16 feb. 2011

El Cristo de Velázquez

Here is a sample of Unamuno's blank verse. It doesn't convince me in the least. It seems like prose that happens to scan as verse.
"No me verá dentro de poco el mundo
mas si vosotros me veréis, pues vivo
y viviréis"-dijiste; y ve: te prenden
los ojos de la fe en lo más recóndito
del alma, y por virtud del arte en forma
te creamos visible. Vara mágica
nos fue el pincel de Don Diego Rodríguez
de Silva Velázquez. Por ella en came
te vemos hoy. Eres el Hombre eterno que
nos hace hombres nuevos. Es tu
muerte parto. Volaste al cielo a que viniera,
consolador, a nos el Santo Espíritu,
ánimo de tu grey, que obra en el arte
y tu visión nos trajo. Aqui encarnada
en este verbo silencioso y blanco
que habla con líneas y colores, dice
su fe mi pueblo trágico. Es el auto
sacramental supremo, el que nos pone
sobre la muerte bien de cara a Dios.

Milton, Unamuno's ostensible model, uses varied pauses and enjambments, but he also has individual lines and phrases of great rhetorical power and rhythmic sweep.

Unamuno considered himself a poet above all things, but I believe he was mistaken. The metaphor of the magic wand, for example: "A magic wand for us was the paintbrush of don Diego ... Velázquez." You can understand how someone who is not a poet might think that's a good metaphor. The problem is that the wand and the brush are too close to each other in shape. He would have been better off talking of the magic paintbrush, directly.

Compare this to any poem of Machado and you will see the difference. You can't achieve a supple rhythm simply by varying pauses and ignoring the internal structure of the line.