Monday, December 17, 2007

Leon Nicaragua

Brad didn't serve in this area, but it was a spot he had always wanted to see and are glad we made the three hour trip. The city is very quaint and the streets are dirt but seemed more narrow than other towns. This cathedral was built in 1747 for the Spaniards to see while sailing and is the biggest cathedral in Central America. There are alot of cathedrals in Leon as well as 7 volcanos on one horizon.

This is the burial place of the famous Rubén Darío:
Nicaragua's Bohemian Poet
The most famous of Nicaragua's sons, Rubén Darío remains relatively obscure in the English-speaking world. Renowned as the Spanish language's greatest poet and as a father of modernist verse and prose.

Born January 18, 1867 in a humble dwelling in Metapa, Matagalpa (today Ciudad Darío), Rubén Darío showed signs of talent at an early age. Although the child resisted a formal education, he began reading at the age of three and was composing verse by the age of 10. This attribute earned him the title of El Niño Poeta --the boy poet.
Since most efforts to school Rubén ended in failure, he was sent to Managua, where he was given a position in the National Library. Here he continued his studies of both classical and contemporary literature and was able to virtually memorize the dictionary.

Prize-winning Poet
Darío's first published poem appeared in a Rivas newspaper when he was 13. At 14, Darío was received by President Zaldivar of El Salvador and awarded an attractive 500-peso grant to support his talents.
The young poet squandered the money in one night of champagne revelry at a San Salvador hotel with newly found friends. On hearing of this antic, President Zaldivar sentenced the intemperate young visitor to nine months at a strict boarding school. Here Darío not only studied French, but also became acquainted with Parisian poetry.
Upon his release, young Rubén was again brought to the Presidential Palace, this time for a celebration of in honor of Latin American liberator Simon Bolívar. Darío presented his "Ode to Bolívar," considered the literary event of the year in Central America. Again the teenage poet was awarded 500 pesos, which he disposed of in much the same way as the previous. This time he didn't allow his hangover to detain him and he fled the country the next morning.

Darío was to spend much of his life away from Nicaragua, mostly in situations of financial uncertainty. It was in Chile in the mid-1880s where his first full-length collection, Azul… (Blue…) was published.
This work's importance was recognized immediately in Spain and Latin America. Azul… was a gust of fresh wind when compared to the repetitive, monotonous poetry of the time. Darío was proclaimed the spokesman of the "new school" --modernism-- and Azul… started a literary revolution.

During his turbulent lifetime, Rubén Darío visited many countries, including France, Italy, England, Morocco, Hungary, Germany, Brazil, and Argentina. He made many his home, working as a correspondent in Chile and Spain and serving as Nicaragua's diplomatic representative in Paris and Madrid.

Darío was one of Nicaragua's most notorious drunks. Over the years, he developed a taste for high living, champagne, and exquisite dining. However, he was known to often steal away from the most formal official banquet to share a bottle of cheap Nicaraguan cane liquor, guaro, with old friends. No doubt this overindulgence helped lead to the early death of the nation's greatest poet. Darío passed away on February 6, 1916 in a humble abode in his mother country. His remains were laid to rest in the León Cathedral, in the city where his poetic voyage began.

"My pick is working deep in the soil of this unknown America, turning out gold and opals and precious stones, an altar, a broken statue. And the Muse divines the meaning of the hieroglyphics. The strange life of a vanished people emerges from the mist of time." --Rubén Darío

This cathedral had a number of bells, but his one was the prettiest with writing on it and the two stone statues on each side.

Sorry the picture is a little dark, but here we all are!

The inside of the cathedral is known to be a replica of the vatican. It was very ornate. When we approached the cathedral there was music playing, we walked in and felt the "awe" of it and then it stopped. A graduation ceremony had just ended, darn!


USAUS said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the education - thanks!

Kari said...

Very cool, Marilee--the cathedrals are very ornate and full of amazing history. Thanks for another taste of culture in my UPS-ground-package-filled day!

Audrey said...

Thanks for the escape. I love the arches and ornate details in the statues and cornices. Very beautiful. What an experience.