Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

twenty love poems and a song of despair cover image Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

by Pablo Neruda
Penguin Books
Paperback, 64 pages

Over the holidays we saw the new film, Neruda, by Chilean director Pablo Larrain. We enjoyed it very much (and likewise loved his other current release, Jackie). But, it was Larrain’s periodic calling-up of Poema No. 20 in Neruda that took us back to our first reading of this little book in the mid-1960’s. We were twenty years old then – about the same age as Neruda when he wrote these love poems – and we were smitten. They are sometimes dismissed as sentimental, but they capture like few others the sweet and desperate passion of young love. Sentimental or not this remains the best-selling poetry book in the Spanish language ever – more than 20 million copies!