July 12 (1904) marks the birthday of Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes y Basoalto (known to the world as Pablo Neruda). We choose to celebrate his birthday, rather than his death- day (23rd of September – originally supposedly from prostate cancer, but now known to be the result (also) of political intrigue, poisoned by supporters of the Pinochet regime that had come to power via coup d’etat less than two weeks before – Need we bother to prevaricate and say “allegedly poisoned”? – “It’s clearly possible and highly probable that a third party” was responsible for Neruda’s death.“)
Allen’s poem (see above) was written two days after his death and published in the anthology, For Chile – An International Anthology (edited by Walter Lowenfels). The subsequent published version (beginning “Some breath breathes out Adonis & Canto General”) omits all but the first four lines (inviting speculation on Allen’s editing process – why did he do this? – Well, obviously for concision and brevity, but this longer, earlier, version, affords us a glimpse of his more specific appreciation.
His Neruda documentary Pablo Neruda – The Poets Calling continues to be very much in the works (scheduled release-date September 2017). Red Poppy, his organization, continues with the fund-raising. Here’s an interview he did, taped at City Lights Bookstore, with poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Jack Hirschman talking about Neruda.
The voice of the poet – hear Neruda reading his poems – here
His 1971 Nobel Prize Speech, “Towards the Splendid City”, can be heard in Spanish (and read in English translation) – here
A further interview recorded the following year, just a year before his death, may be accessed – here