Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Not a Love Poem, or even a Desperate Song, this

His main public is located not in the Spanish-speaking nations but in the Anglo-European countries, and his reputation derives almost entirely from the iconic place he once occupied in politics--which is to say, he's 'the greatest poet of the twentieth century' because he was a Stalinist at exactly the right moment, and not because of his poetry, which is doggerel.
Yes, his work is still plagiarized by teenage boys in Latin America, who see his Twenty Love Poems and a Desperate Song and figure there is nothing wrong with borrowing from it--just as one poem in the book is itself stolen from Rabindranath Tagore--and presenting its overwrought lines to their girlfriends. But if those boys grow up to be serious writers, they leave Neruda behind.
From Bad Poet, Bad Man, by Stephen Schwartz at The Weekly Standard.

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