Cover image for Horses in the air, and other poems
Horses in the air, and other poems
Guillén, Jorge, 1893-1984.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Poems. Selections. English & Spanish
Publication Information:
San Francisco : City Lights Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 242 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ6613.U5 A24 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Winner of the 2000 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award.

Jorge Guillen, one of the greatest poets of the Generation of '27, went into voluntary exile during the Spanish Civil War, and spent many years in the US and Latin America.

While some poems in Horses in the Air were written in America, many of them had never been translated into English before. Guillen's view of Europe from the New World, his experience as an exile and an immigrant, as well as his encounters with Spanish America provide insights into our shared culture that are fresh and relevant today.

"This is the best possible introduction to a major Spanish poet. Jore Guillen sang memorably of the joys and sorrows of mortal existence: of life together and life alone. His luminous intelligence, cordiality toward the reader, vast knowledge of literature, and epigrammatic wit are governed by an impeccable sense of form. In selecting from his work and capturing his voice, Cola Franzen has proven herself, once again, the most graceful and faithful of translators." --Christopher Maurer

"A noteworthy retrospective of an overlooked and undervalued poet."-- Library Journal

". . . well represents the breadth and depth of the poet's marvelous achievement."-- Kirkus Reviews

Jorge Guillén was born in Valladolid, Old Castile. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 he was arrested and detained briefly in Pamplona as a political prisoner. He left Spain in 1938 to go into voluntary exile in the United States, where he remained until after the death of Franco. In 1978 he returned to live in Spain. He died in Málaga in 1984.

Author Notes

Guillen's poetry celebrates this life and things of this world. In Cantico, first published in 1928 and then substantially revised numerous times by the poet, he exalts the pure joy of being: "To be, nothing more. And that suffices." This enthusiasm for life was sustained until Clamor (three volumes published in 1957, 1960, and 1963), when the brutal realities of the modern world broke into his joyous vision. Even so, Guillen remained optimistic about the future, and in his poem Goodbye, Goodbye, Europe, he speaks of escaping the old decaying world to an "innocent new world," a reference to the United States where he taught in universities for many years.

Guillen's style is concentrated, economical, disciplined and polished, showing the influence of classical forms as well as of the gongorist style. His is a "pure poetry" from which he has attempted to remove all nonpoetic elements, such as narrative and anecdote. He has translated Paul Valery and Paul Claudel into Spanish.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Guillen (1893^-1984) was one of the great Spanish modernist writers called the Generation of '27. The most famous of them, Garcia Lorca, fell victim to Franco's Falangists, while most of the others, including Guillen, went into exile. One of their inspirations was the seventeenth-century metaphysical poet Gongora; another, especially for Guillen, was St. John of the Cross. Guillen's poems, offered in both Spanish and English in this selection, reflect the near-surrealism of Gongora and the intensely sensual spirituality of St. John. The turbulence of his homeland and, consequently, of his life, show up in them, but Guillen's primary mood is celebration of the natural world and living. The attitude expressed in one of the many immediately appealing short poems here, "Adaptable," is utterly characteristic: "And later / heaven? / It doesn't matter to me. . . / I want life. / Short? / Short." What a happy coincidence that this marvelous bilingual edition follows so close upon the equally impressive bilingual Poems of St. John of the Cross [BKL F 15 99]. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

Although a member of the influential Generation of 1927 and one of the greatest Spanish poets of the 20th century, Guill‚n (1893-1984) is not widely known in the English-speaking world; the last major mainstream translation of his work is now almost 20 years old. This bilingual anthology presents 85 representative poems from every stage of Guill‚n's career: the optimistic affirmation of "C ntico," the social immediacy of "Clamor," and the literary tributes in "Homenaje." Unfortunately, the capricious order does not indicate which poems come from which collection. The selections vary in length, from the three-line nugget "Natural or Divine"Ä"High tide. The tide recedes./ Once resolved, love recedes./ The reason for things recedes"Äto the lengthy anti-totalitarian "The Power of Perez." Guill‚n's reputation rests on his formal perfection, almost classical symmetry, and precisionÄtraits that facilitated this translationÄand these selections corroborate that reputation. A noteworthy retrospective of an overlooked and undervalued poet.ÄLawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.