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  Danilo López was born in Nicaragua in 1954 and migrated to the USA in 1985. He is the author of five poetry collections (English and Spanish) published in Miami and Dallas, and three poetry anthologies. His works have appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Neologisms, Horizontes, Linden Lane Magazine, and many printed and electronic media in the USA and abroad. He has been invited to the Austin Poetry Festival, Miami International Book Fair, Granada International Poetry Festival, etc. His latest book, Dona Nobis Pacem was just published in Dallas with a grant from the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council.


Summer 2006

Table of Contents - Vol. II, No. 2

Poetry    Translations    Fiction    Book Notes & Reviews


Danilo López


Rubén Darío: Inventor of the Wheel

Presented at the IV International Symposium Rubén Darío
León, Nicaragua, January 17-19, 2006

Rubén Darío invented the wheel. But instead of making it square, as everybody knew it, he made it spherical. Not round, as others would invent it later. Spherical.

There is a difference between a round wheel, which is a section of a cylinder, and a spherical one. The round wheel needs an applied force in order to change direction while in motion.

Nevertheless, a spherical wheel, with a slight push, has the capacity to move in any direction. In infinite directions; it is therefore more apt to explore the field of infinite possibilities.

Simple proofs of Rubén’s invention are the declarations of great poets, Nicaraguan and non-Nicaraguan, from all over the World. Also the praise of literary critics contemporaries and non-contemporaries of Darío. And the articles, essays, studies, publications, and translations of his work that to this date continue to appear.

Rubén’s sphere has gone indeed into infinite directions, overcoming its initial impulse that, according to the Newtonian laws of motion, would make it reach an absolute rest some day. The sphere’s movement goes on through space and time. I am not talking about literary movement, although Modernismo, as a literary school, shook the foundations of the Spanish language, making it anew. This, in spite of Rubén’s premise that “there are no schools, just poets”.

Writers so dissimilar among them have recognized in Rubén Dario their master. His teachings transcend political ideology, without ignoring it - Rubén was clearly anti-imperialist, not from a cheap political viewpoint, but from a social and human stand, which criticized all injustice.

His poetry is beyond schools, ideologies, and nationalities. Spaniards and Latin-Americans alike saw in Rubén the salvation, the spring board, the bridge. They learned to hear the music of the celestial spheres.

I like making references to geometric forms because I graduated from the school of architecture at the National University of Nicaragua, where we had teachers who came from our own country, Canada, Brazil, Germany, and the USA. We were exposed to a diversity of schools of design and theories of the art. But when it was time to discuss Rubén Darío– yes, at the school of architecture we made a lot of poetry– Dario was the bridge.

Santiago Calatrava, the great Spanish architect, has said that a bridge is seen as something that unites two separate spaces. But it can also be perceived as an element that clears an obstacle: a river, a chasm, an abyss… a romantic quandary. A political rivalry. Diverging literary schools. Rubén and his poetry are also a bridge, and his spherical Wheel, like the world he engulfs, becomes the Bridge.

Initially, I had planned to talk to you about the 300,000 years of human development, both physical and mental, that preceded Dario. I would refer to you how Dario invented computer networks; except that he used brains instead of hardware. Of his faith in the political-social evolution of the Latin-American governments and societies. Of how he would have considered of equal value the poor guy who steals a hen to calm his hunger, and the one who steals $500 million dollars, and the one who is devoured by a pack of angry dogs, or those who steal the future of entire generations. I would have talked to you about his masterful use of symbols, processes, and language to advance the American and human conscience. Of how the same way we cannot conceive in physics a Stephen Hawking without the previous existence of Einstein, and Newton, and Copernicus, and Galileo; likewise, we could not have had, in poetry, Neruda, Borges, and Vargas Llosa, without the inventions of Rubén Dario.

Instead, I will tell to you a personal anecdote.

I met Jorge Luis Borges two years before he died in Switzerland. He received almost every major literary prize there is in the world. Except the Nobel. The Nobel did not deserve him. He was too great. And keep in mind that Rubén was greater than Borges! While living in Lisbon in 1984, I found out he was giving a press conference in the Argentinian Embassy. It was late when I got there. Everybody was gone.

I see a journalist friend coming out of the building. "Is he still there?" I ask. "Yes", she says, knowing whom I am referring to. "C'mon, I'll show you in", she adds helpfully.

He speaks, and it is as if the tigers and leopards he mentions materialize in front of us. Countless places and sortileges emerge in our minds. He is getting ready to leave. Diana interjects, "Don Jorge, there is a Nicaraguan gentleman here that would like to have your autograph". "Of course", and then, "Ah! Nicaragua, the motherland of Rubén Dario!" and goes on to recite one of Dario's poems.

I salute you from the depths of the pampas
I salute you
Under the great Argentinian sun

And then he switches:

Margarita, how beautiful the sea is
still and blue.
The orange blossom in the breezes
drifting through.

I see the elephants marching along the beach, and Margarita, the King's daughter, longing for the star far inside the heavens. The rare men and women are captured by Dario's literary criticism. A monster hides in a basement at one of Leon's old colonial houses; the mythical Caupolican carries a huge tree trunk through hundreds of miles and days; I hear a song to the gold; the Paris nights; the Chilean presses; the long illness, the gradual death.

He is still shaking my hand while reciting. I do not want to move, as to avoid breaking the enchantment, until it is his trembling fingers that move away and scribble a name in my book. "Nicaragua!" he exclaims once more, and like with the tigers, the country appears before our eyes, with the extensive cornfields and the cotton fields heat; the fresh pitahaya juice drunk at the port of Chinandega. The colorful Masaya Street market, with its men and women stumbling into each other. The ripened watermelon halves open at the Central Plaza.

I do not know what Diana sees, but I am the privileged grandson whose grandpa is firing the imagination with tales from the One Thousand and One Nights and The Nun and the Nightingale.

A bridge built by Rubén Dario, in an unknown place, between two strangers, many years later. The sphere took us there; his magical sphere taught me that writers have the memory of paper; that Dario’s books are the memory of his life; that his poems are a memoir of the centuries. His sphere has taken us to the genesis of the world, and its obliteration. We have been transported to the creation of the world, and its end. We have witnessed the redemption of humanity from Jesus' handhold. We have seen the construction of Babylon and the pyramids of Giza. His poetry recreates stories of gangsters and traitors, of happy years and minor evils. Dario made of our exile our residence on earth. He made us see an exploding cumulus of portraits, a mosaic of legends, an agony of desires, and unexpected traps.

Humanity is in continuous evolution, and our constant search for the truth, must pass through successive spheres that grow, engulfing each other. This does not mean that romanticism is denied by symbolism; nor does it mean that symbolism is annulled by modernism; and this one by formalism, and structuralism, and de-constructivism, and integralism, etc., etc., etc. These are the celestial spheres, complementing each other, dancing their celestial music.

At a minimum, we owe Dario the invention of realities, the language of fantasy, and the suspicious simplicity of language. Ever since that encounter with Borges, which was also a re-encounter with Dario, the chords of my country were dissolved into a vectorial poem that is still unfolding today.

And the search goes on. Our duty as people, poets or not, is to carry on his heritage, the search for the Canon: the Truth, the Beauty, and the Good.


© Danilo López

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