Neruda wrote “Ode to My Socks” (“Oda a los calcetines”) as part of a larger project to praise ordinary objects such as salt, an onion, a lemon, wine, clothes, and a watch. The Odes, around two hundred and fifty in all, also paid tribute to particular people. He began writing these for a popular audience in a newspaper column. This particular poem appeared in 1956 in the second volume of four collections of Odes published between 1954 and 1959.
“Ode to my Socks” is made up of seven sentences, broken up into four stanzas: the first three composed of two sentences each, while the last, the “moral” of the poem, is one sentence. The overall form of the poem is free verse, with mid-sentence line breaks (enjambment) and the repetition of phrases to begin lines (anaphora). The effect of the poem is to elevate ordinary objects—socks—through the use of figurative language, while at the same time keeping them grounded in reality. Neruda was a politically active communist who intentionally wrote in a way that common people could understand. His poetry celebrated the magic in the mundane.