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Typed draft of Neruda sonnet found

Santiago, Sep 22 (efe-epa).- A preliminary typewritten and signed version of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s 1965 sonnet “Sangre de Toro” (Blood of the Bull) was found in July in the apartment of one of his female friends, the Universidad de Chile announced on Tuesday, adding that it will take on the task of preserving the document.

The sonnet is said to be the preliminary draft of the one published in the iconic poet’s 1969 book “Comiendo en Hungria” (Dining in Hungary), which was written along with Guatemalan poet Miguel Angel Asturias during a trip the pair made with their wives to Budapest, according to the report.

The find was made in Santiago at the home of one of Neruda’s friends, Perla Grinblatt – the wife of attorney Sergio Teitelboim, the brother of the writer Volodia – after she died on July 14 at age 94.

“I began to organize her belongings and in a plastic box I found a pile of memorabilia … and right away I saw this little folded piece of paper, which surprised me greatly,” said Marcia Teitelboim Grinblatt, the youngest of the three daughters born to Grinblatt and Teitelboim, as noted in the university’s statement.

Neruda gave “piles of poems” as gifts to the couple, with whom he had a cultural and political friendship due to their membership in the Communist Party, and they attended “very entertaining … costume” parties together, said another of the three daughters, Patricia Teitelboim Grinblatt.

After the Chilean coup d’etat led by Augusto Pinochet in 1973, the couple’s house was raided and searched several times by the military regime and any poems the soldiers found were destroyed, according to Patricia, who thought that not a single poem had survived until her sister found this one.

This was not the only treasure linked to Neruda that turned up at Señora Grinblatt’s home, where the family also found a 1961 invitation to the inauguration of “La Sebastiana,” Neruda’s home in Valparaiso, and an emotional letter written in longhand by the poet from Paris and dated Nov. 5, 1965, which he sent to Sergio Teitelboim after the death of his brother Miguel in a road accident.

The verses of the sonnet that was found among Sra. Grinblatt’s belongings refer to Neruda’s passion for food and drink, and he titled it after the name of a famous Hungarian red wine.

“Robust wine, your family / you didn’t wear tiaras or diamonds / blood and sweat were on your forehead / a fragrant purple rose,” is the first four-line stanza of the sonnet.

“It’s an apparently modest sonnet, but what is certain is that conserving any of Neruda’s manuscripts is preserving a gem. He continues to be one of the greatest lyrical voices in all of world literature, although at times Chilean stupidity did not recognize him (as such),” essayist Grinor Rojo, the director of the Latin American Cultural Studies Center (CECLA) at the Universidad de Chile, said.

Rojo, who has studied Neruda’s work, will make a presentation of the poem at a virtual ceremony to donate the manuscript on Wednesday, Sept. 23, the 47th anniversary of the Nobel Prize-winning poet’s death.

“‘Sangre de toro’ has the grace that is original evidence of the meeting of two of Latin America’s greatest poets, Pablo Neruda and Miguel Angel Asturias, a few years years before each won the Nobel Prize (for Literature), the Chilean in 1971 and the Guatemalan in 1967,” Rojo said in a press release.

Universidad de Chile chancellor Ennio Vivaldi thanked the family for the donation, which will join other works in the university’s collection that the poet began donating during the early 1950s, including books, seashells, records and other documents.

“We’ll safeguard this typewritten manuscript, we’ll value it and offer it to new generations, fulfilling our (cultural) heritage role,” the university chancellor said.

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