Languages Essays – Spanish-American Poetry
Modernismo in Spanish-American poetry of the 20th century.
This research analyses Spanish modernismo in Spanish-American poetry. The paper investigates in depth the impact of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones, the most influential modernista poets of the twentieth century, on the development and spread of modernismo in Spain. The received results demonstrate that Spanish modernismo was new for Latin America and differed much from European Modernism. Due to the spread of nationalism, modernista poets experienced rejection and criticism from the members of Spanish society that regarded their literary works as the imitation of European poetry. However, Lugones and Dario opposed the existing restrictions and implemented new forms of poetic expression. In this regard, some findings of this research are consistent with the previous studies, while other results provide new valid data to the issue of Spanish modernismo in the twentieth century.
1 Statement of the problem
Spanish modernismo is considered by some researchers and critics to represent a real revolution in Spanish-American literature of the twentieth century. The fact is that by the end of the nineteenth century the poetry of Latin America began to decease, thus innovations had to be implemented to revive it. Modernismo was new for Latin America, and the poets who greatly affected the formation of this movement were Leopoldo Lugones and Ruben Dario, as they were the first persons who implemented European poetic traditions into their writings, transforming the linguistic basis of poetry. However, this viewpoint is sometimes challenged by literary scholars who make attempts to eliminate the impact of modernismo on Spanish-American poetry. Gwen Kirkpatrick suggests that such a biased vision is explained by the fact that “many discussions of modernismo are stereotypically describing a ‘rubenismo’, the hackneyed copies of Ruben Dario’s style, while forgetting the movement’s audacity and its sweeping display of subject matter and styles”1. The conducted researches aggravate the issue by drawing a parallel between Spanish modernismo and European modernism. As a result, they provide ambiguous and invalid findings in regard to modernismo in Spanish-American poetry, instead of clarifying various aspects of the twentieth-century Hispanic literature.
Spanish modernismo as a crucial literary trend of twentieth century Hispanic poetry was initiated by Leopoldo Lugones and Ruben Dario and achieved its peak in the years of 1888-1915. It had the major impact on Spanish poetry, but also affected other literary genres, such as short stories and novels. Modernismo appeared as a successful combination of the Symbolist and the French Parnassian literary movements and was especially widespread in Argentina, Mexico and Cuba2. Modernismo in Spain reflects various social and economic changes of the late nineteenth – early twentieth centuries.
It is mainly characterized by the substitution of the former structural and thematic components for new elements that include experiments with meter and rhyme and the utilization of such themes as landscape and eroticism. Thus, modernismo possesses three principal features: 1) novelty in rhyme and meter; 2) new appreciation of poetry’s role and 3) increase in subject themes. Social changes influenced the poets’ understanding of their roles and made them adhere to the literary traditions of such European poets and writers as Edgar Allan Poe, Baudelaire and Whitman. Latin America differed from other European countries because of the fact that it made constant attempts to maintain the principles of national identity. As a result, Spanish literature used to adhere to conventional values, and any withdrawal from these particular traditions was regarded as a real danger to the issues of nationality. Modernist poets such as Dario and Lugones were usually considered as escapists and Spanish-American poetry – as the imitation of foreign ways of expression. In view of these complex social and cultural restrictions, the rise of modernismo in Spain signified the elimination of the older stereotypes and the establishment of new models for poetry. The beginning of the twentieth century was also characterized by the spread of sciences and industries that contributed much to the formation of a rationalistic vision on life and universe.
However, due to the existing restrictions, modernista poets of that period could only unite European values with traditional ideals in their literary works. In this regard, modernismo in Spain collided with more complexities than Modernism in other countries. These complexities resulted in the fact that Spanish poetry of the earlier twentieth century revealed much ambiguity and inconsistency. Various attempts of Spanish poets to utilise modernista elements in their works were regarded as the imitation of European literary sources, and modernismo in whole – as the trend of dependence. However, recent criticism on Hispanic poetry of the twentieth century challenged this viewpoint, providing valid data to prove the uniqueness and importance of Spanish modernismo. The themes and innovations of modernismo gave rise to many aesthetic and cultural tendencies of Spanish-American poetry of the twentieth century.
The aim of the research is two-fold: 1) to analyse how modernismo represented a revolution in Spanish-American poetry in the 20th century; 2) to evaluate the importance of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones in the formation of modernismo. The paper is divided into sections. Chapter 1 provides a statement of the problem that uncovers the principal thesis of the dissertation. Chapter 2 conducts a general overview of modernismo through social and historical contexts. Chapter 3 observes the critical works that are written on the issue of Spanish modernismo. Chapter 4 discusses the theoretical tools that are applied for the analysis. Chapter 5 evaluates in detail the impact of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones on modernismo and the way they changed Spanish-American poetry. Chapter 6 provides a summarization of the received results, while Chapter 7 demonstrates the limitations of the research and gives the suggestions for further analysis of Spanish modernismo.
3 Review of the literature
Various critical works are written on the issue of modernismo in Spain, providing rather contradictory findings. Cathy Jrade considers that modernista poets regarded the world as “a system of correspondences”3. Thus, they were in search of the ways to uncover the concealed truth about Latin America and the universe in whole. Some critical works on Spanish modernismo are aimed at analyzing modernista poetry through social contexts, including Noé Jitrik’s Contradicciones del modernismo, Françoise Perus’ Literatura y sociedad en América Latina and Angel Rama’s Rubén Darío y el modernismo4. According to Ricardo Gullon, “What is called modernismo is not thing of school nor of form, but of attitude… That is the modernismo: a great movement of enthusiasm and freedom towards the beauty”5. Discussing Spanish modernismo and the poets who contributed to the formation of this movement, Gwen Kirpatrick points at Leopoldo Lugones as “a true precursor of what might be called the dissonant trend in Spanish American poetry”6. The researcher considers that Lugones greatly influenced other poets of the subsequent generations by rejecting the traditional poetic norms and implementing new modernista elements.
Lugones’ legacy is especially obvious in the works of César Vallejo, Alfonsina Storni and Ramón López Velarde. Octavio Paz points at the fact that Lugones’ and Dario’s poetry is the beginning of “all experiences and experiments of modern poetry in the Spanish language”7. However, Paz also differentiates between Lugones and Dario; although he regards Dario as the initiator of modernismo, it is “Leopoldo Lugones who really initiates the second modernista revolution”8. On the other hand, some researchers criticize Lugones’ poetry and his impact on Spanish-American literature. For instance, Roberto F. Giusti claims, “What is Lugones’ literary personality? It is a difficult question to answer due to the simple fact that he lacks one”9. Amado Nervo contradicts this viewpoint by pointing at powerful aspect of Lugones’ poetry, especially Las montañas del oro. Although Nervo acknowledges the impact of foreign thinking on the works of Lugones, he nevertheless identifies many individualistic features of this modernista poet. As Nervo puts it, “Lugones’ personality is powerful, the most powerful in our America… The outside influences, the variety of reminiscences, the trivial and intimate suggestions of sages, poets, anti artists clash in his soul with his own and diverse ideas”10. However, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada suggests that Lugones’ poetry lacks real sincerity, he considers that “We see him [Lugones] change and contradict himself, but we never see him express himself with absolute sincerity”11. The different perception of Lugones’ poetry can be explained by the changes within Spanish society that shaped people’s understanding of poetry throughout the twentieth century. According to Manuel Pedro Gonzalez, those poets who directly succeeded Leopoldo Lugones greatly admired the poet’s excessive language and powerful verse12, but later generations of Spanish poets failed to rightfully perceive Lugones’ innovations, although they also borrowed some elements of his poetry. In view of such contradictory criticism on the issue of Spanish modernismo, the following analysis makes an attempt to solve this controversy and demonstrate a considerable impact of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones on Spanish-American poetry of the twentieth century.
4 Research methodology
The research utilises two theoretical research methods – a qualitative method and a discourse analytical approach. These methods provide an opportunity to investigate the issue of Spanish modernismo through various perspectives. The qualitative method is applied to the research to observe different views on the discussed issue, while the discourse analytical approach is aimed at analyzing cultural and social contexts that contributed much to the formation of modernismo in Latin-America. The discourse analytical approach explains the reasons for regarding Spanish modernismo as a revolution in Spanish-American poetry and the qualitative method interprets literary works of modernista poets. According to Ricoeur, “interpretation… is the work of thought which consists in deciphering the hidden meaning in the apparent meaning, in unfolding the levels of meaning implied in the literal meaning”13. As appropriate methods for investigation, the qualitative method and the discourse analytical approach demonstrate Spanish poetic traditions and the ways modernismo implemented new poetic forms.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Spanish-American poetry experienced its prosperity due to the occurred historical and political events. However, gradually the poetry of Latin America exhausted its potentialities and reflected only illusionary visions of reality. At the end of the nineteenth century Spanish-American poetry almost completely rejected the poetic traditions of Romanticism, because it was impossible to adhere to these traditions in view of quick changes in values and modernization of life in many places of Latin America. As Octavio Paz rightfully points out, “Modernity is our style for a century. It’s the universal style. To want to be modern seems crazy: we are condemned to be modern, since we are prohibited from the past and the future”14. It was in that period when some Latin American cities began to inherit European ideals on culture, science and art.
As Kirkpatrick puts it, “New immigration, varying degrees of industrialization, and labor-oriented social movements changed the maps of Spanish American cities in the early twentieth century”15. Thus, Spanish-American poets began to gradually reject the romantic representation of reality, instead revealing their interest in certain objects such as the female body and machines. Leopoldo Lugones was one of the first poets that applied to these themes in some of his poetic works, like Las montañas del oro. Overall, modernista poets demonstrated great obsession with the principles of modernity and made constant attempts to increase the role of a poet in Spanish society. They withdrew from their participation in political affairs, instead transforming writing into a profession. In view of various innovations modernismo was aimed at creating a novel reality and styles of expression. According to Gordon Brotherston, the modernista poets, such as Ruben Dario, Manuel Machado, Leopoldo Lugones, rejected the material obsession that emerged as a result of industrial and scientific achievements, instead revealing true moral and cultural values16. As Paz puts it, “it has been said that modernismo was an evasion of the American reality. It would be truer to say that it was a flight from the local present reality… in search of a universal reality, the only true reality”17. Spanish modernista poets reveal an idealistic treatment of poetry, paying a particular attention to the innovations of poetic forms and themes. The values of these poets appeared in contrast with the existing social norms and were reflected in their poetry.
Modernismo represented a real revolution in Spanish-American poetry, because it was aimed at destroying the isolation of Latin America and at creating a novel discourse that could uncover the concealed truth about social and political situation of the country. However, the spread of modernismo was different in various part of Latin America. In particular, in Buenos Aires and Santiago of Chile, the South regions, modernismo was developed in a fast way, while in the area of Hispanic Carribean the process was considerably slow. In general, modernista poets were in search of the ways to create a language that would reflect social and spiritual discourse, making them closer to European poets.
In this regard, the language of modernista poets is ambiguous. Applying to the qualitative approach it is possible to reveal this ambiguity, because this method provides an opportunity to rightfully interpret the controversial literary texts. According to Taylor, “Interpretation… is an attempt to make clear, to make sense of an object of study. It aims to bring to light an underlying coherence or sense”18. Thus, on the one hand, the language of modernista poets appears as a visionary tool that uncovers reality changed as a result of various scientific innovations, while, on the other hand, it shapes national identity. Due to the fact that these two aspects are closely connected with each other, modernismo manages not only to reveal reality, but also to change the political and social courses established in Latin America. As Gonzalez puts it, modernismo introduces various aspects of modernity and alters Spanish poetry in whole19. According to Ricardo Gullon, “the modernist writer is in first term modern man, and as so he becomes aware of himself as a citizen and believes in the possibility of the political and social reform”20. Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones were the first poets to reflect social modernity and the negative consequences of scientific innovations in their literary works. In their modernista poems they made attempts to combine national identity with foreign features. The following sections provide a more detailed discussion of Lugones’ and Dario’s impact on the formation of Spanish modernismo.
5.2. Ruben Dario as the initiator of Spanish modernismo
At the end of the nineteenth century Ruben Dario (1867-1916) implemented the concept of modernismo to reflect a new period in Spanish-American poetry. Dario identified modernismo as the trend that corresponded with the essence of his time, when modernity began to influence various aspects of reality. Although Dario is regarded as a nationalistic poet, he is individual in his poetry, bringing up both social and national issues. Ruben Dario rejects the traditional elements of poetry by changing the conventional norms of verse and by introducing smooth rhythms into his poetic works. Simultaneously, Dario challenges and criticizes the reality that is presented in many literary works of Spanish-American literature of the nineteenth century.
Through his poetry Dario rises against the materialization of Spanish life and against the wrong scientific ideals that prevailed in Latin America in that period of time. He also maintains individualism and independence, eternity and dream world; Dario is especially obsessed with beauty, demonstrating that beauty can be found in many displays. He moves beyond traditional portrayal of beauty, paying a particular attention to females’ sexuality as one of the principal images of beauty. For instance, in his poem Rhymes Dario claims, “Out on the sea a swift boat rowing, / rowing: the lover with his beloved, / flying to the land of dreams. / In the sunset light and the million glints / that flashed on the sea, those streaming oars / seemed made of burnished gold”21. This simple verse reveals the beauty of nature and the beauty of a loving couple; nature seems to correspond with their feelings – it is bright and clear, tender and light. However, by the end of the poem nature is changed, as Dario expresses uncertainty as to the future of these lovers: “Their fate? I do not know. I remember / that after a pallid twilight, the sky / darkened and the sea grew rough”22. Thus, nature conveys despair of Dario and the inability of lovers to change anything. Similar to nature that is exposed to constant changes, love also has the beginning and the end.
This modernista poet pays much attention to language and he is in constant search of perfecting it. Musicality of Dario’s poetry and his exotic images inspire other Spanish poets, despite the fact that Dario is more interested in words than in the expressed meaning. Dario’s poetic language acquires power and symbolism; he gives new meaning to simple words and forms his unique rhetorical lexicon that reflects the spirit of Hellenism and Versailles. Applying to various poetic experiments, Dario increases the amount of metrical forms, either transforming classical forms or creating new ones. Dario’s first literary work Azul (1888) reveals musicality and sensuality of his sonnets. It was a real break in Spanish-American poetry due to the fact that Dario managed to substitute a complicated poetic verse of Spanish poets for a simplified and expressive form. In this collection Ruben Dario masterfully combines the symbols taken from ancient literary sources with his own symbols.
Some of Dario’s symbols are the swan that symbolizes eroticism and chastity or centaur that embodies both human and animal features. In this regard, modernismo depends on various influences and literary trends; it manages to combine vulgarity and delicacy, reality and illusion, beauty and violence, extremes and simplicity. Ruben Dario’s modernista poetry introduces many elements into Spanish-American poetry of the twentieth century. In particular, in many poems of Blue Dario applies to the theme of escapism, that is, he escapes reality and involves his readers into the dream world. Dario’s escapism is refined and full of classical illusions. In response to various scientific inventions and reason, Dario creates poems that are closely connected with nature and passions. Although the poet usually depicts such negative feelings as sadness, disappointment, ennui and despondency, they are so expressive that they evoke powerful emotions. In the poem Melancholy Ruben Dario states, “Brother, you that have light, please give me light / I am like a blind man. I grope about in the dark. / I am lost among the tempests, lost among torments, blinded / by fantasies, and driven mad my music. / That is my curse. To dream”23.
Another element of Dario’s poetry that is widely adopted by all modernista poets is the tension between love and sexuality. In his later collection of poetry Songs of Life and Hope (1905), Dario brings up more profound issues of a man and universe, life and death, utilizing irony and bitterness. This is especially obvious in such poems as The Fatal Thing and Youth, Divine Treasure. In this regard, Dario and other modernista poets are often accused of inspiring anarchy in the country, but in reality Dario contributes to the creation of a certain ideological structure in Spanish-American poetry that is closely connected with culture. Applying to classical allusions and cultural images, Dario implicitly demonstrates his cultural tastes. Thus, Jean Franco suggests that “modernismo comes to imply not only a literary renewal under the influence of France but a certain exaltation of taste”24. In some of his poetic collections, including Songs of Life and Hope, Ruben Dario demonstrates his obsession with classical symbols and the images created by Dante in his epic poem.
Dario is in constant search of combining these images with the aesthetic values of modernismo, the poetry with the whole universe. In other poems Dario, similar to Lugones, draws a parallel between natural phenomena and humans’ emotions; for instance, in the poem Nightfall in the Tropics Dario portrays nature through emotions: “Bitter and sonorous rises / The complaint from out the deeps, / And the wave the wind surprises / Weeps. / Viols there amid the gloaming / Hail the sun that dies, / And the white spray in its foaming / ‘Misere’ sighs”25. This verse reveals Dario’s experiments with language and form; and, according to Kirkpatrick, it is in these “experiments, ironies, discordance, and ambiguities, later poets will find the legacy from which they will construct new poetic languages”26. In this regard, Leopoldo Lugones borrows some modernista elements from the poetry of Dario, but he also implements many new elements of modernismo.
5.3. The influence of Leopoldo Lugones on Spanish-American poetry
Although Leopoldo Lugones’ earlier poetic works are characterized by the adherence to romantic ideals, he gradually rejects these elements, bringing up the issues and values that are closely connected with modernismo. Despite the fact that Lugones’ patriotic tunes and concise rhyme are not the explicit features of modernismo, his changes in themes and the depiction of certain ideologies through poetry demonstrate the poet’s important role in the transformation of Spanish-American poetry of the twentieth century27. According to Kirkpatrick, simultaneously combining some genres and moving from one extreme to another in his poetic works, “Lugones dramatizes the conflict between modernismo’s formalism and the shift into the twentieth century’s more private sense of poetic language”28. Similar to Dario, Lugones maintains the idea of language perfection, but he regards language as a tool that should be refined. Lugones considers that poetic language should be as much expressive as possible, but “by directing attention to language as a technical instrument, Lugones initiates a dissonant trend in modern Spanish-American poetry”29.
With the help of expressive language Lugones manages to combine various elements in his poems, such as ironical eroticism and the portrayal of landscape, colloquial speech and unromantic scenes. Lugones takes his images from outward things, depicting the changed urban and rural scenery of Spain. Simultaneously, Lugones’ modernista elements reflect his obsession with French literary poetic traditions; however, “Lugones discounts the American setting as being too primitive to allow for the development of a complex and refined expression”30. Although in his early poems Lugones only implicitly reveals modernista elements, he intensifies them in his later poetry. This especially regards Las montañas del oro (1898), where Lugones makes an attempt to combine rather contradictory elements through an allegorical form. It is in this poetic collection that Lugones introduces such innovations as enormous excesses, undisguised exaggeration and bizarre humour that are utilised in his later poems. Introducing various thematic opposites in Las montañas del oro, Lugones manages to achieve integrity of expression. The structure of the book resembles Dante’s poems, revealing that Lugones applies to some classical allusions in his poetry. This is especially obvious in the following words: “I was alone / between my thoughts and eternity. I was / crossing with Dantesque steps the night”31.
In the poem Metempsicosis Leopoldo Lugones combines the powerful images of landscape and animal features to reveal the opposites between two elements: “An evil moon was loosing itself – with its yellow skeleton face / in distances of dream and problem; / and there was a sea, but it was an eternal sea, / asleep in a suffocating silence / like a sick, fantastic animal”32. Metempsicosis is followed by other poems, such as A Histeria, Rosas del Calvario, Oda a la Desnudez, Antifonas, Nebulosa Thule and others that are full of erotic images and the theme of darkness. In his female images Leopoldo Lugones combines both calm beauty of a woman and fierce portrayal of femme fatale. Applying to such conventional symbols of female images as moon, apples, flowers, breast and others, Lugones demonstrates that these images are beautiful, but they embody darkness and destruction.
As a result, Lugones’ female images reflect the desire for possession and desecration: “I want a golden crown to encircle / your heart… and I want you to triumph, naked like a host, in the ideal Easter ceremony of my pleasures”33. Similar to Dario, Lugones’ sexual images are usually connected with various religious images and Greek mythology, – the feature that is characteristic to modernismo. However, Lugones’ images are more turbulent and definite, like in the poem A Histeria: “And so your embrace was like the knot of a noose, / and like glacial floes were your lips, / and bitter wires were my tendons, / and so the enormous stallion was a black wind”34. Thus, Lugones draws a parallel between violence and females’ sexuality; this connection is evident in Los Celos del Sacerdote: “desired crucifix of the weddings / and the triumphant grace of your waist. / like an amphora filled with magnolias, / and the impenetrable iris of your sex, / iris fool of blood and anguish”35. In another poem Oceanida Lugones applies to specific sexual images of Vista that symbolize eroticism and beauty.
Some poems of Lugones’ poetic collection Las montañas del oro reflect the sadomasochistic components that constitute one of the most important themes of Lugones’ poetry. In particular, the poet combines the images of violence and punishment with the images of females’ sensuality: “I shall praise the affection of your embrace, / just as the lecherous ascetic in his battles pulls tight the hairshirt around his kidneys”36. The images of sexuality and violence are repeated several tines throughout the poems, thus repetition is one of the most crucial poetic tools of Lugones. These repetitions, mainly taken from Poe’s literary style, provide Lugones with an opportunity to move from one extreme to another, maintaining the necessary integrity of expression. For instance, in the poem Oda a la Desnudez Lugones constantly repeats the word ‘nakedness’: “Look at the nakedness of the stars; / the noble nakedness of the savage panthers of Nepal, the pure flesh / of the newborn; your divine nakedness which shines like a lamp”37. Leopoldo Lugones implicitly brings up the tensions between nature and scientific discoveries, between reason and myths, between people and environment.
In this regard, Lugones is similar to Ruben Dario who criticizes science and material obsession of his era in his modernista poems. Lugones combines ancient elements with new discoveries of the nineteenth century, evaluating both positive and negative sides of the present. Thus, according to the discourse analytical approach, Lugones’ and Dario’s poetic language is closely connected with the components of social and political contexts38. The poem Hymn to the Moon from Lugones’ Sentimental Lunario reflects French adoptions and is characterized by irony and new metric form. The poem The Cicadas from The Book of the Landscapes is belonged to one of the most modernista poems of Leopoldo Lugones; applying to daily images, the poet portrays them through ironical vision. However, one of the best modernista poetic collections of Leopoldo Lugones is certainly Los crepúsculos del jardín (1905), where the poet intensifies sexual and erotic elements. In this collection Lugones not only utilises many modernista structures and symbols, but he also implicitly criticizes modernismo’s technicality. As Lugones constantly experiments with his poetry, he implements new elements taken from different literary movements and classical literary sources; thus he manages to observe both strong and weak sides of modernismo.
Exaggeration appears the principal tool of expression in Los crepúsculos del jardín; as Kirkpatrick puts it, Lugones “exaggerates certain themes by extending their development too far, or points out certain techniques by explicitly commenting on their use within the poems themselves”39. Thus, the poet creates not one swan in his poems, but several swans; portraying the image of a woman, he does not restrict himself to some features, instead he describes every aspect of her appearance, even the colour of her clothes. Although Leopoldo Lugones initiates the second wave of modernismo in Latin America, he moves away from it in his later poetic works, because he feels that he has already researched this new area and continues to experiment with other literary trends40. Utilising all modernista elements in his Los crepúculos del jardín, he begins to study the archetypal elements of Jules’ Laforgue’s poems. However, Lugones’ later withdrawal from modernismo does not minimize his crucial role in the formation of modernismo.
As Kirkpatrick rightfully claims, “Although Ruben Dario is the undisputed master of the movement, many later poets have found the complex, sometimes troubling, poetic experiments of Leopoldo Lugones to signal openings for a renewed poetic practice”41. The fact is that Lugones’ constant changes of forms and styles, turbulent eroticism and the portrayal of common life attracted attention of many Spanish-American poets. Tensions and ambiguity that are slightly seen in the works of other modernista poets are considerably intensified in Lugones’ poetry42.
5.4. The Legacy of Modernismo
Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones as the major contributors to the formation of Spanish modernismo left a considerable legacy to other poets who began to utilise modernista elements of Lugones and Dario in their poetic works. Some of these poets are Ramón López Velarde, César Vallejo, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, Alfonsina Storni, Julio Herrera y Reissig, Federico Garcis Lorca, Pablo Neruda and Vicente Huidobro. Their poetry is characterized by expressiveness and freedom, perfection of language and search of new forms, classic allusions and new themes, simplicity of syntax and musicality of words, free verse and powerful visual images. For instance, in his poetic works Ramón López Velarde follows Leopoldo Lugones, combining the elements of eroticism with various prosaic elements. Other modernista poets also utilise prosaic components in their poetry, including Baldomero Fernández Moreno and Enrique Banchs. These poets implicitly apply to Lugones’ method to create opposites; however, they differ from Lugones, using simple colloquial language. Besides, the tone of their poems is quiet in contrast to excessive and exaggerated tone of Lugones. Julio Herrera y Reissig, another modernista poet, greatly resembles Lugones in his representation of sexuality and violence. Similar to Lugones, the poet makes constant experiments with poetic forms and expressions, especially in regard to sound patterns. César Vallejo, Alfonsina Storni and Ramón López Velarde adopt the ambiguity of modernismo. Their language reveals many modernista elements of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones, such as expressiveness and sensuality.
These poets also describe the changes that occurred in Spain at the beginning of the twentieth century. For instance, Velarde’s Suave Patria demonstrates the utilization of modernista elements in a patriotic poem; in this verse the poet masterfully combines modernista sensuality with common language, drawing a parallel between the past and the present. César Vallejo has had a profound impact on Spanish-American poetry, implementing some modernista features into his poetic language and style of expression. According to Kirkpatrick, Vallejo “erases the myths that bound Latin Americans to a mythic European homeland and, with the gaps in his language and anguished ironies, he asks for a radically new poetic practice”43. In her poetic works Alfonsina Storni pays much attention to the beauty of a female body and women’s sexuality; however, her erotic images are more intense than the images of Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones. On the other hand, her irony resembles the irony of Leopoldo Lugones and Herrera y Reissig.
The dissertation has analysed the impact of modernismo in Spain with Ruben Dario and Leopoldo Lugones on Spanish-American poetry of the twentieth century. The received results suggest that modernismo represented a true revolution in the poetry of that period, rejecting the former themes and poetic structure and adhering to European literary traditions. The obsession with Romanticism was gradually changed into the embodiment of such objects as city, the female body and machines that reflected social, historical and economic changes of the late nineteenth-early twentieth centuries. Contrary to other European countries, Latin America strictly adhered to the principles of nationality and established traditions, making attempts to prohibit any display of modernity either in social life or literature. As a result, by the end of the nineteenth century Spanish-American poetry was almost deceased. However, the changes that Dario and Lugones managed to implement into Spanish-American poetry were further utilised and expanded by other poets of Latin America. In this regard, Ruben Dario is usually regarded as the initiator of modernista revolution, while Leopoldo Lugones – as his successor.
In particular, Dario achieves musicality and expressiveness in his ways of expression, paying much attention to language, and Lugones continues his traditions by regarding language as a technical tool that should be constantly improved. Modernismo managed to create a new language that equalized Spanish poetry with European poetry and uncovered the truth about political, cultural and social situations in Latin America. Lugones’ language is characterized by the combination of various contradictory elements and allusions taken from classical literature; as a result, his language reflects a unity between sexuality and nature, between violence and females’ sensuality. Lugones intensifies his images by adhering to repetitions that at times reflect the poet’s irony. In this regard, both Leopoldo Lugones and Ruben Dario constantly apply to excesses and exaggerations in their poetry, making attempts to contrast usual language with poetic language.
7 Suggestions for further research
Although the research has covered many crucial aspects of Spanish modernismo in the twentieth century, the paper also has some limitations that can be overcome in further studies. In particular, the analysis is restricted to the discussion of Ruben Dario’s and Leopoldo Lugones’ impact on the development and spread of modernismo in the twentieth century. Further researches may extend the analysis to the discussion of other modernista poets and compare Spanish-American modernista poems with modernista writers, investigating in depth the differences between their treatment of various subjects and representation of reality.
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