Construction and Deconstruction: The Theme of Fleetingness in Poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez, and Pedro Salinas

Andrew P. Debicki
1983 Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature  
Both Juan Ramón Jiménez and Salinas reveal in their poems a striving to capture the essences of things, continuing in this quest a tradition coming to them from symbolist poetry. By examining several poems written by them, however, we discover a basic difference in their way of embodying this striving. Juan Ramón, concerned with the perfection of form, remains within a logocentric tradition in which the poem attempts to embody its meanings objectively; Salinas, on the other hand, writes poems
more » ... e meanings of which evolve with successive readings and reflect the theme of reality's fleetingness. A close analysis of the texts exemplifies this difference and also suggests that in spite of it the poems of both authors remain subject to possible "deconstructions" on the part of the reader. This article is available in Studies in 20th Century Literature: As has been noted on more than one occasion, the search for the essences of things-of individual experiences, of the beloved, of beauty-is one of the constants of Juan Ram6n Jimenez' work. His ever-present dedication to the poetic quest can be seen as the result of this search, and of the desire to battle against meaninglessness and nothingness and to assert and preserve beauty.' On the face of it, this striving relates Juan Ramon's work to that of Pedro Salinas, who is constantly examining reality and love in an effort to define the essences and "trans-realities" that underlie them, and to preserve such essences in his verse.' Salinas can in fact be seen as one of the inheritors of the symbolic concept of poetry as a search for transcendence which dates back to Mallarme and finds full expression in the work of Juan Ramon.' Such a view is useful in showing how Salinas and other poets of his generation continue one of the most important traditions of modern poetry. In the works of both Salinas and Juan Ram6n, this quest for essences does not always lead to positive resolutions. Many poems of each, in fact, deal with its failure, and with the impossibility of fully capturing and preserving beauty, reality, life. How these expressions of failure fit into the larger path of each poet's work has been and will continue to be examined; it need not concern us here. I would like to focus, however, on the ways in which several poems of both poets embody and convey this impossibility of seizing the essences of life. In doing so. I will be able to highlight some important differences between the expressive forms and the works of the two poets. Those differences will illustrate how, even in texts dealing with the impossibility of seizing essences in poetry, Juan Ram6n remains committed to a logocentric tradition in which the poem's forms and words embody objectively its meaning; they will also show how Salinas, much to the contrary, writes poems whose meanings evolve with each 115
doi:10.4148/2334-4415.1120 fatcat:4af7lfuwunhudkyoqhvugnkkpy