By every indication this trilogy is Neruda's masterpiece; it has never been issued in toto in English before, and it will come as a revelation to non-Spanish-speaking readers who have been seeing the poet in parts and in translations that try too hard. These poems were written between 1925 and 1945, a conflicted and finally gruelling period for one of Neruda's passionate and humane temperament. He had only begun to publish four years earlier, in the heyday of Latin American Modernism; then in 1949, he went into exile as a Communist, having spent many years in Chile's diplomatic service and experiencing the Spanish Civil War. The work reflects, in a sometimes harrowing way, the changing contingencies and the development of Neruda's art, which is only too painfully responsive, too desperately hermetic. Nonetheless there is a stubborn constancy in some respects -- themes and images, of course, and certainly conscience, but also a freakish palpability, a way of compiling a single reality out of many far-fetched images, a sense of his own poetic right. These more tenuous features come through admirably in Walsh's translation -- it is almost literal in most cases and even occasionally involves English solecisms, but is more motile and truer to Neruda's magic plainness than many we have seen.