Poetry in the Golden Age
In the Baroque period the Spanish language matured, as poetry became one of the highest renowned arts. All of the artistic innovations that had been introduced in the Renaissance were modified and became much more elaborate. Poetry divided into two sectors, “culteranismo” and “conceptismo”. These two divisions became enemies because of the different ways that the poetry was interpreted.
Culteranismo is an artistic tendency that is based on the search for the reader´s astonishment through the use of hyperbaton (deliberately changing the word order of a sentence for emphasis or effect) and dark words. They used mythological themes and a large amount of neologisms (words that only have meaning for the person that uses them), which made the text difficult to understand. One word was often replaced by a longer explanation. The founder and main representative of this trend was Luis de Góngora y Argote.
Conceptismo: This trend gave importance to the association of new elements that are not related, in order to surprise the reader. They included new resources such as the “Germanías” which were words that came from the margins of society. Compound and comparative sentences were created. Conceptismo had its base in the poetry of the previous era. For Baltasar Gracián it was “the act of understanding that expresses the correspondence between objects”. Its origins are in Petrarchanism which was introduced by Ausias March and Garcilaso. This movement was the base of culteranismo also, since the idea of “concept” was very important during the Baroque period.
Within the poetry of the Baroque era the following themes existed:
- Satire: the criticism of the flaws of those who lived within the Baroque society. The satirical representations of famous people from the courts spread all over Madrid. Often they were the cause of punishment and exile for many of the poets, such as Quevedo who was personal enemy of the Count-Duke of Olivares.
- Neostoicism (philosophical movement): the authors returned to the medieval ideology, in that they saw the world as a valley of tears and suffered spiritual crises. Religious poetry was also included.
- Mythological themes: this was particularly prevalent in the culteranismo movement. Góngora wrote “La Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea” (The Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea) and “Las Soledades” (The Solitudes). These were the masterpieces of culteranismo poetry; however their complexity meant that they remained forgotten for many years, until they were rediscovered by the poets of Generation 1927.
Alongside these themes there was love and pastoral poetry, themes that had been inherited from the songbooks of the Renaissance.