Claudio Rodríguez Essay - Critical Essays

Rodríguez, Claudio

Introduction

Andrew P. Debicki

Thanks to this volume [Poesía 1953–1966] we now have available the complete poetry to date of one of Spain's most important young poets. Like most of his contemporaries, Rodríguez … uses an everyday vocabulary and builds his poems around everyday scenes, common objects and familiar happenings. But his work is far from being merely descriptive or anecdotal: the reality which he presents us comes to embody and vivify basic human themes and concerns. By carefully controlling words, expressions and details, Rodríguez makes us discover in seemingly ordinary happenings the key patterns of our existence…. What gives success to this process is the poet's way of making us feel his theme without ever converting it into a mere message, without losing the sense of a concrete reality and experience.

In the first two books included in this volume, Don de la ebriedad (1953) and Conjuros (1958), natural scenes and events are contemplated by a speaker who draws wider implications from them. In the third book, Alianza y condena (1966), the process is tightened: the wider themes are implicit rather than explicit. Yet the perspective we have of the objects and events described always leads us beyond them. Like the earlier books, this one is written primarily in free verse, although the expression is more concentrated, the periods shorter and the surface tone less emphatic. The impact comes from the words themselves, not from the speaker's exclamation or the tone adopted. All of Rodríguez's books consider the quest for a fuller and purer vision of life, the desire to find one's place in life's patterns, the desire to transcend the limitations of self and of one's literal existence. What counts is that they make these themes meaningful. (p. 456)

Andrew P. Debicki, in Books Abroad (copyright 1972 by the University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 46, No. 3, Summer, 1972.

Mike Mudrovic

Claudio Rodríguez must be considered one of the foremost poets writing in Spanish today. It is little wonder that, for those of us who hold his poetry in such high esteem, the release of a new volume after an eleven-year silence should create immediate excitement…. The new volume [Elvuelo de la celebración] is a much different experience than its immediate predecessor [Alianza y condena] but continues to demonstrate Rodríguez's fundamental and intriguing approach to the act of poetic creation.

In all of his books, Rodríguez not only writes individual poems, but fits these poems into a total pattern in the structure of the volume. El vuelo de la celebración presents a unified paradoxical experience, as evidenced by its structure. The first section of the volume, "Herida en cuatro tiempos," sets the atmosphere and the direction of the volume. Each of the four poems of this section then has a direct relationship with the four remaining sections of the volume. The experience this creates seems first to describe a serious loss suffered by the speaker and then to show the various ways in which he comes to grips with his subsequent situation. The spectrum of tones—all intimate and personal—is astounding. A few of the poems that immediately stand out are "Herida," "Arena," "Ciruelo silvestre," "Lo que no se marchita" and "Noviembre." Throughout the work there appears to be a constant struggle between desolation and hopefulness, as the title possibly indicates.

The final poem bears out this duality. The elegy is traditionally a lament caused by the death of an actual person or the poet's contemplation of the tragic aspects of life. But in this lament the poet also finds consolation in the contemplation of some permanent principle. Thus "Elegía desde Simancas" presents the paradoxical resolution of the poet's experience throughout the poems of El vuelo de la celebración.

This new volume appears to be a transitional work in the context of Rodríguez's lyric production. In spite of some obvious changes in style and tone as compared to his earlier works, El vuelo de la celebración maintains an intrinsic appeal that is exciting and fulfilling to discover. More and more, Claudio Rodríguez is rising to a preeminent position in Spanish poetry. (p. 88)

Mike Mudrovic, in World Literature Today (copyright 1978 by the University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 52, No. 1, Winter, 1978.