Crespo, Angel

Crespo, Angel
b. 1926, Ciudad Real; d. 1995, Barcelona
   Poet, critic and translator
   In his first two volumes, Una lengua emerge (A Language Emerges) and Quedan señales (Signs Remain), published in the early 1950s, Crespo established himself as a highly skilled pastoral poet, working inside a narrow, but deeply felt, range of experience, without much concern for contemporary poetic movements. As he himself has explained, the feeling for country life which is at the root of many of his best early poems was a reaction of self-defence against the shortcomings of a conventional education just after the Civil War. Several of these early poems, like the muchanthologized "Un vaso de agua para la madre de Juan Alcaide" (A Glass of Water for the Mother of Juan Alcaide) are as good as anything Crespo wrote later, and they show him already in possession of an individual language which marks him off from other poets of the neorrealista group with whom he is often associated. Though many of Crespo's attitudes can loosely be called "realistic", there is also a strong element of the irrational running through his work which enables him to explore complex psychological states, as in the disturbing fantasy of "El heredero" (The Heir), one of his most powerful poems of this phase.
   These poems, together with much of his subsequent work, are contained in two large selections from smaller volumes, En medio del camino (In the Midst of the Journey) and El bosque transparente (The Transparent Forest), which between them cover the years 1949 to 1981. Though many of these poems have to do with particular places—Crespo was an inveterate traveller and lived for long periods in Puerto Rico and Sweden— they are never merely descriptive, and the ostensible subjects, more often than not, are approached from an intensely personal angle. Moreover, in a remarkable series of prose poems which began to appear in 1964 and which persisted throughout his later work, there is an increasing freedom of association, together with a subtlety of reflection which can best be described as "metaphysical". Part of this comes from the experience of translating Dante—a task which occupied Crespo for much of the 1970s, and which he saw as co-extensive with his work as an original poet. The results are very evident in Ocupación del fuego (Occupation of Fire), the collection he published in 1990. Here, fire is a complex symbol: the fire of poetic inspiration, but also the origin to which all poetic speech must aspire, an "other" which is never fully attainable, but whose presence, however elusive, guarantees the nature of the poetic act. Evidently, Crespo is a poet who continued to work hard on himself over the years and who remained open to new experiences. His best poems reveal a fastidiousness of language seldom found in Spanish outside the poets of the Symbolist tradition, though the sense of humanity they express is directly accessible and often very moving.
   Further reading
   - Di Pinto, M. (ed.) (1964) Angel Crespo, Poesie, Rome: Sciascia (contains a long preface).
   ARTHUR TERRY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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