Other Literary Forms
Although Luis Cernuda is best known for his poetry, he was also a prolific essayist and critic. He published several works in prose, three of which, devoted to criticism, appeared during his lifetime. In his Estudios sobre poesía española contemporánea (1957; studies on contemporary Spanish poetry), Cernuda analyzes the most important trends in Spanish poetry since the nineteenth century. He bestows upon Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer the distinction of having reawakened poetry after more than one hundred years of lethargy, and he lauds Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo as the most important Spanish poet of the twentieth century. Cernuda’s Pensamiento poético en la lírica inglesa (siglo XIX) (1958; poetic thought in English lyricism), a study of the theory of poetry as practiced by nineteenth century British poets, reveals Cernuda’s deep appreciation of and attachment to English verse of the Romantic and Victorian periods. Many of Cernuda’s essays and magazine and newspaper articles—which appeared originally in such publications as Caracola, Litoral, Octubre, Cruz y raya, Heraldo de Madrid, and Insula—have been collected in the two-volume Poesía y literatura (1960, 1964; poetry and literature) and in Crítica, ensayos, y evocaciones (1970; criticism, essays, and evocations). Variaciones sobre tema mexicano (1952; variations on a Mexican theme), often referred to as poetic prose, is an affectionate reflection by the poet on the people of Mexico, their music, their art, their churches, and their poverty and misery. Mexico was the poet’s adopted homeland, after some years in what he perceived to be alien environments, and he felt warmed by the Mexicans, their culture, and their climate, so reminiscent of his native Andalusia. Ocnos (1942, 1949, 1964) is a meditation upon time, a prose poem that becomes the lyrical confesson of a poet writing about himself and his art. Because it contains Cernuda’s analysis of his work, this volume is a useful companion to his poetry. Cernuda also undertook the translation into Spanish of the poetry of Friedrich Hölderlin, Paul Éluard, William Wordsworth, and William Blake, as well as plays by William Shakespeare. He did not devote much effort to fiction, leaving behind only three short pieces: “El indolente” (“The Indolent One”), “El viento en la colina” (“The Wind on the Hill”), and “El sarao” (the dancing party), all published in the collection Tres narraciones (1948; three narratives).