Baroque poetry origin characteristics and topics

Baroque poetry

The baroque poetry is a poetic writing style of the late sixteenth century to the beginning of the eighteenth century, characterized by its rhetorical sophistication and extravagance. The first demonstrations occurred in Italy; s owever, it is believed that the term is clear from baroque (in Portuguese) or barrueco (in Spanish).

These words translate as “large pearl of irregular shape”; This term was used to designate the most extravagant forms of jewelry design. Other authors consider that its origin is the Italian word barocco , used by philosophers during the Middle Ages to describe an obstacle in schematic logic.

Later, the word came to be used to refer to a description of any contorted idea or involved thought process. Thus, everything fantastic, grotesque, flowery or incongruous, irregular in shape, meaningless and lacking in restraint and simplicity, was qualified as baroque.

By extension, any literary genre that was characterized by a marked rhetorical sophistication and an excess of ornaments in the writing, received the same qualification.

Origin and historical context

In the arts, Baroque is a period and also a style that used exaggeration to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur.

The style flourished in Rome, Italy, and spread to most of Europe from the early 17th century to the late 18th century.

Historically placed between the Neoclassical and the Renaissance, this style was highly promoted by the Roman Catholic Church. In this way, he sought to counteract the simplicity and austerity of the arts of the Protestant religion.

Within Baroque poetry there were two currents of poetic style. One of these was known as culteranismo, which began in the early seventeenth century and was characterized by using an extremely artificial style.

In practice, this style resulted in a Latinization of both syntax and vocabulary. Hyperbaton (alterations in the syntactic order) and pompous words are very common then.

Likewise, a continued use of classical references was made, which led to the construction of a poetic diction far removed from regular language. It was a poetry written for the senses.

On the other hand, the current was baptized with the name of conceptismo opposed to that of culteranismo. Conceptist poets wrote for intelligence.

S owever, using flowery narrative device is preserved; for that reason some critics considered that both styles were equivalent and complementary.

Characteristics of baroque poetry

Extensive use of metaphor

Baroque poetry made an accentuated use of metaphor (implicit comparison between two unrelated things, but with common characteristics) and allegory (text that when interpreted has a hidden meaning).

The use of these resources was different from that of other poets of other times. The metaphor used by the Baroque poets does not present obvious similarities but rather hidden and intricate analogies.

Use of local languages 

The works of Baroque poetry were published in a large number of different languages, in addition to Latin. Artists of this time emphasized the importance of cultural identity.

Consequently, literacy rates increased, even among citizens who were not part of the upper economic and social classes.

Transcendence of the themes

The representatives of the baroque poetry had the religious and the mystical the preferred framework for their stories. Even in the simple stories of the everyday physical world they always made the connection with the spiritual world.

Some baroque poets saw their work as a kind of meditation, uniting thought and feeling in their verses. Some works were darker, depicting the world as a place of suffering.

Stylistic experimentation

Baroque poetry was known for its flamboyance and dramatic intensity. He used a lot of imagery and linguistic experimentation, and had a tendency toward obscurity and fragmentation.

In general, this poetic style was noted for its daring use of language. This characteristic was maintained among Baroque writers of different cultures and times.

Topics covered in baroque poetry

The satire 

Within Baroque poetry, satire was a recurring theme. Its use served to underline the defects of the citizens of the society.

It was also used to represent important people in a comical way. In general, poets were known for their use of satire to criticize politicians and the wealthy.

Politics and social issues 

Many Baroque poets also wrote on political issues and social values . His work challenged the ideologies of his time and, in many cases, even successfully antagonized them.

Uncertainty and disappointment

Among other topics covered are disappointment, pessimism, time and the shortness of life. These feelings were present in the population as a result of a loss of confidence.

In this way, poets interpreted this general feeling and reflected it in their works, especially the feeling of disappointment. They attributed this feeling to the fact that the Renaissance had failed in its mission to restore harmony and perfection throughout the world.

Authors and representative works

Luis de Góngora (1561-1627)

He was a poet of the Spanish Baroque. Góngora was known for his use of culteranismo (an elaborate style of writing). He used it with such frequency and skill that in some circles the style became known as gongorism.

Some of the most famous works of Góngora include a sick hiker who fell where he was staying , Don Francisco de Quevedo , s ENORA Doña Puente Segoviana , abula of Polyphemus and Galatea and Solitudes.

Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600-1681)

He is one of the most representative writers of the Baroque, standing out especially in theater, although he also wrote poetry and comedy.

Alessandro Tassoni (1565-1635)

Tassoni was an Italian poet and writer remembered for his masterpiece La secchia rapita (The Rape of the Cube) . This work is based on the war of the early 14th century between the Italian cities of Bologna and Modena.

This war broke out when the Modenese captured the bucket of the water well of the city of Bologna as a trophy. In Tassoni’s poem the Bolognese offer entire cities and groups of hostages for their cube. Each episode begins in a serious tone but ends in hilarious nonsense.

Giambattista Marino (1569-1625)

This Italian poet founded the Marinism style (later called Secentism). He is recognized for his work Adonis (which represented a 20-year work), where he tells the love story of Venus and Adonis.

Among other works can be mentioned Rimas , the lira ,  Gallery and La murtoleide, the latter two are  poems satiric against a rival poet, Gaspare Murtola.


  • Tirso de Molina (1579-1648)
  • Lope de Vega (1562-1635)

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