Monday, January 8, 2024

Rubén Darío

Rubén Darío (1867―1916) is a Nicaraguan-born poet known as the father of the Spanish-language literary movement, Modernismo. He began as a child prodigy, who moved to El Salvador and later to Chile, where he published his first book in 1888. In1893, he was appointed Colombia’s Consul to Buenos Aires, and five years after that he became a correspondent in Europe for the Argentinian newspaper La Nación.

Darío was influential on succeeding poets including Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, and Federico Garcia Lorca. According to The Poetry Foundation, “Darío revolutionized poetic structure, stretching lines past conventional stopping places and utilizing wordplay, epithet, and alliteration in innovative ways.”

Although philosophically a Pythagorean dualist, Darío struggled to achieve the balance this implied in light of the Christian faith to which he had been raised. In his poem “Song of Hope” he considers the events of his day in light of scripture:
--------“…Has Antichrist arisen whom John at Patmos saw?
--------Portents are seen and marvels that fill the world with awe,
--------And Christ's return seems pressing, come to fulfill the Law.”
Rubén Darío then submissively says to Christ, expressing his own role in light of this vision:
--------“…My heart shall be an ember and in thy censer lie.”

The following poem is from Songs of Life and Hope, a translation of Cantos de Vida y Esperanza by Will Derusha and Alberto Acereda.


Jesus, incomparable forgiver of trespasses,
hear me; Sower of wheat, give me the tender
Bread of your hosts; give me, in the face of furious hell,
a lustral grace from rages and lusts.

Tell me this appalling horror of agony
obsessing me, comes only from my heinous guilt,
that upon dying I will find the light of a new day
and then will hear my "Rise up and walk!"

This post was suggested by Matthew White, an Australian Kingdom Poets reader.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.