Neruda was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto on July 12,
1904, in Parral, Chile. His mother died soon after. He completed his
secondary schooling in 1920, the year he began using the name Pablo
Neruda. In 1921 he went to Santiago to continue his education but soon
became so devoted to writing poetry that his schooling was abandoned.
Neruda's first book, `Crepusculario', was published in Spanish in 1923.
The next year he published `Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair'.
Early in life he took an interest in politics. He was for a time an
anarchist but later became a Communist. His government service began in
1927 and ended only shortly before his death on Sept. 23, 1973, in
Santiago. From 1927 to 1933 Neruda represented Chile in South Asia--in
Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Java (now part of
Indonesia), and Singapore. In 1933-34 he was Chilean consul in Buenos
Aires, and while there he met the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia
Lorca. From Argentina he went to Spain, where he served through the
early part of the Spanish Civil War. His `Spain in the Heart' was
published in 1937 during the war.
Over the next decades Neruda traveled widely and continued writing
poetry. Among his other books were `Residence on Earth' (1933), written
while he was in South Asia; `General Song' (1950), one of the greatest
epic poems written in the Americas; and `One Hundred Love Sonnets'
(1959). During the Marxist regime of Salvador Allende, Neruda was
Chile's ambassador to France (l971-72). He died in Santiago on Sept. 23,
l973. (Compton's Living Encyclopedia)