The Spanish romantic poet was born on this day in 1820
Feature image credit: Camster2, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Carolina Coronado, who was known for her romantic poetry, was born 201 years ago today, on December 12, 1820 in the Spanish region of Extremadura. She may not be as famous as her male contemporaries, such as Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, José Zorrilla, or José de Espronceda, and I would guess that she’s also not as well known as Galician romantic poet Rosalía de Castro. Nonetheless, not only was her poetry just as interesting as anything created by the aforementioned writers, but she should as be remembered for her bravery for having a revolutionary spirit, speaking out against slavery, and for simply being an outspoken female intellectual at a time when women weren’t always welcome to participate in literary discussions.
I had studied Carolina Coronado a little bit when I was in grad school, but I don’t think any of the classes on Spanish Romanticism I took focused on her too much. She was mentioned more or less as a footnote. As I was preparing this post, I learned a number of fascinating details about her life. For example, I didn’t know that she was such a prolific novelist, having written 15 substantial works. She even authored a number of plays. I was also unaware that she formed a literary discussion and support group called Hermandad Lírica, which was comprised of other women romantic poets. This group collaborated together and produced poetry that expressed love for other women poets. My understanding is that she was married to an American man who worked at the American Embassy in Spain, and she was the aunt of Román Gómez de la Serna, an extremely well-accomplished writer in his own right. I don’t get to teach Spanish Romanticism that much these days, but the next time I do, I’m going to incorporate some of her poetry, for sure.
I encourage readers to research Coronado’s works, especially her poetry, which show typical themes of romanticism, including love, religion, nature, and even national heroes. Her poetry can be found easily online. In fact, on the website cervantesvirtual.com, they share a pdf file of her collected works (no longer under copyright), which I am embedding below.
I have chosen one of the poems from this collection that I especially like, simply numbered “VI,” which is the last in a series called “El amor de los amores,” composed in 1849. The recording below is of me reciting the poem. The text of the poem follows below the recording.
Pero te llamo yo ¡dulce amor mío! Como si fueras tú mortal viviente, Cuando solo eres luz, eres ambiente, Eres aroma, eres vapor del río. Eres la sombra de la nube errante, Eres el son del árbol que se mueve, Y aunque a adorarte el corazón se atreve, Tú solo en la ilusión eres mi amante. Hoy me engañas también como otras veces; Tú eres la imagen que el delirio crea, Fantasma del vapor que me rodea Que con el fuego de mi aliento creces. Mi amor, el tierno amor por el que lloro Eres tan solo tú ¡señor Dios mío! Si te busco y te llamo, es desvarío De lo mucho que sufro y que te adoro. Yo nunca te veré, porque no tienes Ser humano, ni forma, ni presencia: Yo siempre te amaré, porque en esencia A el alma mía como amante vienes. Nunca en tu frente sellará mi boca El beso que al ambiente le regalo; Siempre el suspiro que a tu amor exhalo Vendrá a quebrarse en la insensible roca. Pero cansada de penar la vida, Cuando se apague el fuego del sentido, Por el amor tan puro que he tenido Tú me darás la gloria prometida. Y entonces al ceñir la eterna palma, Que ciñen tus esposas en el cielo, El beso celestial, que darte anhelo, Llena de gloria te dará mi alma.
I like how the poetic voice seems to be addressing a lover, as if the beloved were simply a case of unrequited or impossible love. But she’s not talking about an earthly being, but God himself, who can be felt but not seen. Only upon death can her soul reach the ecstasy for which it longs.
¡Feliz cumpleaños, doña Carolina! Y gracias por tus palabras que todavía nos conmueven.
Are you familiar with Carolina Coronado’s works? If so, let us know what you thought about them in the comments below. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it in the comments below. ¡Gracias!