Selected Writings of Juan Ramón Jiménez

Selected Writings of Juan Ramón Jiménez

Juan Ramón Jiménez


translated by HR Hays; edited with preface by Eugenio Florit

this is a very nice collection of works by a now-neglected 20th century Spanish poet. I've uploaded an edition of 50 poems. This anthology translates a large variety of poems, along with prose poems, biographical sketches on Spanish and Latin American personalities (Ruben Dario, Enrique Granados, etc), essays ("Aristocracy and Democracy", "Poetry and Literature"), and a short collection of aphorisms. All in all, the most thorough English-language introduction you're likely to find of this Nobel laureate.

Juan Ramón Jiménez - Biographical
Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958) belonged to the group of writers who, in the wake of Spain's loss of her colonies to the United States (1898), staged a literary revival. The leader of this group of modernistas, as they called themselves, Rubén Darío, helped Juan Ramón to publish Almas de violeta (Souls of Violet), 1900, his first volume of poetry. The years between 1905 to 1912 Ramón Jiménez spent at his birthplace, Moguer, where he wrote Elejías puras (Pure Elegies), 1908, La soledad sonora (Sonorous Solitude), 1911, and Poemas mágicos y dolientes (Magic Poems of Sorrow), 1911. His early poetry was influenced by German Romanticism and French Symbolism. It is strongly visual and dominated by the colours yellow and green. His later style, decisive, formally ascetic, and dominated by white, emerges in the poetic prose of his delicate Platero y yo (Platero and I), 1914, and is fully developed in Diario de un poeta recién casado (Diary of a Newly-Wed Poet), 1917, written during a trip to the United States, as well as in Eternidades (Eternities), 1918, Piedra y cielo (Stone and Sky), 1919, Poesía (Poetry), 1923, and Belleza (Beauty), 1923. In the twenties, Ramón Jiménez became the acknowledged master of the new generation of poets. He was active as a critic as well as an editor of literary journals. In 1930 he retired to Seville to devote himself to the revision of his earlier work. Six years later, as the result of the Spanish Civil War, he left Spain for Puerto Rico and Cuba. He remained in Cuba for three years and, in 1939, went to the United States, which became his residence until 1951, when he moved definitely to Puerto Rico. During these years Juan Ramón taught at various universities and published Españoles de tres mundos (Spaniards of Three Worlds), 1942, a book of prose portraits, and several collections of poems, among them Voces de mi copla (Voices of My Song), 1945, and Animal de fondo (Animal of Depth). The latter book, perhaps his best, clearly reveals the religious preoccupations that filled the last years of the poet's life. Selections from most of his works were published in English translation in Selected Writings of Juan Ramón Jiménez and Three Hundred Poems, 1903-1953. Ramón Jiménez died in Puerto Rico in 1958.

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

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«I accept with gratitude the undeserved honour which this illustrious Swedish Academy has seen fit to bestow upon me. Besieged by sorrow and sickness, I must remain in Puerto Rico, unable to participate directly in the solemnities. And so that you may have the living testimony of my own intimate feelings gathered in day-by-day association of friendship firmly established in this land of Puerto Rico, I have asked Rector Jaime Benitez of its University, where I am a member of the faculty, to be my personal representative before you in all ceremonies connected with the Nobel Prize awards of 1956.»

I have found such affection for Juan Ramón Jiménez and such understanding for his works that I trust you will excuse me if I single out for special thanks one among you so wise and penetrating that I am certain all others will be glad to be recognized in him. I refer to your own great poet Hjalmar Gullberg, whose presentation this afternoon we shall always remember and whose rendition of Juan Ramón Jiménez' poetry has brought to the Scandinavian people the clear purity of our Andalusian master.

Juan Ramón Jiménez has asked me also to say this: «My wife Zenobia is the true winner of this Prize. Her companionship, her help, her inspiration made, for forty years, my work possible. Today, without her, I am desolate and helpless.»

I have heard from the trembling lips of Juan Ramón Jiménez some of the most touching expressions of despair. For Juan Ramón is such a poet that his every word reflects his own internal kingdom. We fervently hope that someday his sorrow will be expressed in writing and that the memory of Zenobia will provide renewed and everlasting inspiration to that great master of Hispanic letters, Juan Ramón Jiménez, whom you have honoured so signally today.

Prior to the speech, R. Granit, Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, made the following remarks about the Spanish poet: «Juan Ramón has been called a poet for poets, but the layman can approach him if willing first to partake passively of the sheer visual beauty of his landscape, lovely Andalusia, its birds, its flowers, pomegranates, and oranges. Once inside his world, by leisurely reading and rereading, one gradually awakens to a new «living insight» into it, refreshed by the depth and richness of a rare poetical imagination. While doing so I recalled a conversation between the painter Degas and the poet Mallarmé, as related by Paul Valéry. Degas, struggling with a sonnet, complained of the difficulties, and finally exclaimed: ‹And yet I do not lack ideas...› Mallarmé with great mildness replied: ‹But Degas, one does not create poetry with ideas. One does it with words.› If ever there has been inspired use of words, it is in Juan Ramón Jiménez' poetry, and in this sense he is a poet for poets. This is probably also the reason why, within the whole Spanish-speaking world, he is regarded as the teacher and master.

The literary awards may involve decisions more difficult than the scientific ones. Yet we should be grateful to the founder for having included a literary Prize in his will. It adds dignity to the other awards and to the act itself; it emphasizes the human and cultural element which the two worlds of creative imagination have in common; and perhaps, in the end, it expresses deeper insights than scientists can ever achieve.»

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

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Selected Writings of Juan Ramón Jiménez