Revolutionary political ideology is blended with Roman Catholic theology in Ernesto Cardenal’s poetry. Like Pablo Neruda, he hopes to motivate readers to change social injustices. His overt messages do not overshadow their poetic forms, and technical mastery is not compromised by theme. Cardenal’s poetry is not just his second calling. Rather, it serves as an integral part of his first calling, operating as a tool of his spiritual mission to convert and enlighten. His poems reveal hard and ugly truths about Nicaragua and contemporary societies as they evangelize.
He developed the concept of exteriorismo with his poet friend José Coronel Utrecho. Through this technique, words present the world directly through its object rather than by abstraction. Cardenal referred to impure poetry as that seeming closer to prose for its prosaic references. Interiorista poetry is composed of abstract or symbolic words that have traditionally poeticconnotations. Utrecho and Cardenal believed that the only poetry that could express the Latin American reality and reach the people in a revolutionary way was exteriorista. Cardenal’s presentation of prosaic elements is innovative, and he connects images through techniques of montage, interpolation, and intertextuality.
Among the most militant political poems that serve as a call to action, “La hora cero” (“Zero Hour”) epitomizes Cardenal’s...
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