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Juan Ramón Jiménez, the total poet of exile

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

The better the poetry, the worse any kind of comment admits, because poetry, on the few occasions when it is really important, is that region of literature about it.

The better the poetry, the worse any kind of comment admits, because poetry, on the few occasions when it is really important, is that region of literature about which there is nothing to say, because it tells itself entirely , without the possibility of additives or gatherings. All that can be said about her is herself, there is nothing left out: they are words that found and fill and culminate a separate, self-sufficient and complete universe. It is like love: it is very difficult to talk about him without making him dirty. The best poetry can hardly stand its contextualization well, because it would be said that, like the Augustinian God or a little cheesy love, good poetry is out of time, it can no longer mutate, it is said once and for all. In that sense, the vast majority of poetry that has been written is "vegetable of the ages", just a more or less elegant entertainment but inane: I say it above all because poetry, unlike for example the novel or the painting, does not support half measures: either it is very good, really good, or it does not matter. As, once again, in love, there are not many different degrees in poetry, there are rather extremes: either yes or no.Either turns you on forever or leaves you cold.

But it happens that the one that warms up the work of Juan Ramón Jiménez is, without a doubt, the highest literary temperature of the twentieth century, at least in regard to the Spanish language, and serves as a sublime example that poetry is not always an unattainable horizon, an ideal that we try to approach with greater or lesser success but which we will never access. No: sometimes it can be reached, sometimes it acquires the reality of an ointment that you apply.

The juanramonianos know that I do not exaggerate because I speak of something so excessive and at the same time as contained and accurate as the poetry of Jiménez. The overwhelming perfection to which his literature arrived (also in poetic prose, in semblances or in aphorisms) is not comparable to anything in his time, and that is something his contemporaries knew, and of which he was also aware same, something that sometimes gave rise to texts that seem brimming with egolatry when in fact they respond to the fact that Moguer's was also the best critic of his time, and he was well aware of what he was so obsessively or sickly doing with his Work, one that, in its exceptional case, does not spare even solemnity, so odious almost always (and that makes, as Tomás Segovia said, want to put an ax and talk about the Hobraof JRJ).

Lyric of an Atlantis, the 1999 book in which Alfonso Alegre Heitzmann gathered the poetry of Jiménez after 1936, was a hinge in the studies on the author (apart from assuming, for those of my generation, the final glare). It is perceptible how since then no one has dared to discuss the poetic stature of the Andalusian, something that was more frequent than one might think. But that compilation was a milestone that marked the beginning of something different, or at least the reactivation of an interest because it had dissolved or dispersed a lot, and since then it has given numerous fruits (many of which we owe to Alegre, such as ongoing edition of the epistolary, or a great recent monograph on everything that had to do with its Nobel).

20 years later, it is proven in this new edition that Lyric of an Atlantis continues to be, of course, a reading experience from which one is upset by such beauty and stunned, almost upset, before such transcendence. Under the impressive general title (which speaks of America and of exile and of a sinking life) four books are gathered: On the other side, A meridian hill, desired and desiring Godand the manriqueño Of rivers that leave . All are as magnificent as those signs, and in all, as in the founding diary of a newly married poet, the different parallel immensities of time and death and of space and of memory and consciousness and of from the sea: «The sea again, the sea / with me» . Here we reread Space , the best prose poem of our language, which cannot be read without enormous commotion, no matter how much it is read, and which in its early stages has even Whitmanian rests , as totalizing and American as it is right to be. But there is much more, in a formal variety that goes from the traditional to the unusual, but always in extreme poetic tension. Alegre's prologue and notes reveal again his capacity for philological penetration, his completeness and his love for details, always so revealing. And with all this a book is articulated, this one (and I will say few), strictly essential.

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