Who Is Rubén Darío?
So, Who Is Rubén Darío?
The Man. The Myth. The Legend.
So, who is Rubén Darío? The easy answer is that he was the father of the modernism movement. But that is too simplistic, terse, and won’t satisfy most of you. The man and his name carry the heavy burden of legendary status in the Spanish speaking world, especially in Nicaragua, and more so in León. Rubén Darío was the quintessential voice for Latin American poetry, journalism, and written works.
My Wednesday morning was unexpectedly free. I decided to use that opportunity to finally visit the Rubén Darío Museum. I have walked by it regularly and have had it on my to-do list since moving to León. The revered poet’s childhood home is located on the aptly name Calle Rubén Darío which is a few blocks west of the lively, recently renovated, and vibrant Parque de los Poetas. The park is a tribute to the significant poets of León. In addition to Rubén Darío, the poets Alfonso Cortes, Salomón de la Selva, Azarías Pallais and Antenor Sandino Hernández are recognized. This country loves it poetry!
Rubén Darío is the pen name of Félix Rubén Garcia Sarmiento. He is Nicaragua’s most prominent and significant poet, journalist, and novelist. He was born in Metapa, Nicaragua on January 18, 1867 and died in León on February 6, 1916.
Two views of a bedroom. Rubén Darío died on the bed on the left.
Rubén Darío moved to the his childhood home in León when he was a young child of only forty days. He started writing poetry at age four. Darío’s artistic gift did not go unnoticed, his first poetic works were published at age twelve. He lived in León through his early teens before leaving to tour the world as an intellectual vagabond. He returned decades later, and lived the rest of his days there.
Rubén Darío spend most of his life traveling the Americas and Europe, but always considered Nicaragua his home. His notable works were written while on a spiritual and political sabbatical. He published his first book Azul while in Chile in 1888. His second book, Profane Hymns and Other Poems, published in 1896 was written in Beunos Aires. Songs of Life and Hope, considered to be his literary jewel, published in 1905, was written during his time spent in Europe.
As is too common amongst artists, Rubén Darío was a tortured soul. His first wife passed away and his second marriage ended in divorce. He fathered many children with several mistresses. He struggled with alcoholism for much of his life and eventually was diagnosed with cirrohis of the liver. Late in life while in the United States, he developed pneumonia. He returned to León, to his childhood home very ill, where eventually died. He body is buried in a crypt in the León Cathedral.
Museo Archivo Rubén Darío
Before this morning, all I knew of Rubén Darío, was that he was a famous poet. It is hard not to get that sense of his importance with streets, buildings, parks, and festivals named in his honor. I was repeatedly asking my “So, who is Rubén Darío?” “Why is he hold such a special place in the hearts and minds of Nicaraguans?”
The childhood home of the Rubén Darío is now the Rubén Darío Museum. Admittance to the museum is free but they accept and expect a voluntary donation.
Daríos Imperial uniform.
From the moment you walk in you can sense why this place holds a special place in the hearts of Nicaraguans. The house was built in 1800 and is well maintained. Artifacts fill the first rooms. The original furniture smells of antiquity. Paintings and religious artifacts are displayed on faded, paint-chipped walls. Darío’s writing desk, hand-written poem, and chaise lounge lay within arm’s reach. You are instantly transported back in time.
Unbeknownst to me, photography is not permitted inside the museum. I had managed to snap a couple of photos before being politely alerted to the house rules. Sshh, I also took a few more when no one was looking.
In addition to the living quarters, much Rubén Darío’s library is on display. I consider myself an amateur bibliophile, I had a decent collection of first editions prior to minimizing my life . Though I have read several of the selections on display including Edgar Allen Poe and Victor Hugo, I must admit that Rubén Darío was more well-read.
What appear to be first edtions of Darío’s works are also on display beneath glass. He also had comparative stamps and currency printed in his honor.
The museum is small, but allow about ninety minutes for ample time take in the information. There are tours available is Spanish and English. Two other groups were touring while I was there, the guide invited me to tag along.
I feel that no stop in León would be complete without visiting the Rubén Darío Museum. He is such an integral figure of Latin American culture that you would be doing yourself a disservice by skipping it.
Viva León, Jodido!