Selected Poems of Jorge Carrera Andrade
Alternative formats available from:
While Latin American poets such as Pablo Neruda, Jorge Luis Borges, and Octacio Paz have been receiving most of the attention of critics, the Ecuadorian poet Jorge Carrera Andrade had quietly continued writing his "transparent" poetry. Nevertheless, Carrera Andrade's poems are undoubtedly some of the best ever written in the Spanish language, and he has often been mentioned as a likely candidate for the Nobel Prize.
In his poetic exploration of what he calls "the secret country of human existence," Carrera Andrade marvels at the beauty of the world. And this wonder is conveyed by means of dazzling, descriptive metaphors. Perhaps it could be said that the Ecuadorian poet always interprets the world visually, but his visual images constitute merely a metaphorical technique, around which he constructs his poems. In his verbal structures he expresses the transitory nature of life as well as the loneliness of man in the universe. He describes life in his native Ecuador, contemplates with compassion the plight of the Indians of his country, and denounces social injustices. More recently Carrera Andrade, concerned about the destiny of mankind, manifests his indomitable faith in humanity in the book Hombre planetario (1959), imagining a social utopia.
Carrera Andrade has stated that his poetry is the result of "the intimate union of the senses and the intellect. " And yet his poems remain "transparent. " He rejects obscurity and complexity and chooses simplicity and clarity. He considers that "one of the essential goals of poetry is communion with other men" and that if his poetry cannot communicate "its emotive and sensorial content, it fails to accomplish its mission, which is the interpretation of the world. " As to the universal meaning of his poetic work, Carrera Andrade would recall Goethe's phrase: "All my works are fragments of a great confession. " He would characterize his own work as a confession of love both for humanity and for the wonders of this world.
Carrera Andrade must be counted among the four or five best contemporary poets of Latin America. Whether he is awarded a Nobel Prize still remains to be seen, but there can be no doubt that in his poems one can detect the same literary excellence as in the work of Neruda, Paz, or Borges. Hopefully the work of this great Ecuadorian poet will soon be universally appreciated. In some of his works he can be compared to T. S. Eliot, Hölderlin, or Saint-Jean Perse.
The publication of H. R. Hayes' translations will, for the first time, make available to English-speaking readers all of the significant verse of Carrera Andrade, beginning with some of his first pieces from La guirnalda del silencio (1926) and ending with translations from Posía última (1957 –1966).
H. R. Hays is a novelist, playwright, and author of numerous works of non-fiction. His Selected Poems were published in 1968. He has translated the Selected Poems of Bertolt Brecht, the Selected Writings of Juan Ramon Jimenes, and a novel, The Stone Knife, by the Mexican, José Revueltas. His Twelve Spanish-American Poets, first published in 1943, will be reissued in 1972.