Seventeenth-Century Spanish Poetry: The Power of Artifice
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
This is the first comprehensive study in English of one of the most important bodies of verse in European literature. Seventeenth-century Spanish poetry represents the culmination of a rich Renaissance tradition, and Professor Terry sets out to make this accessible not only to Hispanists but also to readers of English, French and Italian poetry, with which it had many points of contact. He deals both with the major poets of the period and with their numerous lesser-known contemporaries, paying close attention to individual poems, and providing English translations for all quotations. The book also raises important general issues in the light of recent criticism.
deep impression on many poets of the next generation, including The inheritance 23 Lope de Vega and Gongora. Whether the actual view of love conveyed in both poems and commentary had a comparable impact is less certain: both its complexity and its intensely personal, and at times obsessive, nature would have been difficult, if not impossible, to imitate. To begin with, Herrera's love poems - especially in the greatly expanded edition of 1619- suggest a deliberate attempt to produce a
'corrected'. Yet this is not strictly true: the 'naturalness' of decorum, far from corresponding to some unchanging order of things, is a social construct, a necessary illusion by which art can be integrated into a particular kind of community. As Attridge puts it: 'Although the naturalness of decorum is determined by a minority culture, it must be believed to be identical with nature itself.'15 Or, to change his terms slightly, if poetry is a learned, and therefore exclusive, art, it is also a
'natural' one, not because it is a part of common human nature, but because its governing principle - decorum - is what is held to come ' naturally' to its practitioners and their audience. Decorum, however problematical in its implications, is also responsible for the Renaissance theory of styles,16 a connection made clear in a statement from Carballo's Cisne de Apolo (Swan of Apollo; 1602): Decorum is a decency and consideration which must be applied to the entire work and to each part of it,
the entire poem: more than once the country people are praised, not because they live in beautiful surroundings, but because they dominate those surroundings with intelligence and skill - with artifice, in fact - and nevertheless remain free from the moral risks of life at court. The ultimate artifice, as I have said, is clearly the poem itself, the complex structure of words in whose shaping the reader is made to collaborate. As in the Polifemo, metaphor and conceit are the main instruments of
he goes on to call it, depends partly on keeping a balance between the rules - always to be treated flexibly - and what in another poem (B, 11, p. 87) he terms the 'living voice'. 138 Seventeenth-century Spanish poetry Thus in describing two kinds of imitation - the ' laconic' and the ' eloquent' - he argues for a combination of both: the power of the former may be diminished by over-compression, just as the latter's tendency to overexpand needs to be kept in place by a pointed diction. In