Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Death of Pablo Neruda

Even though you could never describe me as a Communist sympathizer I am, nonetheless, capable of great sympathy for individual Communists - most especially in the case of Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOf course, it helps that he's a poet - which I as a writer consider to be the writer's highest calling - and that he gave his life to the struggle against tyranny. That he did so by allying himself with another form of tyranny is a matter for another post.

Though sick with cancer at the time of his friend Salvador Allende's overthrow by General Augusto Pinochet, Neruda actually died of a heart attack in Santiago on this day in 1973. Doctors may tell you that cancer weakens all of the body's systems, blah blah blah... The truth is that Neruda was a poet, and as such he died of a broken heart. It's as simple as that.

He had been fighting fascism all his life - during the Spanish Civil War (both before and after the assassination of his friend Federico García Lorca in August 1936), throughout World War II, and his funeral was one of the first anti-Pinochet protests inside Chile. Shortly before his death, when forces loyal to Pinochet ransacked his house, he famously said:

Look around - there's only one thing of danger for you here - poetry.

As a result of his outspoken opposition to the Pinochet evil, Neruda's poetry was posthumously banned in Chile from 1974 until 1990.
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