Poem of Autumn Summary

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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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.


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Applebaum, Stanley, ed. and trans. Introduction to Cuentos y poesias/Stories and Poems: A Dual Language Book, by Rubén Darío. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 2002.

Derusha, Will, and Alberto Acereda, eds. Introduction to Songs of Life and Hope/Cantos de vida y esperanza, by Rubén Darío. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004.

Imbert, Enrique Anderson. “Rubén Darío.” Translated by Peter Latson. In Latin American Writers. Vol. 1 in The Scribner’s Writers Series. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989.

Jrade, Cathy L. “Socio-Political Concerns in the Poetry of Rubén Darío.” The Latin American Literary Review 18, no. 36 (1990): 36-49.

Pym, Anthony, “Strategies of the Frontier in Spanish-American Modernismo.” Comparative Literature 44, no. 2 (Spring, 1992): 161-173.

Stavans, Ilan, ed. Introduction to Rubén Darío: Selected Writings. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.