Pablo Neruda is one of the most influential and widely read 20th-century poets of the Americas and certainly one of our favourites. His poetry is immensely powerful and a perfect addition to any Valentine's Day.
Born Ricardo Eliezer Neftali Reyes y Basoalto, (12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973), Neruda became known as a poet when he was 13 years old, and wrote in a variety of styles, including surrealist poems, historical epics, overtly political manifestos, a prose autobiography, and passionate love poems such as the ones in his collection Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924). When President Gabriel González Videla outlawed communism in Chile in 1948, a warrant was issued for Neruda's arrest. Friends hid him for months in the basement of a house in the port city of Valparaíso. Years later, Neruda was a close advisor to Chile's socialist President Salvador Allende. When Neruda returned to Chile after his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Allende invited him to read at the Estadio Nacional before 70,000 people. Neruda is often considered the national poet of Chile, and his works have been popular and influential worldwide. The Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language".