Biography of Rubén Darío (1867-1916)

Nicaraguan writer, born in San Pedro de Metapa, town known today as Ciudad Darío, on January 18, 1867 and died in León (Nicaragua) in 1916, whose real name was Félix Rubén García Sarmiento. It is one of the greatest poets of all time in the Spanish language and the highest representative of the Hispanic-American modernism.


He was the son of Manuel García and Rosa Sarmiento, who were separated when Ruben was a young child. The future poet was left in the care of his aunt grandmother Bernarda Sarmiento and the husband of this, Colonel Félix Ramírez. In León, city where he lived his new family, studied elementary, first at a school run by Jesuits and then under the tutelage of Master José Leonard, of hispano-polaco origin.

Rubén Dario, portrayed by Daniel Vázquez Díaz.

He received a good humanistic training. But the family that raised him was not plenty of money, so couldn't go to College (apparently did not even complete their secondary studies).

From his childhood he showed a special inclination towards poetry. Neighbors called him "the child poet", and used to order her poetic compositions for the holidays. Why not found it difficult to publish some juvenile poems on the thermometer, the local newspaper. In those first poems of his youth, appeared in the press, he was very independent and progressive, defending freedom, justice and democracy.

Already with fourteen years he used to sign his writings under the name of Rubén Darius, because sounded it better than their real surnames (García Sarmiento). The name took him by his family, known as the of "the Dario". The fifteen years of age (1852), in view of the limited economic resources available in León, it went to Managua in the hope of obtaining a grant from the Government that would allow him to go to study abroad.

But authorities, uncomfortable with the social and political ardor of his first poems, only granted an aid to study at an Institute in the Nicaraguan city of Granada. He was then convinced that in his country it had little chance to thrive and went to El Salvador, where he deployed an intense poetic activity.

He returned to Nicaragua in 1883 and settled in Managua, where he collaborated with various newspapers until he found his own magazine, El Imparcial. Also a time he worked at the national library in Managua.

Then he went to Chile, where he spent three years (1886-1889). Eked out a living as a journalist, working in newspapers and magazines such as the time and the Electoral freedom (of Santiago) and El Heraldo (of Valparaiso).

He met Pedro Balmaceda Toro, writer and son of the President of the Government of Chile, who introduced him in the leading literary, political and social circles in the country. Balmaceda helped him to edit his first books in Chile, and encouraged him to enter a famous contest that Dario concurred with a poem by heroic tone ("epic hymn to the glories of Chile") and another lyric character and style becqueriano ("autumnal").

Dario won much fame with these and other poems in Chile, where expanded their literary knowledge with readings that would greatly influence his poetic career. Read to many Spanish romantic (Bécquer, Zorrilla, Campoamor...) and the great French poets of the 19th century (Victor Hugo, Lamartine, Théophile Gautier, Baudelaire, etc.).

In 1888 he appeared in Valparaíso (Chile) the poetry book blue, the first masterpiece of the young Nicaraguan poet, considered as the starting point of modernism.

Between 1889 and 1893, the poet lived in several Central American countries (Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Cuba, etc.). He worked as a journalism and became direct daily, while he continued to write poems. And married his first wife, Rafaelita Contreras, with whom he had a son (Rubén Darío Contreras).

His first trip to Spain was held in 1892, as a member of the diplomatic delegation of Nicaragua in the acts to commemorate the discovery of America. He then met the leading literary figures of the late 20th century Spain.

Upon his return to Nicaragua, he had news of the death of his wife, and in 1893, he married second wife Rosario Murillo. That same year visited other large cities (such as Paris and New York) who, along with his stay in Madrid, made him feel cosmopolitan (i.e., citizen of the world, that son of any country feel and is comfortable in all parts).

Monument to Rubén Darío. Managua.

Between 1893 and 1896 he lived in Buenos Aires, exerting a diplomatic position in the Argentine capital. There he wrote numerous poems and newspaper articles, and lived with the busiest writers and intellectuals (many of them, future great names of modernism).

The Argentine newspaper La Nacion sent as a correspondent to Spain in 1896, with the custom that write chronicles about the collapse of the Spanish Empire (were on the verge of losing the last colonies: Cuba and the Philippines).

It then entered a phase of his life that traveled relentlessly, enshrined as one of the towering figures of the Latin American letters: he toured many places in Europe (Spain, France, Italy, Hungary and Austria) and visited North Africa.

He returned to America several times, with different destinations: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, United States... and his Nicaragua home, where he was named editor of the newspaper La Union Cetroamericana and be paid him honours of maximum representative of the country.

But he always returned to Europe, to establish their residence in Madrid or Paris. Consuming large amounts of alcohol, so that, in 1913, he was very sick and tried a cure of rest in the Carthusian monastery of Valldemossa (Palma de Mallorca).

He then returned to America, and after a brief stay in Guatemala, it returned definitively to Nicaragua and, already very ill, was collected in the city of Leon, where he died on February 6, 1916.


The poetry of Ruben Dario, as beautiful as art, music and sound, influenced hundreds of writers from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Together with Garcilaso (s. XVI) and Luis de Góngora (XVI-XVII), Rubén Dario was one of the great innovators of the poetic language in Hispanic letters.


We can find the basic elements of his poetry in the prologues secular prose, songs of life and hope and wandering song. The pursuit of beauty that Ruben is hidden in reality is fundamental among them. For Ruben, the poet's mission is made accessible to the rest of the men the ineffable side of reality. To discover this ineffable side, the poet has the metaphor and symbol as main tools. Directly related to this is the rejection of the realist aesthetic and its escapism to fantastic scenarios, remote spatially and temporally in their reality.

It is the universal master of modernism, the highest representative of this trend all over the world. His three masterpieces marked the main stages in the evolution of this school: blue, secular prose and songs of life and hope.


Blue (1888) is considered the first great fully modernist poems, which leaves set formal models (stanzas, verse, vocabulary and syntax, musicality and sound types) and thematic (swans, gondolas, princesses, medieval splendor, oriental luxury, etc.) of this movement.

In secular prose (1896), modernist poetry in blue reaches its moment of maximum fullness and splendor.

Songs of life and hope (1905) represents the decline of modernism, and bitter and sad phase in the life of Ruben: topics such as death and despair take over of his verses. There is no luxury, splendor, or singing to sensual pleasure; but his new tone poems, remain master.

Songs of life and hope. Melancholy.

Other poems by Dario are: Abrojos (1887), Rimas (1887), El canto errante (1907), autumn poems and other poems (1910), dances (1913) gimnesias and singing to Argentina and other poems (1914)

"The barefooted dancer", El canto errante

In prose, Rubén Darío wrote several books of descriptions and impressions, and collections of articles, such as the rare (1896), contemporary Spain and pilgrimages, both 1901, caravan passes (1903) and solar lands (1904), tales such as "The good God", "Bitumen and blood", "The veil of Queen Mab" or "The death of the Empress of China", and the autobiography the life of Rubén Dario (1915). We keep also, though unfinished, the autobiographical novel the island of gold (1913).