Comparing Two Poets: Neruda & YeatsTwo greatest artists of 20th century share a lot of immediate similarities.It is Neruda (July 12, 1904–September 23, 1973) and Yeats (13 June 1865 - 28 January 1939).Both were recipients of Nobel Prize. Both of them held political positions. But Neruda could onlylive two more years after receiving the Nobel.Yeats: A true National PoetYeats saw early half of 20th century only, seeing two world wars and its reverberations on theIrish nationalism. He could see the imperial royal waves and decolonization spree thathappened to British imperialism. But he was deeply affected by the drifting conscience of Irishnationalism alike the personal unfulfilled love towards Maud Gonne. He was influenced by allsorts of knowledge and philosophical systems in history. His sensibility was attuned by theintellectual beauty of womanhood and historical legacy of Ireland. His personal agoniesaccentuated his poetic sensibility towards a greater national consciousness. It stirred a newspirit in the national arena, inspiring contemporary artists and future ones to come. His poetrywas the reflection of the Irish psyche eager to see the dawn of nationhood, above theclutches of British Empire.Yeats drew energy from the pagan folklores and Gaelic myths. His imagery was full of Celticthreads and had a poetic vision in par with any great national poet. He sensed thetroublesome future of nationhood. In the twilight of life he was attracted to the ideals oftotalitarianism through Ezra Pound, but regained his senses and became attracted to therepublican waves in Spain. He interacted with Neruda through letters about the Spanish Civilwar and the dangers of fascism.Though influenced by all sort of religious myths and philosophies when it came to the cause ofnationalism, Yeats fought with Catholic Church for interfering with politics and stirring a dividebetween South and North Ireland regions. Thus Yeats saw a tumourous period of Irish history.Thus national sovereignty and personal quest for love were two unflinching ends of a poeticbeacon named W.B.Yeats.Neruda: A true Working Class Poet for all the nationsFor Neruda everything was lovable even when it is invisible and absent. He loved abundanceof nature and sang like the ancient nomadic tribe free to wander the entire earth. But he wasdevoid of any sort of wealth and was accompanied by stark wings of poverty. He had toembrace the wings of darkness to feel the depths of real women. But he epitomised womenand craved for uniting with female soul, when he was in exile in Rangoon. So Neruda startedfrom null and void of nature and travelled through the Asian continent. He invented a newstyle in Spanish poetry with his The Twenty Love Poems. His poetry captured the attention ofawakening Chile. He became a cultural diplomat of a continent rich with myths and humanharmony with nature. Neruda was a human being his senses were awakened every timeseeing the meta-narratives of life, be absence of love, despair for freedom, and greatness ofInca civilizations. His encounters in Spain with Lorca made his views truly revolutionary.May be we can say that for Yeats love and nationalism were inspired by the intellectualadmiration for womanhood of Maud Gonne and this sense continued with Yeats till the end ofhis life. But for Neruda, he was more than a national poet who drew abstract energies fromconcrete beauty of life. He learned the beauty of things which have been shielded from him,yet he never gave up. He continued to see the matter of things from a labourer’s perspective.If women’s beauty is not my personal asset, let it be a public asset. He praised women’s privatebody like the fertile and flowering nature. It was a really provocative and innovative approach.This aesthetic sense is actually driven by the creative energies of modernist art. It made hispoetry really surreal. When he wrote about Machu Picchu, he made the achievements of Incacivilization both aesthetic and poetic material. Thus we can say that Neruda used modernistmethods of imagery he absorbed from French and African art in poetry with the best use ofSpanish verse. He was influenced by the surrealist imagery of Lorca as well. The anarchist
threshold of Lorca ignited Neruda to the pinnacles of poetic astuteness. Neruda becamemore and more political and became more and more clear and sharp in his poetic approach.This transition is not much visible in Yeats and but he continued to write in paganistic vein. Hispessimistic melancholy has encompassed more and more humanscapes and became trueemotive expressions of a national spirit to the Hegelian scales that Germany had seen in theadvent of 20th century.So to summarise, we can see that Yeats and Neruda scene the deeper landscapes of humanhistory, through different lenses. Yeats ignited poetry to the fiery ranges through conventionalstyle and diction to depict the deplorable fate of imperialism and alienation of a lifelong loverof feminine energy and intellect. Neruda through the regenerating poetic brilliance spanningmythical human history and natural imagery in the surrealist realms draw a world ofmonumental scales that has universal reverberations.