Jorge Carrera Andrade:
H. R. Hays (1904-1980) began his career with the publication of four
novels between 1943 and 1955. He also published critical studies, including From Ape To Angel: A
History of Anthropology (Knopf, 1958) and In The Beginnings (Putnam, 1963), a study of
ancient and primitive religions. He established his career in translation by publishing several
highly regarded books: 12 Spanish American Poets (Yale University Press, 1943), The
Selected Poems of Bertoldt Brecht (Reynal & Hitchcock, 1947), The Stone Knife
(Reynal & Hitchcock, 1947), a novel, and The Selected Writings of Juan Ramon Jimenez
(Farrar Strauss, 1957). He is generally regarded as the initiator of Jorge Carrera Andrade, Casear
Vallejo and Pablo Neruda, introducing their poetry from the south to the north. Generations of
other translators have followed his lead in translating from the abundant garden of Latin American
Jorge Carrera Andrade is the leading contemporary poet of Ecuador and
belongs in the front rank of Latin-American literature. A native of Quito, he was born in 1903 and
at fifteen years of age was already editing a literary review. By the time he was twenty-three he
had published his first books of poems, La guirnalda del silencio and Estanque
inefable (Quito, 1926). In the years that followed he travelled extensively in Europe, studying
in France, Germany and Spain, and published his third book, Boletines de mar y tierra, in
1930 in Barcelona. Although he returned to Ecuador in 1933 to become secretary of the National
Congress and professor of literature in the Mejia Institute, by 1934 he was already in the consular
service and once more took up a wandering existence, visiting Europe, Japan and China. In 1940 he
was appointed consul general for Ecuador in San Francisco, a position he now holds.
He began to write when the poetry of South America had already
undergone a rebellion against the decorative parnasso-symbolism of Ruben Dario which had created
the "modernist" style. Part of this rebellion consisted in an emphasis on a specifically
Latin-American subject matter. In search of a more realistic tradition, Carrera Andrade became
interested in the poetry of Francis Jammes. He was attracted by the simplicity of the French poet,
his love for genre subjects, his gentleness of spirit. Consequently, in the Ecuadorian’s early
work, elements of local color are present; he began by discovering his own environment. But even in
the youthful verses there is a technical fluency and a consistency of tone which is to be a
permanent characteristic of all his work. One feels that poetry is Carrera Andrade’s native
The rose is a cup full of humble fragrance
The metaphor is Carrera Andrade’s poetic signature, stamping the material of sensation with
his particular kind of perception.
Song Of The Apple
The first two stanzas of the above are very close to imagism. Compare William Carlos Williams —
or Marianne Moore —
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey foot at the top...
In all these cases the poetical intention is to render the world of sensation more accurately and
intensely by means of figures which are both descriptive and evocative.
"From my point of view, the poetic evolution of the world has undergone three stages: the musical stage (up to romanticism). The sculptural or formal stage (Parnassian) and the visual stage (initiated by symbolism and continued up to the present). My poetry belongs to this last stage."
And thus Carrera Andrade is typically the poet of tropical luxuriance, the poet of birds and insects and plowed fields and moist abundant vegetation, the poet of the simple things of daily life. He has seen and recorded much and the fruit of it all is a more intensive subjectivity. As he grows older he becomes more aware of his own solitude.
Without memory of compass or earthly idiom,
Along with the deepening nostalgia, his imagery tends to grow more compact, more subtly associative.
subtly Islands where silence
Jorge Carrera Andrade, the world traveler, has preserved a delectable array of souvenirs for his
readers; his three-dimensional banquet is full of vivid colors and pungent flavors. He disarms and
entices: he speaks with ease and intimacy. In the show windows of his verse he has imprisoned air,
music and sunlight. He has traveled farther than terrestrial maps and brought back photographs of
the essence of things.
"Jorge Carrera Andrade, Magician of Metaphors" first appeared in Books Abroad (now
World Literature Today). Copyright 1943 by the University of Oklahoma Press. Reprinted with
permission of the editors and the University of Oklahoma Press.
Jacket 12 Contents page