Biography of Blas de Otero (1916-1979)

Spanish poet born in Bilbao (Vizcaya) on March 15, 1916 and died on June 29, 1979 in Majadahonda (Madrid). Author of an intense and dazzling poetic production part of a charged religious sentiment to enter fully the subject of social poetry and end up calling for a firm commitment to peace and human solidarity, is regarded as one of the poets of Spanish letters from the second half of the 20th century.


Born in a family of wealthy Basque middle class, had access since childhood to a careful academic training, which started in a Jesuit College where they instilled in him a strong religious consciousness against that, years later, would become desperately poet (or, at least, against this puerile certainty of the existence of a just and kind God that)at full maturity of consciousness, does not respond to the doubts and sorrows of those who both seem to need it). In his teens, he/she lived alternately between Bilbao and Madrid, city - the latter - in which graduated from high school. Then he/she lived in Barcelona and, years later, he/she traveled abroad and settled for a time in Paris, where he/she frequented forums and artistic and intellectual cenacles of the gala capital and came into contact with the political thought of left-wingers, who moved him to visit different world governed by socialist regimes (Cuba, the USSR and China).

Blas de Otero, portrayed by Álvaro Delgado.

At the Central University of Madrid had studied higher laws, career that culminated in the University of Valladolid (according to statements made by the own Blas de Otero Dámaso Alonso, prologue of one of his books, also began studies of philosophy and letters, though he/she soon abandoned this career and devoted himself to teaching to earn a living). Devoted fully to the poetic creation, just he/she practiced law, except during a brief period of time after the Civil War, where he/she served as the lawyer of an industrial entity Biscayne. At the beginning of the 1950s, he/she worked in an iron mine of La Arboleda (Vizcaya), where he/she met other illustrious designers of the moment, as the painters Agustín Ibarrola and Ismael Fidalgo.

Was, by then, a renowned poet and a regular collaborator in the main Spanish cultural publications, as magazines Escorial, the island of mice - where he/she published several poems that anticipated one of his masterpieces, roll of consciousness (Barcelona, 1951) - and belfry - which left printed his famous sonnet "Shame", which provoked the wrath of the most reactionary ecclesiastical authoritiesthat they were about to achieve the closure of publication-. Advance, also, of the newly cited poems, this composition shook the critics and readers of his time by his desperate existential cry against that distant God and unruffled, deaf and blind to the cries of his creatures, that caused a drumbeat of outrage and protest in consciousness - despite all, deeply religious - Bilbao poet: "I do damage, Mr. Remove your hand / off. Leave me to my empty, / let me. For abyss, with mine / have enough. Oh God, if you're human, / / commiserate already, removed that hand / off. I does not work. It gives me cold / and fear. If you are God, I am so mine, / like you. And a superb, I you win. Let me. If could I kill you, / how do you, how do you do! Do not take / with two hands, we drown. Matas / / do not know why. I want to cut you / hands. "Those hands that are trojes / hunger, and men that you seized".

Consecrated, in the wake of the emergence of the mentioned poems, as one of the leading figures of contemporary Spanish poetry - in the opinion of some antologos, Blas de Otero "is, perhaps, the most important Spanish poet of the second half of the 20th century" (Miguel Díez Rodríguez and María de Pilar Díez Taboada, anthology of Spanish poetry of the 20th century [Madrid([: Isthmus, 1991], p. 69), writer from Bilbao continued shelling their poetry in different collections and collections of verses; by publishing his writings in many media (such as prestigious and widespread Insula magazine); and, finally, exerting a powerful and influential teaching all young authors who shared social and Existentialist poetry of maturity concerns, as well as his fervent wishes for peace and understanding, well manifest from the privileged frontispiece of some of their best titles, like ask for peace and the word (Santander, 1955) and towards the vast majority (Buenos Aires1962). He/She spent the last years of his life in the Madrid town of Majadahonda, where he/she died at the beginning of the summer of 1979.


The poetic corpus of Blas de Otero, not too extensive, was inaugurated at the beginning of the 1940s with the poetry book entitled spiritual Canticle (San Sebastián: Cuadernos de Alea, 1942), a splendid collection of sonnets that, at the time putting highlighted the religious concerns of the author-Bilbao, presented him as a consummate master in the cultivation of this complex Strophic cast--so the Spanish poets of the postwar period. However, front of self-exaltation joyful of Catholicism for many of their contemporary adherents to this metric combination (such as poets "garcilacistas" of accused Falangist tendency and calls also, in a derogatory tone, "soneteros"), these new compositions of Blas de Otero linked you clearly anguished, hesitant and agonizing religiosity of his countryman Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936), that would be even more apparent in their two subsequent poetic delivery. Most obvious was, still, in this first book of verses of Blas de Otero, the constant presence of the same mystical breath which animates the homonymous work of Ávila san Juan de la Cruz (1542-1591), which, apart from religious beliefs and intimate experiences of the spiritual fact, put also highlighted the excellent literary formation of the Basque author, anchored in the knowledge of the Spanish golden age classics.

The own Carmelite mystic and, of course, other illustrious Golden sugar as don Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561-1927) - revered by other models, by so many other Spanish poets of the generation before the Blas de Otero - left their clear mark in the poetic second installment of Bilbao author, posted under beautiful fiercely human Ángel (Madrid title(: Insula, 1950). In this collection of poems cries out, angry and vehement in his distraught rebelliousness, the voice of those who know ignored by the deafness of God, mixed with the first hints of that tragic existential consciousness that, in its desperate interrogation about the meaning of human life, would dominate in successive collections of poems of Blas de Otero: "fighting hand-to-hand with death", / on the brink of the abyss, I'm crying / God. And his silence, rumbling, / stifles my voice in a vacuum inert. Oh God. If I die, I want to have you / awake. And, every evening, I don't know when / you'll hear my voice. Oh God. I'm talking about / single. Clawing shadows to see you. I lift up your hand, and you cercenas it to me. / Open your eyes: sajas them I live. / Thirst have, and salt become your arenas. This is being a man: horror by the handful. / Be - and not be eternal, fugitives. "/ Ángel with large wings of chains!" ("Man", fiercely human Ángel).

Identical cry of anguish, pain, lack of understanding and rebellion - yet, if anything, more pronounced - dominates in the poems of third Blas de Otero, the aforementioned poems roll of consciousness lyrical delivery (Barcelona: Institute of historical studies, 1951), thematic and formal summit of this first phase of his literary production and, without a doubt, the work of obligatory reference in any study or anthology of Spanish poetry of all time. In it they are condensed to extremes of insurmountable technical perfection, high conceptual height not only that existential angst and that pain of man which came to characterize his previous poetry, but also the blissful embodiment in verses of the intimate and intense love experience, third great core theme in the work of Blas de Otero prior to its immersion in the so-called "social poetry". The sonnet that is copied below is a finished sample of the masterful combination, in a same poem, of these three thematic records (anguished cry to the deaf contempt of God, painful awareness of the insignificance of the human being, and inflamed in the passion of love in praise): "Kiss as their were to eat me." / You kiss kisses from sea. To chew. / Hands on my temples and abismadas / our eyes. I, without fight, unarmed, / / I declare expired, if beat me / is see in you my tied hands. / You kiss kisses of God. To puffs / baby my life. You sorbe, without hurting me, / / strips of my root, upload my death / flower's lip. And then, cuddling, / you brizas it and rozas it with your kiss. Oh God, oh God, oh God, Yes to see you / enough a kiss, a kiss that it cries / then, because, oh, why! not enough that"("a lightning hardly", roll of consciousness).

The importance of this enthusiastic rush of love can be seen even with greater sharpness in anchor (Barcelona: A. P. Editor, 1958), volume in which Blas de Otero picked up his two collections of previous verses, under the original title formed by the initial syllable of the first of her (Ángel fiercely human) and the last syllable of the second (roll of consciousness). Read the two works without solution of continuity, the attentive reader repaired in that only the soothing presence of love, you can attenuate the radical loneliness of the human being and its desolate feeling of having been abandoned in a hostile world by a God who refuses to respond to their questions and sorrows. Prefaced by the aforementioned Alonso Dámaso, this book was in 1962 awarded the prestigious "Fastenrath" prize awarded by the Royal Spanish Academy.

Meanwhile, had come to light the fourth installment poetic of Blas de Otero, under the eloquent heading to ask for peace and the word (Santander: Col. Cantalapiedra, 1955). Headed by the anti-juanramoniana dedication of "the vast majority", this brilliant and combative collection of poems linked to the social conscience of a generation "uprooted without more destination that shore up the ruins"; to achieve this purpose, the Bilbao poet renounces the religioso-existencialista cry of earlier books and assumes a new voice, more free of fanfare rhetoric and less accommodating to the efforts inside her privacy, which cry out against the injustice of daily suffering by the man in the street, without giving up hope: "I believe in the man. I've seen / back chipped to Stormers, / blinded souls moving to jump / (Spains riding / pain and hunger). And I believed. I believe in peace. I've seen / high star, flaming fields / amanecientes, burning rivers / hondos, human flow / in another light: I've seen and I thought. I believe in you, homeland. "I say / I've seen: lightning / rage, love cold and knife / screaming, making pieces / bread: Although today there are only shadows, I've seen / and have believed" ("Fidelity" ", of ask peace and the word"). The birth of this civic-mindedness in the poet of the spiritual angst and religious doubt that until then had been Blas de Otero agreed - as already noted above - with their stay in Paris and his subsequent visits to Havana and different cities of the Soviet Union and China.

Already immersed in the direct and daily struggle of social poetry, four years after the publication of call peace and the word Blas de Otero gave to the press in France a new volume of verses in identical register thematic and ideological, presented under the title of in Spanish (Paris, 1959), in which the cry of protest is even more vehement and angry impulses: "He fell asleep in the kitchen like a rag. Do not the reached wages or to die, / dropped onto the sidewalk as a cloth [...] / / I protest, I am protesting for a long time; "/ hurts me so much pain, that sometimes / hit jumps in the middle of the street, / and I won't shut up by more than the finger / persignen me the front, and the lips and the verse" ("Censoria" of in Spanish). As you can be easily seen in the reading of these verses, the poetic language of Blas de Otero has already been stripped of the Baroque fussing from its inception, and has been slimming to the beat of his anger to a direct and colloquial tone fully adjusted to the simple and everyday truths is proclaiming.

Following the publication in Argentina of an interesting selection of spiky poems between lyric corpus that had been edited to date--to the vast majority (Buenos Aires: Losada, 1962)-, Blas de Otero gave to the press in Puerto Rico this is not a book (Puerto Rico: University of Puerto Rico, 1963), work in which magazine goes to the history of Spainsome times from a strictly personal perspective, and sometimes from a collective approach. The following year passed by the hollanders another of his masterpieces, the collection of poems entitled dealing with Spain (Paris: Ruedo Ibérico, 1964), work which, together with the previous one, became the poet composition in a follower very particular of the already distant in time generation of 98, in so far as it dealt with rigour, lucidity and critical spirit that "Spain theme" and that "pain for Spain" which had become obsessed - although for very different reasons - the authors marked by the end of the 19th century colonial disaster. Finally, after having gathered his previous poetry in the volume entitled expression and Assembly (Madrid: Alfaguara, 1969), published other works that critics often tick of minors, although all still shining at high altitudes that great poet - and sometimes, the elegant and precious prose writer - who was Blas de Otero: while (Zaragoza: Fuendetodos, 1970), false and true stories (Madrid(: Alfaguara, 1970), verse and prose (Madrid: Cátedra, 1974) - selection made by the author himself-, poetry with names (Madrid: Alianza, 1977), all my sonnets (Madrid: Turner, 1977) and old comrade (Madrid, Casa de Campo, 1978).

In General, the style of Blas de Otero distinguishes for his astounding ability to resort to the most varied linguistic games without being distracted by this to the reader of the conceptual depth of content. Highlighted by its masterful use of the hiperbaton (or alteration of the usual syntactic order) and, above all, by his constant appeal to the most innovative and radical encabalgamientos, which managed to take old molds estroficos, as a great connoisseur of the classics, mastered to perfection of novelty and originality (the sonnet, as already mentioned, but also the romance and the Quartet). His cry, always passionate and angry - either in their settling scores with that God refuses to hear him, or the bitter complaint of social injustices - cobra renewed forces with the abrupt and surprising foreshortenings introduced by these encabalgamientos, but also with the wise management of other traditional resources like alliteration (says in a verse, referring to Spain(: "Here, ahead of Europe prenadamente in punta") and parallelism (as well, including many in the poem entitled "Land": "humanly speaking, is a torture [...]) ("Humanly speaking, is what I say [...] / / human on Earth, is what I choose"). Sometimes, the rhythm of their poetry is certainly hard; but a fruitful and illuminating hardness that runs to the pungency of the expressed thing. When called upon, in the end, free verse or verse, the complexity of their expressive resources gives way to other more plain and colloquial words games, more consistent also with the less rigid structure of the poem (thus occurs, v. gr., with the recurrent use of simple and well known figure of the repetition in the poem entitled 'Story': 'memory.) I do not remember. The wind. The sea. / A man on the edge of the cliff. The wind. / A sea desamarrando horrible waves. / A man on the edge of a cliff. I remember. I do not remember. [...]").

Blas de Otero. Just lightning. (All my sonnets).

Blas de Otero. Afternoon is love.



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