VANGUARD AND GROUP OF 1927
 



 

Review Grecia edited
by Isaac del Vando Villar

 
    1.-  Spanish vanguard is a projection of european one. Specially interesting was Futurism created by the Italian F.T.Marinetti. It exalted progress and machines. Futurist Manifiest was translated into spanish in 1909 by Ramón Gómez de la Serna in Prometeo review.
 
    Chilean Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948), resident in Spain, popularized poetry by Reverdy, Apollinaire or Mallarmé and helped authors as Guillermo de Torre (1900-1971) of Madrid, who collected his poems in a book called Helix (1923) and was one of the most keen literary critics. Huidobro was also friend of Rafael Cansinos Assens (1883-1964) from Seville, who, in 1918 published Manifiest of Ultraism. (It appeared one year later in Grecia review).
 
So appeared ultraist movement, that was a way towards new achievements, although it never explained clearly its aims.

Caligram from Helix (1923)
It made poetry free from logic and formal tyings, through caligram, poem whose verses are written drawing scenes.
 
   It was cultivated by authors as Jorge Luis Borges and interested the most part of this time poets, though they rarely offered a real masterpiece within vanguardism.
 
   Its channel of expression was, among others, Journal Ultra, from beginning of 1920.

Huidobro by Picasso
and Juan Gris


Juan Larrea, 1980
    2.-  Vicente Huidobro wrote in 1916:
 
Why do you sing to the rose? O, poets!
Make it bloom in the poem...

   That has been taken as creacionist manifest, the second original movement -besides Ultraism- in Spanish Vanguard Literature. Important Spanish Poets collaborated with this aim of recreate reality in poetry, like Basque Juan Larrea (1895-1980), admirer of Huidobro. Larrea collected his poetic work under the name of Celestial Version.
 
   This book includes French poems, as Huidobro did in Altazor and was published in bilingual edition -italian and spanish- in 1969. Next year appeared a most correct and accurate one. Today it is seen as one of the most interesting experiences of Spanish Vanguard.

Bilingual italian edition of Celestial Version (1969)
    3.-  A friend of Larrea was Gerardo Diego (Santander, 1896-1987), who was initiated into creacionism with Image (1922) or Manual of Foams (1924). He combined all along his life a difficult vanguard poetry with a most prolific traditional production, in books like Soria (1923) or Civil Graveyard (1972).
 
   In 1932 he published his famous anthology Spanish Poetry including the best poets of his time, introduced by a short foreword. Diego has been conventionally studied between authors of Poetic Group of 1927.

Spanish Poetry,
anthology by G.Diego (1932)

Modern Edition of
Broken Anthology (1947)
    4.-  Other poets, formerly good vanguard ones, choosed different ways of expression. So was Felipe Camino Garcia, better known as Leon Felipe (1884-1968). He began as a traditional writter in books like Verses and Prayers of a Walker (1920 and 1929), from wich we remember his Selfportrait. Then he cultivated a grandiloquent and prophetic poetry that followed that of Nietzsche or Walt Whitman. Free verse let him try a moral and ethic sream, corresponding to the exile he suffered until his death in Mexico. You Will Win the Light (1943) and O, that Old and Lonely Violin (1968) are samples of works lately collected in Broken Anthology (1947).
 
    5.-  We can see that Spanish Vanguard gave few poetic works. Nevertheless, its trials and experiences -prose poem, gregueria (humour + metaphor) or haiku- shew a way to new generations, like Poetic Group of 1927.
    6.-  Pedro Salinas (1891-1951) was born in Madrid and was the oldest poet in this group. In his early works Presages (1924), Sure Fate (1929) and Fable and Sign (1931) he shows an ultraist influence, blend of Futurism with Dadaism, in poems like 35 Candle-Powers to a bulb or Underwood Girls to a typewriter keys.
 
   In central works of his production, The Voice Due to You (1933) and Reason of Love (1936), we find his vocation for psychological inwardness, projected trough a love topic with garcilasian echoes in its title and becquerian ones in its development.
 
   The Contemplated (1946), Everything Clearer (1949) and Trustfulness (1955), written when exiled in USA, add, to his precedent books the definitive essencialism of his poetry, learned on Juan Ramón Jimenez on Plato or through his painfull experience of Spanish Civil War.

First Edition of
The Voice Due to You

    7.-  A close friend of Salinas was Jorge Guillen (Valladolid, 1893-1984), who began his poetic carrer with Song (1928), to express world's perfection in a classic verse far from vanguard. Keeping the same title, the book grew up in reeditions of 1936, 1945 and 1950. Guillen was told to be a dehumanized poet who did not deal with man's problems, because of his abstraction and antiromanticism. His poems are rich in abstract nouns and non temporal verbs. His version of Sea Graveyard by Paul Valery helped this point of view.
 
   About year 1950 he began to compose, Clamour (1957-1963), a book to complain about social reality that he lived after Spanish Civil War. It is not a withdrawal of Song, it is rather an antithesis in its most positive meaning.
 
   Synthesis came with Homage (1967) a culmination of his life and work. After it he composed And other Poems (1973) and Final (1982). These five books are kwnown as Air of Ours, following in this Juan Ramón Jimenez's way who entitled Work the whole of his literary production.

First Edition of
Swords as lips
    8.-  Vicente Aleixandre (1898-1984) was born in Seville. He iniciated his artisitic career with Ambit (1928).
 
   The most original achievement in his two next books -Swords as lips (1932) and Destruction or Love (1935) was knowledge of Surrealism, that appeared in Spain about 1930, when ultraism was being forgotten. Surrealism tried to express images and links between them, as they are shown in Dreams.
 
   These books point to a Cosmic Power that conciliate opposites: Destruction, Love and Symbols that built surrealistic period.
 
Aleixandre used versicle, free short verse and an exceeded Rhetoric.

First edition of
Earth Passion

   Surrealistic stream went on in Earth Passion (1935, though written at the end of the 20s decade).
 
   After the hard experience of Civil War he published Paradise Shadow (1944) and follows a different way - close to spanish social poetry of the fifth decade of the century- in works as Last Birth (1953) or History of Heart (1954). He also wrote -after other books- deeply thoughtfull works as Knowledge Dialogs (1972). In 1977 he received Nobel Prize.

Cover of
Gipsy Ballads (1927)
    9.-  We should admit that the two most important spanish poets in twentieth century are Antonio Machado and Federico García Lorca (1898-1936). Lorca was born in Granada and shot down at the beginning of Spanish Civil War. This circumstance made a myth of his name but could not make better his poetry whose quality is one of the best in Spain.
 
   His Book of Poems (1921) is an overcoming of his first poems of a Modernist Style. Works of this first period followed: Poem of Deep Singing (1921), Songs (ca. 1924) and many editions of Gipsy Ballads, finished in 1928. This first period is defined as neopopularism and influenced by scholarly redescovering of cancioneros and spanish ballads.
 
   Second and last period of Lorca includes books as Poet in New York, written between 1929 and 1930, after a poet's travel to this city. His work is closed by Crying for Ignacio Sanchez Mejia's Death -bullfighter dead in 1934- Six galician poems, Sonnets, Dark Love Sonnets and Diwan of Tamarit.
   The most part of this last works is posthumous and shows important textual problems. We do not really know in wich way would have Lorca published it in its definitive version.

Drawing by the poet
probably for
Poet in New York
   Lorca never minded final edition and saw printed text as a dead one. He always prefered oral versions. Therefore even text of early works from first period, like Suites, is difficult to establish.
 
   Indeed we cannot forget the possibility of discovering new poems, as happened to Dark Love Sonnets published in newspaper ABC (1984).
 
   Subjects of lorquian poetry deal with frustration because of natural elements: Death, Pass of Time, Love -in any of its forms-, Barrenness, and also Earthly Powers that shape his art.

Cover of an edition of
Gipsy Ballads, printed
during Spanish Civil War (1937)

   Lorca confronted reality with an attitude of primitive mind, sometimes a naïf one. That is why some critics have spoken of a surrealistic stream in his second poetical period. This has been discussed and ilusion of surrealism can be explained as a consequence of a complex vision of world conceived by the author.
 
   But no one has denied his apologia for Liberty beyond political interests in his whole work. We must not forget that his poetical work must be complete with his dramatical one -often in verse-, his drawings, his scores for piano and singer, and other artistic manifestations.
 
    10.-  Rafael Alberti (Cadiz, 1902-1998) coincides, in many ways, with Lorca's poetry.

First edition of
Sailor on earth
   He began his neopopularist lyric in minor art with Sailor on earth (1925), Literary National Prize. It was followed by The Mistress (1926) and Wallflower Dawn (1927). This poems miss child's sea and show innocent and folkloric features.
 
   With Lime and Plainsong (1929) he adds vanguardism to neogongorism -Third centenary after Gongora's death was an incentive for spanish poetry- with new metrical forms, as Sonnet. Because of an identity crisis he wrote Above the angels (1929) with new surrealistic elements. I was a Dumb and what I saw made me Two Dumbs -title cames from a Calderon drama- is a travel through vanguardist poetry, that remembers an ultraist -nearly extinguished- stream.

Cover by the author for
an Anthology (1980)
of Poems before 1939
   A third period of Alberti poetry begins about 1930 with I Have to Die Wearing my Own Shoes. He writes social humanized poetry because of his militancy in Communist Party that asked him clearness in his expression so that his poetry were understood by a large number of readers. He reached his highest point with Poet in the Street (1935).
 
   Spanish Civil War broke this tendency that produced, from exile, a big and varied work. Alberti misses Spain -Between the Carnation and the Sword (1941), High Tide (1944), Returns of the Living Remoteness (1952), Ballads and Songs from Parana (1954)- nearly until his death. Sea, from Argentina, joins and separates him, at the same time, from the earth that was "his people and his home".
 
    11.-  Sevillian Luis Cernuda (1902-1963), a pupil of Pedro Salinas, was the youngest poet in 27 Group. Many critics see him as the romantic that Spanish poetry never read in 19th. Century.

Retrato del autor
   His first book Profile of the air (1927) was not a success. He had better chance with Eclogue, Elegy, Ode (1928), a classic-poetry book or A River, a Love (1929), a surrealistic one.
 
   Forbidden Pleasures (1931) shows his social rebellion, his condition of damned poet and his homosexual inclination in order to sublimate his situation. He went on with this tendency, following Becquer's poetry in Where Forgetfulness live (1934) or other poets' one in Invocations (1936).
 
   This year he published the book Reality and Desire, whose title reflects the struggle of his whole work. This book will be amplified until the poet's death.

First edition of
Reality and Desire
   Ocnos (1942-1963) is the first important manifestation of his prose poetry. It will be followed by Variations on a Mexican Theme (1952).
 
   Clouds (1943) reflects pain because of exile after Spanish Civil War. Living in London, Cernuda could better read english romantic poets, like Wordsworth or T.S.Elliot besides Hölderlin the german one he translated into spanish. Now Cernuda shows a direct and single language and introduces monologs by characters as the one from the poem Lazaro.
 
   Like One Who Waits for Dawn (1947), Living not Beeing Living (1944-49) and Hours are numbered (1950-56) attend exile transition from U.S.A. to his new home in México, where he lived until the end of his days. His last book Chimera's Desolation (1956) can be the best one.

Posthumous edition of
Reality and Desire
   We find in Cernuda's poetry the projection of life in work, so coherent that we can speak of a poetical autobiography. His topics are, so to say, a survival of romantic ones: time, death, lost youth and also desire, Humanity, God...

First name
of Littoral
    12.-  Another poet of 1927 Group is Dámaso Alonso (Madrid, 1898-1990), poet and professor, who just published Pure Poems. Little Poems from Town (1921) -two modernist, religious and existencial books- before 1939.
 
   Emilio Prados (1899-1962) and Manuel Altolaguirre were both born in Malaga and founded review Littoral in 1926. The first one wrote before war books like Pursued Body unpublished until 1946. He stood out because of his bellicose revolutionary activity. Then he developed a really inspired personal lyric.
 
   Manuel Altolaguirre (1905-1959) collected his poems written before Civil War in Invited Islands (1936). He was a close friend of both Pedro Salinas and, specially Luis Cernuda who prepared an edition of his Complete Poems in 1960.
    13.-  Miguel Hernández (1910-1942) is one of the authors that better shows the literary change towards social compromise, from beginning of the 30s, because of Pablo Neruda's atraction, spirit of review Green Horse for Poetry. Like Federico Garcia Lorca he was one of the poets who most suffered in Republican party, until he died in prison because of tuberculosis neglected by authorities that made him prisoner.
 
   Moon Skilled (1933) was his first book of poems. It refutes the view of himself as a nearly uncultured shepherd that he tried to give. He showed cultural sources -a good knowledge of Mallarmé or Rilke- and good dealings with poets of his age, specially with his friend Ramon Sije, precious companion, dead in 1935. Moon Skilled is a dificult and hermetic book with classic strophes -as octaves- and avant-garde or neogongorist ones.

Moon Skilled (1933)
   A religious though confused stream can be read in Damaged Whistle ca. 1935 and a new poet will appear in The ray that does not stop (1936), who turns to spanish classic poetry. We should point up in this work his Elegy to Ramon Sije. With People's Wind (1937) cames war's echoes that will be emphasized in next posthumous books: Cancionero and Romancero of Absences (1938) and Man Watches (ca. 1939) that stayed lost during almost forty years.
 
   Miguel Hernandez's work shows an evolution from a beginner's hermetic poetry towards an essential one dealing with primary themes: love, death, struggle for life, poverty and liberty. Much of it is influenced by Pablo Neruda who taught him a part of his style. The fact is that his papers reveal different sides with ups and downs that make this poet a contradictory artist.

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