection with which, even today, he is widely remembered in France. Between 1940 and 1943 he was assigned the post of consul general in Mexico City, and it was during these years that he divorced his first wife, married Delia del Carril and learned of the death of his daughter, aged only 8, in the occupied territories of the Netherlands. Neruda then helped Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros, accused of being one of the conspirators involved in the attempted assassination of Lev Trotsky in 1940 (Trotsky was to be assassinated shortly thereafter in a second attempt by Ramón Mercader, a Spanish secret agent working for the USSR), by getting him an entry visa for Chile and giving him hospitality. Neruda revealed that he did so at the informal request of new Mexican President Manuel Ávila Camacho.
Siqueiros painted a mural in the school in Chillán at that time. In 1943, while traveling home, Neruda stopped in Peru, visited Machu Picchu, and was very impressed by the city of the Incas, which inspired him, in 1945, to write Alturas de Macchu Picchu, a twelve-part poem about Spanish colonization. The same subject also inspired Canto General (in which Alturas was also included), later published in 1950, which contains very strong polemical overtones against so-called U.S. imperialism (of which, among other things, he denounced the abuses of multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola, the United Fruit Company and Anaconda Copper, named explicitly in the text). The text also describes the history, geography, mythology, culture, flora and fauna of South America.
In later years, he expressed his admiration for the Soviet Union-including for its decisive role in the final defeat of Nazi Germany-and for Stalin, to whom he dedicated a composition on the occasion of his death in 1953. Subsequent revelations about the cult of personality cultivated by the Soviet leader and the Stalinist purges (starting with the famous speech by Nikita Khruščëv, Stalin”s successor, during the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in Moscow in February 1956) prompted Neruda to change his opinion, making self-criticism and disavowing the admiration he had previously expressed: in his memoirs he expressed his regret for having contributed to the creation of an unreal image of Stalin.
This error of judgment also led him to look with a different eye on Chinese communism, which he met during a trip in 1957, fearing a repetition of the same mistakes-that is, the veneration of a “socialist deity”-in regard to Mao Tse-Tung as well. Despite his disillusions, Neruda nevertheless always remained true to his communist beliefs and was criticized by many detractors who accused him of never taking a stand for dissident intellectuals Boris Pasternak and Joseph Brodsky.
Politics in Chile
On March 4, 1945, he was elected senator, on the Communist Party list in the northeastern Chilean provinces of Antofagasta and Tarapacá, located in the inhospitable Atacama Desert, and a few months later he officially took up the membership of the Communist Party of Chile. The following year, the official candidate of the Radical Party of Chile for the presidential election, Gabriel González Videla, asked him to take over the campaign leadership of the “Democratic Coalition” for the presidential election, comprising radicals, communists and democrats: to this task the poet devoted himself fervently, contributing to his nomination for president, beating the conservative candidate Cruz-Coke, but being disappointed by Videla”s unexpected about-turn against the Communist Party itself after the election.
The point of no return in the relationship between the poet and the politician was the violent repression with which the latter struck the striking miners in the Bío-Bío region of Lota in October 1947: the protesters were imprisoned in military jails and concentration camps near the town of Pisagua. Neruda”s disapproval culminated in his dramatic January 6, 1948 speech before the Chilean Senate, later called “Yo acuso,” in which he read to the assembly the list of miners held captive. The Videla government had quickly morphed into an authoritarian government, from which Neruda completely distanced himself.
Videla”s reaction was the issuance of an arrest order against Neruda, to evade which the poet was forced to embark on a harsh period – 13 months – of escape, hiding from friends and comrades. In addition, Videla also promulgated in March 1948 the so-called “Ley de Defensa Permenente de la Democracia” (dubbed “Ley maldita” by detractors instead), under which the Communist Party of Chile was outlawed and more than 26,000 members were removed from the electoral rolls, and elected representatives, including Neruda, were disqualified from office. Pablo Larraín”s film Neruda, released in 2016, is dedicated to this period of his life. In March 1949 he managed to take refuge in Argentina, under the government of Juan Domingo Perón, after an adventurous crossing of the Andes, which he recounted in his Nobel Prize ceremony speech. In 1950, meanwhile, he finished his senatorial term.
During his three-year Argentine exile, he met in Buenos Aires Miguel Ángel Asturias, who held the position of cultural attaché for Guatemala and who managed to procure him a passport through which he could leave Argentina. Also thanks to Pablo Picasso”s help, Neruda managed to arrive in Paris, making a surprise appearance at the “World Congress of Partisans of Peace,” sensational in that, in the meantime, the Chilean government had continued to deny that Neruda had left his native territory. They were, those of exile, also years of numerous travels between Europe, India, China, the USSR and Mexico.
It was while in Mexico that Neruda suffered a serious attack of phlebitis, the aftermath of the long confinements in very cramped quarters to which his fugitive status had forced him; while undergoing treatment, he met Matilde Urrutia, a Chilean singer, with whom he began a relationship and whom years later he married. During the Mexican period he published Canto General, begun years earlier in Chile. A shorter version of the manuscript had been published a few months earlier in Chile, based on texts left there, by the Communist Party (clandestine because of the aforementioned “Ley de defensa”).
In 1952, Neruda lived for a time in a villa made available to him by engineer and naturalist Edwin Cerio on the island of Salina; that stay later gave the idea for the setting of the film starring Massimo Troisi Il postino (1994), in which the poet is played by Philippe Noiret, and directed by director Michael Radford (the screenplay was loosely based on the novel Il postino di Neruda by Antonio Skármeta, which, unlike the film, is set in June 1969 in a small fishing village on Isla Negra, a small island off El Quisco in the Valparaíso region). After his stay in Capri, Neruda moved to Sant”Angelo d”Ischia, where he stayed from January to the end of June 1952.
The return to the homeland
By 1952, Videla”s government was nearing the end of its term, also stricken by numerous corruption scandals, and the Socialist Party presented Salvador Allende”s candidacy for new president, at the same time requesting the presence at home of its most distinguished scholar in order to best endorse his inauguration. However, the conservative Carlos Ibáñez del Campo was elected president in November. Neruda returned to Chile in August, provisionally reuniting with his wife Delia del Carril, but the marriage was now doomed to founder thanks in part to the new relationship begun in Mexico. Having obtained a divorce, he then married his third and final wife, Matilda Urrutia. In 1953 Neruda was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize.
Consequently, in 1955, Delia left him to return to Europe. However, Delia”s abandonment did not determine for Neruda that of communist commitment: the poet continued his political activity, for example, taking a stand against the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis (Neruda had supported Fidel Castro”s Cuban revolution) and the Vietnam War. This drew strides against him from the more conservative parts of the U.S., and the Freedom of Culture Association, an organization behind which the CIA was actually behind, tried to undermine his credibility and reputation in every way, citing, for example, his positions on the 1940 attempted assassination of Trotsky. Upon Stalin”s death in 1953, Neruda wrote a moving ode in memory of the Soviet dictator, a little-known composition today.
This campaign was curbed only in 1964, when the idea of awarding Neruda the Nobel Prize was aired, and the only alternative nomination was that of Jean-Paul Sartre, a figure even more disliked by U.S. conservatives (later actually awarded, although he refused to accept the Prize). In 1966 Neruda was invited to New York for an international conference of the Writers” Association, but Arthur Miller, organizer of the event, encountered many difficulties and had to put considerable pressure on the Johnson administration both to succeed in getting him a visa and because so many other literati from beyond the Iron Curtain were present.
For these very reasons, Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes later pointed to the conference as one of the first steps toward the end of the Cold War. After the work was completed, Neruda made audio recordings of some of his compositions for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. On his return trip home, Neruda made a stop in Peru, where he was welcomed with full honors by President Fernando Belaúnde Terry, but the visit was frowned upon by Cuba. In those years relations between Peru and Cuba were somewhat strained because of political differences, and Neruda was accused by Cuban intellectuals of being a revisionist in the pay of the Yankees and was not allowed to travel to the Caribbean island until 1968.
Of this Neruda was very sorry so much that in his autobiography I Confess I Lived he criticized the attitude of Cuban intellectuals, calling it “fanatical” and a “blow to the back.” In 1967, upon the death of Ernesto Che Guevara in Bolivia, Neruda wrote many articles on the loss of the “great hero of the revolution,” by whose esteem he was, moreover, reciprocated, as evidenced by Guevara”s composition of a small eulogistic essay on Neruda”s book Canto General.
The last few years
In 1969, Neruda was listed as one of the candidates for the office of President of the Chilean Republic for the center-left coalition, and later chosen as the official candidate of the Communist Party of Chile, but he withdrew from the electoral contest by endorsing socialist candidate Allende in the 1970 elections and helping him to become the first democratically elected socialist president in Chile. From 1970 to 1972 he resumed his diplomatic career, appointed by Allende as Chile”s ambassador to the headquarters in Paris, a post that marked the height of his political activity but which he had to leave early for health reasons, particularly the prostate cancer from which he was suffering.
On October 21, 1971, he was awarded, the third Latin American writer after Gabriela Mistral in 1945 and Miguel Ángel Asturias in 1967, the Nobel Prize in Literature. On his first return to his homeland the following year, he was triumphantly welcomed in an event at Santiago Stadium. Also from these years are his last living publications, La espada encendida and Las piedras del cielo, edited during his stay in Paris.
Before he died, he witnessed General Augusto Pinochet”s coup d”état of Sept. 11, 1973 as well as the death of President Allende, his personal friend, who was assassinated during the storming of the Moneda building. As the dictatorship took office, the military began to harass him with searches ordered by the coup general; during one of these, Neruda allegedly told the military, “Look around, there is only one form of danger for you here: poetry.”
While waiting to be allowed to expatriate to Mexico, the poet grew worse and was admitted to the Santa María clinic in Santiago on September 19. He died four days later, officially of prostate cancer, but possibly, according to the recent testimony of his driver and bodyguard, he was assassinated at Pinochet”s behest in the clinic (the same one in which Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva was assassinated on Jan. 22, 1982) by means of a mysterious injection.
Neruda finished his last poem perhaps the day before his death; titled The Satraps, it is a direct, angry, and unflinching attack on Pinochet, Richard Nixon (already targeted as “evil…genocidal White House” in the poem Incitement to Nixonicide) and other politicians such as Frei Montalva and the Uruguayan dictator Juan María Bordaberry: “Nixon, Frei and Pinochet
His funeral was one of the very first moments of opposition to the dictatorship, as it took place despite the hostile and intimidating presence of the military with machine guns drawn who watched the attendees on sight, as evidenced by a clandestine film shot at the time. Many of the participants chanted Allende, but the soldiers dared not intervene; however, several among those present later ended up desaparecidos or were arrested later. It was, moreover, a gesture of solidarity and rebellion against the latest disfigurement against Neruda, carried out as he lay in his hospital bed: the devastation, again on Pinochet”s orders, of his property. The death and funeral of Neruda, called in the book “the Poet,” is recalled by Isabel Allende in the last part of the novel The House of Spirits. The author was in fact present at the ceremony.
His last wife published posthumously the autobiography on which Neruda had worked until the day before his death, arousing Pinochet”s resentment for his harsh criticism of the dictatorship”s brutality. An autobiography of Matilde Urrutia”s time with Neruda was also published in 1986, entitled Mi vida junto a Pablo Neruda; in Chile, Neruda”s works were rehabilitated and put back on the market in 1990, after the fall of the dictatorship. The three homes owned by Neruda in Chile, La Chascona in Santiago, La Sebastiana in Valparaiso, and the Casa de Isla Negra in El Quisco are now museums, managed by the Neruda Foundation. In 1992, the bodies of Neruda and his wife were exhumed from the Santiago cemetery and buried in the Isla Negra garden.
Although the Neruda Foundation opposed it from the outset, Neruda”s body was exhumed 40 years after his death on April 8, 2013, with the aim of clearing up the mystery surrounding his death, namely whether it occurred from natural causes or was a murder. Ordered by Chilean Judge Mario Carroza as part of the investigation based on allegations by Manuel Araya, the poet”s driver according to whom the great poet was killed with a lethal injection while hospitalized in the Santiago hospital, and at the request of Neruda”s grandchildren. The hypothesis has been disproved for the time being by the report on the radiological and histological examinations carried out on the body in which the very advanced state of his prostate cancer is shown, as was already known at the time. For definitive proof, the outcome of toxicological tests still underway at the laboratories of the University of North Carolina in the United States is awaited.
Supporters of the assassination thesis, relying on testimonies at the time, claim that Neruda was not dying, although he was seriously ill, and that Pinochet allegedly ordered a hitman, a secret CIA agent also linked to neo-fascist circles, Michael Townley, to hasten his death with an unspecified “stomach injection” to prevent him from becoming an opposition leader abroad, according to Neruda”s own words to the driver, who recounted that a doctor had come in and given him the injection; the next day his condition suddenly worsened and he died, before departing for his new exile. Judge Carroza ordered, also in 2013, that Neruda”s alleged killer be tracked down and identified, but he is living under an assumed name in the United States, under the FBI”s witness protection program in a secret location.
His wife also reported Neruda”s alarm about the mysterious injection. While Matilde Urrutia was on her way with Araya to Isla Negra to retrieve the last things before leaving for Mexico, around 4 p.m. they received a phone call from Neruda from the hospital. The poet asked to go back because he was very worried, as “while he was sleeping in his clinic room some people had come in and injected something into his abdomen.” He said he “felt sick,” according to Araya”s reported words. When the driver and his wife arrived in Santiago, they found the poet, who was previously weakened but still in fair condition, with a sudden fever. Neruda showed signs of redness where he had been injected but Dr. Sergio Drapper claimed it was soothing and painkillers. Drapper then claimed that the injection was given by a Dr. Price; he provided a sketch of him, coinciding with the physical appearance of Michael Townley, whom he had never known under that name.
Neruda”s nurse, citing rumors from the clinic, also supports the murder thesis. He left, at 7 p.m., to go buy medicine at a suburban pharmacy (where the doctor had referred Araya), his car was intercepted by the military who stopped him, detaining him for a checkup, and a few hours later (at about 10 p.m.) Neruda was declared dead by clinic doctors. Neruda”s wife remained in the clinic but Araya was arrested and tortured for ten days in the Estadio Nacional de Chile concentration camp; believing he would not be believed, he decided to speak out only after the sensational discovery of Eduardo Frei Montalva”s (1982) murder in 2005.
Three reasons were given as the poet”s cause of death, in as many copies of the certificate: tumor, heart failure (as a consequence of the disease), cachexia (without naming the tumor), while the medical records of the facility where he died and of the German Hospital, where he was performing other treatments, turned out to be missing, as were the records of the doctors on duty in the days close to his death.
In November 2013, the director of Chile”s forensic medical service, Patricio Bustos, had Neruda”s body analyzed and concluded that the poet died of prostate cancer, the course of which was possibly accelerated by the emotional stress of the days of the coup.
No poisonous substances were found in the body, other than traces of the medicines and painkillers taken to fight the cancer, while there were many metastases in the bones. Lawyers for the poet”s grandson dispute the various causes of death listed in three copies of the death certificate, and claim that not all substances and methods, such as sarin gas (which Townley claimed was used in some political assassinations passed off as suicides or natural deaths), polonium-210, air injections causing embolism, overdoses of morphine or some toxins such as botulinum toxin-according to Townley toxins used to kill former Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva, in whose body thallium residues and mustard gas were found (the latter gas, also known as mustard gas, is a contact blistering and burning agent used as a chemical weapon and which accelerates the spread of infections, also damaging the immune system by leukopenia)-leave traces after so long and can sometimes be disguised as drugs.
Both the grandchildren and the Chilean Communist Party, in January 2015, obtained a supplementary inquiry and the reopening of the investigation, with new scientific examinations of the biological findings taken from the body in 2013, in order to search for specific chemicals or heavy metals, lethal in a short time in a debilitated body.
In May 2015, a Spanish group announced the discovery of abnormal proteins in Neruda”s bones, not referable to drugs, some linked to cancer and others to a sudden and very rapid infection with Staphylococcus aureus; although such infections are strongly possible in hospitals and in seriously ill patients, such a fast bacterial outbreak after hospitalization and the aforementioned injection, such that Neruda died within hours, could raise suspicion of an external intervention to foster the infection, such as the aforementioned mustard gas whose traces disappear after a few years. The Spanish doctors concluded by saying that this could be likely, although it can neither be proven nor ruled out.
The investigation moved toward dismissal, but the Chilean government, faced with lingering doubts, set up two scientific commissions at the Department of Human Rights that in November 2015 drafted a confidential document later made public, which states that it is likely that Neruda did not die “because of the prostate cancer from which he suffered,” and that “it appears clearly possible and highly probable that a third party intervened,” concluding that the patient “was applied an injection or given something orally that precipitated his prognosis in just six hours.” This is the first time the Chilean state has denied the cause of death declared by the Pinochet government in 1973.
Neruda”s poetics range from realism to surrealism, from intimist lyricism to civic and political poetry. Among his main inspirers and models are Francisco de Quevedo, Walt Whitman (whom he often cited directly as his teacher and moral and artistic guide) and Arthur Rimbaud, as noted by critic Leo Spitzer.
According to Neruda, poetry is an act of peace and love, but he is compelled by circumstances to fight those who want to destroy this peace, as in the verses directed against dictators, neo-colonialism and U.S. imperialism (emblematic are the Canto general and Incitement to Nixonicide and Celebration of the Chilean Revolution), in which the poet”s anger at those who ruin the purity of life is made manifest; his deeper inspiration, however, is never overshadowed:
He expresses a romantic and dramatic concept of life, a lover of small things and his country and in revolt with the conventions, established order and banalities of modern life. The theme of love of life is accompanied by the investigation of death and existence, the search for absolute freedom and thus contempt for tyrants and power (his sentimental adherence to communist ideas, without dogmatism and always ready to question, should also be understood in this sense).
In terms of form and metrics, Neruda prefers simple forms, such as free verse, very attentive to language, extremely rich and powerful, throbbing with vital emotions. He also wants to be an epic voice for the celebration of the history and people of Latin America, whose myths and legends he also reinvents, using them as a backdrop to his critique of the present, but the main subject of his poetry certainly remains love: Toward existence, toward the beloved woman, toward his country, humanity, nature, plants, food and animals (see Heights of Machu Picchu and the various elemental Odes: Ode to the Cat, Ode to the Tomato, Ode to the Artichoke, etc. ), anything that arouses a feeling of connection and happiness in the poet.
In November 2018, the Cultural Committee of Chile”s lower house voted to rename Santiago”s main airport in memory of Neruda. The decision sparked protests from feminist groups, which highlighted a passage in Neruda”s memoirs in which he describes the rape of a woman in Ceylon in 1929. The words Neruda uses to describe the rape leave no doubt that he was aware of the woman”s lack of consent: “one morning, I decided to go through with it, I grabbed her hard by the wrist and looked her in the face. There was no language I could speak to her. She let me guide her without smiling and soon she was naked on my bed. The encounter was like that of a man with a statue. She kept her eyes wide open the whole time, completely inert. She was right to have contempt for me.”
Previously, Neruda describes the woman herself as a “timid jungle animal,” words that underscore her racist and sexist views. Several feminist groups, supported by a growing movement
Among the Italian translations and editions, of particular note are:
This is the first line of a poem titled ¿Quién muere? that was circulated via e-mail and mistakenly attributed to Pablo Neruda, as confirmed by the Fundación Pablo Neruda and Stefano Passigli, president of Passigli Editori, publisher of Neruda”s works in Italy: “Those who know his poetry instantly realize that those banal and vaguely new-age lines certainly cannot be the work of one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.” The poem, whose real title is A Morte Devagar, actually belongs to Brazilian writer and poet Martha Medeiros, and was published Nov. 1, 2000, in the daily Zero Hora in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Very similar to the first, it is also characterized by the use of the same rhetorical figure, the anaphora, this poem has also spread through e-mail and social networks and has been mistakenly attributed to Pablo Neruda. In fact, the authorship of the work, whose original title is “Queda Prohibido,” belongs to Alfredo Cuervo Barrero. The poem is registered in the Intellectual Property Registry of Biscay, in the name of the author himself, with registration number BI -13- 03.