Azul, a collection containing more stories than poems, demonstrates the new style and themes that Darío initiates in Spanish. Unlike conventional Spanish literature to this date, these works carry no moral purpose, describe no feats of heroism, and do not use any clichéd Spanish themes. The stories adopt a new worldly-wise tone, often suggesting Paris or some other place of mystery or intrigue. They evoke an erotic, sensual mood, create vivid, ethereal images, and describe the artist and the unappreciated role of art in a bourgeois society. They describe nymphs, fairies, and other characters that become symbolic or mythic.
Some of the stories Darío considered prose poems used the literary techniques of rhythm and repetition to achieve the musicality characteristic of his work. He reflects the inspiration of William Shakespeare in the story “El velo de la reina Mab” (“The Veil of Queen Mab”). Two stories, “El rey burgués” (“The Bourgeois King”) and “El pájaro azul” (“The Blue Parrot”), describe how a poet suffers for art. Ostracized by society in the first story and by his father in the second, the poet is cast off and forgotten
The poems introduce the Alexandrine sonnet in “Caupolicán” and further imitate French poetry in free verse, line length, and syntax. In “Venus,” the poet addresses the planet as a symbol of art and beauty and languishes in its silent response to his attraction. The collection dazzles with artistry.
Applebaum, Stanley, ed. and trans. Introduction to Cuentos y poesias/Stories and Poems: A Dual Language Book, by Rubén Darío. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 2002.
Derusha, Will, and Alberto Acereda, eds. Introduction to Songs of Life and Hope/Cantos de vida y esperanza, by Rubén Darío. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004.
Imbert, Enrique Anderson. “Rubén Darío.” Translated by Peter Latson. In Latin American Writers. Vol. 1 in The Scribner’s Writers Series. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989.
Jrade, Cathy L. “Socio-Political Concerns in the Poetry of Rubén Darío.” The Latin American Literary Review 18, no. 36 (1990): 36-49.
Pym, Anthony, “Strategies of the Frontier in Spanish-American Modernismo.” Comparative Literature 44, no. 2 (Spring, 1992): 161-173.
Stavans, Ilan, ed. Introduction to Rubén Darío: Selected Writings. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.