When was Jorge Guillen's Clamor written and what shifts in values can be detected when this work is compared to Guillen's earlier poetry?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Clamor corresponds to the poetical cycle of Jorge Guillen's career that belongs to the period of 1950-1963.

Clamor is the third of five major "ciclos" where Guillen explores the realities of life, and analyzes existence and the process of living either positively or with realistic angst. Clamor comes right after Cánticos (1919-1950). In Cánticos the poet focused on the joys of living. Life is viewed from a uniquely positive point of view. Since Guillen is so much younger during Canticos, he shows a tendency to see life with almost no flaw.

El balcón, los cristales,
Unos libros, la mesa.
¿Nada más esto? Sí,
Maravillas concretas.

As you can see, his verse is filled with imagery that appeals to the senses, pointing at everything that is right in the world. "El mundo está bien hecho" is one of the representative phrases ofCanticos,showing the poet at the zenith of his joie de vivre.

However, a radical turn comes with Clamor. Written during his exile in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and during the authoritatian government of Francisco Franco, who took over the ranks of the country from 1939 after the War, until 1975. Guillen is one of nearly half-million Spaniards who is basically forced out of his own country due to the extreme ways of the Francoist government. As a result, his poetry is angry and rebellious, expressing his frustration and angst against the dictatorship, which devours the pride and sense of those who suffer under its economic and social injustice.

For example, the poems we find inClamorare filled with naturalism in the form of stamps of life, described almost as if they were gory phtographs, where the worse aspects of human nature are included. Case in point, the very violent and bloody poem "Sangre Al Rio"

Llegó la sangre al río.
Todos los ríos eran una sangre,
Y por las carreteras
De soleado polvo
—O de luna olivácea—
Corría en río sangre ya fangosa
Y en las alcantarillas invisibles
El sangriento caudal era humillado
Por las heces de todos.

The vocabulary alone includes terminology that alludes to everything that is messy, uncomfortable, ugly, nasty: blood, sewage, mud, dust. All these elements intend to give the audience the same feeling of anger and disgust that Guillen feels. After all, he too is a victim of the dictatorship. He, too, had to give up his basic liberties and move away from the country that he loves so much.

For this reason, Clamor could very well be regarded as the rebellious period of Guillen's career, all due to the horrors that he witnesses as a result of the War and the Franco government.

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