FERNANDO DE HERRERA AND THE SEVILLIAN SCHOOL
 



Annotations from Herrera to
Garcilaso de la Vega, (1580)

    1.-  In the second half of the 16th century a group of poets in Seville decided to form a poetic school. They were companions, doing similar or related jobs, who supported one another. They defended creative poetry, rather than that of enthusiasm or platonic passion, and technique or art rather than simple spontaneity.
 
   As masters of this group, Juan de Mal Lara (1527-1591) warrants mentioning, author of a Vulgar Philosophy, which includes poems of undoubtable interest.
 
Francisco de Medina (1544-1615), as well as being a poet, wrote the prologue of the edition of the Annotations (1580) of Fernando de Herrera to the poetry of Garcilaso de la Vega, in which he defended the Sevillian poets. Gonzalo Argote de Molina enriched the culture of the time with his Discourse on Castilian Poetry. Some painters were also excellent poets, such as Pablo de Céspedes (1538-1603) and Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644), Diego Velázquez´s father-in-law and author of a Book of True Portraits.

   There is no collection of verse (cancionero) which has a complete anthology of the Sevillian poetry of this time, although we do have Flowers of Various Poetry (México, 1577), with names of poets which could coexist with this group, such as Juan de Iranzo or Juan Farfán.

Portrait of
Baltasar de Alcázar

    2.-  Baltasar de Alcázar (1530-1606), can be included amongst the most noteworthy of the Sevillian poets read today. He is remembered for his "Humorous Supper", which brought him close to the poetry of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza in his burlesque and uninhibited point of view. Alongside this, he also wrote a few sonnets along the Petrachan lines of the 16th century.
 
   Juan de la Cueva (1543-1612) is another of the Sevillian poets who developed a wide variety of genres. Although he continued the humouristic lines of Baltasar de Alcázar, he is also known for his romances and above all, for his mythological poetry, which reflects a notable expressiveness.
 
   From the above mentioned edition of Annotations by Fernando de Herrera to Garcilaso de la Vega, another of the great Sevillian poets of the time is worth mentioning: Mosquera de Figueroa (1547-1610), who left a notable collection of devout and religious poetry, as well as the conventional love poems of the time.
   And so evolved the Sevillian poetry of the 16th century, which was to lead into the next to give us the names of Cristóbal de Mesa and above all, the surprising Juan de Arguijo.


A Few Works by
Fernando de Herrera
    3.-  The most representative of this group of Sevillian poets is Fernando de Herrera (1534-1597), whose life is set in the framework of his connection to Seville and his poetic work. After the above mentioned edition of Annotations to Garcilaso de la Vega, in which he plants a few of his own ideas about poetry, he published his book A Few Works by Fernando de Herrera (1582), in which he offers a sample of his works, which split from the Petrachan lyric started by Garcilaso.
 
   Although part of his works have been lost, we still have his epic poems in which he writes of the fight at Alcazarquivir or the victory at Lepanto. Others have been recuperated in an earlier edition by Francisco Pacheco, although not always well kept.

Portrait of the "divine" Herrera
by Francisco Pacheco

   His poetry is highlighted for its formal meticulousness, its little spontaneous Petrarchan intellectualism and his defense of a creative language which tied together with Garcilaso de la Vega and with Góngora.
 
    4.-  Three poets who find themselves between this century and the next are more or less connected to Seville.
 

La Galatea by Cervantes
   Luis Barahona de Soto (1548-1595) was a friend of Gregorio Silvestre from Granada, and to whom he dedicated one of his most beautiful compositions. He stands out for his delicate lyric on mythological and sensual themes. He developed the learned epic in his poem Angelica´s Tears.
 
   Vicente Espinel (1550-1624) is better known for his picaresque novel than for his poetry. However, his "Satire of the Gentlewomen of Seville" was very famous, and his Diverse Rhymes (1591) reflecting a happy and extrovert personality, which was similar to that of Lope de Vega at times.

 
   Finally, Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) did not stop developing lyrical poetry, although a great part of it is found among his novels. The first of these, The Little Gypsy (1585), is a book mixed with prose and poetry of the pastoral line of La Diana by Jorge de Montemayor. Just before the end of the century, he wrote his famous sonnet "To the Tumulus of Philip II", a masterpiece of humour and irony. He used the same style to write the poems of the "Preliminaries" in the first part of The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha. In a more serious tone, we highlight his "Epistle to Mateo Vázquez". The only book of poetry which was published during his lifetime was Journey to Parnassus (1614), an alegory which reflected the poetic reality of the time in a personal way.
 

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