Pablo and the men

Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet and politician who took a pen name from the 19th-century Czech poet, Jan Neruda. Pablo served as Senator for the Chilean Communist Party for a few years before President González Videla outlawed communism in 1948. This ruling forced Pablo to go into hiding, relying on his many friends to keep him safe and out of site.

Pablo’s political beliefs can often be found in his poetry. He also wrote many poems about love and relationships. The poem below seems to be about love and forgetting the lovers you’ve had in the past, but perhaps it is also a commentary about building ones politics upon the politics of those who came before.

Pablo’s writing and his politics were one. He believed “that the work of art and the statement of thought—when these are responsible human actions, rooted in human need—are inseparable from historical and political context,” (Salvatore Bizzarro in Pablo Neruda: All Poets the Poet). He had a powerful voice of influence and the voice of a performing poet. Something that is worth remembering while reading his poems.

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Sappho among the stars

Sappho was a highly admired and well-regarded poet of antiquity. She was born around 630 BCE and died around 570 BCE. Unfortunately for us, not much is known about her outside of what can be inferred from her poetry, and even that has only survived in fragments. Nonetheless, her influence as a poet lives on, and the beauty and power of her words seeps through the fragments that remain.

For a good introduction to Sappho’s poems, Anne Carson’s translation, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho is well worth a read. Carson employs brackets and white space to denote missing text and gives you a vision of the poems as a whole.

Sappho may be far from us now, but her poems do still connect with us though the fragments that we have. They are poems about love, longing, loss, and everyday life. And so, we celebrate her vision.

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