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In his 1932 lecture at Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Berlin, Rafael Alberti (19021999) explores the tendency toward the popular forms prevalent in the Spanish poetry of the 1920s and early 1930s, particularly in the so-named Generation of 1927. (1) Certainly this trend can be found in ample evidence in Alberti's volumes Marinero en tierra (1924), La amante (1925), and El alba del alheli (1925-1926), as well as in the poetry of his cohort--Federico Garcia Lorca's (1898-1936) Romancero gitano (1928), to take a prime example. Alberti conceptualizes what he refers to as popular art, in his remarks, as the antique and culto preserved in the memory of the pueblo. He affirms Juan Ramon Jimenez's dictum from the Segunda antolojia poetica, "No hay arte popular, sino ... tradicion popular del arte," because just as Jimenez, he views this art not as having originated with the popular classes, but rather as having been kept by them as its guardians (262; "Poesia popular" 3). At the same time, for Alberti if not exactly for Jimenez, the 'popular' properly understood constitutes an "intercambio," the "flujo y reflujo de la tradicion conservada, oral, con la recreada por el poeta" ("La poesia popular" 16). Alberti understands the term 'poesia popular' to encompass not only vernacular lyrics, and the literary and courtly transformations of these lyrics, but also the exchange that happens among the creators and disseminators of popular and culto poetry. Contrastingly, in his The Spanish Traditional Lyric (1977), John G. Cummins prefers 'poesia de tipo tradicional to 'poesia popular' so as to distinguish vernacular lyrics--what he calls poesia popular--from the wider category of poesia de tipo tradicional, which includes culto forms (1). With each of these perspectives in mind, for our purposes, the combined term 'popular and traditional poetry' best delineates vernacular and culto poetry's intertwined relationship, while at the same time recognizing the differences between them.

As an integral part of his lecture's consideration of popular poetry's renaissance, from modernismo through the Generation of 27, Alberti centers on the romance, Spain's popular and traditional poetic form par excellence. He hits on a crucial reason for the resurgence of popular poetic forms in the Generation of 27 - the way in which these forms lend themselves to the renewal of cultural memory and collective identity. Alberti highlights the way in which the romance's rhythm and versification make it easy to recall and recite, thus facilitating the material's passing down from generation to generation: "En general, estos cantaores, por las razones que antes dije y las exigencias de una musica ya impuesta, apoyan casi todas sus canciones en el verso castellano mas sencillo: el octosilabo de los romances. Tienen la memoria, los oidos, tan llenos de este ritmo, facil de retener ..." ("Poesia popular" 6). Certainly, Diego shares with Alberti and Lorca an attunement to the sounds of popular and traditional lyrics, which is related, in the cases of Diego and Lorca, to their prodigious musical talent and command of the piano. Practitioners of the "romance moderno," of which Alberti regards Jimenez as the definitive progenitor, include, from his standpoint, "Moreno Villa, Jorge Guillen, Pedro Salinas, Federico Garcia Lorca, Fernando Villalon, Luis Cernuda, Vicente Aleixandre, Emilio Prados y Manuel Altolaguirre" ("Poesia popular" 13, 14). Strikingly, Alberti excludes his friend and fellow poet Diego (1896-1987), as well as Larrea (1895-1980), another poet and an intimate of Diego: "No incluyo a Gerardo Diego y Juan Larrea por corresponder a otro punto de arranque" ("Poesia popular" 14). Since Diego was one of the greatest and most prolific twentieth-century Spanish writers of romances, Alberti's omission of him from the list seems odd at first - until Alberti's linkage of the romance to the popular is properly contextualized.

Although Alberti recounts meeting Diego when collecting the prize money awarded to both poets for the Premio Nacional de Literatura in 1925, it is much more likely that they met in 1926, as Diego writes in an April 18 letter of that year to Jose Maria de Cossio (1892-1977) (Neira 168-69; Diego, "To Jose Maria Cossio" 135-36). At that point, Alberti and Diego had a common interest in popular and traditional forms, including culto expressions from the Siglo de Oro--a concern that became manifest in their leadership of the Gongora tercentenary that would define the Generation of 1927 (Morelli). Remarkable is the flourishing of the long friendship between Alberti and Diego, even after they parted ways aesthetically and politically. Starting around 1928, their writing begins to diverge: the crisis of faith in Alberti's Surrealist Sobre los angeles (pub. 1929) versus Diego's religious Viacrucis (pub. 1931) (Neira 178-80). Alberti's increasing anticlericalism and involvement in Spain's social conflicts during 1929-1930, commitment to the Communist Party in 1931, and travel to the Soviet Union in 1932 clash with Diego's life-long Catholicism and fairly conservative Santander background, which would lead him - unlike the Communist Alberti, who went into exile after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) --to quietly support Francisco Franco's side following the 1936 coup d'etat without changing his tolerant attitude towards peers with dissimilar views (Neira 183-86). Alberti's political militancy rather pointed him in the direction of social poetry, as well as poetry that served Communism and the defense of the II Spanish Republic (1931-1939). During and after the Civil War, the romance and other popular forms became, for Alberti, a vehicle for this kind of political and social expression (Gesser 160-70). (2)

Contrary to Alberti, Diego insisted on poetry's autonomy, at times emphasizing the structure of verse or conceiving his labor as analogous to an architect who works with forms (Neira 188; Silverman 354-58). (3) He does not by any means concentrate exclusively on cultural memory or on dialoguing with the popular in his romances, instead engaging various aesthetics and historical periods. While Francisco J. Diez de Revenga rightly underscores the role played by Diego in the Generation of 27's neo-popularism, Pedro Cerrillo judiciously brings to the fore the poet's fascination with the romance at different points in its development through history, thereby reinserting the poet into the wide tradition to which he by rights belongs (Diez de Revenga, "La Metrica" 249-50):

De sobra es conocido el interes que tuvieron los poetas del Grupo del 27 por el Cancionero y el Romancero, hasta tal punto que, refiriendonos al segundo, algunos de ellos (Garcia Lorca, Rafael Alberti, Manuel Altolaguirre o el propio Gerardo Diego) cultivaron la composicion romancistica con notable acierto, manteniendo asi una tradicion muy espanola, que habia tenido momentos de gran esplendor en la prolifica Edad de Oro y en el momento romantico, sobre todo (Cerrillo 57).

Diego's hybrid corpus of romances parallels the heterogeneity that typifies the rest of his work. What Larrea calls Diego's 'heterocronismo' (93) refers to the mixing of influences and borrowing from different moments in the history of literature and the other arts that turns decisive for his poetic (Bernal, "Heterocronismo"; Bernal, "Introduction"; Silverman 340). Diego's romances draw on diverse literary and artistic periods, and aesthetic waves: the popular and the culto remaking of the popular, including, but not limited to, the romance's refashioning in the Siglo de Oro; the neo-popularism embraced by Alberti and other members of the Generation of 1927; the Romantic and neo-Romantic; modernismo; and avant-garde movements from home and abroad. In particular, Diego weaves into his romances elements inspired by the Romantics Gustavo Adolfo Becquer (1836-1870) and the composer Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (1810-1849), the modernismo of Ruben Dario (1867-1916) and Juan Ramon Jimenez (1881-1958), the exploration of Spanish land and identity in Antonio Machado (1875-1939), and the vanguard movements in poetry Creacionismo and Ultraismo. (4)

Dating from the medieval period, the Spanish poetic romance is customarily classified according to theme and defined formally as being composed of an indeterminate number of octosyllabic verses with assonantal rhyme on the even lines only. (5) These romances can have a musical component, with melodies in groupings of sixteen, thirty-two, and occasionally eight notes (Baehr 207). After flowering in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the romance bloomed anew in Romanticism and modernismo, the Generation of 1898 (Antonio and Manuel [1874-1947] Machado, Miguel de Unamuno [1864-1936]), and the Generation of 1927 (Baehr 205-06, 217-18). In music, the romance came to be conceptualized in the eighteenth century as a brief and often tragic love poem expressed through an unaffected melody, supported by unelaborate instrumental support (Orrey). The sentimental romances of the Romantic-era drawing room, thanks to their nocturnal ambience, become romances sans paroles and nocturnes for solo piano in Chopin, one of Diego's preferred composers (Orrey). Diego's reimagining of the romance dovetails with the musical form known as the nocturne--usually a quiet and meditative piece suggestive of the night. The Italian term notturno is found frequently in the eighteenth century; the French nocturne came into use after John Field (1782-1837) applied it to his piano compositions of between 1812 and 1836. Two of the first three of Field's Nocturnes, published in 1815, came out three years earlier as Romances, albeit with minor differences from the later versions (Brown and Hamilton).

Diego's pianism makes him keenly feel the musico-poetic romance and musical nocturne. His "trabajo parafrastico," as he describes his homage to the composer in Nocturnos de Chopin (1918), closely follows the way in which Chopin's Nocturnes express profound and subjective emotion through melodic invention and harmonic sophistication (Diego, "Prologo," Nocturnos de Chopin 12; Brown and Hamilton). Significantly, Diego underscores the simultaneous composition of El romancero de la novia (1918; 1920), in which Diego chronicles a youthful romance of his that ended in rupture, and the Nocturnos de Chopin: "Compuse los 'Nocturnos' a la vez que el 'Romancero de la novia,' alternando romances y parafrasis y entreverando aun otras poesias sueltas y diversas, que constituirian luego el nucleo de otro libro, 'Iniciales'..." ("Prologo," Nocturnos de Chopin 9). Further suggesting the linkage of the romance and nocturne in Diego is his tracing of both forms in his 1941 anthology Romances (1918-1941), where the bulk of the romances written by Diego before that year can be encountered. (6)

The twenty romances comprising the 1941 anthology, with several from El romancero de la novia and Nocturnos de Chopin, are divided into three sections: the eight texts in the first part date from before 1919; the seven making up the second run through the late 1920s; and the five forming the third are from the 1930s to 1941. (7) Romances (1918-1941), which Diego frames as a "ramillete de romances de todos mis libros y 'epocas,' publicados e ineditos, una especie de antologia," unites previously published texts with others that would be incorporated into future volumes ("Al lector" 413; Bernal Salgado, La poesia 59-60). Diego's introduction to the anthology, "Al lector," affirms the significance of the form to Spanish poetry and to himself as a poet. Here he describes it as "la mas espanola de nuestras formas poeticas," holding up "[s]eis siglos de poesia espanola, en que no se concibe una obra personal sin rendir culto al romance" (413). According to him, the collective memory of the romance has stayed noticeably strong throughout the ages, and modern times have only improved upon things by bringing innovation together with tradition: "Y en nuestro tiempo todos sabemos de memoria las maravillas que los maestros de hoy han logrado, sabiendo aliar las mejores virtudes de una rica tradicion con los mas delicados e ineditos matices de una sensibilidad y de una tecnica nuevas" ("Al lector" 414).

Diego's fine musical ear at once leads him to be attentive to the romance's typical octosyllabic versification and assonantal rhyme of the even lines and to stay open to rhythmic flexibility. For inextricably tied to the sonority and musicality of Diego's poetry is his elastic idea of rhythm. From his perspective, "La poesia es esencialmente descubrimiento, revelacion, creacion en cualquiera de sus posibles grados. Pero esta revelacion expresiva o creacion solo se logra por la palabra ritmica" ("Importancia" 279). For him, rhythm shapes a poem's melodic line, moving it forward in time and space ("Elasticidad" 335-36): "el alma del ritmo no es tanto su organizacion en periodos como su flexibilidad y fidelidad al contenido espiritual que las palabras conducen en su encadenamiento melodioso" ("Metrica" 458). The "ritmo poetico" at once constitutes the spirit that is the poem's motive force, and the mnemonic and expressive potential that derives from this pulse ("Elasticidad" 332). In the essay "Musica y ritmo en la poesia de San Juan de la Cruz," Diego compares San Juan's deep musicality to the cancioneros of the Renaissance poet's time, linking the unusual sonority of San Juan's poetry to his particularly sensitive diction, semantic and syllabic repetition, puns, paronomasia, plays on word roots, alliteration, and intuitive use of aspects of accentuation in Spanish (616-17, 623, 625-27).

Beyond his acceptance of the rhythmic elasticity characteristic of popular and traditional poetry, Diego incorporates the sonority and musicality of Romanticism and modernismo. Diego's attraction to Becquer, the subject of a few of his essays, turns on the intense musical and visual aspects of the latter's work, including the significant part played by sensory memory. According to Margaret Jones, Becquer uses sensory memory and synaesthesia, and engages with music and musical techniques, so as to maximize poetic expressiveness (284-87, 288-89). In "Becquer y la musica," for instance, Diego underscores the strong assonantal sonority of Becquer's prose and poetry, tuning into the way in which Becquer takes inspiration from the lieder (or, romanzas sin palabras) of musical Romanticism (46, 60). In other writings on the subject of Becquer, Diego compares the Rimas with Chopin's Preludes in terms of their essential and ludic qualities, and variety and intricacy of rhythm and tonality ("Prologo, Becquer" 179-82). Diego focuses precisely on the Romantic poet's rhythms in "Las golondrinas de Becquer," indicating how the words stressed on the antepenultimate (proparoxytones; palabras esdrujulas) and ultimate (palabras agudas) syllables of the Rima LIII mirror the nervous state induced by disillusionment in love--a theme of El romancero de la novia (190).

Diego praises the rhythmic 'elasticity' of Dario's poetry in kind: "Dario es a la vez, como toda legitima y plena armonia musical, estatica y dinamica, vertical de acordes, y oblicua y horizontal de arpegios y melodias que de sus fundamentos y unidad secreta en el alma espiritu dimanan. Es, en una palabra, elastica" ("Ritmo y espiritu" 272). He admires what Anibal Gonzalez describes as modernismo's heightened awareness of the innate musicality of words (9). With respect to Jimenez, it is the musical quality of Arias tristes that catches his attention, for one thing, and the purity of his popularly inspired late romances and coplas, for another (Diego, "Serenata" 108; Diego, "Las madres" 259-60). The influence of Antonio Machado can also be felt in various senses: Machado provides a model of hybridity in that his poetry combines the pure musicality of Symbolism and modernismo with the sonorities and rooted identity of the popular and traditional ballad.

In El romancero de la novia and Nocturnos de Chopin, rhythmic sonority and musicality help create the impression of Romantic lyric sentiment. Diego responds to the expressiveness of the formal qualities in Chopin's Nocturnes: "Algunos arranques, finales, ritmos insinuantes, oposiciones y modulaciones internas, armonias sutiles, me parecian tan expresivos que casi me decian con palabras su mensaje'" ("Prologo," Nocturnos de Chopin 12). He is particularly sensitive to Chopin's rhythms--"Los ritmos debian derivar, si era posible, del mismo ritmo de la musica"--yet he admits the impossibility of consistently translating the Nocturnes to poetry--"No siempre, sin embargo, era posible la version del compas en ritmo poetico. La sugestion podia venir de un ademan, un gesto sonoro de la musica ..." (12).

El romancero de la novia draws on the rhythmic sonorities and musicality of Romanticism and modernismo, melding them with the popular and traditional. In particular, the formal elements of "Ella," the volume's first poem - assonance and alliteration (the 'o,' 'a,' and 'u,' and 'r,' 'z,' 'd,' and 'n' sounds), and the assonantal rhyme of the even lines produce the sort of lyrical sonority typical of the popularly derived romance. Such musical and sonorous aspects work in concert with the visual to create a synesthetic effect similar to the modernismo of Dario and Jimenez; this phenomenon represents the sensory intensity of being in love, thereby allowing the reader to experience the beloved as would her smitten admirer. Diego nods to a poem of the same title by Dario, tweaking the rhetorical question asked at the beginning; Diego's apostrophe to the reader, " No la conoceis?," parallels Dario's " La conoceis?," diverging only in its negative construction (Diego, "Ella," El romancero de la novia line 1/11; Dario, "Ella," Poesias completas 1/134).

Diego's poem, like Dario's, evokes the struggle of the poetic 'I' to capture and hold the beloved's image in memory: "Yo solo podria hablaros / vagamente de su languida / figura, de su aureola / triste, profunda y romantica" (Diego, "Ella," RN 58/11). (8) The metapoetic allusion to Romanticism relates to the sentimental nature of the volume and to Diego's interweaving of Romantic themes and wording into its texts. Both Diego and Dario use the sensory, especially the musical language and (quasi)-synaesthesia characteristic of modernismo, to remember the beloved:
    La conoceis? Es vida de mi vida,
   del corazon la fibra mas sonora;
   ella, el perfume de mi edad florida;
   mi luz, mi porvenir, mi fe, mi aurora.
   (Dario, "Ella," PC 13-16/134); (9)

   ... Que cuando anda,

   no parece que se apoya,
   flota, navega, resbala...
   Os hablaria de un gesto
   muy suyo ... de sus palabras,

   a la vez desden y mimo,
   a un tiempo reproche y lagrimas,
   distantes como en un extasis,
   como en un beso cercanas ...

   Pero no: cerrad los ojos,
   imaginadla, sonadla,
   reflejada en el cambiante
   espejo de vuestra alma.
   (Diego, "Ella," RN 12-24/11)

In making special reference to sound and music in their diction--"[e]l corazon la fibra mas sonora" (Dario, "Ella," PC 14/134); "de sus palabras, // a la vez desden y mimo, / a un tiempo reproche y lagrimas" (Diego, "Ella," RN 16-18/11)--each poet emphasizes not only modernismo's characteristic musicality, but also, the musicopoetic origins of the romance.

Correspondingly, in "Las tres hermanas," Diego blends the popular and traditional romance's musicality--produced through syntactic parallelism, anaphora, and the refrain--with the sonorities of modernismo:
   Estabais las tres hermanas,
   las tres de todos los cuentos,
   las tres en el mirador
   tejiendo encajes y suenos.

   ... Era tu figura
   la flor de un nimbo de ensueno.
   Tres erais, tres, las hermanas
   como en los libros de cuentos.
   (RN 1-4, 21-24/15)

Diego threads parallel grammatical and syntactic structures throughout the poem, imbuing the text with a popular air: lines 2 and 3 begin with "las tres"; lines 5, 6, 10, 15, and 16 start with the conjunction "y"; the expression "como si" repeats in quick succession in lines 13 and 14; and the adjective "larga" is reiterated three times in lines 17 and 18. Contrastingly, Diego's diction in phrases like "Era tu figura / la flor de un nimbo de ensueno" brings to mind the language of modernismo and Dario: "Guardo su amor como el ensueno santo / de mi enlutada solitaria vida" (Dario, "Ella," PC 21-22/134).

In "El amor," Diego joins the popular and traditional with both modernismo and Romanticism. Here his diction refers directly to popular culture--the special veneration and celebration of the Virgin Mary every May 30--"Treinta de mayo: la Madre / del Amor Hermoso"--and to the musico-poetic forms associated with the popular--the syntactic parallelism and assonantal rhyme characteristic of vernacular lyrics ("El amor," RN 11-12/14). In doing so, he emphasizes the popular roots of the romance:
    Oh, noche blanca y mojada;
   oh, noche de primavera!
   treinta de mayo; ya hay flores,
   ya hay golondrinas ...

   Ya la rosa de mi alma
   se abre a la luz de la estrella.
   Treinta de mayo:  celestes
   alas de mi primavera!
   ("El amor," RN 1-4/13, 33-36/14)

At the same time, the language of "El amor" is reminiscent of Becquer's Rimas, notably the image of the swallows (golondrinas), which remind us of the wellknown Rima LIII ("Volveran las oscuras golondrinas"). In both Becquer's Rima LIII and Diego's "El amor," the swallows stand metaphorically for the sentiment felt by the pair in the text, but Diego's tone, giddy with the blush of love's first bloom, contrasts markedly with the disillusionment expressed in Becquer. "El amor" also has in common with Dario's Azul (1888) ecstatic apostrophes - " Oh, amada mia! Es el dulce / tiempo de la primavera" - and a foregrounding of the sensory, as well as a sonorous language created by assonantal rhyme and the cadences of assonance and alliteration (Dario, "Primaveral," Azul, PC 37-38/516):
   Mes de rosas. Van mis rimas
   en ronda, a la vasta selva,
   a recoger miel y aromas
   en las flores entreabiertas.
   Amada, ven. El gran bosque
   es nuestro templo; alli ondea
   y flota un santo perfume
   de amor ...
   (Dario, "Primaveral," Azul, PC 1-8/515)

"El amor" likewise parallels Jimenez's Baladas de primavera (1907) in its synthesis of the popular and traditional with the Romantic and modernista. To illustrate, in "Manana de la cruz," Jimenez interlaces into the text popularly derived figures such as the refrain, syntactic parallelism, and call and response, yet the poem is redolent with the sensorial language of modernismo:
   Dios esta azul. La flauta y el tambor
   anuncian ya la cruz de primavera.
    Vivan las rosas, las rosas del amor,
   entre el verdor con sol de la pradera!

   Vamonos al campo por romero,
   vamonos, vamonos
   por romero y por amor ...
   (Baladas de primavera, Segunda antolojia poetica 1-7/69)

In a similar way to his treatment of popular cultural themes in "El amor," in "La ausencia," Diego describes the celebration of Corpus Christi through imagery and allegory. The theme of the beloved's alternating absence and presence resonates with the religious meaning of the holiday, which glorifies the transubstantiation of the body and blood of Jesus into the host--Christ's becoming present. The poetic 'I' will be absented from the beloved's presence, as well as from the partaking of the host, thus underlining ironically his physical and emotional remove from the object of his affection and from communal religious experience:
   En un velo de bruma
   la manana se emboza.
   Desde la estacion lloro
   mi pobre dicha rota.

   Otro dia cualquiera,
   por la calle a esta hora
   iria yo olvidado
   entre gentes borrosas.

   Oh, cuando salga el sol,
   que manana de gloria.
   Como es dia del Corpus,
   asomada mi novia

   vera la procesion,
   y, al paso de la Forma,
   sembrara sobre el palio
   su bandeja de rosas

   deshojadas en petalos
   de seda y sangre roja.
   (Diego, "La ausencia," RN 1-18/17)

The lamented, forced absence of the poetic 'I' runs contrary to the beloved's presence and to social participation in the popular rites of Corpus Christi, like the scattering of red rose petals--symbolic of Christ's blood--during the procession. This absence foregrounds the pain experienced by the subject in his inability to either join in the Corpus Christi celebration or enjoy the presence of his beloved.

The last image seen by the poetic 'I' as his train pulls away from the station, "las torres del santuario / de la Virgen Patrona," jogs his memory of a customary prayer for the Virgin Mary's intercession: "Dios te salve, Reina y / Madre de Misericordia ..." ("La ausencia," RN 31-32, 33-34/18). The remembered fragment, akin to the refrain in popular and traditional poetic forms such as the romance, comes from the Catholic prayer "Salve." (10) The liturgical reference underlines the role of remembrance in Diego and in the popular and traditional romance. To this end as well, Diego heavily marks both the end and internal rhyme schemes in the poem. In the first stanza, not only is there assonantal rhyme at the close of the even lines ("se emboza," "dicha rota"), but also, this rhyming can be found throughout--"bruma" and "manana," for example (2, 4/17, 1, 2/17). Yet at the same time, as Diego foregrounds the popular and traditional, his diction remains suggestive of modernismo. The images in the phrase, "En un velo de bruma / la manana se emboza" (1-2/17), and melancholy language--"Al ver a mis amigos / mirara melancolica, // suspirando por mi, / que ire por las tediosas / llanuras de Castilla" (19-23/17) - return us once more to Jimenez:
   Todo el paisaje se esfuma;
    en donde esta la alegria?
   Si todo muere en la bruma
   muera la esperanza mia.

   Ya no pensare en su traje
   blanco, ni en sus ojos ...

   Paisaje, guarda mi ensueno ...
   Ya sobre el papel mi pluma
   deja una rima de sueno
   ante el paisaje de bruma.
   (Jimenez, Arias tristes, Antologia poetica 13-24/131)

Like most of the poems in Romancero de la novia, in "Hallazgo del aire" (Romances [1918-1941]) Diego juxtaposes the popular and traditional with different styles, but this time he sets it against the avant-garde. He bases the poem on a religious allegory drawn from a Catholic pious legend that dates roughly from the time of the Crusades. Diego's poem follows the legend of the "la santa casa de Loreto" in describing the miraculous origins of the Basilica della Santa Casa in Loreto, Italy. According to Catholic lore, the Santa Casa di Loreto--the birthplace of the Virgin Mary and the house where "el inefable mysterio de la encarnacion del hijo de Dios" occurred--was saved with its relics from the Turks by divine intervention (Torsellini). Angels carried the house in their hands first from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to Tersatto, in Dalmatia (now Croatia), and then from there to Recanati, Italy, where it soon took on the name of Laureta, a wealthy and pious area matron (Torsellini).

The extended metaphor comparing the angels of lore with birds of prey - "abanico de buitres, / prenez de vientres graves" (Diego, "Hallazgo del aire," Romances 15-16/419)--fits with the violence of the Crusades, but there is another, equally war-related context to the poem. In his introduction to Romances (1918-1941), Diego designates "Hallazgo del aire" as a "romance de guerra, de 1937," a characterization that locates the poem in the context of the Spanish Civil War ("Al lector" 415). (11) The poem's "zumbido siniestro"--its heavily marked sonorities - allude to the violence of both the Crusades and the Civil War (Diego, "Hallazgo del aire," Romances 14-15/19):
   Mas de pronto, un zumbido
   siniestro que se abre,
   abanico de buitres,
   prenez de vientres graves.
   Y el cenit que se quiebra
   y se despenan  angeles,
   jerifaltes? Son aguilas,
   las soberbias caudales.
   (Diego, "Hallazgo del aire," Romances 14-21/419)

Surely these sonorities stem from the formal properties of the popular and traditional romance--rhyme on the even lines, assonance, and alliteration. At the same time, the poem's short, punctuated phrases and series of proparoxytones--"cupulas," "acrobatas," "angeles," "aguilas," "rubricas," "magicos," "nictalopes," and "unanimes" produce a staccato, contrapuntal rhythm that clashes with the popular and traditional romance's expected--easily memorized and repeated--sonority (5, 8, 19, 20, 24, 25/419, 31, 39/420). Diego's off-kilter rhythms in fact recall the experimental suonorumori (sound-noises) of the Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo and the Ultraismo of Guillermo de Torre (1900-1971), a contemporary of Diego who was himself influenced by Italian Futurism (Zaramella):
   La ciudad multanime abre sus visceras centrales y prolonga sus
   perifericos, tentacularmente.

   La infinitud de edificios cristalinos--pueblos
      verticales--cupulados de estaciones

   seccionan transversalmente el dinamismo convulsivo de las claras

   (De Torre, "Al aterrizar," Helices 5-7/13)

The proparoxytones, exaggeratedly long poetic lines, and multi-syllabic adverbs of De Torre's "Al aterrizar" make for unusually difficult rhythmic patterns.

Yet sonority and musicality take on the most significance in Nocturnos de Chopin. In "Nocturno XII," Diego turns elements of the romance into meta-musical and metapoetic expression - underscoring the crucial relationship between music and poetry in his work. As Antonio Gallego, editor of Diego's Poemas musicales (Antologia), notes: "Es parafrasis del dulcisimo Nocturno en sol mayor, Op. 37, num. 2, de Chopin, para la cual recurre Gerardo Diego al dialogo de una pareja de enamorados inmersa en los sonidos clasicos de la noche" (407). Diego's diction metapoetically points toward music; he integrates into the poem the words and phrases "lirica," "blandas cadencias / de cancion de cuna," "rumores," "dulce musica," "campanas (celestes)," "guzlas," (12) and "tanido divino" ("Nocturno XII," Poemas musicales 5, 13-14, 15/406, 29, 39, 42, 44, 39, 46/407). By the same token, the simile "Como una azucena / de nevada tunica, / inocente y lirica / florece la luna" resonates with the sonority and imagery of Romanticism and modernismo, both of which tie in with Chopin and the nocturne/romance as musico-poetic forms (3-6/406).

In order to emphasize the impact of the rhythmic structure of Chopin's Nocturne 12 on his poem, Diego prefaces the text with the opening three measures of the composer's score, in which he introduces the music's principal rhythms (Diego, Nocturnos de Chopin 97; Chopin, Nocturne 12 70; Rubinstein) (see ex. 1). In "Nocturno XII," recurring amphibrachs parallel the repeated triplets comprising the bass line, groups of six sixteenth notes, and the principal motif (combinations of four sixteenth notes and a quarter note) - all patterns felt in three. Similarly, Diego's invention of the dialogue between the lovers reflects the back and forth between the five-note main motif and the two groups of sixteenth notes in the treble register played in immediate succession in the Chopin:
   --Juan,  estoy sonando?
    Oh, que dulce musica!

   --Parecen campanas;
   no las senti nunca.

   -- Quien las toca, di?

   --No se, pero escucha.
   Maria, te quiero.

   ("Nocturno XII," Poemas musicales 27-33/407)

In contrast to "Nocturno XII," in the double sonnet "Nocturno II," it is the gestural rather than the rhythmic per se that predominates. The rhyme scheme - cruzada in each of the four-line stanzas, and overlapping between the two three-line stanzas in the single sonnets - builds a consistent foundation, much like the rolling triplets that Chopin writes for the bass line of his Nocturne no. 2 in E-flat major (see ex. 2). Augmenting this gestural feeling, the natural pauses that Diego incorporates into the rhetorical questions in stanzas 2 through 4 and 7 follow the slowing down of the rhythm at the end of the musical phrases in the Chopin, including the two fermatas (holds) at the end of the piece (Diego, Nocturnos de Chopin 41; Chopin, Nocturne 2 21; Vasary):
    Alguien a coloquio las ramas incita?
    Que vuelos de seda besan el umbral?
    De quien se presiente la dulce visita,
   de que delicado huesped de cristal?

    Y ese halo que apenas la sombra esclarece,
   que ya va extendiendo su gasa, que crece
   en difusa niebla, penumbra de aurora,

   aurora de plata, plata de esplendor?

    Quien es el que parla de amor tan sublime?
    Sera el alma en gloria de algun ruisenor?
   Ay, que ya se extingue la alada fermata ...

   (Diego, "Nocturno II," Nocturnos de Chopin 5-12/41, 23-25/42)

Diego refers metapoetically to such flourishes in the Chopin as the two fermatas at the close of the piece, and to the trills and other musical embellishments--the "volutas de un timbre argentino" (17/41); "la alada fermata" (25/42)--that belong to the not-quite-recognizable song heard in a nighttime garden. Diego's diction in the poem, a meditation on love in the sentimental manner of the musical nocturne, is reminiscent of the "fin del modernismo e impaciencias de nuevos ismos" that he highlights in his prologue to the Nocturnos de Chopin (11). (13) Fittingly, the poem's language reminds us of Jimenez's Nocturnos (Arias tristes), which just as Diego's "Nocturne II," are set in a nighttime garden, replete with the mists, moonlight, and sighs of love characteristic of modernismo.

Analogous to the Nocturnos, Diego's ballads stay linked to the musico-poetic romance, yet different to them, they speak more directly to the popular and traditional. In the "Romance del Jucar" (Hasta siempre [1925-1941]), Diego exaggerates the sonorities typical of the romance in order to foreground the connection with popular modes of expression. For instance, the assonantal rhyme of the even lines evokes popular speech and verse patterns in the expected fashion, but the alliteration using 'v,' 'r,' 'rr,' 'd,' 'c'/'q,' 's,' and 'p' sounds is heightened for effect. The poem's principal motif - "Agua verde, verde, verde, / agua encantada del Jucar" recalls Lorca's "Romance sonambulo"--"Verde que te quiero verde" - which has been compared with the sound of the strumming of a guitar (Diego, Hasta siempre 1-2/565; Lorca, Romancero gitano 1/229). (14)

The mnemonic attributes of the rhyme scheme, assonance, and alliteration sharpen and give increased vibrancy to the poem's images, which stem from Diego's impressions of the Jucar River following a 1926 visit to Cuenca (Cerrillo 56). Diego's chromatic delineation of the landscape becomes intensified with the repetition of the word 'verde,' and the 'r' and 'rr' sounds:
   Agua verde, verde, verde,
   agua encantada del Jucar,
   verde del pinar serrano
   que casi te vio en la cuna

   --bosques de san sebastianes
   en la serrania oscura,
   que por el costado herido
   resinas de oro rezuman--...

   Cuenca, toda de plata,
   quiere en ti verse desnuda,
   y se estira, de puntillas,
   sobre sus treinta columnas.

   No pienses tanto en tus bodas,
   no pienses, agua del Jucar,
   que de tan verde te anilas,
   te amoratas y te azulas.

   (Diego, "Romance del Jucar," Hasta siempre 1-8/565, 21-28/566)

Diego's language, evoking Cuenca's deep colors, fits with the ekphrastic description of the landscape which remains characteristic of the ballad tradition.

Comparable to the "Romance del Jucar" for its emphasis on sight and sound, as well as for its reflexiveness about the ballad as a musico-poetic form, is the "Romance del Duero," that appeared in the publication Soria. Galeria de estampas y efusiones (1923), and which portrays the landscape of Soria, the place where the young Diego held his first teaching post. The broken-up, refrain-like motifs in the first and last two stanzas mirror the fragmentary nature of memory, which fits with Diego's retrospective perspective since, according to Cesar Ibanez Paris, Diego wrote "Romance del Duero" right before the publication of Soria. Galeria de estampas y efusiones (424):
   Rio Duero, rio Duero,
   nadie a acompanarte baja,
   nadie se detiene a oir
   tu eterna estrofa de agua.

   Rio Duero, rio Duero,
   nadie a estar contigo baja,
   ya nadie quiere atender
   tu eterna estrofa olvidada,

   sino los enamorados
   que preguntan por sus almas
   y siembran en tus espumas
   palabras de amor, palabras.

   (Galeria de estampas y efusiones, Soria sucedida 1-4,

Diego's attention to sonority in the apostrophe and personification of the river metapoetically reinforces his treatment of sound, in addition to the mnemonic role played by sonority in the romance/ballad. And by tuning his ear to the Duero River's "eterna estrofa de agua," and turning its "eterna estrofa olvidada" into "palabras de amor, palabras," he converts sound and the sensory into memory in the form of verse (4, 24/104, 28/105).

In another apostrophe to the Duero River in the third stanza, Diego underlines the role of the musico-poetic in the representation and transmission of experience, specifically mentioning the romance by name:
   Tu, viejo Duero, sonries
   entre tus barbas de plata,
   moliendo con tus romances
   las cosechas mal logradas.

   ("Romance del Duero," Soria. Galeria de estampas y efusiones

With the images of the Duero's "barbas de plata" and "cosechas mal logradas," Diego looks again to Antonio Machado, now to his romance "La tierra de Alvargonzalez" (Campos de Castilla [1912; 1917]):
   Alvargonzalez ya tiene
   la adusta frente arrugada,
   por la barba le platea
   la sombra azul de la cara.

The "Romance del Duero" shares its versification - octosilabos populares - with "La tierra de Alvargonzalez," as well as a rootedness in the land and common people - the pueblo (Ribbans 20-21). By gesturing towards Machado's "La tierra de Alvargonzalez," Diego affirms his connection to the ballad and the romance, and by extension, the importance of this rooted identity, as grounded in the popular and expressed in neo-popularism.

Returning now to Alberti's 1932 Berlin lecture, it becomes possible to reintroduce Diego into the history of the modern romance, of which, according to Alberti, Jimenez stands as the undisputed father:
   ... [Juan Ramon Jimenez] descompone el romance: la anecdota
   desaparece, o queda diluida, diseminada en musica, hasta el extremo
   de casi no poderse contar. El acarreo de lo popular apenas si
   existe, todo es invencion. Juan R. Jimenez es, sin duda el
   verdadero creador del romance moderno (12-13).

So as to exemplify this modern romance, Alberti quotes the refrain of Jimenez's "Granados en el cielo azul":
    Granados en cielo azul!
    Calle de los marineros;
   que verdes estan tus arboles,
   que alegre tienes el cielo!

   La mujer canta a la puerta:
   ' Vida de los marineros;
   el hombre siempre en el mar,
   y el corazon en el viento!'

   (Segunda antolojia poetica, 1-12/59-60; cf. Alberti, "La poesia"

The popular stays present in all its sonority and musicality in this romance, the formal features of which--assonance and alliteration, quatrains with assonantal rhyme on the even lines, octosilabos, and the quotation of vernacular material--have their origins in the musico-poetic popular (and traditional) genre. Alberti's claims about the decomposition of the romance into abstract elements, exaggerated for effect, make perfect sense when they are understood to signify that Jimenez changes narrative for lyric, emphasizing the natural music of the romance. If, as according to Alberti, Jimenez breaks the romance down into its musical and lyric parts, thus engendering the 'modern' romance, then Diego should be considered as the creator of the 'postmodern' romance. In transforming the romance's popular and traditional, as well as Romantic, modernista, and Generation of 1898 iterations, the heterocronista Diego creates a hybrid form that remarks on its own peculiar history and language. This meta-history - which derives from what Alberti called Diego's 'otro punto de arranque' - throws into question the idea of what is meant by popular and traditional poetry, and by whom and how it might be perpetuated.


This article was supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Extracts are used by kind permission of Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, Krakow, Poland.


(1) Robert Marrast reproduces "La poesia popular en la lirica espanola contemporanea" in his 1970 compilation of Rafael Alberti's prose writing (Prosas encontradas: 1924-1942), giving a date of November 30, 1932 for the lecture. The lecture was published in 1933 (Prosas encontradas 195).

(2) See the Romancero general de la Guerra Espanola, with texts selected by Alberti.

(3) See Diego's poems "Poesia de circunstancia" and "Soneto mio" (the ars poetica of Versos humanos [1925] and Alondra de verdad [1941], respectively), as well as his essay "La vuelta a la estrofa."

(4) Diego developed his first published volume of poetry, Imagen (1922), in conversation with Larrea, who had thrown his loyalty behind the Chilean Vicente Huidobro (18931948) and Huidobro's avant-garde movement in poetry, Creacionismo, which emphasized a complete break with both the literary past and mimetic representation. Diego also championed, in its earliest phase, Ultraismo (founded in 1918), a movement that intentionally combined the various avant-gardes from Europe and Latin America.

(5) In her critical introduction to El romancero viejo, Mercedes Diaz Roig classifies romances under two umbrella categories, the Romances historicos and the Romances de invencion. She places in the first category the Noticieros (the Fronterizos and Historicos varios) and the Historico-epicos, and in the second, the Caballerescos and the Novelescos (32).

(6) The initial iteration of Diego's Nocturnos comes in 1918, roughly at the same time as El romancero de la novia and Iniciales, yet they would stay unpublished until 1963, with the Bullon edition of Nocturnos de Chopin.

(7) Gerardo Diego's romances from after 1941, and the publication of Romances (1918-1941) and Hasta siempre (1925-1941), are too chronologically removed from the Generation of 1927 and what Jose Carlos Mainer dubbed 'La edad de plata' to fall within the scope of this article.

(8) From here forward, Diego's El romancero de la novia will be abbreviated as RN in parenthetical citations.

(9) Ruben Dario's Poesias completas will be written as PC in parenthetical citations from now on.

(10) Diego quotes the beginning eight words exactly. The whole first line reads as follows: "Dios te salve, Reina y Madre de misericordia, vida, dulzura y esperanza nuestra; Dios te salve" ("Salve").

(11) Diego meant to include "Hallazgo del aire" in Hasta siempre (1949), but in the end, he incorporated it into Versos divinos (1971). He also changed the title to "La casa de Loreto" and made significant changes to the text, foregrounding its religious themes and all but eliminating identifiable references to the Spanish Civil War. See Diego, "Al lector" (415), and Jose Luis Bernal Salgado (Lapoesia 60).

(12) Gallego notes that a guzla is a string instrument from Adriatic folk culture (407408).

(13) Regarding the influence of modernismo on Diego's Nocturnos de Chopin, see Maria del Carmen Hernandez Valcarcel, "Musica y poesia en los 'Nocturnos de Chopin' de Gerardo Diego" (200). Antonio Gallego relates modernismo specifically to Diego's "Nocturno II" in his notes on the poem (Diego, Poemas musicales 399).

(14) Diego dates the "Romance del Jucar" to 1927 ("Al lector" 415).


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Renee M. Silverman

Florida International University

Leyenda: Ex. 1. Fryderyk Chopin. Nocturne 12 in G major, Op. 37, no. 2.

Leyenda: Ex. 2. Fryderyk Chopin. Nocturne 2 in E flat major, Op. 9, no. 2.
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