SALAMANCA, FRAY LUIS AND OTHER VOICES
 


Renaissance edition of the
Works of Horace

 
    1.-  If we accept the existance of a school of Salamanca, we would have to group here a series of poets who developed their poetry in the second half of the 16th century.
 
   They are characterized by being academics - many of them are teachers - and their tendency towards a sedentary lifestyle. They share a feeling of disillusionment about the happenings of their time, which are translated into fleeing from the mundane, through neoplatonism and an admiration for the poetry of Horace, whose Odes will always be a constant model to imitate. We are looking at poetry which is outstanding for its moral values.

Cover of the Poems of
Fray Luis de León
edited by Quevedo, 1631
(Ode to Francisco Salinas)
    2.-  Fray Luis de León (1527-1591) is the best representative of this school of Salamanca.
 
   The theme of all his poetry can be defined as a tension between an aspiration for solitude, at night, withdrawn or contemplating the stars, and that of reality which frustrated him: inquisitorial processes, university conflicts, prison ... Remember, according to the platonic school, the soul has its origins in the higher spheres, according to the old cosmos.
 
   For this, he prepared his return to the starting point. Undoubtedly, his most significant composition is his third Ode to Francisco Salinas.
 
   Almost all his compositions develop the lyre as verse. He also translated the Latin classics - Horace and Virgil - and Hebrew.

Portrait of
Fray Luis de León

Cover of the Poems of
Francisco de La Torre
edited by Quevedo, 1631
   His poetry remained unedited until 1631, when Quevedo printed them from the first time.
 
   Although our poet´s production of Latin poetry is limited, we can associate him to a group of erudites and friends of his who alternated Castilian poems with other Latin ones. we include in this list, Francisco Sánchez de las Brozas (el Brocense), Juan de Almeida, Juan de Grial, Pedro Chacón and Benito Arias Montano
 
    3.-  Francisco de la Torre is the mysterious poet of the group from Salamanca. He is known for the edition of his poems which Quevedo prepared in the same year as those of Fray Luis de León: 1631. His topics develop Petrarchan themes, following in the footsteps of most up-to-date Italian poets. His sensitivity of night themes, the solitary turtledove, the pain of missing a sweetheart, etc is highlighted.

   Francisco de Medrano (1570-1607) is a Sevillian related to the Salamanca group. The mark of Horace is constant in his poetry, as is the moral tone and disillusionment which brought him towards the 17th century when he died. For this reason, he has at times been considered a Baroque poet.
 
 
    4.-  Two poets far removed from this school are Francisco de Figueroa (1536-1617 approx.) and Francisco de Aldana (1537-1578). Although they both share Petrarchan beginnings, the latter, a professional soldier, would show a necessity for solitude, comparable to that of Fray Luis, with whom he shared friends such as Arias Montano.
   Francisco de Figueroa would be a clear example of the neoplatonic atmosphere which is offered to the poetry as a reaction to the disillusionment which the Baroque period announced.

Cover of the Works
of Francisco de Aldana, Milan (1589)

 
    5.-  We hear other voices in the convents of the Order of the Carmelites, where a type of religious and devout poetry was developed, which owed a lot to the lyrics of the anthologies, to biblical tradition and the works, although unedited at that time, of Fray Luis de León. Amongst these voices, that of Santa Teresa de Jesús (1515-1582), was first heard, who alongside other companions, interpreted several traditional folk carols.

Works by
Teresa de Jesús
   Secondly, we mention San Juan de la Cruz (1542-1591), who was a student at the university of Salamanca for a time. His most famous works are the Spiritual Songs and Dark Night of the Soul. He developed the lyre as his favourite type of verse, and his poetry uses obscure symbols at times to tell of the meeting between God and the poet´s soul, such as in Mystical Poetry. He personally accompanied his poems with comments in which he explained the biblical symbols.
Works by
Juan de la Cruz

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