Blas de Otero Essay - Critical Essays


Blas de Otero was fond of embedding his own name in his poems, and he did not shrink from acknowledging by name other poets whom he admired in his own work. The title Ángel fieramente humano (angel fiercely human) is admittedly taken from Luis de Góngora y Argote; Esto no es un libro (this is not a book) is from Walt Whitman; and Historias fingidas y verdaderas is from Miguel de Cervantes; Otero also makes ample use of epigraphs for his poems, taken from the Bible, popular Spanish songs, Saint John of the Cross, Antonio Machado (“A solitary heart is not a heart at all”), Francis Thompson, Augusto Ferrán, Rubén Darío (“Shall we be silent now in order to cry tomorrow”), and Luis de León.

Otero addresses poems to Machado, Quevedo, the Basque poet Aresti, Nobel Prize winner Vicente Aleixandre, the Turkish Communist poet Nazim Hikmet (“Considering how you have moved me/ at this time when tenderness is so difficult”), Paul Éluard, and Miguel Hernández, and recognizes by name as kindred spirits Pablo Neruda, the Bulgarian poet Nicolai Vaptzarov, Rafael Alberti, César Vallejo, Gabriel Celaya, and León Felipe.

Similarly, he made no secret of his scorn for the idea that poetry, not accessible to everyone, is for the “immense minority,” as advanced by Juan Ramón Jiménez; thus was inspired his own commitment to the “immense majority.” Otero was also vocal in denying Unamuno’s influence on his thinking, an idea put forth by the critic Emilio Alarcos Llorach, and his attitude toward Cervantes and his knight errant is complicated by his resentment that both of them helped to perpetuate the myth of idealism.