Hidalgo, José Luis 1919-1947

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HIDALGO, José Luis 1919-1947

PERSONAL: Born October 10, 1919, in Torres, Torrelavega, Spain; died of tuberculosis, February 3, 1947, in Madrid, Spain; son of César Hidalgo Ceballos (a journalist) and Josefa Iglesias Gonzàlez.

CAREER: Poet and painter. Instituto de Enseñanza Media, Torrelavega, Spain, drawing instructor. Military service: Falangist army; fought at Extremadura and Cordoba, Spain, 1938–42.



Raíz, Cosmos (Valencia, Spain), 1944, new edition published as Raíz, 1944–1947: antología poética, edited by Angel Luis Prieto de Paula, Huerga y Fierro Editores (Madrid, Spain), 2003.

Los animales, Proel (Santander, Spain), 1945.

Los muertos, Uguina/Adonais (Madrid, Spain), 1947, revised edition, Cantalpiedra (Torrelavega, Spain), 1954, revised and enlarged by Jorge Campos, Taurus (Madrid, Spain), 1966.

Canciones para niños: (Nanas), Cantalpiedra (Torrelavega, Spain), 1951.

Antología poética, edited by Julia Uceda, Aguilar (Madrid, Spain), 1970.

Obra poética completa, edited by María de Gracia Ifach, Institución Cultural de Cantabria (Santander, Spain), 1976.

Poesías completas, edited by Juan Antonio González Fuentes, DVD Ediciones (Barcelona, Spain), 2000.

Poems also appear in Cuatro poetas de hoy: José Luis Hidalgo, Gabriel Celaya, Blas de Otero [y] José Hierro, edited by María de Gracia Ifach, Taurus (Madrid, Spain), 1960. Contributor to Spanish-language poetry journals, including Proel and Corcel.

SIDELIGHTS: Spanish poet José Luis Hidalgo was "the supreme poet of death," according to Noël Valis in an essay for the Dictionary of Literary Biography. He is most often remembered for apparently foretelling his own death from tuberculosis in his third verse collection, Los muertos, although Valis and others have considered this supposition as simply romanticizing and reading more into his poems than is actually there. Born in Torres, Torrelavega, Spain, Hidalgo endured an unhappy childhood, especially after his mother died when he was age nine. In her introduction to Hidalgo's Antología poética, Julia Uceda quoted some notes the author wrote about his early years: "All the sensations that I am still able to glimpse are tiny wounds formed in my heart…. I lived in a concentrated, intense world: I was always sunk inside myself, only a few grains of reality succeeded in rubbing against me, but always in the most painful way." Hidalgo's feelings of melancholia seep into his poems; indeed, his verses are known for revealing the poet's intense inner emotional life.

The Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s, according to Valis, "deepened and universalized [Hidalgo's] … experience of life, and it left him with an image of destruction so total and absolute that he could barely even talk about it." Forcefully mobilized into the fascist Falangist army in 1938, he served at Extremadura and Cordoba. An unusual episode that helps illustrate Hidalgo's personalisty occurred in 1942, when he was assigned to accompany two political prisoners to Madrid. Although he was petrified that his charges might escape, Hidalgo chatted with them amicably during the train journey; and when they arrived at Madrid, he gave them some money and told them to have a good time and be back later that day, when he was supposed to hand them over to his superiors. The prisoners were so shocked by his trust in them that they actually came back at the appointed time.

Hidalgo's poems, like those of his contemporaries José Hierro, Jorge Campos, and Ricardo Juan Blasco, are notable for their passion. According to Valis, Hidalgo believed that poetry "is not and cannot be logical, and that the roots of poetry are metaphor and emotion." His first collection of poems, Raíz, is characterized by its "chthonic imagery," according to Valis, and contains poems that repeat the theme of the interconnectedness of life and death. His next book, Los animales, is extremely short, containing eleven verses about various animals, such as horses, rabbits, and tigers. Valis described these poems as "miniature constructions of reality beyond the human sphere."

Hildalgo's best-known collection remains Los muertos. He originally intended it to be a publication honoring those who died in the Spanish Civil War, but as he wrote the verses, they took on a larger theme of the universal concepts of death and dying; they are also about the dead themselves. Valis contended that some critics imposed an organizational structure on the poems; the only characteristic the writer intended in the collection is that they convey his feeling that death is overwhelming. Though the poet died at a young age from tuberculosis, his influence on poetry remains important, Valis maintained, the essayist adding that Hidalgo exerted "a major influence on later poets, who largely went the route of social protest in contrast to his metaphysical bent."



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 108: Twentieth-Century Spanish Poets, First Series, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1991, pp. 202-210.

Hidalgo, José Luis, Antología poética, edited by Julia Uceda, Aguilar (Madrid, Spain), 1976.