Olga Prjevalinsky Ferrer (review date Spring-Summer 1962)

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 755

[Below, Ferrer reviews Ulibarrí's Al cielo se sube a pie, focusing on his use of imagery and the emergence of a personal poetic voice in the collection.]

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Fifty poems in search of heaven make up this book [Al cielo se sube a pie] of heterogeneous style and tone. Unity is achieved through the recurrence of themes.

Static poetry—this might be the definition of Sabine Ulibarrí's production. Quietude intensifies the relevance of a moment. For Ulibarrí it is the transference of a mood through lyric adjectivation. And this is so necessary to his poetry that even in the use of nouns, we feel that they have become void of essence and that it is only quality that exists and subsists. Thus, in the first poem, concerned with the snowclad night, by means of the combination "soft-marble" the noun has come to lose its density and consequently, one of its basic qualities and is left only with its unuttered whiteness, which is in keeping with the reiterative sequence of the concept of white in each line. Thus, the noun has been deprived of its substantivity, remaining with a merely adjectival purport.

Another circumstance of Sabine Ulibarrí's still, at times, motionless poetry dwells in the lack of verbal forms. Absence of action contributes effectively to concentration on a state of feeling, and this is what matters. The adjective carries out the greatest poetical function in Ulibarrí's poetry.

Sabine Ulibarrí is skillful in tracing a decorative representation of the outer world, which is genuine. He may use words borrowed from woman's environment of arts and toils and blends them beautifully with his description. Coloration is also true and personal. Were he to stop there, the poem would be perfectly achieved ("Crepúsculo," for example). However, a certain purposefulness, a self-imposed language and a will to bring in visceral images, divert the poem from its real meaning and its original beauty. Probably less self-conscious motivation would free it of what is actually alien to it, since breach of harmony does not necessarily bring about poetical impact.

Some short compositions are written almost in the traditional "copla" form. They are acute, graceful and abundant in the natural and wise poetical figures that have been used in Spanish folklore. The four line poem dedicated to Mima contains simple beauty and intricate systems of correlations, parallelisms, antitheses, and designs the symmetrical pattern of a strange solitaire. In this very short poem appears one of the fundamental themes of this book. Its first inspiration may have been, whether conscious or unconscious, that suggestive sentence by our very modern, seventeenth century poet, Luis de Góngora, "pisando la dudosa luz del día," "treading the doubtful light of day," but it is never said by Ulibarrí the way it had been said. Half of this book may well be an echo of this verse. This may be the justification for the cover's design, the contents of the volume, and the reason, as well, for the title, To Heaven One Climbs On Foot.

We referred before to some kind of visceral transference. These anatomical allusions to blood, veins, bones, flesh, toes, appear often in the author's poems, however, without opening widely the door into surrealistic imagery.

Some poems, and especially "Mujer imagen," "Vértigo," have a dual and a tertiary rhythm that is extremely satisfying. These poems, like some other ones, enclose an internal consonance and contain stanzas of an elaborate structure of correlations, perhaps not apparent at first sight, but very gratifying.

The play upon words of similar sound, dissimilar meaning, yields casual and curious effects that are agreeable.

The metaphor is very unusual in this book, almost absent. There is one which has the role of a definition of the cloud:...

(The entire section contains 11873 words.)

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