Chapter 1. Biography.
Some of you might have heard from him and others probably not. He’s by far one the greatest figures in Spanish Literature. Before been a journalist and Diplomat he was a poet who gain immortality with his genius contribution to the Spanish language, and to a renew definition of been Hispanic ( : of or relating to the people, speech, culture of Spain) in The Americas (specifically in Hispanic America).
Rubén Félix García Sarmiento born in Metapa, Nicaragua (changed to Ciudad Darío in his honour), January 18th, 1867. He was the first child of Manuel García and Rosa Sarmiento. Their marriage was unstable due to various reasons that involved Manuel addiction to gambling, alcohol and sex. However, it completely fallen apart with the death of their second child, named Candida Rosa, who died a few days later, after Ruben’s mother gave birth to her. During that time Rosa Sarmiento decided to move out to Ciudad de León and live with one of her aunts who was married to a coronel.
In León Ruben’s mother started a new relationship and went to Honduras (where she remained until her death) leaving Rubén under the care of her aunt Bernarda Sarmiento and her husband, Coronel Félix Ramírez Madregil. He eventually considered them as his true parents.
At the age of three Rubén learned to read and as time passed by his brilliance and curiosity grew, with literary works considered complex for his age. It’s known he was captivated by books like: Don Quijote de La Mancha, The Arabian Nights, De Officis, Corinne (of Madame de Staël)...etc.
Even the Sacred Scriptures of The Bible he studied, and his poems flourish with the same intensity he appreciated lecture.
There isn’t much information about Rubén Darío early stage of life, but it is known that when his adoptive father died in 1871 the family passed through economical struggles. According to Edelberto Torres Espinoza (Dario’s Biographer), he went to several schools in León and finally ended his secular and religious education between 1879-1880 with the Jesuits.
1891- He moved to Managua (the capital). Some politicians had the intention to send him to Europe for educational porpoise. Rubén anticlerical verses didn’t convince the president of the congress (Pedro Joaquín Chamorro y Alfaro) which thought it was for the best if he studied in Granada, Nicaragua, although Rubén preferred to kept in Managua, where he became a journalist, working for El Ferrocaril and El Porvenir (newspaper companies).
Been in El Salvador he gets to know the Salvadorian poet Francisco Gavidia (an expert in French poetry). Under his teachings Darío tried for the first time to adapt the French Alexandrine to the Castilian Meter.
The use of the French Alexandrine would become later a rooted characteristic of the Spanish Modernist poetry movement.
He arrived in Valparaíso, Chile, the 24th of June 1886. According to Darío’s statement, detailed by Edelberto Torres. There he made an important friendship with the son of the president of Chile, the poet Pedro Balmaceda Toro, and with other intellectuals. Thanks to their support Rubén published his first book “Abrojos” , in March of 1887.
In July 1888 he published another book “Azul”, which became the open gate of Spanish Modernism. The book wasn’t an instant best-seller, it became successful with the positive critiques of Juan Valera (Spanish critique and novelist), who published in El Imparcial (a Madrilenian newspaper) two letters directed to Rubén Darío, where despite of criticizing Dario’s excessive French influence he considered him a true prose-man and a talented poet.
Cover of "Azul".
Valera’s critiques gave Rubén the opportunity to work in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for La Nación (Argentinian newspaper company).
Wile he worked for the newspaper he traveled along The Americas.
19th century map.
In El Salvador he married with Rafaela Contreras Cañas (first under civil marriage, then they re-married under the church in Guatemala), daughter of a famous Honduran speech man, the 21th of June of 1890.
Because of political instability and financial problems, they moved to Costa Rica.
Their first child, Rubén Darío Contreras, born November 12th 1891, in Costa Rica. One year later Darío left his family and went back to Nicaragua (ironically for almost the same reason he established with his wife in Costa Rica) where he was given the chance to form part of a delegation destined to travel to Madrid, Spain, for the commemoration of the Fourth Centenary of the Discovery of America.
Dario’s desire of travelling to Europe became reality.
19th century world map.
The 14th of August 1892 he finally reached to Santander, Spain, from where he travelled by train to Madrid. While he stayed there he made friendships with well-known public figures. Among those, there were poets (Gaspar Núñez de Arce, José Zorrilla, Salvador Rueda), novelist (Juan Valera, Emilia Pardo Bazán), scholars (Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo) and noted politicians.
Nicaragua, Panama, New York, Paris.
January 23, 1893- Rubén went back to Nicaragua. He received the devastating news of his wife death. In the beginning of the same year he engaged and married with Rosario Murrillo (old lover), who family obligated Rubén to married her. In April he travelled to Panamá, where things turned into his favour (one of his friends, the president of Colombia, Miguel Antonio, made him honorific consul of Colombia in Buenos Aires). Before establishing in Buenos Aires, he went to New York, leaving behind Rosario. There he met the acclaimed Cuban poet José Martí, with who he developed a brotherhood relationship. After visiting New York, he travelled to Paris.
In Paris he frequently hung out with the Parisian bohemian class.
In the French capital he met the Greek poet, Jean Moréas, and surprisingly he had a discouraging encounter with Paul Verlaine (who he admired immensely). Finally, the 13th of August 1893 he arrived at Buenos Aires, which had an overwhelming impact in him. Darío was received well in Argentina, specially by intellectuals. In Buenos Aires he had a life of excesses and affairs.
That same year his wife Rosario gave birth to Rubén Rubén, a 26th of December. Unfortunately, Rubén Rubén died of tetanus. His grandma cut the umbilical cord with a scissors that wasn’t properly disinfected, causing his death.
A few years later, the 3rd of May 1895, his mother died. The poet barely knew her, but her death deeply affected him. In October of the same year the Colombian government cancelled his services as consul in Buenos Aires. Once again Darío faced economic difficulties, just not for long, La Nación needed a journalist in Europe and Rubén was soon hired. His job was to inform about The Disaster of 1898 impact in Spain and the crisis that proceed as a result from it.
Spain, Paris, Nicaragua.
Darío arrived at Spain with the promise of sending monthly: 5 chronicles to La Nación. (chronicles related to Spain monetary and social situation, after they were defeated by the US in the Hispanic-American war and lost systematically their colonial possessions, which included: Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Philippines, and Guam Island).
In Spain Darío awoke the admiration of a group of intellectuals who defended Modernism (movement that wasn’t accepted by eminent authors, particularly the ones that belong to The Royal Spanish Academy. Spanish: Real Academia Española, generally abbreviated as RAE).
Among those intellectuals there were some who made a name of their own, such as Juan Ramón Jiménez, Ramón María del Valle-Inclán and Jacinto Benavídez.
1899- Rubén, who was legally still married with Rosario Murrillo, found in the garden of the king of Spain (in Madrid), the daughter of the King’s gardener, Francisca Sánchez del Pozo (a farm woman from Navalsauz. Ávila).
She became his last true love. He took her to Paris and teach her to read and write. They had 3 children’s, from which only one stayed alive.
Francisca & Rubén
During his last years he couldn’t reach to a divorce agreement with his still wife, Rosario Murrillo, who wanted a high pension Darío pointed as ridiculously high. To fix once for all his legal troubles he traveled to Nicaragua where he died from an advanced cirrhosis, caused by his alcoholism.
Without the possibility of returning to Spain he died the 6th of February of 1916 in León, leaving Francisca Sánchez as the owner of his valuable possessions in his testament, and a lasting legacy that remains until these days.