“No writer of world renown is perhaps so little known to North Americans as Chilean poet Pablo Neruda,” observed New York Times Book Review critic Selden Rodman. Numerous critics have praised Neruda as the greatest poet writing in the Spanish language during his lifetime. Among contemporary readers in the United States, he is largely remembered for his odes and love poems. The Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language”.
Born in Parral, Chile, Neruda was a Chilean poet-diplomat and politician who won the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature.
In 1924 Neruda completed one of his most acclaimed and original works, the cycle of love poems titled Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada—published in English translation as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. This work quickly marked Neruda as an important Chilean poet.
This also brought the author notoriety due to its explicit celebration of sexuality, and established him at the outset as a frank, sensuous spokesman for love.
This earned Neruda almost immediate acclaim as a rising star of Spanish poetry, and, subsequently, a position as an honorary consul to Burma.  Poets in Latin America were frequently considered for such positions, and the more prominent the poet, the more prominent the consul position. 
Neruda held diplomatic posts in Asian and European countries. After joining the Communist Party, Neruda was elected to the Chilean Senate but was forced to live in exile in Mexico for several years. Eventually he established a permanent home on Isla Negra.

In The Sea and the Bells, Neruda sought to embrace a contemplative silence wherein one might hear the “sound of stones being born,” a quietude expressing a meaning far greater than the “merchandise wrapped up in little words” which predominates in a civilized society. The bells of the title are those of passing ships and signify the passage of time. Longing to retreat from the noisy busyness surrounding him, Neruda permits the rush of waves to carry him into meditative states. These poems were found on the poet’s desk at the time of his death.


Me vine aquí a contar las campanas
que viven en el mar,
que suenan en el mar,
dentro del mar.

Por eso vivo aquí.


I came here to count the bells
that live upon the surface of the sea,
that sound over the sea,
within the sea.

So, here I live.