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Antonio Pau

On the Eve of a Centenary: Rilke’s Trip to Spain


The year 2012 marked 100 years since Rilke’s arrival in Spain, and this is a good opportunity to recall his stay among us and the poems he wrote here –especially Die spanische Triologie–, and to examine the influence of Spain on the poet’s work, as well as his influence on Spanish poetry.

The two longest stages of his trip were those he spent in Toledo and Ronda, and in each of these cities he wrote letters and poems. His two most intense impressions were of El Greco and angels. He didn’t speak to anyone.

Rilke brought a letter of presentation to Manuel Bartolomé Cossío in Madrid. Why didn’t he give it to him? How would his life have changed if he had met the Spanish institutionalists?

The presence of Spain can be traced in Rilke’s work. But what has been the opposite effect? What influence has Rilke had on Spanish poets? Rilke’s tone, as Antonio Colinas has observed, is “flexible, reflexive, and apparently cold but contains exquisite lyricism”. But was it echoed by Spanish poets, generally more brazen and less intimate? Reference will be made to Cernuda, Rosales, Vivanco, Valverde, Valente and Colinas, among others.

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