Known as the “Spanish Homer,” Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561–1627) is widely considered to be Spain’s greatest poet. He was both praised and vilified during his lifetime, but his reputation waned in the years after his death; in the 1920s, he was championed by the Modernists, including Federico García Lorca, and influential critics of Spanish literature, including Dámaso Alonso. Famous for intricate metaphors in baroque style and syntax, Góngora has even been immortalized as a literary term: a “gongorism” connotes an involved Latinate style. Yet despite his influence and reputation, Góngora is not well known to English-speaking readers. Selected Poems of Luis de Góngora aims to change that.
Making the poet available to contemporary readers of poetry without denying him his historical context, Selected Poems of Luis de Góngora represents Góngora as master of many genres and a writer whose life and poetry are closely intertwined. His verse speaks of the hardships of love, current events, friendship, the trials of life at court, and the beauties of his beloved Córdoba. His ballads and lyrics embrace a great variety of subjects: stories from the border warfare between Moors and Christians, tales of romance, the treacheries of ambition, and above all, a self-mocking autobiography and his own, often irreverent, versions of famous literary themes.
John Dent-Young’s free translations capture Góngora’s intensely musical voice and transmit the individuality and self-assuredness of the poet. The first significant edition of this seminal and challenging poet in a decade, Selected Poems of Luis de Góngora will find an eager audience among students of poetry and scholars studying the history and literature of Spain.