These are largely apolitical poems marking yet another phase in Neruda's protean career. There is a new mellowness and inwardness, but it seems to arise out of a new exasperation, perhaps disillusionment, with letters and politics alike. Neruda now seeks solidarity with the natural world via a bright, irreducible iconography of suns and stones and beetles, which is at once perfectly self-declarative and elusively personal. Penchants that were more recently willed to the background now take the fore, and not all his admirers are going to like the reassertion of metaphysics and the baroque. This indifference to reader expectations is not only apparent but is one of the volume's more explicit themes. Some are bound to see it (in Belitt's nice phrase) as ""the creeping liquidation of both a poet and a political conscience""; but others will just as surely welcome a rest from revolutionary heroism. Neruda himself moots the point by claiming the fool's wisdom, and with a poet of his stature any change, however quixotic, is a major event. Spanish originals are printed alongside the translations, and the introduction is thorough and sound.