Born in September 21, 1902 in Seville, Spain, Luis Cernuda was an early member of the Spanish poets of the so-called "Generation of 1927" which included Gabriel García Lorca, Rafael Alberti, Vicente Aleixandre, Jorge Guillén and many others. He began writing poetry as a law student at the University of Madrid.
His first work, Perfil del aire, showed the influence of Pedro Salinas, who had helped him to get the book published, and Cernuda's contemporary Guillén. But it received only a lukewarm reception. But in his next, surrealist-influenced writings, "Un río, un amor" (1929) and "Los placeres prohibidos" (1931) (both collected in La realidad y el deso ), he began to find his true voice, experimenting with incongruous word choices and chance-oriented methods of composition. Other works such as Donde habaite el olvido and Invocaciones continued his exploration of emotional and spiritual autobiographical material, which is at the center of his poems.
Cernuda's open homosexuality and his keen sense of isolation brought on, in part by the Spanish Civil War and his ensuing exile in Europe, the United States, and Mexico, which began just prior to the Republican defeat in 1939, focused his poetry on themes of homosexual love and a strong sense of metaphysical pessimism.
Cernuda's major influences were clearly French, but his own concerns and his readings of English and German Romanticism also had a strong effect on his writing. Accordingly, his poetry often functions as a kind of dialectic, a dialogue between himself as sexual being and a poet of the mind against the background of mythological, historical, and personal associations.
He died of a heart attack in Mexico City in 1963.
BOOKS OF POETRY:
Perfil del aire (Málaga: Imprenta Sur, 1927); Egloga, elegía, oda (1928); La invitación a la poesía (Madrid: Altolaguirre, 1933); La realidad y el deseo (Madrid: Cruz & Raya/Arbol, 1936; revised and enlarged edition, Mexico City: Tezontle, 1958); Ocnos (london: Dolphin, 1942; elarged edition, Madrid: Insula, 1949; again enlarged, Jalapa, Mexico: Universidad Veracruzana, 1963); Las nubes (Buenos Aires: Schapire/Rama de Oro, 1943); Como quien espera el alba (Buenos Aires: Losada, 1947); Variaciones sobre tema mexicano (Mexico City: Porrúa & Obregón, 1950); Poemas para un cuerpo (Málaga: Dardo, 1957); Desolatión de la quimera (Mexico City: Mortiz, 1962); Antología poética, edited by Rafael Santos Torroella (Barcelona: Plaza & Janés, 1970); Perfil del aire; Con otras obras olvidadas e inéditas, documentos y epistolario, edited by Derek Harris (London: Tamesis, 1971); Poesía completa, edited by Derek Harris (London: Tamesis, 1971); Poesía completa, edited by Derek Harris and Luis Maristany (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1974; revised, 1977); Antología poética, Luis Cernuda, edited by Philip Silver (Madrid: Alianza, 1975); Sonetos clásicos servillanos (Madrid: El Observatorio, 1986); Poesía Completa, edited by Derek Harris and Luis Maristany (Madrid: Ediciones Siruela, 1993).
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS:
The Poetry of Luis Cernuda , edited and trans. by Anthony Edkins and Derek Harris (New York: New York University Press, 1977); Selected Poems of Luis Cernuda, edited and translated by Reginald Gibbons (Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York: The Sheep Meadow Press, 1999).