Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nicaraguan Authors and Poets

Ruben Dario would have been 144-years-old this year.  Born in Metapa, Nicaragua in 1867, he is one of the greatest poets in the Spanish language.  I first learned about Dario when I was in college and took a Latin American literature class.  He is a household name in Latin America but he is barely known in the the English-speaking world because his works are difficult to translate.  He began publishing poems at the age of 12 and his rustic birthplace is now named Ciudad Dario.  He traveled all over Latin America, worked as a journalist, visited France and New York, was married twice, and became a diplomat. He fathered several children, wrote an autobiography, went bankrupt, and died of pneumonia at the age of 49.  More than a century after his death, he is revered as a folk hero around Central America. A huge portrait of him greets arrivals at Managua's international airport.

This is my favorite poem by Dario translated into English:

El Nacimiento de la Col (The Birth of the Cabbage)

In the Garden of Eden, on a clear day when the flowers were created, and before Eve was tempted by the serpent, the evil spirit approached the most beautiful new rose, at the moment when she was offering to the caress of the celestial sun the red purity of her lips.
"You are beautiful."
"Indeed I am," said the rose.
"Beautiful and happy," continued the devil. "You have the color, the grace, and the scent.  However..."
"However?"
"You are not useful.  Can you see those tall trees bent with the weight of their acorns?  Those, besides being leafy, feed multitudes of live beings that come to rest underneath the branches.  Rose, to be beautiful isn't much..."
The rose then- tempted as a woman would be after- wished to be useful, so much that she became pale.
The Good Lord passed by the next morning.
"Father," said the floral princess, trembling in her scented beauty- "Would you make me useful?"
"So be it, my daughter," the Lord answered, smiling.
And so the world saw the first cabbage.

Try Dario's works along with these other talented Nicaraguan writers.

Songs of Life and Hope by Ruben Dario

Stories and Poems by Ruben Dario

Homage to the American Indians by Ernesto Cardenal

Infinity in the Palm of Her Hand by Gioconda Belli

The Scroll of Seduction by Gioconda Belli

Road from Ar Ramadi by Camilo Mejia

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