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Mr Luis Cernuda

Early Life: Luis Cernuda was born on September 21, 1902, in Seville, Spain. Growing up in a conservative and repressive environment, Cernuda faced personal struggles with his sexuality, which significantly influenced his later poetry. He attended the University of Seville, where he studied philosophy, literature, and law. His intellectual curiosity and love for literature blossomed during this time, setting the stage for his future as a prominent poet.

Literary Beginnings: Cernuda's literary career took off in the 1920s when he became associated with the Generation of '27, a group of Spanish poets who sought to rejuvenate poetry in the aftermath of World War I. Influenced by surrealism, he initially experimented with avant-garde styles, contributing to literary journals and forging connections with other emerging writers.

Exile and the Spanish Civil War: The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 marked a turning point in Cernuda's life. As a vocal critic of Franco's regime and a supporter of the Republican cause, he faced increasing persecution. In 1938, Cernuda went into voluntary exile, leaving Spain for England. This exile became permanent, shaping the themes of nostalgia, loss, and yearning in his later works.

Works in Exile: In England, Cernuda faced the challenges of adapting to a new culture and language. Despite these difficulties, he continued to write prolifically. His notable works during this period include "La realidad y el deseo" (Reality and Desire), a collection of poems that delves into themes of love, desire, and the search for identity. Cernuda's poetry, marked by its emotional intensity and lyricism, resonated with readers both in Spain and abroad. The Great Oriental Plane Tree in the Fellows' Garden at Emmanuel College, Cambridge is noted to have served as inspiration for one of his most famous poems, 'El Arból', in which he describes the tree as standing like a legend, with a hint of Eden, in a walled garden.

Academic Pursuits: Cernuda's academic pursuits were also noteworthy. He taught at various universities, including the University of Glasgow, where he shared his passion for Spanish literature. His critical essays and lectures on Spanish poetry contributed to the understanding and appreciation of the literary heritage he left behind.

Legacy and Recognition: Luis Cernuda's work gained increasing recognition over the years. His exploration of themes related to identity, exile, and the complexities of human emotions left a lasting impact on Spanish literature. Despite living in self-imposed exile, Cernuda maintained connections with fellow exiled intellectuals and continued to be an influential figure in the literary circles of his time.

Death and Posthumous Influence: Luis Cernuda passed away on November 5, 1963, in Mexico City, leaving behind a significant body of work that continues to be studied and celebrated. His impact on Spanish poetry is evident in the numerous anthologies and critical studies dedicated to his life and writings. Cernuda's legacy endures as a testament to the power of poetry to transcend borders and express the profound complexities of the human experience.


  1. Cernuda, Luis. "Selected Poems." Translated by Reginald Gibbons. New Directions Publishing, 2003.
  2. Gibson, Ian. "Federico García Lorca: A Life." Faber and Faber, 1989.
  3. Salgado, César. "Luis Cernuda: Aestheticism, Politics, and the Popular Front." Sussex Academic Press, 2009.

Emmanuel College, 'About Emmanuel', <; [accessed 10 December 2007]

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