The Poets of Mexico, world poetry day

An image of Mexican poet Octavio Paz, who in
this year 2014 Mexico is celebrating his centenary.

MEXICO,   a country of Poets.


On last March 21th, we celebrated the world Poetry day.

UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared in 1999 that “World Poetry Day” will be celebrated every year on March 21.

The purpose of “World Poetry Day” is to promote the reading and writing of poetry, as well as the publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world.

The world poetry day was originally celebrated on October 15th, the birthday of Virgil.

Here in Mexico we are celebrating this month the centenary of Octavio Paz, Mexico’s Nobel Prize winner of literature.

An image of Mexican poet Octavio Paz,
winner of the nobel Prize of
Literature in 1990.

As I already said before, Octavio Paz was one of thr greatest Poets of Mexico with a large number of magnificent works like:

1933: Luna silvestre
1936: No pasarán!
1937: Raíz del hombre
1937: Bajo tu clara sombra y otros poemas sobre España
1941: Entre la piedra y la flor
1942: A la orilla del mundo, compilation
1949: Libertad bajo palabra
1954: Semillas para un himno
1957: Piedra de Sol (Sunstone)
1958: La estación violenta
1962: Salamandra (1958–1961)
1965: Viento entero
1967: Blanco
1968: Discos visuales
1969: Ladera Este (1962–1968)
1969: La centena (1935–1968)
1971: Topoemas
1972: Renga: A Chain of Poems with Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson
1975: Pasado en claro
1976: Vuelta
1979: Hijos del aire/Airborn with Charles Tomlinson
1979: Poemas (1935–1975)
1985: Prueba del nueve
1987: Árbol adentro (1976–1987)
1989: El fuego de cada día, selection, preface and notes by Paz.

A portrait of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, she was named Mexico’s phoenix and the Tenth Muse.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is probably, the greatest female poet of the history of Mexico.

She was a Nun, self-taught scholar and poet of the Baroque era in Mexico (La nueva España, “The New Spain”, in that time) and even though that Sor Juana Inés lived in the colonial era when Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire, she is considered as Mexico’s greatest female writer and also a great contributor to the Spanish Golden Era of literature.

Sor Juana Inés stands at the beginning of the history of Mexican literature in the Spanish language.

Sor Juana’s”Primero Sueño” is considered not only her greatest poem but also one of the greatest long-poems of Mexico and Latin America. It is often compared to Gongora’s “Las Soledades” and “Sunstone” by Octavio Paz and “Canto General” by Pablo Neruda.

By the way, Octavio Paz wrote an excellent essay dedicated to Sor Juana… “Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz o las Trampas de la Fe” (Sor Juana or the Traps of Faith), a great, erudite book written by Octavio Paz about Sor Juana, her life, her era and time and her works and I recommend it a lot for both Sor Juana’s followers and also Octavio Paz’s followers.


King-Poet Nezahualcoyotl



Nezahualcoyotl was the first grand poet of Mexico.

Besides of being a ruler (tlatoani) of the city-state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian Mexico, he was also a philosopher and poet.

He is best remembered for his poetry, but according to accounts by his descendants and biographers, Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl and Juan Bautista de Pomar, he had an experience of an “Unknown, Unknowable Lord of Everywhere” to whom he built an entirely empty temple in which no blood sacrifices of any kind were allowed — not even those of animals.

Nezahualcoyotl’s Poetry:

Nezahualcoyotl has been remembered as a poet. This is because a number of poems in the Classical Nahuatl language written in the 16th and 17th centuries have been ascribed to him.

In fact this attribution is somewhat doubtful since Nezahualcoyotl died almost 50 years before the conquest and the poems were written down another fifty years after that.

One of the writers who put Aztec Poems in writing, Juan Bautista de Pomar was a grandson of Nezahualcoyotl, and he may have attributed the poems to his grandfather.

Poems attributed to Nezahualcoyotl include:

In chololiztli (The Flight)
Ma zan moquetzacan (Stand Up!)
Nitlacoya (I Am Sad)
Xopan cuicatl (Song of Springtime)
Ye nonocuiltonohua (I Am Wealthy)
Zan yehuan (He Alone)
Xon Ahuiyacan (Be Joyful)

One of his poems appears in tiny print on the face of the 100 peso note.

Amo el canto del zenzontle

Pájaro de cuatrocientas voces,

Amo el color del jade

Y el enervante perfume de las flores,

Pero más amo a mi hermano, el hombre.

I love the song of the mockingbird,

Bird of four hundred voices,

I love the color of the jadestone

And the intoxicating scent of flowers,

But more than all I love my brother, man.

Nezahualcoyotl, the King-Poet:

Revered as a sage and poet-king, Nezahualcoyotl gathered a group of followers called the tlamatini, generally translated as “wise men”.

These men were philosophers, artists, musicians and sculptors who pursued their art in the court of Texcoco.

Nezahualcoyotl is credited with cultivating what came to be known as Texcoco’s Golden Age, which brought the rule of law, scholarship and artistry to the city and set high standards that influenced other cultures.

Nezahualcoyotl designed a code of law based on the division of power, which created the councils of finance, war, justice and culture (the last actually called the council of music).

Under his rule Texcoco flourished as the intellectual centre of the Triple Alliance and it possessed an extensive library that, tragically, did not survive the Spanish conquest.

He also established an academy of music and welcomed worthy entrants from all regions of Mesoamerica.

Texcoco has been called “the Athens of the Western World”—to quote the historian Lorenzo Boturini Bernaducci.

Indeed, the remains of hilltop gardens, sculptures and a massive aqueduct system show the impressive engineering skills and aesthetic appreciation of his reign.

Many believe, however, that of all the creative intellects nurtured by this Texcocan “Athens,” by far the greatest belonged to the king himself.

He is considered one of the great designers and architects of the pre-Hispanic era.

He is said to have personally designed the “albarrada de Nezahualcoyotl” (“dike of Nezahualcoyotl”) to separate the fresh and brackish waters of Lake Texcoco, a system that was still in use over a century after his death.

By the way, the “Sala Nezahualcoyotl” concert hall, the most important concert hall of classical music in Mexico City was named in honor of King Nezahualcoyotl because he defended the arts and music.   (Info: Wikipedia, Mexico)


                           An image of Eduardo Lizalde.


Eduardo Lizalde, The Tiger:

Eduardo Lizalde is a great Mexican poet and he is known as “The Tiger” for recurring themes in his work which stem from his childhood fondness for the stories of Salgari and Kipling.

Selected Works

La Zorra Enferma, Mortiz (1974)
Caza Mayor, UNAM (1979)
Autobiografía de un Fracaso. El Poeticísmo, INBA (1981)
Memoria del Tigre, Katún (1983)
¡Tigre, Tigre!, Fondo de Cultura Económica (1985)
Antología Impersonal, SEP Cultura (1986)
Tabernarios y Eróticos, Vuelta (1988)
Almanaque de Cuentos y Ficciones (1955-2005), ERA (2010)
El Tigre en la Casa, Valparaíso (2013)



A Photo of Rubén Bonifaz Nuño. Mexcan Poet and
Classical translator.



Rubén Bonifaz Nuño

Rubén Bonifaz Nuño was not only an extraordinary philologist and a distinguished translator of the Greek and Latin classics, but he was also a very distinguished poet.

This is the list of Poetry of Rubén Bonifaz Nuño:


La muerte del ángel (1945)
Imágenes (1953)
Los demonios y los días (1956)
El manto y la corona (1958)
Canto llano a Simón Bolívar (1958)
Fuego de pobres (1961)
Siete de espadas (1966)
El ala del tigre (1969)
La flama en el espejo (1971)

Tres poemas de antes (1978)

De otro modo lo mismo (1979)

As de oros (1981)
El corazón de la espiral (1983)
Albur de amor (1987)
Pulsera para Lucía Méndez (1989)5
Del templo de su cuerpo (1992)
Trovas del mar unido (1994)
Calacas (2003)





An image of José Emilio Pacheco, one of Mexico’s greatest poets.


José Emilio Pacheco

José Emilio Pacheco was one of Mexico’s greatest poets and unfortunately he passed away on January 26 of this year at age 74.

The Berlin International Literature Festival has praised him as “one of the most significant contemporary Latin American poets”.

In 2009 he was awarded the Cervantes Prize for his literary oeuvre.


Los elementos de la noche
El reposo del fuego
La arena errante
Siglo pasado (Desenlace)
No me preguntes cómo pasa el tiempo (Don’t Ask Me How the Time Goes by: Poems, 1964-1968)
El silencio de la luna
Tarde o temprano (Collected works)
La fábula del tiempo (Anthology)
José Emilio Pacheco: Selected Poems, Edited by George McWhirter (New Directions, 1987)
City of Memory and Other Poems, trans. David Lauer, Cynthia Steele (Collected Works)
Irás y no volverás
Islas a la deriva
Desde entonces
Miro la tierra
Gota de lluvia y otros poemas para niños y jóvenes (Anthology)
Álbum de zoología (Anthology)

An image of Rosario Castellanos.

Rosario Castellanos

Rosario Castellanos was another extraordinary Mexican poet.

Rosario Castellanos was one of Mexico’s most important literary voices in the last century. Throughout her life, she wrote eloquently about issues of cultural and gender oppression, and her work has influenced feminist theory and cultural studies.

Though she died young, she opened the door of Mexican literature to women, and left a legacy that still resonates today.

Castellanos’ poem, “Valium 10,” is in the confessional mode, and is a great feminist poem comparable to Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy.”

In recognition for her contribution to Mexican literature, Castellanos was appointed ambassador to Israel in 1971.


A picture of Alí Chumacero.

Alí Chumacero

Alí Chumacero was another extraordinary Mexican poet.

He became a member of the Mexican Academy of Language in 1964. He was an advisor for the Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Chumacero’s works include:

Desert of Dreams (Páramo de sueños) (1944)
Exiled Images (Imágenes desterradas) (1948)
Words in Rest (Palabras en reposo) (1956). He received a national tribute in 1996 for his third book, Words in Rest, for its cultural work and poetic creation.
The critical moments (Los momentos críticos)



Ramón López Velarde


Ramón López Velarde, the Mexican Baudelaire.

Ramón López Velarde is another extraordinary Mexican Poet and he is also belloved and respected in Mexico.

One of his most famous works is “La Suave Patria”.


Xavier Villaurrutia

Xavier Villaurrutia

Xavier Villaurrutia was greatly influenced by the work of Ramón López Velarde as well as by several other Mexican poets. He has been a major influence for many poets, like Octavio Paz (who was his student) and Alí Chumacero.


Manuel José Othón.


Manuel José Othón.

Manuel José Othón is the author of the poem “Idilio Salvaje” and it’s considered one of the most representative poems of Mexico.  He began to write poems since he was 13 years old.

His poems focus on a theme: the nature and relationship of man with the nature. Thus, in 1902 appears “Poemas Rústicos” in 1907 “Noche rústica en Walpurgis.”

The most well known work of Othon, which also has international recognition, is “Idilio Salvaje”, which was published in 1906.

Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera

Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera

Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera was another wonderful Mexican poet. He was influenced by many European poets like Baudelaire, Musset, Gautier and Leopardi.

Even though that Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera was Mexican, he had a “French spirit”.  Among his poems were “La Duquesa Job”, “Hamlet a Ofelia”, “Odas Breves”, “La Serenata de Schubert” and the famous poem «Non omnis moriar».


Salvador Novo

Salvador Novo

Salvador Novo wrote 11 books of poetry.

His work covers topics such as the  modern inventions of the early twentieth century, love, and modernity.




Enrique Gonzalez y Martínez


Enrique Gonzalez Martínez

Enrique Gonzalez y Martínez was a Mexican poet and Diplomat.  In words of Pedro Henriquez Ureña, Enrique Gonzalez y Martínez was one of the “Seven Giants of the Mexican Lyric”.

His poetry is considered to be primarily Modernist in nature, with elements of French symbolism.


Salvador Díaz Mirón

Salvador Díaz Mirón

Just like his father, Salvador Díaz Mirón was huge literature lover.

He was a very distinguished poet since he was 14 years old.


A picture of Luis G. Urbina.

Luis G. Urbina.

Luis G. Urbina was also one of the greatest poets of Mexico.

Among the books of poetry that Luis G Urbina wrote are:

Versos (México, 1890)
Ingenuas (París, 1910)
Puestas de sol (1910)
Lámparas en agonía (México, 1914)
El poema de Mariel (1915)
Glosario de la vida vulgar (Madrid, 1916)
El corazón juglar (1920)
Cancionero de la noche serena
Lorena (1941)



A photo of Carlos Pellicer.




Carlos Pellicer

Carlos Pellicer was also one of the most beloved and respected poets of Mexico.

Carlos Pellicer was part of the first wave of modernist Mexican poets and was heavily active in the promotion of Mexican art and literature.

His early poems, as in “Colores en el mar” (Colors in the Sea, 1921) and “Piedra de sacrificios” (Stone of Sacrifice, 1924), often depicted serene and halcyon landscapes.

During his later period, however, Pellicer explored the historical and spiritual implications of his experience of nature.

Octavio Paz said of his work: “A great poet, Pellicer taught to us to see the world through different eyes, and in doing so modified Mexican poetry. His work, poetry with a plurality of sorts, is solved in a luminous metaphor, an interminable praise of the world.”



A photo of Amado Nervo

Amado Nervo

Amado Nervo, another extraordinary Mexican poet and his poetry was known for its use of metaphor and reference to mysticism, presenting both love and religion, as well as Christianity and Hinduism. Nervo is noted as one of the most important Mexican poets of the 19th century.




An image of Ernesto de la Peña

Ernesto de la Peña

Ernesto de la Peña was not only the most high-cultured-erudite man of Mexico (He knew and spoke 33 languages, as varied as Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Sanskrit) but he was also an amazing poet.

Celebrating Mexico’s Poets!







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