poems

Lope de Vega

Lope de Vega was born in Madrid in 1562. A poet, dramatist, novelist, and critic, he was also a soldier, and one of the survivors of the tragically misnamed Invincible Armada. He is generally acknowledged as the father of the Spanish drama, and, since his death in 1635, has been widely considered “the Spanish Shakespeare.” The poem presented here is drawn from his collection of “Sacred Sonnets.”

 

 

Meleager

Meleager (135 BC – 50 BC) was born in Gadara and lived a long life at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, settling finally in Cos which he described as “the island he loved best.” He published a great deal of satirical prose and an anthology of other poets, all lost. What we have are one hundred and thirty four of his own epigrams, celebrating love for pretty women and pretty boys.

 

 

Giovanni Pascoli

Giovanni Pascoli (1855 – 1912), the son of an estate manager, grew up in an idyllic rural setting that was very soon to change. He lost his parents and other members of his family early on in tragic circumstances. Nevertheless, thanks to some financial help, he was able to continue his studies and gain a degree in classics, teaching first in high schools, later in universities. Eventually, in 1906, he was appointed to the chair of Italian Literature at Bologna University recently vacated by his friend and mentor, Giosuè Carducci.

 

Paul the Deacon

Paul the Deacon (c. 720 – c. 799), during the 780s, was part of the circle of poets and thinkers at the court of Charlemagne, King of the Franks. Apparently descended from a noble Lombard family, Paul later wrote a six-book history of his people and compiled a collection of his homilies at Charlemagne’s request.

 

 

Hesiod

Hesiod is arguably the first writer we know about as a person in Western Literature. Probably writing in the late 8th century BC, he lived in the town of Askra, in Boeotia, Greece (a place he called “miserable in winter, vile in summer, unpleasant all the year round.”) He was a farmer himself and won a tripod in a poetry contest. He was embroiled in a lawsuit with his wastrel brother Perses over a property inherited from their father, and complained of corrupt judges; Modern Greeks would recognize this iron-age state of affairs today.

 

 

Giacomo Leopardi

Giacomo Leopardi (1798 – 1837), poet, translator, essayist, and philosopher, is considered one of the greatest Italian poets, together with Dante and Petrarch. He grew up in the small town of Recanati, a conservative backwater in Italy’s Marche region. His parents were reactionary nobility. His mother was cold, stingy, and committed to not giving Leopardi any money. Besides having squandered much of the family fortune on gambling, his father had spent considerable sums amassing an enormous library of some 20,000 volumes.

 

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648 – 1695), born in San Miguel Nepantla, Mexico, was and remains one of the towering figures of the Spanish Golden Age. A child prodigy with a wide-ranging grasp of literature, languages, science and music, she was famed for her learning and intelligence, as well as her beauty, but choices were limited in New Spain for a woman who wished above all to dedicate her life to scholarship and writing.

 

Tove Ditlevsen

Tove Ditlevsen (1917 – 1976) was a Danish author of deeply personal and heartfelt stories, novels and memoirs, though she considered herself primarily a poet. Married four times, she struggled with substance abuse and mental illness throughout her life. She committed suicide in 1976

 

 

Gaius Valerius Catullus

Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84 BC – 54 BC) was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic whose work had a profound influence on later Latin poets, including Ovid, Horace, and Virgil. Approximately 116 of Catullus’s often-translated poems have survived.

 

 

Miguel de Unamuno

Miguel de Unamuno (1864 – 1936) was one of the most important intellectuals in Spanish history. Born of Basque parents, Unamuno was a distinguished philosopher, author, and educator. He received his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Madrid and eventually became a professor of Greek language and literature at the University of Salamanca, where he would later serve two terms as rector of the university. The author of numerous books and treatises, Unamuno’s creative writings included novels, plays, short stories, and poems.

 

 

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