Poetry in Spanish?
March 12, 2009 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Recommend some poems/poets in Spanish?

I'd like to read/memorize some poetry in Spanish (and originally written in Spanish), so hit me with your favorites!
posted by lemonade to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't speak or understand Spanish but Pablo Neruda has always been wonderful to hear read aloud; something about his poetry, I believe, would lend themselves to memorization.
posted by Neofelis at 11:04 AM on March 12, 2009

I agree about Neruda and particularly recommend Veinte Poemas de Amor, deservedly the most popular love poems in the language. Also César Vallejo and Federico García Lorca.
posted by languagehat at 11:11 AM on March 12, 2009

I've always loved Jose Martí's "Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca." (English and Spanish versions at the bottom of that page.)
posted by runningwithscissors at 11:14 AM on March 12, 2009

Antonio Macho -- Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar....
Lorca -- Verde, que te quiero verde....
"Granada, tierra soñada por mi" -- I forget the author, it's an opera piece
posted by forrestal at 11:38 AM on March 12, 2009

Lorca's "Romance Sonámbulo" has stuck with me since high school.

I also have a soft spot for Joaquín Sabina. Puntos suspensivos is one of his I like a lot.
posted by veggieboy at 11:38 AM on March 12, 2009

Neruda and Lorca. Great stuff.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:03 PM on March 12, 2009

Do you have a purpose to this memorization? Are you trying to impress or hook up with someone from Spain? Mexico? Colombia? Another Latin nation? A non Spanish speaker? Is it just personal development?

I ask not to snark but to direct you to poets that might be more impressive to a person from X place or that you may find more interesting. Who, in English, are you into? You may not be a Neruda kinda guy, you may be a Lope de Vega sort. It's all going to depend on your taste.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:11 PM on March 12, 2009

Er, it's Antonio Machado. And yes, he has many wonderful works you can try. The Granada song IIRC is not from an opera, but just a folk song by Mexican composer Agustin Lara (pretty song, too).

Other great ones of Spanish poetry I like, not yet mentioned: Jorge Luis Borges, Miguel Hernandez, Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, Mario Benedetti.
posted by Iosephus at 2:16 PM on March 12, 2009

A great poem in Spanish to memorize (because it's short, lyrical & potent) is Roque Dalton's poem "la poesía es como el pan," after which this wonderful anthology is named.

Gabriela Mistral is amazing & intense - here's a nice bilingual edition of her work selected & translated by Ursula K. LeGuin. You can preview it here.

also, Claribel Alegría - you can find some of her poems here.
posted by jammy at 2:32 PM on March 12, 2009

I can't believe nobody has mentioned Pablo Neruda. I have his "España en la Corazon" and it's pretty good.
posted by papayaninja at 2:48 PM on March 12, 2009

As it turns out, I can't believe it because it isn't true. He's been mentioned several times... I suck. However, he really is great. His Odes are awesome too, but I've only read them in English.
posted by papayaninja at 2:50 PM on March 12, 2009

Definitely Caminantes. And you might enjoy the version that was made as a song, which is of course on youtube.
Many of his other poems are also available online, especially the shorter ones.
posted by whatzit at 3:32 PM on March 12, 2009

"A solas!"

Google it
posted by zulo at 3:56 PM on March 12, 2009

Unsurprisingly, languagehat is spot on with his recommendation. Seconding (or thirding or nthing) Neruda's "Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada"
posted by fjom at 4:37 PM on March 12, 2009

Ack, I need to think first, post second. I know it is Antonio Machado (not "Macho Tony", as I put it). The Granada piece is well know due to Pavarotti, the Three Tenors and other operatic presentations.

I'll go be senile off line for awhile now.
posted by forrestal at 4:50 PM on March 12, 2009

Definitely Borges - a lot of English-speakers who first learn of him from his short stories don't realize he first made his reputation in Latin America as a poet. There's a marvelous bilingual edition, Selected Poems 1923-1967, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni, who worked closely with Borges at his side, that's out of print but easily available on the used market. See the links in this previous Borges thread for more about the bizarre controversy over Borges translations.

I also just discovered Rubén Darío, leader of the Modernista movement at the end of the 19th and into the early 20th century. There's a great Penguin Classics collection, Selected Writings, that has a bunch of his poetry with Spanish and English versions on facing pages. It's wonderfully engaging stuff, and the introduction makes a compelling case for his importance to Spanish poetry despite his relative invisibility to the English-speaking world, which seems to stop after Lorca, Borges and Neruda.
posted by mediareport at 7:06 PM on March 12, 2009

Octavio Paz
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:29 PM on March 12, 2009

Another vote for JLB. I was tortured by Jorge Luis Borges in high school. Now that I'm older and not threatened with a grade I think of him quite differently. You may appreciate him as well.
posted by Piscean at 8:53 PM on March 12, 2009

Federico García Lorca is my favorite. I did my studies on the "Generation of 1927" out of pure love and awe, especially of Lorca. The suggestion of Romance Sonámbulo is perfect for memorization. Many of his poems are as he was a musician himself but also because he wrote with a musical quality (often to emulate the sound of local dialects and music). I could go on all day listing others, but "New York (Oficina y denuncia)" and "Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejias" are good in addition, as well as many of his shorter poems.

Pollomacho has it right though, what are your tastes like?

I also love Ernesto Cardenal's Oración por Marilyn Monroe, though it may be too long to memorize if you're just starting out. Also look into some works by Amado Nervo.

Neruda and Darío are also good choices from South America. Let me also recommend Alfonsina Storni, especially her most famous, "Tú me quieres blanca".
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:06 PM on March 12, 2009

"Tú me quieres blanca".
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:06 PM on March 12, 2009

Definitely Borges - a lot of English-speakers who first learn of him from his short stories don't realize he first made his reputation in Latin America as a poet.

It wasn't that much of a reputation. Like Nabokov, Borges is a pretty good poet for a prose writer, but I don't think any lover of Spanish poetry would put Borges in the top rank. If you personally love his poetry, that's fine, I'm not knocking it, but it's not an obvious recommendation for someone just sticking a toe in the water for the first time.
posted by languagehat at 7:14 AM on March 13, 2009

Mario Benedetti, "Ser y Estar". Should be required reading for any English speakers learning Spanish.
posted by signal at 8:16 AM on March 13, 2009

it's not an obvious recommendation for someone just sticking a toe in the water for the first time.

Not sure what your point is; the poster asked for our favorite poets in Spanish, I answered Borges, and explained that many English-speakers don't know he was first known for his poetry. It is also true that Borges himself repeatedly said he considered himself a poet primarily.
posted by mediareport at 6:10 AM on March 14, 2009

Just to emphasize:

Although better known for his prose, Borges began his writing career as a poet and was known primarily for his poetry in Latin America particularly. In addition to writing his own original poetry, he translated important foreign poets for an Argentinian audience. He also authored numerous essays and gave whole series of lectures on poetry and various poets from Dante to Whitman. Observing that Borges "is one of the major Latin American poets of the twentieth century," Daniel Balderston in the Dictionary of Literary Biography added that in Latin America, Borges's poetry "has had a wide impact: many verses have been used as titles for novels and other works, many poems have been set to music, and his variety of poetic voices have been important to many younger poets."

If languagehat personally thinks Borges is not a "top rank" poet, that's fine, I'm not knocking him, but his statement that "[Borges'] wasn't much of a reputation" is at least highly arguable.
posted by mediareport at 6:22 AM on March 14, 2009

« Older Getting Google Spreadsheets to interpret string as...   |   CMS for chronologically tagged files Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.