Cartas desde mi celda (Spanish Edition)
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But why should my name be read? Who would not know that I was sleeping there? Becquer , Madrid, , vol. II, pp. This edition will be understood hereafter in all references to the works of Becquer. So mused the poet Becquer in the golden days of his youth, when his veins were swelling with health, when his heart was fired with ambition, and in his ears was ringing the joyous invitation of his muse.
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His knowledge of the world was confined to the enchanting city of his birth. Her gems of art and architecture had wrought themselves into the fabric of his dreams; he had mused in her palm-gardens, worshiped in her temples, and dreamed long afternoons on the shores of her historic river. He knew nothing of the cold, prosaic world of selfish interests.
The time had not yet come when, in bitterness of spirit, and wrapping his mantle about him against the chill wind of indifference, he should say: "To-day my sole ambition is to be a supernumerary in the vast human comedy, and when my silent role is ended, to withdraw behind the scenes, neither hissed nor applauded, making my exit unnoticed. Indeed, in those later days of trial and hardship, he would often look out wearily upon Madrid, the city of his adoption, the scene of his crushing struggle with necessity, as it lay outspread before his windows,—"dirty, black, and ugly as a fleshless skeleton, shivering under its immense shroud of snow," and in his mind he would conjure up the city of his youth, his ever cherished Seville, "with her Giralda of lacework, mirrored in the trembling Guadalquivir, with her narrow and tortuous Moorish streets, in which one fancies still he hears the strange cracking sound of the walk of the Justiciary King; Seville, with her barred windows and her love-songs, her iron door-screens and her night watchmen, her altar-pieces and her stories, her brawls and her music, her tranquil nights and her fiery afternoons, her rosy dawns and her blue twilights; Seville, with all the traditions that twenty centuries have heaped upon her brow, with all the pomp and splendor of her southern nature.
By some strange mystery, however, it had been decreed by fate that he should only meet with disappointment in every object of his love. The city of his birth was no exception to the rule: since Becquer's death it has made but little effort to requite his deep devotion or satisfy his youthful dreams. You may wander through the city's many churches, but no tomb to the illustrious poet will you find, no monument in any square.
If you will turn your steps, however, to the barrio of Seville in which the celebrated D. It is only fair to add here that there is also an inferior street in Seville named for Becquer. Here Gustavo Adolfo Dominguez Becquer opened his eyes upon this inhospitable world.
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Eight days later he was baptized in the church of San Lorenzo. He died when Gustavo was but a child of five, too young to be taught the principles of his art; but he nevertheless bequeathed to him the artistic temperament that was so dominant a trait in the poet's genius. Gustavo was but nine and a half years old at the time of his mother's death. Fortunately an old and childless uncle, D.
Juan Vargas, took charge of the motherless boys until they could find homes or employment. Antonio Rodriguez Arenas Pbro. Citations from this periodical will hereafter refer to the issue of this date. After the loss of his mother his uncle procured for him admission to the College of San Telmo, a training school for navigators, situated on the banks of the Guadalquivir in the edifice that later became the palace of the Dukes of Montpensier. This establishment had been founded in in the ancient suburb of Marruecos as a reorganization of the famous Escuela de Mareantes navigators of Triana.
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The Government bore the cost of maintenance and instruction of the pupils of this school, to which were admitted only poor and orphaned boys of noble extraction. Gustavo fulfilled all these requirements. Indeed, his family, which had come to Seville at the close of the sixteenth century or at the beginning of the seventeenth century, from Flanders, was one of the most distinguished of the town. It had even counted among its illustrious members a Seville Veinticuatro, and no one who was unable to present proof of noble lineage could aspire to that distinction.
Achille Fouquier , by D. Among the students of San Telmo there was one, Narciso Campillo, for whom Gustavo felt a special friendship,—a lad whose literary tastes, like his own, had developed early, and who was destined, later on, to occupy no mean position in the field of letters. We likewise began a novel. I wonder at the confidence with which these two children, so ignorant in all respects, launched forth upon the two literary lines that require most knowledge of man, society, and life. The time was yet to come when by dint of painful struggles and hard trials they should possess that knowledge, as difficult to gain as it is bitter!
Shortly after the matriculation of young Becquer, the College of San Telmo was suppressed by royal orders, and the lad found himself in the streets. She possessed a fair library, which was put at the disposal of the boy; and here he gratified his love for reading, and perfected his literary taste. Two works that had considerable influence upon him at this time were the Odes of Horace, translated by P. Urbano Campos, and the poems of Zorrilla.
He began to write verses of his own, but these he later burned. One of these studios, situated in the same building as the Museo de Pinturas, was that of D. Antonio Cabral Bejarano, a man not to be forgotten for his talent, and perhaps also for his wit, the delight of those who knew him.
Joaquin Dominguez Becquer, a brother and disciple of D. Jose, Gustavo's father. In spite of this relationship, Gustavo Adolfo, at the age of fourteen, entered the studio of Bejarano.
There he remained for two years, practicing the art of drawing, for which he had a natural talent. He then came under the instruction of his uncle, who, judging that his nephew was even better qualified for a literary than for an artistic career, advised him to follow the former, and procured for him a few Latin lessons. Meanwhile Gustavo continued to enlarge his poetical horizon by reading from the great poets and by the contemplation of the beauties of nature.
With his friend Campillo he composed the first three cantos of a poem entitled La Conquista de Sevilla , and with him he wandered about the beautiful city of his birth and dreamed such dreams as the one with which this Introduction begins. Gustavo's godmother, who was a woman in easy circumstances and without children or near relatives, would doubtless have bequeathed to him her property had he fulfilled her wishes and settled down to an honorable mercantile life.
But the child, who had learned to draw and to compose almost before he could write, and who had always paled before the simplest problem of arithmetic, could not reconcile himself to such a life. The artist within him rebelled, and at the age of seventeen and a half, feeling the attraction of the capital strong upon him, he bade farewell to the friends of his youth and set out to seek for fame and fortune.
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It was in the autumn of that Becquer arrived in Madrid, "with empty pockets, but with a head full of treasures that were not, alas, to enrich him. Charmed by its originality in form and conception, he urged his friend to publish it. The joy of this first success, and perhaps the material aid that resulted, must have had a great deal to do with Gustavo's speedy recovery.
The employment was decidedly contrary to his taste, and to amuse his tedium he used often to sketch or read from his favorite poets. One day, as he was busy sketching, the Director entered, and, seeing a group about Gustavo's chair,—for the young artist's sketches were eagerly awaited and claimed by his admiring associates,—stole up from behind and asked, "What is this?
That old codger is a grave-digger. Over there It cannot be said that he received the news of his dismissal regretfully, for he had accepted the position largely to please a sympathetic friend. Slight as was the remuneration, however, it had aided him to live; and when this resource was removed, Gustavo was again obliged to depend upon his wits.
His skill with the brush served him in good stead at this time, and he earned a little money by aiding a painter who had been employed by the Marquis of Remisa to decorate his palace, but who could not do the figures in the fresco. Gustavo is himself the author of some of the best pages contained in the volume, as, for example, those of the Introduction and of the chapters on San Juan de los Reyes.
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He is likewise the author of many of the excellent sketches that adorn the work, notably that of the portada. These sketches, as well as others published elsewhere, show how eminent his work as artist would have been, had he decided to cultivate that field instead of literature. Juan de la Puerta Vizcaino y D. Gustavo Adolfo Becquer. Tomo I, Madrid, Essentially an artist in temperament, he viewed all things from the artist's standpoint.
His distaste for politics was strong, and his lack of interest in political intrigues was profound. He felt at home in a complete civilization, like that of the Middle Ages, and his artisticopolitical ideas and his fear of the ignorant crowd made him regard with marked predilection all that was aristocratic and historic, without however refusing, in his quick intelligence, to recognize the wonderful character of the epoch in which he lived. Indolent, moreover, in small things,—and for him political parties were small things,—he was always to be found in the one in which were most of his friends, and in which they talked most of pictures, poetry, cathedrals, kings, and nobles.