The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems(Bilingual Edition). Edited by Mark Eisner. (2004).San Francisco: City Lights Books. ISBN-10: 0872864286.


Pablo Neruda is known as one of the most loved poets of Latin America, as he wrote with the intention of being the voice of his people. This is a collection of 50 of Neruda’s poems, carefully chosen and translated from his most popular works.

Critical Evaluation

The collection contains an informative Preface by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and is made up of excellent translations in an attractive format: the Spanish on the left page, the English translation on the right. No footnotes or images distract from the beautiful poetry. Translators include: Alistair Reid, Stephen Mitchell, Robert Haas, Jim Harrison, Stephen Kessler and Jack Hirschman. Here, the translation is as important as the poetry itself, as it makes for an exquisite representation of the skill and beauty of Neruda’s work.

While Neruda is a historical figure, his poetry does not focus on historical events, but on themes of love and beauty, making his work extremely accessible to readers of any age, of any country.

This title would be an excellent text to use in classrooms, as the English poems enhance understanding, and the Spanish beg performance. Oftentimes Neruda’s poetry is included in Spanish Language textbooks, and this collection is a wonderful cross-curricular extension of Neruda as a subject. The book is organized chronologically, with poems from 1924 to 1960, and beyond Neruda’s life. Thus, comparisons between history and Neruda’s poetry can easily be made with this collection as a reference.
Reader’s Annotation

Pablo Neruda, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971, is one of the best loved Latin American poets in history. This collection includes 50 of his poems, each presented in both Spanish and English, representative of his life’s work.
About the Author

Pablo Neruda is hailed as one of Latin America’s greatest poets. He was born in 1904, and died in 1973. Two years before his death, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Neruda was a member of the communist party, and a spokesman for the Chilean left. He was then the Ambassador to France in the Marxist government of Salvador Allende.

His published works include, Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada (Twenty Love Poems and a Desperate Song, 1924), Residencia en la tierra (Residence on Earth, 1933-35), Canto general (General Song, 1950), and the autobiographical Memorial de Isla Negra (1964), all of which are represented in the collection.

Curriculum Ties

-Spanish Language
-Latin American History

Booktalking Ideas

-Chilean History

-Poetry of different countries, in differing languages

Reading Level/Interest Age

Challenge Issues

This book is not a “YA” title, so there could be some issues relating to that. One poem in the collection is entirely about wine. However, Pablo Neruda himself is a historical figure, and he is a recipient of a Nobel Prize for literature. His prominent place in history, and his literary excellence, demands that he is represented on the shelves of the library.
Why Did You Include This Book?

This is one title which clearly supports the high school curriculum in both Spanish Language and Latin American History. The bilingual text makes it even more accessible to some high school readers, and the translations are top-notch.


“Neruda, Pablo”  The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Edited by Dinah Birch. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  San Jose State University.  Retrieved December 9th, 2010 from persistent URL:


About thesuperlibrarian

High School Librarian and obsessive reader! On a mission to read as many SUPER YA books as possible!
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