Claudio Rodríguez Andrew P. Debicki - Essay

Andrew P. Debicki

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

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.