Juana de Ibarbourou, also known as Juana de América, (1892–1979) was a Uruguayan poet of Galician origin. She was one of the most popular poets of Spanish America. Her poetry, the earliest of which is often highly erotic, is notable for her identification of her feelings with nature around her.
She was born Juana Fernández Morales on March 8, 1895, in Melo, Cerro Largo, Uruguay. The date of Juana's birth is often given as March 8, 1895, but according to a local state civil registry signed by two witnesses, the year was actually 1892. Juana began studies at the José Pedro Varela school in 1899 and moved to a religious school the following year, and two public schools afterwards. In 1909, at 17 years old, she published a prose piece, "Derechos femeninos" (female rights), beginning a lifelong career as a prominent feminist.
Read English translations of Juana de Ibarbourou's writing, free from ibarbourou.blogspot.com.
She married Captain Lucas Ibarbourou in a civil ceremony June 28, 1913, and had one child named Julio César Ibarbourou (b. 1917). In 1918, Juana moved to Montevideo with her family. As was the custom, Juana and Lucas were re-married in a religious ceremony on June 28, 1921 in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Aid (la iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro). Lucas Ibarbourou died January 13, 1942.
Juana de Ibarbourou died July 15, 1979 in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Poetry and philosophy
Juana de Ibarbourou was a feminist, naturalist, and pantheist.
Juana de Ibarbourou was an early Latin American feminist. Ibarbourou's feminism is evident in poems such as "La Higuera", in which she describes a fig tree as more beautiful than the straight and blooming trees around it, and "Como La Primavera", in which she asserts that authenticity is more attractive than any perfume. Also, in "La Cita", Ibarbourou extols her naked form devoid of traditional ornamentation, comparing her natural features to various material accessories and finding in favor of her unadorned body.
Nature imagery and eroticism define a great body of Ibarbourou's poetry.
Ibarbourou's depiction of death in her poetry was not consistent throughout her body of work. In "La Inquietud Fugaz", Ibarbourou portrayed a binary, final death consistent with Western tradition. In "Vida-Garfio" and "Carne Inmortal", however, Ibarbourou describes her dead body giving rise to plant life, allowing her to live on.
In "Rebelde", one of Ibarbourou's most richly constructed poems, Ibarbourou details a confrontation between herself and Charon, the ferryman of the River Styx. Surrounded by wailing souls on the boat passage to the underworld, Ibarbourou defiantly refuses to lament her fate, acting as cheerfully as a sparrow. Although Ibarbourou does not escape her fate, she wins a moral victory against the forces of death.
Like most poets, Ibarbourou nursed an intense fear of death. Though it is easy to surmise this from her poetry, she states so explicitly in the first line of "Carne Inmortal."