Ode to My Socks

Ode to My Socks Odes in the Newspaper

Neruda explained, “These odes, because of an outside stimulus, were transformed into something that I was always after: an extended and total poem. The initial stimulus came from a newspaper in Caracas, El Nacional, whose director Miguel Otero Silva asked me to contribute a weekly column of poetry. I accepted, asking only that this collaboration of mine not be published in the Arts page of the literary supplement...but in the news section. In this way, I managed to publish a history of the time, of diverse things, trades, people, fruits, and flowers, of life and my vision, of the struggle, in fact all of that I could take in through this vast cyclic urge of my creation. I think therefore of all of the Odas elementales as a single book.”

In fact, only a handful of Neruda’s almost two hundred and fifty odes were published in the newspaper El Nacional. In the words of René de Costa in The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (Harvard University Press, 1979): “It was not the pressure of a weekly deadline that kept him going, but rather the idea of a newspaper column in its vast circulation with a predictable readership that prompted him to work out a plainer, more public literary style. Whatever the motivation, the result was the same: the universally successful elementary, or elemental, ode.”