Prados, Emilio

Prados, Emilio
b. 1899, Málaga; d. 1962, Mexico City
   Emilio Prados is one of the lesser-known figures in contemporary Spanish poetry, whose work only began to receive the critical acclaim it deserves after his death, owing to its combination of breadth and complexity. Prados" opus includes nearly two dozen published collections of poetry, in addition to several unpublished collections that appeared for the first time in his posthumous Poesías completas (Complete Poems) (1975–6), as well as hundreds of individual compositions published in anthologies, journals and newspapers. The deeply philosophical nature of Prados" poetry makes it difficult to penetrate. A study of the poet's manuscripts reveals a myriad of theological and philosophical influences, ranging from Heraclitus, to the Bible, to St John of the Cross. Despite these multifarious influences, Prados" philosophical digressions coalesce into one internalized ideological struggle which was a constant source of torment for him over the course of his life: the struggle between his unrelenting search for a Platonic ideal or absolute truth, and his strong sense of commitment to the betterment of humanity. Prados" work, from his earliest collections, Tiempo (Time) (1925) and Vuelta (Return) (1927), to the later Circuncisión del sueño (Circumcision of a Dream) (1957) and La piedra escrita (The Written Stone) (1961) is a kind of poetic odyssey, a tireless search to find himself in what he called "signs of being", or elements from the material world which, in a metaphorical sense, represent his own metaphysical aspirations. This search, Prados believed, would one day culminate in the discovery of his true identity. Prados was noted for his unflagging commitment to the cause of the Spanish Republic. During the Civil War he collaborated with María Zambrano on the journal Hora de España, and in 1937 was awarded the National Prize for Poetry for his collection of Civil War poems, Destino fiel (Faithful Destiny) (written 1937, first published in Poesías completes). Prados left Spain just prior to the Nationalist takeover and went into exile in Mexico. Emotionally and financially destitute, he relied on the help of his brother Miguel and friends like Octavio Paz to help him through those difficult years. But it was his poetry that gave Prados a real sense of purpose. In Jardín cerrado (Confined Garden) (1946), hailed as Prados" masterpiece, he likens himself to a sapling poplar transplanted into foreign soil and yearning for his lost garden, Spain. The poet would remain sentimentally attached to his querida patria (beloved homeland), decorating the walls of his apartment with photographs of past acquaintances, and maintaining correspondence with some of the fishermen from Málaga to whom he had preached Marxism in the early 1930s. Prados spent his final years living as a recluse. Those who knew him during this period described him as excessively maudlin and uncommunicative. In 1962 he died of a bronchial illness that had plagued him most of his adult life.
   See also: poetry
   Further reading
   - Blanco Aguinaga, C. (1960) Emilio Prados: Vida y obra, New York: Columbia University Press (a biography of the poet; appears also as the Introduction to Prados" Poesías completas).
   - Hernández Pérez, P. (1988) Emilio Prados: La memoria del olvido, 2 vols, Zaragoza: Prensas Universitarias (a comprehensive study of one of Prados" most significant works).
   - Sánchis-Banús, J. (1987) Seis lecciones: Emilio Prados, su vida, su obra, su mundo, Valencia: Pre-Textos (the most complete study to date by the premier Prados scholar).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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