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Valdés, Gabriel de la Concepción (1809–1844)

Valdés, Gabriel de la Concepción (1809–1844)

Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés (pseud. Plácido; b. 18 March 1809; d. 26 June 1844), Cuban poet. Plácido, the pseudonym he adopted and through which he became known, was born in Havana, the illegitimate son of a mulatto hairdresser and a Spanish dancer. Shortly after birth he was left at a home for illegitimate childen, but when he was a few months old, he was retrieved by his father's family, who raised him. He received no schooling until the age of ten, and then his education was haphazard, as was his lifelong economic situation (he was occasionally jailed for indebtedness).

Plácido's poetic talent did not earn him money—he worked as a silversmith and a maker of tortoise-shell combs—but it earned him the admiration of the established poets of the day, including José María Heredia. His ability to improvise verse on the spot for various occasions spread his fame and created a great demand for his attendance at all manner of social activities. Eventually his popularity came to be his undoing, however, as the Spanish authorities became suspicious of his active social life and arrested him for conspiracy. Although there was then as later no evidence of his participation in any conspiracy, he was shot by a firing squad in Matanzas. Thus martyred, he became a symbol of the cause of independence.

Plácido's poetry incorporates into traditional Spanish lyrical forms tropical imagery and the romantic themes of intense pathos and the urge for freedom. Although Plácido is not considered a poet of the first rank, many of his poems are recited by heart by Cubans of all ages and have come to form part of popular folklore.

See alsoHeredia y Heredia, José M .


Frederick S. Stimson, Cuba's Romantic Poet: The Story of Plácido (1964).

Additional Bibliography

Batista, José Manuel. "Exposing the Specter of Universality in Early Afro-Hispanic Poetry and the Poetics of its Major "White" Practitioners." Ph.D. diss. University of Georgia, 2003.

Fischer, Sibylle. Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

Pérez del Ríío, Luis, and Adis Vilorio Iglesias. Es falsa la confesión de Plácido? Santiago, Cuba: Editorial Oriente, 1994.

                                        Roberto Valero

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