Mistral, a local headteacher, encouraged him as a teenager. He originally met Lorca, who became a close and influential friend and whose killing radicalised Neruda’s politics, in Argentina. Borges, a friend for over 40 years, joked that not having Whitman’s English, they’d have to settle for Spanish. He met Matta and Vallejo in Madrid, Aragon and Éluard in Paris, and Ehrenburg and Hikmet in Moscow. Asturias lent him his passport to escape to Europe, where his close friend Picasso helped him embarrass the Chilean government. He encouraged Paz (there was a later rift) and Allende, and wrote his friend Modotti’s epitaph.
Neruda importantly gave early encouragement. Paz met Breton in Mexico and again in France, and Ehrenburg, Gide and Malraux in civil-war Spain. Miłosz stood on the same platform, Castoriadis’ strength of reason never failed to surprise him, Motherwell was a close friend and sometime collaborator, and Cage a friend whom Paz wrote about. Sontag was a correspondent, Fuentes a friend and colleague. Strong friendships with Neruda and Márquez weakened through political disagreements as Paz’s leanings became more right-wing.