Biography of Jorge Guillén (1893-1984)

Poet, essayist, literary critic and Spanish University Professor, born in Valladolid on January 13, 1893 and died in Malaga on February 6, 1984. Author of a brief but intense poetic production which, on the basis of the avant-garde aesthetic criteria of pure poetry, served a sober language, calm and refined to enhance the balance and harmony of the world and celebrate the fullness of man in communion with nature, he/she is considered one of the greatest of 20th-century Spanish literature poets. A leading member of the poetic group known as the generation of 27, by the depth and quality of his lyrical work was honored in 1976 with the most relevant award of contemporary Hispanic literature, the Cervantes Prize, which went to his person in his first call.

He founded the magazine verse and prose (1927) by Juan Guerrero Ruiz and was Professor at the universities of Murcia (1926-1929) and Seville (1931-1938) and reader at Oxford (1929-1931). After being jailed during the Civil War because of his Republican views, in 1938 he/she was exiled to United States of America where he/she became professor at Wellesley College (1940-1957). After his retirement he/she traveled through America and Europe and in 1961 he/she married in Bogotá Irene Mochi Sismondi. On his return to Spain in 1975 received numerous tributes and honors national and international, such as the Cervantes Prize (1976) or in Italy the great prize of the Academy dei Lincei (1977), in addition to being appointed member of honour of the Royal Spanish Academy of language (1978).

His essential poetic work, which forms a whole unit under the title our air (1977-1979), consists of three books: Cántico, Clamor and tribute. The verses of song (1928) represent the top of pure, stylized and antirromantica but always human poetry. Cry (grouping of Maremagnum, 1957; Who will be at sea, 1960, at the height of the circumstances, 1963), is a collection of poems committed to the historic moment where the author exceeds the initial literary premises of the generation of 27. Tribute (1967) is a work of very varied theme, with special attention to the most important historical events in the life of the poet. After completing our air, Jorge Guillén published three other books of poems: and other poems (1973), natural history (1980) and end (1981).

As for his essay work, in addition to the compilation of his lessons at Harvard posted with the title language and poetry (1962), include the argument of the work (1969), in lathe Gabriel Miró: brief correspondence (1973) and the collection of articles and studies song. Writings of the 1920s (1980).


Born into a well-to-do family belonging to the Spanish liberal bourgeoisie, he/she received during his childhood and youth a careful academic training, in keeping with the living natural intelligence which had manifested from his early childhood. He/She began his studies at the Colegio de San Gregorio in his native Valladolid, and at the age of sixteen he/she was sent by his parents - who had four other children after the birth of the eldest son Jorge - to expand their knowledge in Switzerland. In the Swiss city of Fribourg you had the opportunity to acquire a splendid command of the French language, language that would later serve him very useful when forging their cultural background; and, on his return to Spain, he/she enrolled at the Central University of Madrid to follow the career of philosophy and literature, studies which concluded, in 1913, in the University of Granada.

Once graduated, he/she guided his steps along the path of teaching, work that should be a common note in other authors of his generational group, as locals Dámaso Alonso (1898-1990) and Pedro Salinas (1891-1951). Precisely in this last happened Jorge Guillén in the readership of language and Spanish literature at the Sorbonne University, where he/she remained from 1917 until 1923. During this fruitful stage in Paris, had the opportunity to establish contacts with some of the flagship of the gala literature figures, among which was the great poet and essayist Paul Valéry (1871-1945), genuine representation of the current intellectual who, under the label of pure poetry, influenced both the young poets of his time (including the own Jorge Guillén(, who, during his tenure at the gala capital, began to write his first poems under the direct influence of the own Valery). Read also, in those years, with relish of French Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) and works of Walt Whitman (1819-1892), American poets who, along with the aforementioned, laid the foundations of the aesthetic principles of the author from Valladolid. From 1920, with this splendid training experience under his belt, began to send to Spain its first-time poems, which saw the light in some literary publications of wide dissemination as pen and Revista de Occidente. Soon acquired, thanks to these poems, a well-deserved prestige that placed him among the young promises of the Spanish lyric of the moment.

After being married in the town of Sena, Jorge Guillén returned to Spain to study at the Central University of Madrid for the doctorate in letters (1924); and, after obtaining the degree of doctor, won by opposition Professor of Spanish literature at the University of Murcia, where he/she taught between 1926 and 1929. Well integrated in their new professional destination, he/she soon began to relate to the key figures of the local culture, such as the journalist and literary critic Juan Guerrero Ruiz (1893-1955), with whom he/she founded in 1927 the magazine verse and prose; but, always eager to learn on-site about the latest artistic and intellectual who, at the time, flourished with astonishing fertility in Europe of the avant-garde, requested a reader at the University of Oxford square and, once obtained, he/she abandoned the murcian classrooms to continue teaching in England from 1929 to 1931. Before leaving, he/she had given to print his first book of poems, published under the eloquent title of song (1928).

On his return to Spain, which coincided with the proclamation of the second Republic, Valladolid poet was Professor of Spanish literature at the University of Seville, which remained for most of the Decade of the 1930s (1931-1938). Jorge Guillén had already had occasion to visit the Andalusian capital in 1927, forming part of a large group of young poets who celebrated the third centenary of the disappearance of the Bard cordovan Luis de Góngora (1561-1627), cultural event that comes traditionally being noted by critics as one of the binders the generational group events at the Ateneo de Sevilla.

Its liberal character and its obvious sympathies towards the Republican regime, in full Civil War he/she was arrested and imprisoned in Pamplona. Thanks to the efforts of his father, soon he/she was released, although it was disabled by the Ministry of education for the exercise of any public office. So, in 1938 clandestinely left Spain after crossing the Bidasoa walk by one of its bridges, to start a voluntary exile that would last for several decades.

From France, Jorge Guillén moved immediately to the United States of America, where continued deploying an intense and fruitful teaching activities in the classrooms of the Wellesley College (in the State of Massachusetts). He/She was a professor at the Centre from 1940 until 1957, period of his life marked by pain and sadness, where the nostalgia of exile joined the miserable losses of some of the people most wanted by the Valladolid poet, as his wife and his friend Pedro Salinas (who died in his brahmin exile in 1951). During this stage, was also devoted to polishing and increase the poems of song, whose fourth and final edition was born in Argentina under the title of song. Faith of life (Buenos Aires, 1950).

In 1957 appeared, also in southern lands, the first installment of his poetry collection Clamor, published under the title of Maremagnum (Buenos Aires, 1957). Subsequently, this work was increased with two volumes of verses: who will be in the Sea (Buenos Aires, 1960) and rise to the occasion (Buenos Aires, 1963). Upon reaching the age of retirement in 1958, he/she was invited to teach a course of Spanish literature professor Charles Eliot Norton of Harvard University, where his brilliant master, received lessons with great anticipation by all the students, gave rise to a volume of essay and criticism entitled language and poetry (Madrid, 1962).

Now retired, made frequent tours of America and Europe, and visited Spain on several occasions. October 11, 1961, next to reach the condition of septuagenario, married in Bogotá to Irene Mochi Sismondi, and continued the rest of his life devoted to the poetic creation, to print in full old age new volumes of verses as a tribute (Milan, 1967), and other poems (Buenos Aires, 1973), natural history (Madrid, 1980) and Final (Madrid1981).

After the death of Franco (1892-1975), Jorge Guillén returned to Spain and settled in Malaga, in search of the mild climate of the Mediterranean Andalusian. Received with honors from Patriarch of Hispanic literature of the 20th century, was subject to numerous tribute of admiration and respect in different cities of Spain, both by institutions and academic bodies, such intellectual forums and public authorities from across the country, which was baptized with its name colleges, institutes, libraries, cultural centers and urban crossings. Award-winning - as already indicated above - with the Cervantes Prize (1976), was appointed member of honour of the Royal Spanish Academy in 1978, and honored with other many national and international awards (as the Grand Prize of the Academia dei Lincei, which was given him in Italy in 1977). Amid this unanimous recognition, he/she died in Malaga city starting in 1984, shortly after having served the ninety-one years of age.


Since his first forays into the poetic creation, Jorge Guillén conceived his work as a whole unit to that well could be collected in a single book, as in fact happened, at the end of the 1970s, when the sum of his lyrical - or, better to say, the sum of the books of poems that he/she had written to date - was published under the title of our air (Barcelona(: Seix Barral, 1977-1979). The poet himself launched this project of global work with successive revision and reworking of song, his directorial debut, which happened to contain seventy-five poems in its first edition (Madrid, 1928) to three hundred in its final version (Buenos Aires, 1950). In the two first appearances of this volume of verses (1928-1936), Guillén was presented as one of the undisputed masters of pure poetry, perhaps as the poet of the generation of 27 that best had managed to capture the intellectual and aesthetic concerns of Paul Valéry, the creator of this current. These early poems left good patent disregard for the Valladolid poet towards the already outdated romantic sentimentality, and his desire to achieve a sober, refined and stylized voice, weird as it may seem, was not framed within this "dehumanization of poetry" which was much talked about in those years; and was not the first time Guillen a dehumanised poetry itself because, despite his intellectual coldness, it was recreated in the experience of most immediately and threw on the fly a vitalist cry that exalted the everyday life, the joy of the small experiences and sensations routine, the living presence of the man surrounded by his things and seemingly insignificant landscapes: "I said: everything already full." / An alamo vibrated. / Silver sheets / rang with love. / The Greens were gray / love was Sun. / Then, noon, / a bird plunged / your singing in the wind / with such adoration / which was sung / under the wind flower / grown between the grain / higher. It was me, / that instant Center / so much around, / who saw it all / full for a God. / I said: All, complete. "/ 12 on the clock!" ("Noon in the clock", Canticle).

Jorge Guillén, "Beato armchair" (Canticle).

Poetry, because, mid-day and fullness; poetry day and solar front night weary to the tedium by the romantics; and poetry also of the immediate, everyday life (air, the morning, the Sun, a bird, flower, etc.), and the least that wrapped around the man, makes you feel such fulfillment center: "air: nothing, nothing, / or with a very secret, / or without matter this time, / nothing, almost nothing: Heaven." [...] / / To a continuous creation / - am air - submit. / Air in transparency! "Sea / Supreme Lordship" ("air", Canticle). This is the lesson simple and humble, but joyful and lively, providing the two first deliveries of song, later amended by two new editions (1945-1950) in which this initial optimism of the poet are going devaluing gradually to other more serious considerations of moral, social, and cultural significance.

This more pessimistic view of the world and of the human being is emphasized, elaborating on the themes and motifs of the two latest editions of song, in the first installment of Clamor, significantly entitled Maremagnum (Buenos Aires, 1957): "[...] Arises the frown of hatred and we shoot / with its sulfur so vile a Rapture / destroyer itself, that face / says: more me me me combat. [...] / / And the man is consumed every human, / rage, terror, humiliation and conquest. / Is convinced to hostile gun in hand. "/ The thirsty more thirst: that resist it [...]" ("Chord", Maremagnum [cry]). Previous experience reflected by the first two editions of song (the elevation of the spirit from the feelings and impressions daily to the intuition of the harmony of everything), Guillen went on to note in his new verses the existence of pain, the fleeting nature of beings and things, limitations - in the end - of life; so now that same language sober, elegant and precise - one could say even that with claims of accuracy mathematics-that served in the first two deliveries of song to exalt the round perfection of the world and be in harmony, is put at the service of other themes and motifs that reveal the anguish and desolation, also from contemplation - already not joyful, but disturbing and desasosegada - of such everyday items as they may be some old shoes: "I die! They have lived / with fidelity: Christians / servers that are honored / and enjoy helping, / / pleasing his Lord, / a tired Walker, / about to prefer / the stillness of mind and feet. [...] / / Everything Announces me a ruin / which escapes me. Brokenness / mortal corrode decorum. / Flee. "Spectra shoes!" ("Death of a pair of shoes", that will give the Sea [cry]). Fruit of this new attitude towards the things that surround him, the poet also turns his eyes to the present and is more engaged with the historic moment, especially in the third and final installment of cry, to rise to the occasion (Buenos Aires, 1963): "Oh, homeland, / with bad parents and bad children / or perhaps nothing more hapless / in the great embarrassment of a crisis / that not just never" ("Spanish wake"(, a height of circumstances [cry]). In this third part of Clamor, Jorge Guillén reveals, in addition, abundant peculiarities which distance you initials aesthetic premises of the generation of 27, premises, for what here is discovered, were never theirs.

The third great poems of Jorge Guillén (after four editions of song and three independent deliveries comprising cry) was born in Italy at the end of the 1960s, under the title of honor (Milan, 1967). Already in full old age, the Valladolid poet decided to pay tribute in this work to people, works, and historical events that greater footprint had left in his life, some well next to the vital adventures of the author, but other much more distant in time and yet, always very present at his side: "the air is serene, / by clarity gives more space"", / teacher, when it sounds / the lira to your Horacio / it was not more faithful, nor gave more glory to the Thracian" ("Fray Luis de León", homage).

To be properly guided by the poetic route traced by these three major Guillén works, and carefully follow the evolution of the tone and content of his poetic production, is enormously useful to attend the subtitles that the author placed each one of them, authentic 'tags' marking their tastes, purposes and priorities, etc. Cry - as he/she has already been scored above - was, in his fourth and final output of the printing press, the subtitle of "Faith of life"; Cry was perfectly characterized by its subtitle of "Story time"; and tribute, on the other hand, could not have exhibited another additive on its cover that was not that of "Meeting of lives".

The dedication of Guillén to the cultivation of the verse until the end of its long existence that led other collections of poems when their aspiration to achieve a unified and comprehensive work already seemed definitely reached. Aware of this, Valladolid vate titled his next book of poems - published when because it had met the eighty years of age - with the deliberate publishing hose of and other poems (Buenos Aires, 1973), giving to understand that it was an apparently marginal work, something like a superfluous added more destined to satisfy the curiosity of the criticism - always eager to possess a thorough knowledge of the production of an author - that provide substantial news to the already in Cántico, Clamor and tribute. However, many of the compositions of this late delivery date back to high heights of poetic intensity, and some of them have been fixed in the memory of the reader as indispensable in any anthological selection of his work: "Spanish to marchamartillo: / the anathema in the Pocket." Suddenly defending your faith / with the gun or the foot. Sometimes, however, sparks / to the bitter sunlight. In always a Ferris wheel lathe, / stays on the sidelines of history. "Spanish to marchamartillo: / shoes with much brightness" ("Civil Garland", de and other poems). The book consists of a central part, "Poetic Res", in which Guillén meditations about the poetic fact are of notable interest; and other sections that are discover unsuspected facets in his lyrical career, as titled "satires" and "Epigrams".

Rather less dispensable most contributed, certainly his next poetry collection, very natural history (Madrid, 1980), perhaps in the whole of his work. But was not the same that was, to the dessert, his latest book of poems, lucid and resignedly entitled Final (Madrid, 1981), in which are very pleasant and significant clarification or variations on his previous poetry.

Include, in the end, the work of Guillén as essayist and literary critic, reflected not only in the compilation of their lessons in Harvard - language and poetry (1962) - but also in other writings so valuable for the student of contemporary Spanish literature as his famous preface to the works of García Lorca (1898-1936), his essay the argument of the work (1969)his philological research work on lathe Gabriel Miró: brief correspondence (1973) and its collection of articles and studies song. Writings of the 1920s (1980). And there is also record of his effort to introduce in Spain some of the texts most representative of world literature at the beginning of the 20th century, such as the marine Cemetery (1920), Paul Valéry, which Valladolid poet poured into Spanish in 1929.

Jorge Guillén, "I close my eyes" (Canticle).


BALCELLS, José María. Jorge Guillén a Antonio Gamoneda (León: Universidad de León, service publications, 1998).

CARO ROMERO, Joaquin. Jorge Guillén (Madrid: EPESA, 1973).

Carter, Silvia and MENESES, Carlos. Jorge Guillén (Gijón: Ed. Júcar, 1981).

DARMANGEAT, Pierre. Antonio Machado, Pedro Salinas, Jorge Guillen (Madrid: Insula, 1969).

DEBICKI, Andrew P. poetry of Jorge Guillén (Madrid: Ed. Gredos, 1984).

DÍAZ DE CASTRO, Francisco. The poetry of Jorge Guillén: three trials (Palma de Mallorca: University Press, 1986).

Díez DE REVENGA TORRES, Francisco Javier. Jorge Guillén. The poet and our world (Barcelona: Anthropos, 1993).

Garcia PARRA, María Luz. The metric in song, by Jorge Guillén (Valladolid: Universidad de Valladolid, Servicio de Publicaciones, 1990).

Garcia PARRA, María Luz. Rhythm in song, by Jorge Guillén (Valladolid: Universidad de Valladolid, Servicio de Publicaciones, 1993).

Gonzalez wheel, Joaquin. Reality and Jorge Guillén (Madrid: Ínsula, 1962).

MARTIN, José GUERRERO. Jorge Guillén. Keys to a fidelity (Valladolid: Junta de Castilla y León, Consejería de Educación y Cultura, 1997).

MARTIN, José GUERRERO. Jorge Guillén: its roots. (Reminiscences of the step) (Valladolid: Ed. Minon, 1982).

Stone, Antonio. Jorge Guillén (Valladolid: Junta de Castilla y León, 1986).

POLO DE BERNABÉ, José Manuel. Consciousness and language in the work of Jorge Guillén (Madrid: Editora Nacional, 1977).

QUINTANA DOCIO, Francisco. The urban poetry of Jorge Guillén in the context of the Spanish lyric (Valladolid: Diputación Provincial de Valladolid, 1991).

RUIZ DE CONDE, Justina. The American song of Jorge Guillén (Madrid: Maurico D'Ors, 1973).

SOLE and Salvador PALOMAR, José. Jorge Guillén. Poetry. Special study of song (Madrid: Alhambra Longman, 1992).