POETRY FROM THE MID 19TH CENTURY
 



Pablo Piferrer

 
    1.-  The 19th century can be defined by a series of specific literary genres, such as the fable, satire or the didactic poem. Moreover, lyrical poetry concentrated around 1840.
 
   The native of Lugo, Nicomedes Pastor Díaz (1811-1863), published his Poems in this year. Minister in the regional government of Narváez, he wrote a lugubrious and desperate poem, which occasionally approached that of Espronceda, with titles like My Inspiration, To the Moon and The Black Butterfly.
 
This gloom and historicism continued through Jacinto Salas y Quiroga (1813-1849)from La Coruña, and the Basque Eugenio de Ochoa (1815-1872).
 
Pablo Piferrer (1818-1848) was born in Barcelona. In his short production of poetry we see an evolution towards the popular intimate poem.

Ode to the Fatherland
in the 1883 edition
    2.-  The 19th century was the epoch of nacionalism. During these years the Catalan culture was to live its "Renaixença" (rebirth), which was started with the poem To the Fatherland (1833), written in Catalan by Benaventura Carles Aribau (1798-1862), which is identified with "lemosín"-. Jacint Verdaguer (1845-1902) stands out among Catalan poetry with L'Atlàntida (Atlantis)(1877)and other religious poems.
   Although the area of Valencia didn´t undergo such an important development, the Rhymes (1877) of Vicente Wenceslao Querol (1836-1889) were highlighted - written in Castilian with a distinct colloquial tone.
 
    3.-  José de Zorrilla y Moral (1817-1893), was born in Valladolid and is one of the most representative poets of the 19th century.

Portrait of José Zorrilla
    He became known after the reading of his elegy To the Unhappy Memory of the Young Writer, Mariano José de Larra, at his funeral.
   Zorrilla was one of the most prolific writers of our literature. His best phase is considered to have been between 1840 and 1854, the year in which he emmigrated to Mexico, where he enjoyed the friendship of Emperor Maximilian. After this, he suffered a miserable time. He lived by giving public talks and undertaking official acts which influenced his works.
 
    His abundant production includes almost all the poetic genres: alongside lyrical poetry, his more or less traditional legends To a Good Judge, a Better Witness, Captain Montoya or Margarita la Tornera, of narrative character, are worth pointing out.

Poems by Zorrilla

The Drama of the Soul (1867)
   Following his Mexican experience, he published The Drama of the Soul (1867), about the American occurrances and Album of a Madman (1867), with one or two philosophical poems. He dealt with religious and epic poetry to a lesser degree, although his principal work was with the theatre.
 
   Zorrilla gave the impression of being an extrovert, who dedicated his life to verse, but he was a modest and gentle man, and a better poet than he would confess to being.

Poems by
José Zorrilla
    4.-  By studying these figures, we can take a moment to consider the characteristic literary genres of this period.
 
   The epic poem which originated in the 16th century survived, although to a lesser extent. The moralising fable with a neoclassic edge, was to continue.
 
   But the most representative genres of this century were to be the story in verse or the legend, in which the imagination could shine without limit and above all, the ballad which, taking up its medieval origin, could offer the fantasy much of what our poets were looking for. We can add two large compilations to these original 19th century ballads: the Picturesque Ballads, collected in 1843 by the Madrid-born story writer Juan Antonio Hartzenbusch (1806-1880) and the General Ballads (1849-1850) by Manuel Durán.

Picturesque Ballads
(1843), by Hartzenbusch
    5.-  Among the most important 19th century fashions, must be the incorporation of women into the literary world.

Portrait of Carolina Coronado
   Along with the problems which came from an interested and manipulated training, women came up against social opposition and even distrust from male writers, who saw them as artistic competitors.
 
   Carolina Coronado (1820-1911), the Extremaduran poetess, was able to publish her first poem at the age of nineteen and her first book of Poetry in 1843. In them, she dealt with classic or nature-based themes but also offered her ideas of man as a destructive force and of female suppression, in titles as significant as The Tyrant Husband.
   As well as struggling to make herself heard in her society, Carolina protected a group of women who wanted to try their luck at writing poetry, like Vicenta García Miranda.
 
   The Cuban, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814-1873) shone out for her vitality and her capability to confront the social norms of her time. In 1841 she published her poems, which were re-edited until 1868. They often reflect pained love and the impossibility of enjoying it. The most noteworthy poem is To Him.

Statue in honour
of R. Campoamor
   6.-Ramón de Campoamor y Campoosorio (1817-1901) was born in Asturias. The Madrid Lyceum of Art and Literature published his book of Poetry in 1840. Although he was affiliated to the Moderate Party, he showed concern and interest in the new developments of his time and a certain anti-clericalism.
 
    Campoamor´s prosaic nature, derived from the neoclassic fable, was criticised. Today, his attention to detail his thoughts about everyday problems , his irony, sense of humour, etc., are valued.
 
   From 1844, he wrote the"Doloras", a new genre for our literature. They consist, generally, of short poems of almost philosphical reflection and an implicit moral. Other times they are longer narrative poems, like ¿Who Would Know how to Write?, which, simply put, carry socio-cultural realities. From his Short Poems and longer "Doloras" of around 1874, we appreciate The Express Train.

Works
by Campoamor

Gaspar Núñezde Arce
    7.-  Gaspar Núñez de Arce (1834-1903), from Valladolid, presents a type of civic poetry which springs from Quintana and Gabriel García Tassara.
 
   A political revolutionary, Núñez de Arce considered the poet´s mission as being to transmit his ideology and concsience through literature. His principal work, Shouts from Combat from 1875, transmits this rhetoric poetry which was occasionally considered for recital on stage. The poet was criticised for the brilliance of his verse being beyond the happenings of his time,more mediocre and grey than that of Quintana. Despite this, he received approval from all his contemporaries.
    8.-  Born in Santiago de Compostela, Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885) shared first place with Bécquer among Spanish poets of this 19th century.
 
   Her husband, Manuel Murguía (1833-1923) was an intellectual who supported the Galician "Rexurdimento" - the climax of nationalism. He offered her stymulus, social contacts and reading material - contact with Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, before affection and security.

Rosalía de Castro
   Her first book of poetry, The Flower (1857), went as unnoticed as To My Mother (1863). This was not the case with Galician Chants (1863), which was considered a manifestation of traditional Galician idiosyncracy and which should be considered a fine example of Spanish literature written in the Galician tongue. In this same language, "Follas Novas" was published in 1880, which penetrated more into the issues of her people. It defined themes such as pessimism, man as woman´s predator, shadow as an ambiguous symbol and a conventional, although not solid, view of religion.
 
   On the Banks of the Sar (1884) collects poems from former times and perfects their characteristic themes. They insist on the idea of death and suffering as being the core of human existance.

On the Banks of the Sar
   From the seven fragments which open this book entitled On the Banks of the Sar, we can relate Rosalía´s feeling for nature, to that of Wordsworth from her appraisal of the countryside. As a reminder of her poetry, we remember the fifth one from this book: Una luciérnaga entre el musgo brilla.
 
   Rosalía de Castro´s originality is not only based on the thematic approach to her poetry but also on the strange combination of verses of different lengths, such as octosyllables and endecasyllables, which achieve perfect harmony.
 
   Other poets who complete the "Rexurdimento" are: Eduardo Pondal (1835-1917) from La Coruña, somewhat purile for our times. More interesting is Manuel Curros Enríquez (1851-1908).

D.Miguel Pérez Rosado.
Ph. D. in Hispanic Philology.