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John Howard Reid

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Publisher:  Lulu ISBN-10:  0557269431 Type: 


Copyright:  May 15, 2010 ISBN-13:  9780557269433

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A new English translation of some of the finest poetry produced in Spain and Latin America, from "Adagio" by the Argentinian poet, Leopoldo Lugones, to "When That Time Comes" by Mexico's Manuel Gutierrez Najera, "A Salute to Spanish Poetry" provides the reader with accurate yet poetic tributes to some of the world's greatest and most inspiring verse.

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John Howard Reid

A Salute to Spanish Poetry: 100 Masterpieces from Spain and Latin America

Everyone has a favorite poem in this book -- and no wonder! For all the great ones are here, from the most discussed and most written about "To Christ Crucified" by Miguel de Guevara to the most romantic "Madrigal" by de Gongora; from the most amusing "Supper" by Julio Herrera y Reissig to the mournful "Shameless Tears" of Garcilaso de la Vega; from the most patriotic "Bolivar" by Luis Llorens Torres to the wisest instructions of Olavo Bilac's "Advice To a Poet".

Yes, I know the Brazilian-born Bilac wrote in Portuguese, but I have included his wonderful poem as an extra. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is in the book too; and so is Felicia D. Hemans. But there are still more than a hundred "strictly Spanish" poems, including my number one favorite, "Beauty" by Miguel de Unamuno.

My top twelve poets? In alphabetical order: Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, Rosalia de Castro, Ruben Dario, Luis de Gongora, Julio Herrera y Reissig, Federico Garcia Lorca, Leopoldo Lugones, Antonio Machado, Salvador Diaz Miron, Manuel Jose  Othon, Juan Ruiz, Miguel de Unamuno.

It's hard to go past a line-up like that, but I'm sure many of you will disagree with some of my selections.

Over 60 poets are represented in the book! Over 100 poems! Make your choice!


Rapturous Rose

translated from the Spanish of Esteban de Zafra

A rose is born among the rocks –
a rose-tree that doesn’t burn the air
(as did Moses’ burning bush).

This divine rose-tree
lies beneath the poor portals
of a humble home in Nazareth –
the home of a beautiful queen
of the most charming demeanor
and grace.

That most enchanting queen
has produced a rose,
more rapturous
and more colorful
than anyone has ever seen.

A rose that is both
white and red,
holy and blessed
(though not needing
to be blessed,
for it is a blessing
in itself).

A rose
that not only forgives
our first father’s sin
but cancels it –
blots it out –

The rose-tree, of course,
is Saint Mary,
the Blessed Virgin.
The rose that she grew
is her Son
(yet He is also
husband and father
to her).

The rose
is the rose
of salvation:
The means
of our redemption.

The rose
is the rose
of forgiveness,
whereby the harm
done to us all
by Eve,
our first mother,
is alleviated,
and undone.

Professional Reviews

Amy E. Henry writes:
This is a diverse collection of poets and their poetry, lovingly translated by John Howard Reid, from the original Spanish or Portuguese. Despite the varying geographical origins, many of the topics are united: the shades of gray in shadows, the play of light and darkness, and the mysterious reflections of water, fog, and mist. Loneliness is a common theme, as is a feeling of desolation. But rather than dissolving into a sea of melancholy, this collection features other poems that illuminate playful charm, delicate romance, and unyielding devotion.

One of my favorites is from Jose Juan Tablada:

An Alternative Nocturne:

Golden New Yorker nights
Cold walls of Moorish limestone
A champagne foxtrot from Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra
Mute houses and barred windows

Glancing around
Over the silent roofs
The soul is petrified
White cats outlined against the moon
Like Lot's wife

And yet
For all that,
It's the same
In New York
And Bogota!

The Moon...!

The art of the collection lies in the translation from the varying languages and their particular dialects and styles. Some of the poets featured are Delmira Agustini from Uruguay, Carlos Oquendo de Amat from Peru, Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and Federico Garcia Lorca from Spain, Brazil's Olavo Bilac, Argentina's Leopoldo Lugones, and Julian del Casal from Cuba. Notably, Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, is also included with his poem, "The Gypsy". Sixteenth century poets mingle with modern playwrights in a readable collection that never gets too heavy or depressing, or worse, too scholarly (and therefore inaccessible). The way the poems are linked in the order that they are featured must have some significance, because they seem to lead into each other, giving them a sense of a greater story in play, a novelization of similar thoughts.

Wendy Paulson writes for Apex Reviews:
Throughout the pages of "A Salute to Spanish Poetry", author John Howard Reid has assembled an impressive mix of wordsmiths from Spain and Latin America, treating the reader to an eclectic collection of verse translated from its original Spanish. Touching on a wide range of different themes, each of the pieces in the collection is equally powerful and heartrending, and they all take the reader on an imaginative journey through the deepest recesses of the human mind and heart.

Perhaps most notable about "A Salute To Spanish Poetry" is the undeniable strength of the selected pieces, which – whether they come from such a well-renowned name as Federico Garcia Lorca or a relatively unknown one as Julian del Casal – are no less insightful or awe-inspiring than any of their counterparts. Surely, creating such a well-balanced mix of inspiring verse could not have been any easy task, so Reid is well deserving of any and all kudos he may receive for taking on such an arduous, yet highly rewarding project.

Impressively crafted, "A Salute To Spanish Poetry" is a standout collection of heartfelt poetic verse at its best. Highly recommended for poetry lovers of all ages.

William R. Potter in Reader's Choice Book Reviews:
A Salute To Spanish Poetry: 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America rendered into English verse
John Howard Reid (April 1, 2010)
154 pages

A Salute to Spanish Poetry presents 100 works of art originally written by leading poets, and those little known in their time, from the 13th to mid 20th century in Spain and Latin America, now painstakingly translated by John Howard Reid.

Choosing the right pieces can make or break any anthology. Mr Reid has succeeded here as there isn't a weak selection in the group. Covered is a varied assortment of topics as diverse as the poets themselves. It would seem as though these titles were meant to be together despite the fact the creators worked continents and often hundreds of years apart. There are themes of love
and broken hearts, sadness, longing, the beauty of women, and quirky humor as well.

A few favourites: Mountain Song by Marqués de Santillana is one of several where it appears the author has fallen under the spell of women. "I forced myself not to look too long at her great beauty, for fear of losing my freedom and becoming her prisoner."

Timid Love by Amado Nervo about a pain not yet healed. "But to fall madly in love was something I feared. I'd no desire to open old wounds that were still prone to bleed."

Those who enjoy rhyme in their poetry will enjoy For the Love and Praise of a Lady by Alfonso Álvarez de Villasandino. "Lady of gladness take pity on me, for I live in Sadness desiring thee."

An intriguing look at love by Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas in Defining Love. "Burning ice. A fire that chills the soul. Sanity. Madness. A freedom in chains."

After so many serious pieces, an amusing look at thoughts on marriage by Gil Vicente in They Tell Me I Must Marry. "I'm a choice flower, of maidenhood, that's true! But should a flower marry a weed?"

The majority of the poets in the collection are men. However, no fewer than six of Rosalía de Castro’s best showcase one of Spain’s greatest female poets. I found that her works stood out throughout the book. In Hour After Hour Day After Day. "Who can call back the waves that caress the beach and then die in that embrace?"

Translating poetry is no easy task. Too literal a translation and the rhyme and rhythm are lost. Too much embellishing and the meaning and emotional impact are altered forever. I believe Mr Reid has done an outstanding job in both regards, successfully breathing new life into these timeless gems. These artists and their masterpieces would have remained unknown to most English speaking poetry enthusiasts if not for Reid's diligent work.

If you enjoy great verse then treat yourself to A Salute to Spanish Poetry. You won't be disappointed. Highly Recommended.

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