This is part of a series of posts commemorating Spanish poet Miguel Hernández on the occasion of his centenary (30 October 2010). For more background and previous posts on the man of whom his friend Pablo Neruda proclaimed "his was the face of Spain", click on the sketch of him by Benjamín Palencia on the sidebar to the right.
|Prison portrait of Miguel Hernández|
by Antonio Buero Vallejo
In 1933, Miguel Hernández wrote a short piece entitled Mi concepto del poema ('My Idea of a Poem').
What is a poem? A beautiful affected lie. An insinuated truth. Only by insinuating it will a truth not appear a lie. A truth as precious and hidden as anything from a mine. One needs to be a miner of poems to see in its Ethiopias of darkness its Indias of light. A salt-wizened truth situated between blue and singing. Who sees that the sea in truth is white? Nobody. Nevertheless it exists, it flutters, it alludes in its sculpted spume to the color of the crescent moon. The clear sea — would it be as beautiful as its secret if it were suddenly clarified? Its greater beauty lies in its secrecy. The poem cannot present itself to us as either Venus or naked. Naked poems have only the anatomy of poems. And who could make something more horrible than a bare skeleton? Guard, poets, the secret of the poem: a sphinx. Let them learn to tear it away like bark from a tree. Oh, like the orange: what a delicious secret under its planetary circumference! Except in the case of prophetic poetry for which clarity is essential [...] guard yourselves, poets, against fruits without skins, seas without salt. The poem has to work as with the Holy Sacrament .... When will the poet come with a poem in his fingers, like a priest with the host, saying "Here is GOD" and we will believe it? (translated by Ted Genoways)