Tag Archives: Juan Ramón Jiménez (Spanish poet)

Casa-Museo Zenobia y Juan Ramón Jiménez

 

The Casa-Museo Zenobia y Juan Ramón Jiménez (House and Museum of Zenobia and Juan Ramón Jiménez) is located in the town of Moguer in Huelva Province, Andalusia, Spain.

Moguer, the poet’s home town, is the setting for his beloved book of prose poetry Platero y yo (Platero and I).

Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881–1958) was a Spanish poet who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956 for “his lyrical poetry, which in the Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity.”

Jiménez is one my favorite authors and has been so ever since high school when I read Platero y yo, his most famous book, in English translation.

Zenobia Camprubí (1887–1956) was the poet’s wife. She herself was a writer and poet and the translator of the works of Rabindranath Tagore.

I traveled to Andalusia in May and June of this year with a friend. Jiménez’s birthplace in Moguer, now a museum, was a must see, partly because Platero and yo is suffused with local color.

The museum was well worth the visit.

 

– Roger W. Smith

      June 2016

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

photographs by Roger W. Smith

 

 

the first edition of “Platero and I”

 

Juan Ramón Jiménez, Platero y yo (Platero and I)

The first edition of this prose poem was published in 1914 by Ediciones de la lectura.  A complete edition of 138 chapters was published in 1917 by Editorial Calleja, Madrid.

 

 

Platero y yo- first edition (1914)

 

 

 

 

a horrible book cover – “Platero y yo”

 

 

 

 

a18 Platero y yo - Icelandic

Juan Ramón Jiménez, Platero y yo – Icelandic

 

 

I recently visited the Casa Museo Zenobia y Juan Ramón Jiménez located in Moguer, a small city in the province of Huelva, Andalusia, Spain. The town was the birthplace and home (in his youth and early adulthood) of the poet Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881–1958).

Jiménez is best known for his prose poem about a writer and his donkey, Platero y yo (Platero and I). The book has been translated into innumerable languages.

Show above is a photograph of the Icelandic translation of Platero y yo, which is on display (with many other editions, in many languages) at the Casa Museo Zenobia y Juan Ramón Jiménez. The cover art of this edition baffles me. It shows what is possibly supposed to be (?) a donkey’s tail and a cockroach! A cockroach. Why? And how does this relate to the content of the book?

Platero and I is a wonderful book that leaves the reader with good, warm feelings. It is a popular book for children as well as adults. This cover leaves a distasteful residue — so to speak — in terms of the image and what it suggests.

I experience unpleasantness when I see a cockroach in our house, and this book cover gives me a similar feeling.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

      June 2016

my paper on “Platero y yo”; Luciana de Ames’s Spanish class

 

 

paper on ‘Platero y yo’ (in Spanish)

 

 

The short paper on the prose poem Platero y yo (Platero and I) by the Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez — it amounts to an appréciation — that I have posted here (downloadable file above) was written by me in an introductory Spanish course at Columbia University in the 1970’s.

I have been a great admirer of Jiménez since my teenage years, when I found out about him from my older brother. He was reading Jiménez’s classic in an English translation and greatly admired it.

Platero y yo is a simple, semi-autobiographical account, written in the first person, about a poet and his donkey. It evokes the region of Andalusia and the town of Moguer, the author’s birthplace (which I have visited).

Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881–1958) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956.

 

***********************************************

 

My instructor for first year Spanish was Luciana de Ames. I believe she was Italian.

She was gorgeous. It was an all male class. It seemed like the whole class was in love with her. I certainly was.

She was a great foreign language teacher.

I got an A in her course in the spring of 1974 and an A plus from her in the second semester of the course.

I attended a lecture in Spanish that she gave to the Spanish Department. I did not understand most of it. It was on the Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo (1892–1938), who was the focus of her scholarly interest.

Her literary enthusiasms also included Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel García Márquez, which had recently been published. Mrs. de Ames raved about the book.

Mrs. de Ames was married with a son about five years old. I ran into her walking with her son one day in Riverside Park. She was eating from a bag of potato chips. She was very friendly and didn’t seem at all fazed by meeting me in a different setting.

She was a natural. Open and unaffected. Extremely energetic and enthusiastic as a teacher and scholar, a lover of language and literature — it was so much fun being in her class.

 

**********************************************

 

Because of the energy crisis, daylight savings rules had been instituted year round. Our class was at 8 a.m. We would be gathered in front of the Casa Hispanica on West 116th Street waiting for Mrs. de Ames to arrive. She would always seem to be running down the street breathlessly, just in time, and would unlock the front door of the building, fumbling with the keys. It was always dark because of daylight savings, not usual for that hour in the morning.

Mrs. de Ames also liked the Nicaraguan writer Rubén Darío (1867-1916). She introduced us to Darío’s poem “Walt Whitman,” which begins:

En su país de hierro vive el gran viejo,
bello como un patriarca, sereno y santo.
Tiene en la arruga olímpica de su entrecejo
algo que impera y vence con noble encanto.

(In his country of iron lives the grand old man / beautiful as a patriarch, serene and holy. / He has in the Olympian wrinkle of his brow / something that prevails and conquers with noble charm.)

In one class, Mrs. de Ames asked, spontaneously — without there being any connection to the lesson — “Quien escribiò Hojas de yierba?” (who wrote Leaves of Grass?). I answered quickly, “Walt Whitman.”

The rest of the class had no clue as to the question. I didn’t either — at first. But it was the kind of question upon which my brain operates fast. I thought, “escribiò”: the word must have something to do with writing — escribir is a Spanish verb meaning to write and has the same root as the English word scribe.

“Hojas de yierba” stumped me for a nanosecond. Then, I thought: “yierba,” sounds like “herbs”; must mean something like grass. So the question must refer to someone who wrote about grass. (I didn’t know what “hojas,” leaves, meant.) It could only be Whitman. Who else wrote about GRASS?

Mrs. de Ames was impressed. So was the rest of the class. There was a bright, friendly law school student in the class. He was rubbing his forehead and asked me with incredulity, “how did you ever get that one?”

 

— Roger Smith

      May 2016

 

Postscript: I have wondered what became of Mrs. de Ames: what her academic career was like and where she might be now. I have been unable to locate her.

Juan Ramón Jiménez – books in my library

 

All of these books are in my personal library with the exception of the eight translations of Platero y yo (Platero and I) into languages other than English. These eight books (i.e., translations) are displayed in the Casa Museo Zenobia-Juan Ramón Jiménez in Moguer, Spain, Jiménez’s home town.

 

— Roger W. Smith