Literature is a big branch that covers many artists from different cultures. I myself being Mexican American have put my racial stereotypes aside and built a strong interest in Central American Literature. My analysis focuses on two great writers - Ruben Dario and Roque Dalton where I compare and contrast the different ways in which they deliver their works. The Nicaraguan poet, Ruben Dario was known to be the father of Modernismo as he wrote in a formal high class tone. Dario focuses on real life events, centering around ideas that occurred during the time era in which he wrote them. On the contrary the Salvadoran poet, Roque Dalton delivers his work with emotion and through his personal experiences. Dalton is a writer who focused more on making his pieces for himself and about himself. These two acknowledged authors are great literature figures who made a mark each in their own ways.
Literature serves as an escape route for many people, whether it is as a reader or as the writer. It holds power in each of its writings despite the author it comes from. Each work has a special purpose, a unique message, a different origin. Each author has a form they follow built on the era they are a part of and what they believe or where they stand on any ongoing issues. For instance, Ruben Dario and Roque Dalton are both amazing poets yet their works are so distinct from the other works. Roque Dalton expresses his thoughts through his personal and touching pieces of writing. He focuses on writing to himself and about himself as he juxtaposes between life and death. On the other hand, however, Ruben Dario writes in a formal high-class tone, in which he turns towards series of factual events rather than emotions. Despite the contrast in their poetry they both send out strong messages in each piece and have become two of the most known authors. Overall, think of literature as an umbrella that helps the ideas of these authors fall slowly and smoothly rather than them just being thrown down without context.
First off, it is the most noticeable the tense in which each author writes in most of their work. In the following two poems, “Vanity” and “Small Hours of The Night,” Roque Dalton writes in first person as he involves himself in the poem which revolves around what seems to be his death. “Vanity” is speaking about the death he sees upon him. One of the foreseen results of his death is how his sins will serve as lessons to those following up behind him. His use of personification with the “aromas of all kinds would flower” from his grave can be a reference as the many bright outcomes that will emerge from the lessons he learned. It can however go an opposite way such as it being plenty of fingers pointing at him and the bad reputation he will have left once dead. Dalton accepts the evil side of his persona, putting his mistakes out there. The use of imagery and exaggeration makes the audience visualize the depth of his misconduct, “with the delicious iridescence of venom” and somehow is proud of what he has done. He does not shame his bad choices, rather he decides to emphasize them declaring them as his “vanity” hence the title. The title in this specific poem ties it in literally and figuratively. Vanity can be both good and bad, which Dalton once again takes charge in opposing. Regardless of how bad he may have been he mentions a line of some hope and positivity “Maybe someone will say that I was loyal or good” but throws it down with, “but only you will remember the way I looked into your eyes.” The presence of juxtaposition throughout Dalton’s poem is a rare way of standing out as a poet.
The use of imagery and exaggeration makes the audience visualize the depth of his misconduct, “with the delicious iridescence of venom” and somehow is proud of what he has done. He does not shame his bad choices, rather he decides to emphasize them declaring them as his “vanity” hence the title.
The second poem once more speaks about death. Even though death is spoken throughout both literature pieces the idea of someone’s life juxtaposes the overall theme- death. In “Small Hours of the Night”, Dalton speaks about how those around him shall not “say my name” once he is dead. He states there is no point in anyone remembering him or even mentioning him after death if such actions are not done when alive. The parallelism in “Don’t say my name” adds emphasis to his stubbornness and hate towards those who may not care about him during his life yet want to be hypocrites and cry for him at his grave. The same is done as Dalton formats this poem as a couplet. This then adds some sort of suspense to his tone of resentment. The constant mentioning of death in these two poems is unique because he tries to push the people away from him rather than bring them together to handle the pain. Aside from these nonrealistic ideas, neither of his poems involve any real-life moments. The ideas are ones that occur realistically, but do not occur to him, there being nothing to rely on. Roque Dalton seems to focus more on what may occur later; this makes him force an idea of what he wants after his death. An idea that in real life terms will never occur. One can does not predict how their deaths will be taken in or seen. The poems overall are unrealistic, they are a series of “what ifs”.
On the contrary, Ruben Dario has the following two poems - “Sonatina” and “To Roosevelt” - which center around ideas on the time in which he wrote them. For example, in “Too Roosevelt” he is speaking about historical real-life events and in actual world places. Dario uses important political figures, such as Roosevelt himself. He speaks to him, describing what he thinks about him and his actions. The way Dario writes his poem - free verse- makes it a smooth read giving it the figure of a conversation. Throughout the poem he explains his point of view towards his land, “You are the United States, future invader of our naive America” and how regardless of how much power one may hold there is always a higher power. With biblical figures he tells Roosevelt, “And although you may have everything, you are lacking one thing: God !”. This all being real he mentions the events occurring in the United States during Roosevelt’s presidency. Dario aims towards stating facts and reasonable ideas that can be backed up, his poetry is realistic rather than fictional compared to Roque Dalton.
In conjunction with “To Roosevelt” the second poem, “Sonantina” is written with a storyline of fairy tales but still ties down to keeping it practical. The story line is a unique version of typical Disney fairytales that we now see which gives it a sense of credibility. This literature piece is full of mentions of princesses, princes, lords, diamonds, dragonflies and castles which are unreal and uncommon in present times but form a part of ancient mythologies and past cultures. Dario in this poem incorporates French aesthetic and the Medieval times as he describes the princess, “The Princess is pale in her golden chair, the keys of her harpsichord gather dust, and a flower, forgotten, droops in its vase.” Within these Medieval times it is crucial for a young women to remain pure, a possible reason for why she is locked up in her riches, “The poor little Princess with the wide blue eyes is imprisoned in her gold, imprisoned in her tulle, in the marble cage of the royal palace…”, with this use of imagery Dario takes charge in juxtaposing the idea of her trying to escape such beautiful commodities knowing she is unhappy regardless of her expensive surroundings. To make it that much more down to earth he uses places that actually exist yet making them sound magical when he states “ Are her thoughts of a prince of Golconda or China?” this overall sounding like a search for “true love” that one hears in fairytales. As Dario is known to be the father or modernism, there is no doubt he utilizes subjects such as peacocks and swans which are big symbols of this era.
Dario in this poem incorporates French aesthetic and the Medieval times as he describes the princess, “The Princess is pale in her golden chair, the keys of her harpsichord gather dust, and a flower, forgotten, droops in its vase.”
To understand each reason, they use to express themselves the way they do it is necessary to look further into their lives. Roque Dalton is known as one of the most influential poets of Latin America, but he is not only a writer he is more known as a revolutionary poet because of this he is involves himself in political activism leading him to being sentenced to death multiple times. The idea of him being an outlaw and feeling not welcomed within his peers is what causes his rebellious actions and resentment towards society. For him to liberate himself from this he expresses his thoughts by using satire towards life, death, and politics. Hence the main ideas of the two poetry pieces, in which he is sarcastic yet touching.
Ruben Dario is known to be the “Father of Modernismo” as in each of his writings he resembles the idea of restoring peace and unity as he describes real life events, events that seem unfair. He began his poetic career as a child, starting in El Salvador and from there moves up as he attempts to begin the stylistic movement through a collection of books, he writes that contains prose and poetry. Dario then moves on to Spain where his task is to document Spain’s discovery of America and its conditions after the Spanish- American War. This justifying some of his literature pieces such as, “To Roosevelt.”
Overall, these two writers are both great authors with great milestones in each of their careers. Ruben Dario and Roque Dalton can be thought of contrasting writers to each other’s writings. While one is more personal and emotional and the other is more formal and real life and historically inspired. Each one of these poets had their unique ways of impacting poetry itself and literature. While I have been exposed to Ruben Dario’s pieces more often and a larger variety of them, Roque Dalton is now on the list of poets whose literature works catch my attention.
Darío, Poeta Rubén, and Poeta Rubén Darío. “Análisis Del Poema ‘Sonatina.’” Rubén Darío, 29 Aug. 2013, https://fernandaniepal.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/analisis-del-poema-sonatina/.
Central American Studies Department. Survey of Central American Literature Course Reader. Sunstar Copy and Print
“Ruben Dario Biography, Life, Interesting Facts.” Famous Birthdays By SunSigns.Org, 6 July 2018,
“Who Was Roque Dalton? Everything You Need to Know.” Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline,
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