LITERATURE: THE POETRY OF THE SPANISH AMERICAN COUNTRIES: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Borges’ poetry, however, published largely between 1923 and 1929, and collected in his Poemas (1954), reveals that he belongs to the group of contemporary poets who view poems as complex metaphorical structures expressing complex metaphysical problems. First chronologically in this group is the great Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo (1892-1938). Born in a remote Andean village, he struggled to get an education and started writing poetry as an adolescent. The poems of his first major book. Los heraldos negros (1918) are concerned with suffering. The view of life that it is a hard struggle, The opening poem begins:

There are blows in life, so hard … I don’t know.

Blows that seem to come from God’s hatred.

(Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes … Yo no se.

Golpes como del odio de Dios.)

 

The intimate pervasive sense of suffering and his solidarity with the oppressed are conveyed effectively by certain features of his style. Many of his images are familiar household objects. Usage of ordinary conversational language abounds, and he sometimes uses grammar which is colloquial and which does not conform to the rules of the Academy. The indigenous world is strongly represented by his employment of Quechua words and by this theme of nostalgia for the Inca empire. His everyday allusions are combined in structures of sophisticated complexity. In Trilce (1922), which was written while he served a prison term (he was accused of taking part in a riot, and his chances of acquittal were diminished by his leftist connections), the relationship between his complex planes of metaphors becomes even subtler, but his themes remain basically the same as those of Los heraldos negros. After the publication of Trilce he lived in France, Russia and Spain. For many years he wrote no poetry, turning instead to Marxist prose. His last poems, Poemas humanos, published in the year after his death, dealt with the Spanish Civil War.

The Cuban, Nicolas Guillen (1902-), along with other Caribbean poets like his compatriots, Ramon Guirao (1908-1949) and Emilio Ballagas (1910-1954), and the Puerto Rican, Luis Pales Matos (1898-1959), emphasize Afro-Caribbean culture and musical rhythms. In his later poetry he stresses socio-political problems, writing with directness about their causes and solutions. His point of view is Marxist: the economic exploitation of the Negroes and the peasants in theĀ· Caribbean and in Latin America has its root cause in capitalism. His Antologia Mayor (1964) contains selections of his works published from 1920 to 1964.

Belonging firmly to the group of poets who explored complex metaphysical problems with complex poetic structures is the Mexican, Octavio Paz (1914-). A profound sadness permeates his poetry, a sadness resulting from the desperate loneliness that follows futile attempts to know the meaning of existence. The Aztec and Maya civilizations are important themes in his exploration of national a pi ritual significance (Liberated bajo palabra, 1960 ). In fact, Mexican poets of varying styles are paying attention to the indigenous civilizations. Among them are Carlos Pellicer (1899-) and Francisco Monterde (1894-). Carlo Antonio Castro (1929-) in intima fauna (1962) attempts to recapture the forms and substance of indigenous poetry.