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Love Poems by Pedro Salinas

My Voice Because of You and Letter Poems to Katherine

Translated with an Introduction by Willis Barnstone, with a Foreword by Jorge Guillén, and an Afterword by Enric Bou

When Pedro Salinas’s 1933 collection of love poems, La voz a ti debida, was introduced to American audiences in Willis Barnstone’s 1975 English translation, it was widely regarded as the greatest sequence of love poems written by a man or a woman, in any language, in the twentieth century. Now, seventy-five years after its publication, the reputation of the poems and its multifaceted writer remains untarnished. A portrait of their era, the poems, from a writer in exile from his native civil war–torn Spain, now reemerge in our time.

            In this new, facing-page bilingual edition, Barnstone has added thirty-six poems written in the form of letters from Salinas to his great love, Katherine Whitmore. Discovered years later, these poems were written during and after the composition of La voz and, though disguised as prose, have all the rhythms and sounds of lineated lyric poetry. Taken together, the poems and letters are a history, a dramatic monologue, and a crushing and inevitable ending to the story of a man consumed by his love and his art.

Bolstered by an elegant foreword by Salinas’s contemporary, the poet Jorge Guillén, and a masterly afterword by the Salinas scholar, Enric Bou, that considers the poet and his legacy for twenty-first century world poetry, Love Poems by Pedro Salinas will be cause for celebration throughout the world of verse and beyond.

256 pages | 3 halftones, 1 line drawing | 6 x 9 | © 2010

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages



“This volume of Pedro Salinas’s love poems is a necessary one in the canon of great Spanish literature and a valuable text for scholars and students of poetry alike everywhere. A contemporary of Federico Garcia Lorca and a member of the Generación del 98, Salinas and his love poems distinguish themselves for their fervent language and consummate quest for passion and love; his was a pulls-no-punches poetry that was possibly one of several factors that landed him in Franco’s prison, where he died of tuberculosis. This volume is a testament to the poet’s great bravery. Time and again, Willis Barnstone, poet and scholar of great eminence and heart, proves he has perfect pitch for being able to translate with subtlety and nuance. I highly recommend this book.”

Virgil Suarez, Florida State University, author of 90 Miles: Selected and New Poems

La voz a ti debida is the greatest Spanish love poem of the twentieth century, and Willis Barnstone, one of our greatest living translators, loses none of the beauty, purity, and light of the Spanish original in his outstanding translation. Excellent.”

Sergio Waisman, George Washington University

Table of Contents

Foreword (1976)
      Jorge Guillén (1893–1984)
Acknowledgments (1976)
      Willis Barnstone

Introduction (2009)
      Willis Barnstone

A Note on the Poet (1976)

La voz a ti debida / My Voice Because of You

Letter Poems to Katherine

Afterword (2009)

      Pedro Salinas: Between the Old and the New

      Enric Bou

Selected Bibliography

Index of First Lines

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