Pablo Neurda

It is hard to discuss literature in Chile without talking about Pablo Neurda. He was a Chilean poet and politician who also acted as a diplomat. He is well loved in Chile to this day. He wrote exquisite poetry that is descriptive, sentimental and often simplistic in its universal themes. What’s that? You would like to study some this year. Don’t worry. We will.

I could say a lot about Neruda (and likely will this year) but what I want to tell you tonight is about what happened to him at the end of his life.

Pablo Neurda had three homes in Chile, and I have visited all three of them over the past few days. One is a beautiful house by the sea called Isla Negra. One is a house called La Sebastiana on a high hill in the city of Valparaiso. The last one is a house called La Chascona right in Santiago, the biggest city in Chile. Neruda designed and built all of his own homes, but they aren’t huge or fancy. They are mostly beautiful because of their location. Isla Negra is a long, narrow house by the sea. Every single room in the house has a stunning view of the wild ocean. The house is even designed to look like a boat. In fact, all of his houses were designed to look like boats. La Sebastiana has sweeping views of the harbor and the other colorful houses that dot the hillside. La Chascona used to have a beautiful view of the mountains that surround the city before the city got too big. Anyway, you get the point – beautiful, inspiring houses.

Pablo Neurda won the Nobel Prize for Literature as well as many other prestigious literary awards. He was a diplomat and a supporter of the communist party in Chile. He became a diplomat in the socialist government of Salvadore Allende and had the tough job of convincing the country of France that Chile was not going to become a communist state like Cuba or the U.S.S.R.  It was a hard job, and Neurda never really got the chance to give it a try.

Pablo Neurda died just a few days after Augusto Pinochet and the military dictatorship overthrew Allenede’s government on September 11, 1975. At that time Neruda was at his house on the beach trying to get well. While he was there officers of the new military dictatorship raided his house in Santiago. They damned up the canal system that surrounded his house so that all of the rooms flooded. Many precious objects, including novels and manuscripts, were lost. They also visited his house in Isla Negra, and found him ill in his bed. When the officers entered his bedroom he called out to them: “”Look around—there’s only one thing of danger for you here—poetry.”

So the question is: why? Why did the dictatorship think that Pablo Neruda was dangerous? What were they looking for in his homes? What could have been so very dangerous? How can poetry possibly be dangerous? Please respond to these prompts in the comments as your next assignment. 


Isla Negra, Chile 


Chatting with Neurda at La Sebastian. 






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38 responses to “Pablo Neurda

  1. They could have believed that he was dangerous because he was a supporter of the communist party in Chile, so in his poetry he could have been influencing people into thinking that communist party was the best political party. Poetry can be dangerous because literature can be used to influence it’s readers into thinking or agreeing with its writer on the topic of which the literature is written about. What could have been dangerous was the topic of the poetry or the message the poems could have been trying to get across. I think that they were looking for him, they could have been looking for him to show the people of Chile that the communist party was not a good political party and that could have helped end the communist party or any form of communism in Chile.

  2. Joanna Hernandez

    Wow that’s pretty cool that dictatorship Pablo Neurda possibly they were scared of his skills of poetry and how he would be able to convince people into his thoughts .I believe poetry can be dangerous like any other writing but maybe his poetry was dangerous because he supporter of the communist party in Chile back in the time and they knew that he can express himself about how things were in the place at the time to people .I think they were looking for Pablo Neurda in his house so they can stop what he creates powerful writing that impress people into listing ,

  3. Victor Liz

    The reason why the dictatorship thought that Pablo Neruda was dangerous is that he fought using his poetry and not violence. His poetry had strong messages that had them scared. They were looking for those threatening poems that Neruda wrote that affected them. What could have been so dangerous was the way that Pablo Neruda used his poetry against the dictatorship. The way that poetry is dangerous is that you write what ever you feel like writing, without having a limit.

  4. jayson014

    Pablo neruda was dangerous because how he didn’t went outside the streets to protest he did it by writing poetry and while writing the poetry the protest that he did was expandind even more. So Augusto pinacher knew that pablo neruda was a type a person that would kind of stop the progress that he wanted to do with his poetry. Supposely people think the augusto pinocher put poisin on his food to kill him because he knew that poetry of pablo neruda was dangerous with his poetry.

  5. Xavier Rosario

    Dictatorship thought that Pablo Neruda was dangerous because poetry has a great impact on people and will convince them into taking action. They were looking for the poems he wrote in his home. Poetry is dangerous because it talks to people in a way that standing outside and protesting does not. Poetry brings out the true emotions in some one.

  6. Lhia Hernandez

    The dictatorship feared Pablo Neruda because he was a famous author who supported the communist party in Chile. They thought that with his death also died his writing. But they were wrong. As he said “Look around—there’s only one thing of danger for you here—poetry.” His writing, that never left us, is what what they should have feared because it was his message to the world, what he thought was right. Mr Lenzner also talked about him and what had happend to him and we read some of his writing. I can’t wait to learn more about him, his writing, and Chile.
    -Lhia Hernnandez

    • Anthony Vargas

      I agree with Lhia, Pablo Neruda was feared by the dictatorship because he didn’t physically go out and protest but he did protest by using his poetry. This reminds me of a discussion we had in Spanish class with Mr. Lenzner about how the person has died but their writing is so powerful that it has stayed alive throughout the years. I think they were looking for Pablo Neruda in his home, in order to stop him from performing his powerful forms of protesting, poetry. The ways that Neruda expresses himself in his poetry could of been equivalent to going out and protesting, this could of been considered as dangerous to many people.
      – Anthony Vargas

      • Erika Cabrera

        I agree with Anthony and Lhia because sometimes you don’t need to go out to protest, you just need to speak your words and people will start to follow what you have to say. If he is speaking out against the dictatorship of his time the government will find it dangerous because they don’t want a form of protest they don’t want their opinions to be questioned and changed. Instead they want everyone to go by what they say, because in their eyes that is always right. Poetry as any writing is something that does not dissappear it is always going to be found, once something is written on paper it’s hard to discard it from this world for good. That’s why he was so dangerous, or in reality his writings.

  7. Edelin Contreras

    I personally admire Pablo Neruda for his amazing poetry because we got to look at some of his poems in the 9th grade. In my opinion I think that the dictatorship thought that Pablo Neruda was dangerous because he was a Chilean poet and politician. Since he was a politician and knew politics the dictatorship thought that Neruda was expressing too much information on his poems that the people or future generation should not know about Chile. Maybe Neruda was telling his readers about Chile’s darkest, deepest secrets. I guess that the dictatorship people were looking for recent poems created by Neruda and that’s why they wanted to stop the poems from being available to the public because since Neruda’s poems were so real and expressed many personal thoughts and opinions about the world of Chile. Neruda’s poems had a strong message! And therefore I do think that Neruda’s poetry was dangerous in many ways as it said important “things” that the dictatorship didn’t want to be share with the public. However, I wonder why Pablo Neruda didn’t had the right of speech, and press? If only he had these rights he would of have been able of making his “dangerous” poems still available to the public. Basically Neruda fought using his poetry..

    • Rachelle

      I personally agree with Edelin. A lot of poets use a lot of expression to show their readers how they feel, sometimes one can over board on too much emotions. Thinking of our rights, I think that Pablo Neurda have the rights to write what he feels like. I dont think that the poems of Pablo Neurda shouldn’t have been thought of “dangerous” because if words helped him show how he felt and a way of him speaking out, then it shouldn’t be taken away from him. We each have our own ways of speaking out and they are not all the same. Although I am alittle curious why Pablo Neurda did not have the right of speech and press? Why did people believe his poems where seen as “dangerous”?

  8. Bethany Vasquez

    Pablo Neurda was dangerous was because of what he was good at. He being a great poetry was dangerous because his poem had so much meaning to it and was supported by the people. I think poetry is a way of writing strong and meaningful words to show what really matter and to be able to convince people what they need to hear.

  9. Jessica

    The reason why Pablo Neurda was dangerous is because unlike a few people he was very good at what he did. He was such a good poet that people found it a threat that his writing actually had a meaning be hide it. Poetry is a way of expression and it’s a form to bring your words to life and to convince people that what your thinking might not be wrong it gives people a chance to view things in a different way.

  10. Gabriela J. Jimenez

    In my opinion, the dictatorship thought that Pablo Neruda was dangerous because he was a way to express what most felt. His poetry was a type of protest and it was powerful at the time of dictatorship. The military men were all looking for his different types of poetry and his pieces of art because they thought of him as a dangerous person. They saw him as a way to revolt against the dictators. His art was a way to express the feelings that the people felt being under a dictatorship and a way to reach out to others. If more and more people were to understand and see his art, they would’ve agreed with him and also agreed with revolting. Pablo Neruda was a way to escape the bad and a step towards freedom. He could be analyzed as a symbol of freedom and liberty.

    • Paola

      I agree with Gabriela about Pablo Neruda being dangerous because of the way he expressed himself . His poetry brought many meaning and personal thoughts . Poetry can possibly be dangerous because of the expressed words and ways too let out personal things . In his homes , military men would look for his different poetries because of the thought of “dangerous” towards him .

  11. xiara guzman

    I think they thought Pablo Neruda was dangerous because he was trying to protest and not allow his state to become a communist state like Cuba and France may have been upset about that. I believe they were looking for his poetry when they enter his house and his novels so they could make him stop reading them and protesting with them. Poetry could be dangerous because it’s a way a person could send out a message to many other people that wouldn’t get the person writing it into much trouble. Also the way he used his poetry was a way to let other people understand whats going on and how to stand against what the government was doing.

  12. Reyna Moreno

    Most likely, the dictatorship thought that Pablo Neruda was dangerous because he got people to listen to him. That simple fact probably worried them because they didn’t want anyone they couldn’t handle to go against the government. They were aware of his influence and didn’t want their wrong doings to be made known. Poetry can be dangerous because words are strong and can have the power to change how others thing by making injustices known and explaining why they deserve to have certain rights they were being deprived of. I believe that Pablo was considered a dangerous man because his words were strong and symbolized making a change and uniting for freedom.

  13. Alexis j.

    Poetry can be dangers because literature can change opinions, arguments, and be shared. The dictator wanted fewer problems as possible and if someone is being hurt by what is happen and shares it very dramatically or accurately it can cause many people to group up and stand agents the government. He was known around and famous Truffaut the world so when he started to write agents the dictator he knew people were going to read his work and people outside the country so he wanted him to be silenced.

  14. Ariel Ng

    Poetry can change people mind when the poem your reading has some very powerful words. If you use your words right in a poem, you can influence a lot of people and make them think a lot more then they usually do.

  15. Kathy Tavarez

    In my opinion the dictatorship thought that Pablo Neruda was dangerous because he made a wise decision in choosing to protest by writing poetry. His beautiful and meaningful writing was catching a lot of people’s attention and they were actually listening. The government couldn’t handle this revolt if many people joined him which is why the military was sent to get his poetry and art. I think poetry can be really dangerous depending on the message said when using it. Additionally, like Erika said poetry is written down so it can be kept forever unless destroyed physically. Unlike words that can be easily forgotten, poetry is one way to let out a message without it being destroyed which makes the message even more powerful. Poetry or just a written message in general can be very dangerous.

    • Stephanie Lozano

      Pablo Neruda was a person dedicated to his work and this was proved with the Nobel prizes he won but he was considered to be dangerous even though he didn’t show any sigh of aggressiveness. In my opinion, poetry is a way to express ones feelings or the way one thinks and he was probably considered dangerous because people listen to music which is poetry with rhythm and poetry is also heard and people add their own rhythm to it depending ones feelings towards it or ones opinion towards it.

  16. Ronald Alvarado

    Since Pablo Neruda was a poet the power of words put together with literary elements can make his work more famous and be read by a bigger audience. Also once words are said they cannot be taken back, just supported. Attention is also brought more to when somebody is rebelling against and cause the audience to research the conflicts that are happening in their society. Pablo Neruda had the power to change the citizen’s thoughts on the society and he took the chance he had and accepted the challenge.

  17. Roberto Nunez

    The dictatorship think that Pablo Neruda was dangerous because he was supporting the communist party and he was a diplomat in the socialist government of Salvadore Allende. I think they were looking for his poetry for they can’t read them because they knew it would influence other people. What could have been very dangerous is other people joining fighting for what is right. Poetry can be dangerous because once you catch their attention then they feel like they understand you.

  18. Channel Santiago

    i think that the dictatorship thought that Pablo Neruda was bad because he was part of the communist party. I think that they were personally looking for what he was writing about and if it was going to make a big difference in the country. Poetry can be very danergous because it can show the writers emotions about things and their thoughts.
    -Channel Santiago

  19. Fernando Alvarado

    The dictatorship was afraid of Pablo Neruda because poetry is hard to erase. If the words are that important then the people will pay attention to it and spread the word. Also if the person rights something it can physically be preserved for the future and people can read it later. The dictatorship is afraid that Pablo Neruda will cause a revolution. The military would be no match for all the people that lived there. In connection to what Anthony said it’s true if the writing is so powerful then the writing will stay alive through the years.

  20. Arlin Guillen

    I believe that the dictatorship thought that Pablo Neruda was dangerous because he supported the communist party in Chile which probably had people thinking. In addition, the fact that he was getting peoples attention through his poetry shows how people were listening to him because he had a lot of meaningful things to say to get his message across to everybody.

  21. Arlene Salcedo

    They could have believed Pablo Neruda was dangerous because since he was a poet, he could have influenced people to do things that he wanted to do and to happen through his poetry. They were probably looking to see if they found different types of the poetry that Neruda wrote when he was alive. They wanted to see what words he used to convince people to do things his way. Poetry can be dangerous because you can say something and it most likely won’t mean what is literally said. You have to interpret what is written.

  22. The dictatorship must have thought that Neruda was dangerous because he spoke the truth. Poetry says things people have trouble saying themselves so maybe they thought that he knew something that he shouldn’t have. If they got rid of him that would be it. Nobody will find out. But literature lives on for a long is not easy to get rid of it. So yeah maybe getting rid of him solved the fact that he may never talk. But his poetry was still there.

  23. Jasmine

    _They were scared of Pablo because they knew he knew how to write poetry. Poetry can be very persuasive and since Pablo Neurda wrote poetry, he could talk about not becoming communist. They knew he was a man with wise words and they feared being out of power. The dictatorship feared that he would tell people what was right, the truth. Back in dictatorships, the rulers and everyone else couldn’t imagine being out of such power and being imprisoned They wanted to rule others to feel high mighty and all that. The fact that they went to Pablo is a sign that they felt threatened. Before in slavery, the owners of the slaves didn’t want them to learn how to read. they feared that they would learn how to escape if they did. They feared that if they knew how to write they would be able to go against their race. Since colored people were slaves, they were often and many times stronger then whites. They didn’t want another complication like the ability to read. They couldn’t imagine someone smarter then themselves anyway. Everyone that does something wrong is always afraid of the other person speaking out of telling so to keep them silenced they threaten them. In this case Pablo was threatened by the fact that those men left his house flooded. Its really absurd to me that someone would do such a thing but it shows the way people would go to get what they want even though their the wrong ones.

  24. They thought that he was someone who expressed himself way that people didn’t like and they thought that he supported the communist party in chile. He used poetry to express himself.

  25. Sucre Marmolejo

    Well I know they where looking for his writing everything he wrote. Words are dangerous and his words where the most dangerous. They flooded his house so that all his poetry would be ruined and not be used against the dictatorship. As you can see they are very powerful the dictatorship has passed and he has died but we are still using his words to study and understand something. Poetry can be dangerous because words are dangerous like you have said.

  26. Dhilexa Martinez

    I think that the dictatorship thought Pablo Neruda, was dangerous because since his poetry was very popular, and he spoke truth, the people of Chile might get inspired and do something to end the dictatorship whether it was protest etc etc. I think that poetry is a form of self expression and just like the Graffiti in Buenos Aires it could have a much greater meaning that could mean something to different people. I feel like that might a be a reason why the military had flooded his house, so that his poetry won’t get out to the public, and so that the Public won’t cause a change in the dictatorship.

  27. christopher

    They were probally scared because he spoke the truth in ways that weren’t direct. He spoke and people listened because he knew how to write. They were looking for signs of resistance. He spoke in a way that scared the governement.

  28. Alex Mayi

    The dictator is smart he understands the power of art and how if on your side you not only control the beauty of your country but also controls the people and how they think artists are the scholar that people look up to to guide the in a cultural path if the arts were against the dictator he would have lost a lot of support.

    • I agree with Alex. The power of poetry can really influence the people into believing stuff. When I think about what he did It reminded me of the Harlem Renaissance. It was a time of art and poetry expanded. People use these poetry to express how they feel about something. It is a really strong form of art and the dictator might have felt that was a major treat against him.

  29. Aneurys Gonzalez

    That his words were inspiring and the people would rebel if they where to see his poetry against the dictator. I agree with Sucre poetry is powerful because words are powerful. For example like Sucre said when Pablo Neurda died his poetry still lived because of the powerful words that Pablo wrote against the dictator got people attention and they continue after Pablo died rebelling on till the dictatorship stopped.

  30. Brian Concepcion

    The reason why the dictatorship thought that Pablo Neruda was dangerous was because his poetry fought against them and they knew that people would react against them because of his poetry. They noticed that the way that Neruda wrote his poems posed a threat and that they would affect them. I believe that dictators were looking to destroy him and his poetry. Poetry is not dangerous, what’s dangerous is the person using it, how well they can use it, and their intentions.

  31. The dictatorship was afraid of what Pablo Neruda had to say. As mentioned above, Pablo won the Noble prize for his work in literature, was a diplomat and a supporter of the communist party in Chile, meaning he was very popular, and for a reason. Add to that the fact that he became a diplomat in the socialist government of Salvador. The man was powerful yet he never had the chance to show France that Chile was not about to to have a socialist government, it was hard to believe it wasn’t . You can say the dictatorship was afraid and took action.

  32. Diana Pujols

    In my opinion Pablo Neruda was considered dangerous because he had power he gain when he escape from Chile and travel to Spain, Paris, Mexico, and Argentina. They were looking for the new novels and manuscripts he had written. The power of the words he wrote on his poems was enough to scared diplomats and dictators because of the people that read what he always wrote. He used his education to fight back (power of the words). The ambiguous influences of poetry on a life that are more dangerous and perhaps not as easily recognized.

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