Years of Latin American oppression by power-greedy and money-hungry imperialist countries prompted the poet Pablo Neruda to write "Ode to the Americas."" Historically, the people of South and Central America have suffered greatly over the past five hundred years of European (and later American) conquering and colonization. Through the portrayal of Latin American economic and political exploitation, Neruda conveys his intricate feelings, resulting from the destruction of his native country.
The first stanza of the ode revels Latin America's once peaceful and beautiful past. Through the opening use of apostrophe in addressing the "pure Americas,"" the speaker quickly indicates the passionate feelings he possesses for his country. The nature imagery is of particular importance. "Intact- (line 4) lands imply that the speaker's country was once pristine, untouched by the imperialists. "Silent peoples- (line 9), in-tuned with nature, inhabited the land. The diction of the phrases "shapers of pitchers- (line 10) and "workers of stone- (line 11) imply that a symbiotic relationship existed between the people and nature.
The poem shifts abruptly to the present, disheartening situation of Latin America in the second stanza. At this point, the speaker begins to expound on the current miserable condition of the "Americas."" Using apostrophe and rhetorical question, the speaker forces the audience to contemplate what has happened to Latin America. The problems of the four countries presented, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia, are intertwined with beautiful, natural images of the past. Peru's eagles have disappeared; no one hears Venezuela and Colombia's "happy voices- (line 21). The connection that existed between the people and nature no longer exists, although "emeralds,""(line 30) "waterfalls,""(line 26) and "birds- (all aspects of nature) are still present. The people's disconnection with nature parallels the "new despot[ s]-(line 34) both physical and economic imprisonment of Latin America.