Poem of Autumn Summary
The collection Poema del otoño, y otras poemas reflects the last stage of Darío’s literary career. The long title poem, “Poem of Autumn,” the most important work in this collection, alternates between lamenting mortality and affirming life. The poet looks at life through the lens of the autumn of his life, a time of meditation and reflection. The reflective spirit observes what has been and expresses hope for more of the same. At times the past provokes remorse, at other times joy and an accompanying melancholy. In either case the speaker longs for more of the sensual and the beautiful. The poet finds that savoring the flowers and the honey of the moment—that is, living in the present—revives the downcast spirit.
In advising those growing old to seek pleasure, he reflects Modernismo’s recognition of correspondences in the world. Expressing love and experiencing its pleasure enables humankind to participate in the universal force of creation. Human beings feel the surge of life in their blood just as the tree experiences the surge of life in the flowing of its sap. The human body, Darío asserts, contains the earth, the sun, and the sea. Consolation comes in recognizing the universal, timeless, cyclical qualities of life. Life, the poem confirms, unfolds as a journey to death, but the way is paved by love.
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Stavans, Ilan, ed. Introduction to Rubén Darío: Selected Writings. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.