I first learned about Chilean poet Pablo Neruda when my older brother Karl returned from a year of volunteering at an orphanage in Santiago, Chile in 1993. He brought me back a few gifts from his travels - a (scary-looking) marionette puppet, some candy, and a compilation of Neruda's poems. Though the poems were in Spanish, I understood enough to realize the depth and beauty of Neruda's writing.
Recently, I came across Neruda's 'Odes to Opposites' while browsing the stacks at a local bookstore (i.e. - thumbing through Amazon on my iPhone). The title captured my attention due to my interest in the psychological concept of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological discomfort you feel when you hold two opposing beliefs/ideas simultaneously. This theory acknowledges the push-and-pull we experience in our lives, and looks into the ways we reconcile this tension.
As the title suggests, the book explores 'opposites' in poetry form - 'Ode to fall' is followed with 'Ode to spring.' Each poem is presented in Spanish and English. My Spanish has been packed away for a few years, but I challenged myself to read Neruda's work in its intended language - to sense the rhythm and melody present. My eyes did wander to the English translation a few times, and this action surfaced many of the conversations on semiotics we have been having in Theory & Criticism Seminar.