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Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair Hardcover – October 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; 1st edition (October 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811803201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811803205
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This collection of poems, first published by Neruda at the age of 19 in 1924, caused something of a scandal because of its frank and intense sexuality: "I have gone marking the atlas of your body / with crosses of fire. / My mouth went across: a spider, trying to hide. / In you, behind you, timid, driven by thirst." It later became one of Neruda's best-loved works, selling two million copies by the 1960s. Why? With image after arresting image, Neruda charts the oceanic movements of passion, repeatedly summoning imagery of the sea and weather: "On all sides I see your waist of fog, / and your silence hunts down my afflicted hours; / my kisses anchor, and my moist desire nests / in you with your arms of transparent stone." As irresistible as the sea, love is engulfing ("You swallowed everything, like distance. / . . . In you everything sank!"), but also departs as mysteriously as it arrived, leaving the poet's heart a "pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked." These unabashedly romantic poems, wonderfully translated by Merwin, are illustrated in this edition by the paintings of Jan Thompson Dicks with aptly Fauvist tones and iconic formality.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Verse collection by Pablo Neruda, published in 1924 as Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada. The book immediately established the author's reputation and became one of the most widely read collections of poetry written in Spanish. The 20 love poems of the title poignantly describe remembered affairs with two women: a girl from the poet's native town of Temuco and a classmate at the University of Santiago. The collection begins with intensity, describing sensual passion that slackens into melancholy and detachment in the later verses. The closing poem, "A Song of Despair," hopelessly dwells upon bitter emotions. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Andy Todes on March 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
take the one-minute neruda test: "i want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees." there, how'd that feel? good, great, fantastic? plenty more where that came from.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Art History Professor on August 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have always been thankful that English is my first language, for I would hate to read a translated version of a Shakespeare play. Neruda (and perhaps Gabriel Garcia Marquez) is one writer that makes me wish I could read Spanish, for as amazing as his poems are in the translated English (and the are amazing), they must be pure and unabashed magic in their original language. Neruda is able to write on emotions that we occassionaly feel, and often long about, but can seldom work into spoken (yet alone written) words. By far, my favorite in this book of poems is Number 20, which has come to be known as "Tonight I Can Write..." Only after losing the love that I thought would last forever did the words "Love is so short, forgetting so long" sincerely ring true. Neruda's poems in general are amazing, and his ability to capture human emotions is remarkable.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
...one of the most beautiful sets of poems in the history of poetry. Exquisite is the only word to describe Neruda's images and language. I have read the poems both in English and Spanish and even though the Spanish version is, of course, far superior, the poems don't really lose much in these translations. Neruda is the ultimate, TRUE romantic and not the schlocky caricature that we've come to accept as the essence of romance. Neruda understood the human condition with regards to love and its consequences like few other poets and it shows in the magical beauty of his work.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on January 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Of course, these poems are best when read in their original language, as with all poetry. But I think Neruda is translatable, as much as a poet can be. It is easy to see why these poems appeal to all, or almost all, people who read them. They go directly to our feelings, as we all have some very special people in our past to relate them to (and people who don't have anyone to remember have certainly lived miserable lives).
The language of Neruda is sophisticated, memories are convoluted, but so are all memories of love: sophisticated and distorted by memory, regret, nostalgia and longing for those loves to come back. They do when we read Neruda. He is not one of my favorite poets. I especially dislike his political (procommunist) poetry of later days. But I certainly enjoy reading his words and seeing the images he paints, the sounds he evocates, the smells that remain in the back of my head from earlier loves. Highly recommended for reading and re-reading.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Never read anything as beautiful as these words!! So poignant, so honest, so real! Speaks of love in terms that we all understand. It speaks of love in all its glories, pains, frustrations and ecstasies. It captures love in all its moments, from that first adrenaline rush to the last bitter moments of a relationship, as in "Tonight I write the saddest lines". So much passion and sensitivity wrapped up in one book! This book has become my travelling companion. I take it everywhere with me!! I LOVE YOU NERUDA, MI CORAZON!!!!!!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roger W. Satterthwaite on December 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Buy this book and hesitate to read - all other poetry afterwards will pale in comparison. Then buy a copy of Neruda's autobiography to understand how Neruda can 'write the saddest lines'. I have given Twenty Love Poems and a song of Despair more frequently than any other gift. The perfect Valentine's or anniversary gift.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Philip Mestas on April 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book of love poems is the most hauntingly accurate realization of the emotions of love and of sexual love between a man and a woman that has ever been written. Reading it (over and over again) has enriched my life as a lover and as a writer. When my parents passed away, I was not suprised to find two editions of this book (in Spanish) among my fathers most personal belongings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "hermia1596" on August 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Pablo Neruda's poetry is among the most sensous and beautiful poetry ever written. He wrote with such passion and exquisite mastery of the language, that he is rightly considered among the best poets in the world. The imagery of his poems is strong, well-crafted...just perfect. For any romantic spirit, Neruda is a dream come true...and for us average readers, he is the poet of our hearts.
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