25 ene. 2007

The class I'm teaching this semester is on anonymous and nearly anonymous oralature. Claudio Rodríguez, the poet I studied in my dissertation and first book, wrote his Master's thesis on a particular genre of children's poetry, the corro or game played in the round. While Claudio was no scholar, he could have been a brilliant one. There are two main ideas in his thesis, which has been published in collection of his prose writings.

There is a kind of magical thinking, or poetic nominalism, in which the word supplants the object which it refers.

Rhythmic and phonemic elements are predominant; texts are generated by sound rather than meaning per se. Meaning is often obliterated.

Taken together this results in a sort of Cratylism and "primacy of the signifier."

We see the influence of this in Lorca's work. "La monja / está dentro de la toronja." [the nun is inside the grapefruit]. The "logic" of this poetic utterance is in the rhyme itself. In Claudio's own poetry, where the river Duero is seen, phonetically, as "du[rad]ero" (long-lasting).

There's also a quite technical study of Rimbaud's rhythm, which Rodríguez wrote in 1953 when he was 19 years old, as an academic study. It's full of really keen observations about the prosody of Rimbaud's regular verse, his free verse, and his prose poems. What's interesting is that Rodríguez himself, in his own poetry, does exactly what he describes Rimbaud as doing. Rodríguez, then, is not the idiot savant that he is taken to be. He knew exactly what he was doing. Look at the jagged intonation of this passage, (which is metrically regular I think):

Et toute vengeance? Rien! ... Mais si, toute encore,
Nous la voulons! Industriels, princes, sénats:
Pérrisez! puissance, justice, histoire: à bas!
Ça nous est dû. Le sang! Le sang! la flamme d'or!

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