Presentation Title

Whitman’s Specter in the Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

Pablo Neruda, Walt Whitman, poetry, Chile, Spanish

Department

Hispanic Studies

Major

Hispanic Studies

Abstract

Having discovered the North American poet Walt Whitman in the roaring 20’s, Chilean poet and writer Pablo Neruda frequently lauds and credits Whitman as “the guide that expands his poetic conscience.” Although Neruda was the Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1971, many critics still stigmatize his literary works due to the undeniable presence of Whitmanesque influence in regards to style, theme, and literary technique. Furthermore, Neruda has been claimed as “a Whitman of the South” by The New York Times and has many times been criticized to have “a text very close to Whitman’s in its style” (Delphine Rumeau). At times, the literary work of Neruda seems only as a mere image that reflects the greatly admired works of his “sabio hermano” or “wise brother”, Whitman. It appears as though the young Neruda possessed a voracious appetite for Whitman’s works and attempted to mimic his hero’s every move; however, a deeper analysis negates this assumption. After a comparative analysis of several excerpts from Neruda’s Canto General (General Song) and Residencia en la tierra (Residence on Earth), and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, I conclude that Neruda was heavily inspired by Whitman but still develops a uniquely Chilean identity and leaves a distinctive mark in world literature.

Faculty Mentor

Lila McDowell Carlsen, Ph.D.

Funding Source or Research Program

Academic Year Undergraduate Research Initiative

Presentation Session

Session D

Location

Rockwell Academic Center 175

Start Date

3-4-2015 3:30 PM

End Date

3-4-2015 3:45 PM

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Apr 3rd, 3:30 PM Apr 3rd, 3:45 PM

Whitman’s Specter in the Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Rockwell Academic Center 175

Having discovered the North American poet Walt Whitman in the roaring 20’s, Chilean poet and writer Pablo Neruda frequently lauds and credits Whitman as “the guide that expands his poetic conscience.” Although Neruda was the Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1971, many critics still stigmatize his literary works due to the undeniable presence of Whitmanesque influence in regards to style, theme, and literary technique. Furthermore, Neruda has been claimed as “a Whitman of the South” by The New York Times and has many times been criticized to have “a text very close to Whitman’s in its style” (Delphine Rumeau). At times, the literary work of Neruda seems only as a mere image that reflects the greatly admired works of his “sabio hermano” or “wise brother”, Whitman. It appears as though the young Neruda possessed a voracious appetite for Whitman’s works and attempted to mimic his hero’s every move; however, a deeper analysis negates this assumption. After a comparative analysis of several excerpts from Neruda’s Canto General (General Song) and Residencia en la tierra (Residence on Earth), and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, I conclude that Neruda was heavily inspired by Whitman but still develops a uniquely Chilean identity and leaves a distinctive mark in world literature.