Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
I have translated the Rimas (Poems) of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer from his Obras completas (Complete Works) published by Aguilar in 1969. Since it is not possible to copy the rhyme scheme in another language without sacrificing much of the original meaning, I have not tried to make a rhymed translation of Bécquer's poems. I have also translated the "Introduction" from his Obras completas, as well as all of his Legends, his Stories, and "Literary Letters to a Woman." For an interpretation of Bécquer's poetry, the reader may consult my article "The Strange, Gigantic Hymn of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer" (.pdf) and for help in understanding the ideas from his Leyendas the reader may consult my article "Self Realization in the Leyendas of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer" (.pdf).
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Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, original name Gustavo Adolfo Domínguez Bastida, (born February 17, 1836, Sevilla, Spain—died December 22, 1870, Madrid), poet and author of the late Romantic period who is considered one of the first modern Spanish poets.
Orphaned by age 11, Bécquer was strongly influenced by his painter brother, Valeriano. He moved to Madrid in 1854 in pursuit of a literary career, and from 1861 to 1868 he contributed to the newspaperEl Contemporáneo and other periodicals. Troubled by an unhappy marriage and financial difficulties, Bécquer received acclaim only after his death from tuberculosis at age 34.
Bécquer’s major literary production consists of nearly 100 Rimas (“Rhymes”), a series of about 20 Leyendas (“Legends”) in prose, and the literary essays Cartas desde mi celda (1864; “Letters from My Cell”). Although many of his poems and prose works were published individually in El Contemporáneo, they did not appear in book form until after his death, when his friends collected his writings and published them in Obras, 2 vol. (1871; “Works”). His Rimas, probably his best-known works, are sensitive, restrained, and deeply subjective.
Bécquer’s poetry explores themes of love—particularly in connection with disillusionment and loneliness—and the mysteries of life and poetry. In sharp contrast to the rhetorical, dramatic style of the Romantic period, Bécquer’s lyricism, in which assonance predominates, is simple and airy.
Bécquer’s prose pieces, Leyendas, are characterized by medieval settings, supernatural characters such as nymphs, and a mysterious, dreamlike atmosphere. Written in a lyrical, richly coloured style, the narratives are based upon the themes of love, death, and the world beyond. His spiritual autobiography, the series of letters Cartas desde mi celda, was composed at the monastery of Veruela, in northern Spain.