Pure poetry is the term that was given to the reaction of some intellectuals and writers against the cultural movement of Romanticism, during the interwar period, between 1918 and 1939. The purpose was to define a style within poetry that would avoid decadentism or carelessness in expressive aesthetics.
One of the main objectives of pure poetry was to find the true nature of words, leaving aside the use of speech. Its representatives insisted on keeping alive the evocation and memory that arose from poetic language and its forms of creation.
Pure poetry was the one that was in charge of making a journey towards human existence, with the intention of investigating and revealing through the word the essence of the world. The practice of this form of expression spread throughout Europe and Latin America.
The origin of pure poetry was related to pure art or freedom of art. Its beginning has been linked to the American writer Edgar Allan Poe and his essay The poetic principle, or The poetic principle, of 1848, a work that the French poet and essayist Charles Baudelaire translated in 1856.
Poe’s poetic principle
Allan Poe wrote the essay in simple language, in order to show examples of what poetry was for him. For the writer, the beauty was in the aesthetic, and in the poetic field it was done through the word, as long as it made the receiver feel something superhuman.
Andrew Cecil Bradley and Poetry for poetry’s sake
England was the cradle of some of the theories about pure poetry. The literary critic Andrew Cecil Bradley developed his work Poetry for poetry’s sake or Poetry for poetry, in 1901 . There the critic argued that pure poetry was the union between content and aesthetics.
Henri Bremond and La poésie pure
Later, in 1921, the philosopher and historian Henri Bremond continued in France with Bradley’s theory, through his study La poésie pure, or Pure Poetry. The French considered poetry to be a mystical and sacred art. In addition, it was a new way of expressing reality through emotions and sensations.
Jorge Guillén and his position against Henri Bremond
Sometime later, the Spanish writer Jorge Guillén stated that Henri Bremond’s theory of associating the mystical with the poem generated confusion from the point of view of the background, that is, of the content. For Guillén, the purity of poetry was the words themselves, and not the structural elements as such.
Pure poetry was characterized by the following aspects:
– He tried to find the essence of the reality of things, through the cancellation of the narrative or rhetoric.
– Their representatives developed the tendency to specify the words, that is, they expressed themselves from the precise and concise. Ornaments and literary rhetoric were not considered important.
– Constant use of exclamatory phrases and expressions, as well as questions. The purpose of the author of pure poetry was to reveal the surprise generated by his exploration of the world and the essence of humanity.
– Regarding the structure of the poems, pure poetry was characterized by the use of short verses, and the measurement of stanzas. The use of the tenth, that is, of the stanzas with ten eight-syllable verses, was frequent.
– In pure poetry the poem was enough to show reality, it did not need anything else.
Representatives and works
Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970)
He was an Italian poet, born in Alexandria-Egypt on February 10, 1888. Ungaretti’s work was linked to the Italian Hermetic poetic movement of the first half of the 20th century. His work was characterized by giving the word a new value.
Giuseppe’s poetry moved away from rhetoric, while building a close relationship with reality. Through the use of precise and direct terms, he gave birth to the feeling, because he tried to recover the expressive meaning of the word from its essence and autonomy.
The most representative works of the Italian author were:
– The buried port (1916).
– Joy of castaways (1919).
– Feeling of time (1933).
– The promised land (1939).
– The pain (1947).
– II Taccuino del Vecchio (1960).
– The life of a man (1977).
Eugenio Montale (1896-1981)
He was an Italian poet, essayist and critic who was born in Genoa on October 12, 1896. His work was linked to the Hermetic movement. In addition, Montale’s writings were characterized by being brief, linked to reality from the nature of the facts.
Eugenio’s work also stood out for showing his perception of the world and man. As pure poetry explored within the human being, especially in aspects such as loneliness and negativity in the face of circumstances, this allowed Montale to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975.
The most outstanding works of Eugenio Montale were:
– Cuttlefish bones (1925).
– The occasions (1939).
– Finisterre (1943).
– The gale and other things (1956).
– Dinard’s Butterfly (1956).
Paul Valéry (1871-1945)
Valéry was a French writer, essayist, poet and philosopher who was born in Sète, on October 30, 1871. His work was characterized within pure poetry by the subjectivity with which he perceived the modern world and humanity itself. The writer gave the words consciousness from logic and reality.
Here are some of Paul Valéry’s most important titles:
– The young grim reaper (1917).
– The crisis of the spirit (1919).
– The marine cemetery (1920).
Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958)
Juan Ramón Jiménez was a Spanish writer and poet who was born in Moguer-Huelva, on December 23, 1881. Most of his work was framed within pure poetry; through it he captured reality, using precise and concrete words, without applying rhetoric and literary ornaments.
For Juan Ramón Jiménez, creative poets allowed people to know the world through poetry. In the three stages of the poetic work of the writer, the sensitive, intellectual and true, there was a constant search for the exaltation of the word, that is, of pure poetry.
The following were his most important works:
– Rhymes (1902).
– Far gardens (1904).
– Pure Elejías (1908).
– Intermediate Elejías (1909).
– Spring Ballads (1910).
– The sonorous loneliness (1911).
– Melancholy (1912).
– Platero and I (1917).
– Spiritual sonnets (1917).
– Diary of a newly married poet (1917).
– Beauty (1923).
– The total station (1946).
Jorge Guillén (1893-1984)
He was a Spanish writer, poet and literary critic who belonged to the Generation of 27 . His literary work began to develop from the age of thirty-five, within the guidelines of pure poetry, hence it is considered the closest to the work of Juan Ramón Jiménez.
Guillén’s work was devoid of lyrical ornaments, his language was dense and concrete. He captured his ideas and perceptions from the precise point of view, each word meant reality, which he expressed through exclamations in short verses, made up of nouns.
Guillén’s most important works were:
– Canticle (1928). Composed of 75 poems.
– Canticle (1936). Expanded edition with 125 poems.
– Canticle (1945). With 270 poems.
– Canticle (1950). It consisted of 334 poems.
– Huerto de Melibea (1954).
– Clamor. Maremagnum (1957).
– Clamor … That they are going to give the sea (1960).
– According to the hours (1962).
– On the sidelines (1972).
– Final (1981).
Pedro Salinas (1891-1951)
Salinas was a Spanish writer, essayist and poet, member of the Generation of 27. The first part of his work, known as the initial, from 1923 to 1931 was immersed in pure poetry, due to the influence of Juan Ramón Jiménez.
His work was characterized by deeply inquiring into reality; for him poetry had to be original, beautiful and creative. In his stage of pure poetry he perfected his works through the cleaning of words, rhetoric was discarded, even when his favorite subject was love.
Among his most outstanding works within pure poetry were:
– Harbinger (1923).
– Random insurance (1927).
– Fable and sign (1931).
In Latin America
Jaime Torres Bodet (1902-1974)
He was a Mexican writer, poet, essayist, and diplomat. Torres Bodet experimented with the avant-garde movement and pure poetry, as did many American intellectuals. During a period in Madrid, between 1928 and 1931, he related to some writers of the Generation of 27.
The poetic work of Torres Bodet, although it was not closely linked with pure poetry, was related from the point of view of the classical and the realist, considered as anachronistic or out of time due to the way it was structured.
– Some of his works were:
– Youth poems (1916-1917).
– Songs (1922).
– The delirious heart (1922).
– The house (1923).
– Screen (1925).
– Sonnets (1949).
– Without truce (1957).
Eduardo Carranza (1913-1985)
He was a Colombian poet who was part of the Piedra y Cielo literary and poetic movement, inspired by a work by the Spanish writer Juan Ramón Jiménez, hence his connection with pure poetry. His work was precise and accurate in terms of the use of words, in simplicity was a beauty.
– Some of his works were:
– Six Elegies and a Hymn (1939).
– The shadow of the girls (1941).
– Blue of you (1944)
– They, the days and the clouds (1945).
– The days that are now dreams (1973).
– A rose on a sword (1985).