Friday, September 30, 2016

Poetry Friday: The Odes of Pablo Neruda

My seventh graders are studying the geography of Latin America in Social Studies, so I knew that I wanted to feature Latin American poets in our poetry unit. This past week I introduced them to the odes of Pablo Neruda, and they created some incredible Neruda-inspired odes of their own!

Books on Pablo Neruda

2011 was the year of Neruda, as both of these books were published that year. I shared the picture book aloud with my students, and we discussed Neruda's life and influences. I also shared part of the Author's Note from The Dreamer, as it goes into more detail about Neruda's political issues and exile.

Pablo Neruda: poet of the people (2011) by Monica Brown and illustrated by Julie Paschkis. This biography of Pablo Neruda provides a look at his life and how they influenced his poems. The amazing illustrations complement and extend the text, as they are also overflowing with English and Spanish words. This book is also available in Spanish.

2011: The Dreamer (2010) by Pam Muñoz Ryan and illustrated by Peter Sís [Pura Belpré Award winner]. This fictionalized biography of celebrated Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (née Neftalí Reyes) focuses mainly on his childhood, interweaving chapters in an intimate third-person voice with illustrated poetry in the style of Pablo Neruda. Excerpts from actual poems are provided at the end, following an Author's Note about her research and inspirations. It is an interesting and emotional story that also draws attention to the focus on ordinary workers and social justice that defined his writing career.

Books by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda published several books of poetry. I shared several poems with my students from his Odes to Common Things, which is probably the best-known of his books. Other books include Odes to Opposites and Twenty Love Songs and a Song of Despair. More recently, selected translations of his poems have appeared, including The Essential Neruda and All the Odes.

Ode to French Fries

Ode to French Fries

What sizzles
in boiling
is the world's
into the pan
like the morning swan's
and emerge
half-golden from the olive's
crackling amber.

lends them
its earthy aroma,
its spice,
its pollen that braved the reefs.
in ivory suits, they fill our plates
with repeated abundance
and the delicious simplicity of the soil.

How could you not be inspired? Have you ever written odes or had your students write them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Visit Karen Edmisten for more great Poetry Friday posts!


  1. What a perfect set of resources to introduce your students to a Latin poet / Pablo Neruda. I wish I'd had teaching like that in Grade 7. Love Neruda's odes - and all ages can relate to them.

  2. We just ran across the odes in Laura Shovan's The Last 5th Grade of Emerson Elementary (our read aloud) and my students were quite taken with the idea of them!

  3. I wish I had read his odes in 7th grade. What a wonderful class. I wouldn't mind taking it now. :-)


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