Born on January 18, 1893, Jorge Guillén, in Valladolid, Old Castile, Spain. He is regarded as one of the greatest Spanish poets of the twentieth century. He attended school in Valladolid, Switzerland, Madrid, Granada, and Germany, and began writing poetry in 1919.
He lectured at the Sorbonne, Oxford, University of Murcia, and the University of Seville. A member of "the Generation of 1927," which included Frederico Garcia Lorca, Rafael Alberti, Pedro Salinas, and others, Guillén gained recognition in the early 20s with his first poems but left Spain in 1938 after the military uprising under Generalissimo Franco.
He taught and wrote poetry in the United States for over 20 years and was a professor at Wellesley College until his retirement in 1957. "I am decidedly in favor of compound, complex poetry," the poet said in 1926, "of the poem made of poetry and other human things." Much of Guillén's work explores the relationship of form to matter while delighting in sensuality and clarity of perception.
The bulk of his work is collected together in the volume, Aire nuestro (1968), comprising three of his major books: Cantico (1928), Clamor, published in three volumes in 1957, 1960, and 1963, and Homenaje (1967). Guillén, capable of both formal sophistication and meditative openness, exhibits a consciousness fully receptive to the external world, to appearances and essences. His kind of seeing finds, as Emerson put it, "the miraculous in the common." Whether affirming life by way of a secular mysticism or condemning the brutalities of the Fascist regime, he gives us the inventiveness and quality of attention found in the work of writers such as Elytis, Aleixandre, and Borges.
Guillén received an Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the San Luca Prize, the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the Alfonso Reyes Prize, and the Ollin Yolitzli Prize. He returned to Spain two years after Franco's death, in 1977, and died in 1984 in Malaga.
Last updated August 31, 2011