The Awfulness of Pablo Neruda

Can you separate the poem from the person? Is a despicable personality excusable in an artist? I’d never heard about this side of Neruda (and honestly, I’m not quite ready to just take this blogger’s word for it), but it does make me rethink some of my feelings toward his poems. Not sure if I’m comfortable with that. Your thoughts?


Well, this is awkward, but it appears the original article this post referred to has been removed from its site. Sorry. 


4 thoughts on “The Awfulness of Pablo Neruda

  1. I don’t know whether we should separate the artist from the personality (though I suspect it is not such an easy operation as some would assume), but I’ve never been able to read Neruda. anyway, despite repeated attempts. He’s such a puffed-up bore that more than a few lines is numbing.

  2. I was extremely disappointed when I heard Philip Larkin was a misogynist/racist (although sources vary in their opinions about this). I particularly like his poem “The Mower” and often think to bring it up in conversation. However, I now feel it is imperative to provide a qualifier. So I tend to say something along the lines of, “I was sad and disgusted to hear Larkin was not a particularly good person, but I think his poem “The Mower” has its merits.”

    Bukowski is the poet that immediately comes to mind when discussing separating the artist from their work. I prefer the stuff he wrote in his later years and that strikes me as unsurprising. That being said, I try to avoid talking about him at all in conversation because his name alone is polarizing and he’s generally over-hyped.

  3. If we are required to disregard a poet because of personal failure such as alcoholism, political views and/or personal prejudices please say good day to Dylan Thomas (a raging alcoholic who frequently stole from his firends and family), Philip Larkin (political incorrectness), most of the Beat poets (drugs, mistreatment of women, criminal activity), and Les Murray (political incorrectness and mental disease) to name just a few. I didn’t realize that there was a morals clause in being a poet.

  4. Yes, you can separate the two. You have to. It doesn’t mean that you accept the despicable personality or behavior of that person. I am drawn to a poem/song because of the emotions the poem/song triggers. Think about what little would be left to read if we judged by the person who wrote the piece. I think we would really be depriving ourselves of some amazing poetry.
    I love this-
    “I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
    in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
    ― Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets
    He’s not my favorite but he’s not horrible either.

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