Pedro Salinas’s nine volumes of poetry can be divided into three groups, with each group representing a stage in his poetic development. In Presagios (presages), Certain Chance, and Fábula y signo (fable and sign), the poet reflects seriously on his inner and outer world, preoccupied with the creative process and with the deceptive nature of reality. The second period is his love cycle, for which he is best known: My Voice Because of You, Razón de amor (love’s reason), and Largo lamento. The final three volumes make up the poetic production of Salinas in exile. The Sea of San Juan: A Contemplation, composed during the two especially happy years he spent in Puerto Rico, is a love-filled portrayal of the Caribbean Sea. Todo más claro y otros poemas (all more clear and other poems) combines the poet’s positive reflections on the art of poetry with his anguish over the ravages of war, uncontrolled technology, and other aspects of modern life. Confianza (confidences) continues these themes, but here Salinas also communicates his hope and confidence in the future. Although differences of style and focus can be seen in the three phases, they overlap considerably, and there is no doubt that the poetry of Salinas forms an integral whole, in a voice that intensifies from Presagios to Confianza.
The poems of the first stage show Salinas’s early attempts to come to terms with the act of creating poetry. The poet must face material reality, internalize it, and somehow transform it into a purer, more external reality. In the poem “Suelo” (“Soil”), for example, the soil or ground represents external reality. In a simple chain of connections, Salinas links it with artistic creation and with a newer, more permanent vision: “on the soil the feet are planted,” “on the feet the body erect,” “on the body the head firm,” “in the lee of the forehead, pure idea,” “in the pure idea, the tomorrow, the...
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