For Neruda, anything could be the stuff poetry is made of—like a suit. It was his aim to reconsider common items and find in them some poetry that anyone could read and enjoy. Art and culture was for the masses, he thought, not just for the elite. So as he ponders the suit he wears daily, he realizes that, without these rituals of waking up, showering, and getting dressed, he'd be unable to go out and meet the people that inspire his art in the first place. He'd also be unable to experience the events and struggles that shape his him and make him a poet, just as his body shapes the suit and makes it something worthy of poetry.
Questions About Art and Culture
How does the title indicate how the poet feels about art and culture? Does the poem live up to the title?
How does the suit make it possible for the speaker to write poetry? To what, or whom, else does the speaker attribute his poetic skill?
How does the style and form of the poem support its assertions about art and culture?
Chew on This
Neruda misses his universal mark a bit with this ode. Think about it: a suit? He's leaving out women, as well as anyone who may not be able to afford nice threads.
Neruda's choice of subject matter is a deliberate way for him to signal his beliefs about how poetry should be accessible.