I read the first poem by Pablo Neruda in 1986, in an anthology called Poetry and Humanity, which includes all the 20 poets who had received until then the Golden Wreath, the great award of the Struga Poetry Evenings, an international festival which takes place since 1966 in this little town located on the lakeside Ohrid, then in Yugoslavia, now in Macedonia. Honestly, I bought the volume for the poem of Nichita Stănescu, my illustrious concitadin, but I noted Pablo Neruda and Eugenio Montale even after first reading. And I noticed also a sad coincidence: both Pablo Neruda and Nichita Stănescu died one year after receiving the prize from Struga, at an interval of a decade, in 1972, respectively 1982.
On his real name Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, Chilean poet who chose his pen name after Czech poet Jan Neruda had a very hectic life, occuping during his lifetime many diplomatic positions in Asia, Europe and Latin America, and being married three times. Acquiring the communist beliefs during the Spanish Civil War (at that time he was consul in Madrid), he served a stint as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party, but also lived many years in exile.
Although widely recognized as a great poet by his peers, he was often criticized for his admiration for Lenin, Stalin and Castro (In 1953 he was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize) and his political involvement too pronounced. Thus Gabriel García Márquez called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language", but Jorge Luis Borges stated "I don't admire him as a man, I think of him as a very mean man", and Octavio Paz commented that he "became more and more Stalinist".
Neruda given a kind of answer in the speech sustained when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1971: "The truth is that even if some or many consider me to be a sectarian, barred from taking a place at the common table of friendship and responsibility, I do not wish to defend myself, for I believe that neither accusation nor defence is among the tasks of the poet. When all is said, there is no individual poet who administers poetry, and if a poet sets himself up to accuse his fellows or if some other poet wastes his life in defending himself against reasonable or unreasonable charges, it is my conviction that only vanity can so mislead us."
A year before, in 1970, Neruda was nominated as a candidate for the Chilean presidency, but he gave his support to Salvador Allende, who won the election. At the time of the Chilean coup d'état led by Augusto Pinochet (about which I wrote here), the poet was hospitalised with cancer, and died of heart failure. At that time there was suspicion that the junta had mixed in his death, and in 2011 began an investigation with regard to the accusation that Neruda may have been poisoned by the Pinochet regime for his political views.
Neruda owned three houses in Chile, all open today to the public as museums: La Sebastiana in Valparaíso, La Chascona in Santiago, and Casa de Isla Negra. The first one (shown in the second postcard) is a four-story home (Neruda occupied only the top floors), which offer 360 degree views of the city, and is highlighted by "the jar of smoke," a round, post-modern fireplace designed by Neruda himself. Unlike at Neruda’s other houses, the visitors can wander around La Sebastiana at will, lingering over the collection of ship’s figureheads, glass, 1950s furniture and artworks by his famous friends. And you don't have to pay to go into the museum, what I find really nice.
Casa de Isla Negra (shown in the third postcard), located at Isla Negra (Black Island), about 85km to the south of Valparaíso, it was his favorite house, where he and his third wife, Matilde Urrutia spent the majority of their time in Chile. Neruda, a lover of the sea and all things maritime, built the home to resemble a ship. A passionate collector, every room has a different collection of bottles, ship figureheads, maps, ships in bottles, and an impressive array of shells, which are located in their own "Under the Sea" room. Neruda and his wife Matilde Urrutia are buried there, with a clear view of their beach.
About the stamps
On the first postcard
About the first stamp, showing a mailbox, I wrote here.
The second stamp was issued on June 11, 2004, with the occasion of 100th anniversary of the birth of Pablo Neruda. Of course, the perfect stamp for this postcard.
On the second postcard
The first stamp is part of a series about Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Takona Body Painting, about which I wrote here. The two placed on the top belong to the Valparaíso, Patrimonio de la Humanidad (Valparaiso, Vorld Heritage Site) set, about which I wrote here. The big one (with vignette) is part of a series of four stamps with the same value (430CLP), named Revista Naval del Bicentenario (1810-2010), issued on September 20, 2010, and composed by two stamps which shows National Squadron in 1910 (one of this is on the postcard), and other two which shows National Squadron in 2010.
On the third postcard
The first stamp is part of the Fiestas Nacionales (National Holidays) series, about which I wrote here. The second and the third, depicting Artillería Funicular and Trolleybus, are part of the series Valparaíso, Patrimonio de la Humanidad (Valparaiso, World Heritage Site), about which I wrote here. The fourth, showing an organillero, belongs to the Chilean Traditional Characters series, about which I wrote here. The fifth was issued in 2011, for Christmas (also here).
Poezie şi umanitate, Editura Dacia, Cluj-Napoca, 1986 - antologie de poezie
Pablo Neruda - Wikipedia
Struga Poetry Evenings - Wikipedia
Pablo Neruda: A passion for life, by Lisa Gorton - theage.com.au
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1971, Pablo Neruda speech - Nobelprize.org
La Sebastiana - Lonely Planet
Casa de Isla Negra - Wikipedia
sender 1,2, 3: Hernán (direct swap)
1: sent from Santiago (Chile), on 13.12.2012
2: sent from Santiago (Chile), on 03.02.2012
3: sent from Santiago (Chile), on 17.05.2012