“When you chose me –love chose– I finally came out from the big anonymity, out of the blue.”
The great poet of love, with compliments to Pablo Neruda, was one of the main referents of the Generation of ’27, as well as a scholar and a first-class translator (thanks to his work, writers like Proust achieved a greater awareness in the Spanish speaking countries).
Pedro Salinas, born in Madrid in 1891, lost his father at age six. As a devoted student, he began to study Law, but after a couple of years, he changed to Philosophy and Arts. His literary interests brought him to graduate as a Doctor, to publish his first poems in Prometeo magazine, along with the writer Ramón Gómez de la Serna, and to be appointed as the secretary of the Literature section of the Ateneo de Madrid.
Later, he got to be at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Seville (where he taught the great poet Luis Cernuda, too) and he applied for a year assistantship at the University of Cambridge, to settle back again in Madrid. During those years, he founded the Índice Literario magazine, promoted the free of metrics verse and actively collaborated with the Institución de Libre Enseñanza.
He married Margarita Bonmatí, but he met the student Katherine R. Whitmore at the International Summer University of Santander, whose creation he supported and helped managing as its general secretary. With her, he began a romance that inspired the trilogy “La voz a ti debida”, “Razón de amor” and “Largo lamento”, although the poet being married prevented this relationship to go ahead. Still, the correspondence between the two lasted for fifteen years, a love that inspired exquisite works, powerful verses about this feeling that gives meaning to life. In addition to poetry, Salinas wrote prose (“Vísperas de gozo”, “La bomba increíble”); dramaturgy (short pieces for Max Aub) and essays on literature (‘The poetry by Rubén Darío’, ‘Spanish Literature. XXth Century’).
He was exiled at the end of the Spanish Civil War and died in the United States in 1951.
The poet wrote…
Your presence and your shadow are absent one from another, and shadows give me and away.
Within a man neither hope pushes nor memory tights.
Tonight, green, red, blue, lightning-fast strange lights cross into your eyes. Is that your soul?
It is only that I want to take out the best from you. The you you have not seen and that I see, that swimmering deep inside, so precious.
You live forever in your actions. With the tip of your fingers pressing the world, you boot auroras, triumphs, colours, joys: it is your music. Life is what you play.
What you are keeps distracting me from what you say.
I do not trust the pink paper, so many times that I made with my hands. I do not even trust the real rose, daughter of the sun and the flavour, the engaged to the wind. For I never made you, for you were never made, I trust you, round sure fate.
Take off the costumes, signs and pictures;
I do not love you so, disguised as somebody else, always something’s daughter.
I love you pure, free, irreductible: you.
I know that when I call you through all the nations of the world,
You will just be you.
Everything says yes.
Yes of heaven, blue,
And yes, the blue sea;
Seas, skies, blue with foam and breezes,
Monosyllables joys repeated endlessly.
A yes answers yes to one another.
The soul you had
So clear and open,
I never could
enter your soul.
I searched shortcuts
Narrow, the steps
high and difficult…
To your soul one enters
Through wide roads.
What a joy to live
Surrendering to the great certainty,
That another being,
Out of me, far away,
Is living me.
I wish you a happy week,
*All Pedro Salinas texts’ translations are free and unofficial.