Pablo Neruda celebrates the nobility of wine in Vivanco
Pouring and drinking wine are gestures that, throughout history, have inspired thousands of verses by poets from many different countries. One of the most beautiful compositions ever dedicated to this millenary drink is undoubtedly Pablo Neruda's Ode to Wine.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 (among other awards), Neruda was defined by Ramón Gómez de la Serna as the "bearer of the new poetic truth in universal Spanish, neither the one from there nor the one from here, but the one who is above all in the stratosphere".
Portrait of Pablo Neruda in 1963, whose real name was Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto. A Chilean national, he dedicated his life to poetry, diplomacy and politics, becoming Senator of Chile from 1945 to 1948.
WINE colour of the day,
wine colour of night,
wine with feet of purple
or blood of topaz,
of the earth [...]
This is how this marvellous poem begins, composed by Neruda in 1953, in his house in Isla Negra. A few months earlier the poet had returned to Chile after his Italian exile. Converted, after his death, into a museum, Isla Negra is the place where Neruda wrote an important part of his literary work and where he collected most of his books. His body and that of his third and last wife, Matilde Urrutia, rest there today.
Oda al vino belongs to one of the Chilean poet's best-known books, Odas elementales ( 1954), first published in Buenos Aires by Editorial Losada. Together with two later works, Nuevas odas elementales ( 1955) and Tercer libro de las odas (1957), Odas elementales forms part of a fundamental trilogy of 20th century poetry. In this volume Neruda celebrates the soul of "small" things, i.e. those objects, states of mind, places and situations that are part of our everyday lives (often without us being aware of it).
Through a simple and direct lyrical discourse, the poet thus reveals the universal greatness of the "elemental", expressing all his admiration for air, love, hope, autumn, night... even some ancestral foods such as bread and wine among others. Ode to bread, Ode to wine, Ode to the artichoke, Ode to a chestnut on the ground, Ode to the onion, Ode to the earth, Ode to the tomato are in fact some of the most moving poems in the book.
Among the innumerable artistic and literary gems that the Museum can boast of treasuring in its Museum Vivanco of Wine Culture can boast of treasuring in its Collection, there is also the original autograph manuscript of Ode to Wine. Dated in Isla Negra in 1953, the piece consists of 8 folio-sized sheets (315 mm x 220 mm) written entirely by hand by the poet in green (as he usually did). The last sheet bears Pablo Neruda's signature. It is an early version of the poem, with handwritten corrections by the poet himself and minor variations on the definitive version, published the following year.
This extraordinary manuscript by Neruda will be on display to the public until spring 2017 at the Museum Vivanco, as part of the temporary exhibition Vivanco, pensando en Vino: 40 años de Coleccionismo ( , pensando en Vino: 40 years of Collecting). Inaugurated last April, and carried out in collaboration with the Obra Social de La Caixa, the exhibition brings together a total of 67 works (many of them on public display for the first time) from the collections of the Wine Documentation Centre of the Foundation Vivanco.
For one year, visitors will have the chance to see live works of art and ancient documents related to wine dating from the 15th century to the present day. Among other typologies, there are incunabula; ex libris; postcards; restaurant minutes; barrel bottoms; a series of advertising posters including two wonderful works by Alphonse Mucha from the late 19th century; photographs by renowned artists such as Cartier-Bresson, Ouka Leele, Cecilia del Val and Carlos Cánovas, among others. Also of great interest is a selection of original manuscripts, including (in addition to the aforementioned Ode to Wine by Neruda) an autographed letter from Louis Pasteur, the father of microbiology, vaccination and the pasteurisation process. The exhibition is completed by a series of sound documentsthat visitors can listen to in situ (more than fifty songs related to wine).
From different perspectives and using different media, the exhibition offers a unique experience of enormous cultural and social value. In short, it is an exciting journey through history and around the world. A journey around the theme of the relationship between man and wine, not to be missed by any lover of poetry, literature, music and culture in general.