How has your understanding of cultural and contextual considerations of the work developed through the interactive Oral?
Through the interactive oral, my understanding of Neruda’s work has improved, particularly the recurring theme of surrealism. By employing surrealistic images, Neruda is able to elevate something that may seem insignificant to a dramatic, grand gesture. This is seen through his love poems, for example, through “so close that your hand upon my chest is mine”, Neruda elevates a simple hand gesture into a surreal image of closeness between two lovers, so close that they do not exist as separate entities but rather they exist together. Furthermore, the idea of how Neruda breaks free from conventional poetry was also discussed during the oral.
In “Leaning into the Evenings”, natural images are not employed conventionally. In conventional love poetry, the beauty of nature is praised for its images of light, however in Neruda’s poem, there is a certain sense of darkness present, “you guard only darkness”. We further discussed how Neruda makes himself a large part of his love poetry. In “The Potter”, he portrays himself as literally shaping the female into who she is, through natural images. This sense of authority and control is rather unnerving, especially in a love poem where there is normally an elevation of the object of desire. Here, Neruda seems to elevate himself through his control of the woman’s body. The image of him molding and creating a person is rather surreal as well. I realize now that it is also through his use of surreal images that enables Neruda to further break free from conventions.
We also discussed the social aspects present in his poetry, Neruda transitioned from writing about the self, to becoming to voice of the people. This is seen in Part B of the poems, particularly in “The Great Tablecloth” which showcased his vision for the future that included socioeconomic equality for all classes. Furthermore, this idea made me reflect on how his travels abroad also influenced his social beliefs. When Neruda traveled to Asia, he traveled in poverty; I feel that his experience could have influenced the idea of social inequality in poems like “The Great Tablecloth”. The interactive oral helped me to better reflect on how Neruda as a poet, breaks free from conventions as well as the various aspects involved in his poetry that may have been influenced by his experiences.