Muses Incorporated
Home Design Photography Translation Essays Poetry Miscellanea Contact


language



Nederlands

English

Español





Spanish Love Poetry

February, March and April 2006


by Ingrid van der Voort, Poetry Buyer, ABC The Hague

When one thinks of Spanish love poetry the poet who most often comes to mind is Pablo Neruda. Neruda attained international recognition in 1924 with his book, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada). His acclaim was marked by controversy, however, because of the direct objective language he used, which was considered offensive in those days:

Body of woman, white hills, white thighs,
you look like the world in your attitude of surrender.
My savage peasant body plows through you
and makes the son surge from the depths of the earth.


(From Twenty Love Poems:The Essential Neruda, transl. Mark Eisner)

Twenty Love Poems remains Neruda's most famous work. It has been translated into nearly every language, and is still in print in most countries. The opening line of poem 20 may be the most recognizable line in Spanish poetry: "I can write the saddest verses tonight."

Although most of Neruda's poems are about love, they also reflect his journeys, his friends, his political commitment to social reform, his historical perspective of South America (Canto General), the objects he encountered in everyday life, and the places he visited and lived (La Isla Negra).

When the Civil War broke out in 1936, Neruda happened to be posted in Spain, working in Chile's diplomatic service. The murder of his friend and fellow poet Garcia Lorca around this time affected him deeply. Lorca's death influenced Neruda's outlook on poetry and life, and was the catalyst to him becoming politically active. After the war he was appointed to Paris where he became involved in the avant-garde movement. It wasn't until 1960 that Neruda produced another book devoted solely to love poetry: One Hundred Love Sonnets.

A wonderful introduction to Neruda's work, and to the diversity of his subject matter, is The Essential Neruda. The editor of this book, Mark Eisner, is currently working on a biography of Pablo Neruda, due to come out in early 2007.

In his Memoirs Neruda writes: "Poetry is a deep inner calling in man; from it came liturgy, the psalms, and also the content of religions. The poet confronted nature's phenomena and in the early ages called himself a priest, to safeguard his vocation...Today's social poet is still a member of the earliest order of priests. In the old days he made his pact with the darkness, and now he must interpret the light."

A wonderful introduction to Neruda's work, and to the diversity of his subject matter, is The Essential Neruda. The editor of this book, Mark Eisner, is currently working on a biography of Pablo Neruda, due to come out in early 2007. Watch how the story progresses at www.redpoppy.net/journals/



(You can visit Red Poppy with news on their current movie project "Pablo Neruda the poet's calling" about the life of the poet at the Red Poppy web site.)


red poppy


Originally Published in the Newsletter of www.abc.nl — The American Book Center

Muses Incorporated
The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain; María Rosa Menocal.

Moorish civilization was famous for its libraries that contained anything available, reaching from theological commentaries to astronomy, rhetoric, medicine and philosophy. Here the complete works of Plato and Aristotle survived. Most of these texts reached the rest of Europe only centuries later when they were at last translated. In cities like Cordoba, a huge translation industry came to be, and most of what we know from the Greek and Roman civilizations derives from it. But more, imaginative fiction and our notion of modern love were born here, just as the beginnings of the modern Latin languages. The Arabic love-poetry and its aesthetic tradition influenced the troubadours of the Province and Oc. Dante would never have written his Divina Comedia —in a modern Italian!— after studying the translations of the Arabic commentaries on Plato and Aristotle, and the ‘book of the ladder’, in which the Prophet Muhammad makes a nightly ascent into the nine circles of heaven and his descent to hell.

Originally published in: Newsletter ABC

© 2002 Ingrid van der Voort

Muses Incorporated