Places: Platero and I

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Platero y yo, 1914; complete edition, 1917 (English translation, 1956)

Type of work: Poetry

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Moguer

*Moguer Platero and I (moh-ger). Andalusian village home of Juan Ramón Jiménez and the place to which he returns to rediscover as an adult and established poet. The subtitle of the work, An Andalusian Elegy, reflects the nostalgic tone of this work, a lament for his vanished youth in Andalusia. The poems present the simple, seemingly changeless quality of the village and its surrounding countryside.

Moguer is both real and idyllic. The southern climate produces tangerines, grapes, figs, almonds, and, especially, pomegranates–a fruit that the speaker identifies as representing the essence of Moguer. The series of poems moves through all of the seasons of the year. Summer is the most vibrant, when the walks of man and donkey are sensual experiences. Honeysuckle, mallows, and sorrel cover their path while overhead looms the intensely blue sky. The scent of oranges, the sound of cicadas and crickets, the sweet flavors of the watermelon that the companions split and share, punctuate their walks with pleasure. Within sight of an easy walk are the ocean, a river, a stream, farmland, and vineyards.

For Jiménez, the loveliness of the village and countryside and the simple beauties of daily life become metaphorical expressions of his interior self and his interpretation of life seen with eyes made perceptive through close and mindful observation of the simple world around him. Their walk, for instance, he compares to “a mild open day in the midst of a complex life.” In the garden with Platero, he sees the sparrows as their brothers, expressing the keen fellowship he feels for all creatures. Under the moonlit sky, the water Platero drinks appears to him as starlight.

Village

Village. Maze of white houses with red terraces dominated by the white village church. The village is a place of tedium and activity, celebration and mourning. Inhabitants range from the kindly, toothless Darbon, Platero’s doctor, who, like the poet, responds to his environment with sensitivity and melancholy, to the raucous, unfeeling boys who torment a small bird. The village is home to sweet children who love Platero, to the village priest, the vendors, fishermen, gypsies, shepherds, farmers, grape harvesters, threshers, merchants, and beggars, all going about their daily tasks. The tedium of daily life breaks open when the village erupts into the gaiety of a saint’s day celebration, a bullfight, or a carnival. When fireworks and dancing draw villagers to the town square, the man and his donkey happily escape to the countryside. At night the village retreats when workers exchange their toil for song, and widows think of the past and their lost loved ones.

*Andalusian countryside

*Andalusian countryside. Favorite place of Platero and his owner as they wander among the trees. There, they feel the gentle breeze or enjoy their siestas under a pine tree. They drink from the stream or soothe their feet in its cooling waters. Able to view the horizon, they observe the scarlet landscape of sunset.

La Corona

La Corona. Hill that is another favorite spot of the sojourners. Beneath a pine tree atop this hill, they replenish their spirits in the shade of its comforting branches. For the poet, the walk from the stream to the big pine at the top of La Corona is like a man’s journey in life. Once on this journey and admiring a wayward flower, the speaker reflects on the fleeting loveliness of life. He assures Platero that one day he will bury him here where his donkey can always hear the birds sing. This he does.

BibliographyCardwell, Richard A. “‘The Universal Andalusian,’ ‘The Zealous Andalusian,’ and the ‘Andalusian Elegy.’” Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 7, no. 2 (Spring, 1983): 201-224. Explores the influence that Francisco Giner de los Ríos and the philosophy of Krausism had on Jiménez. Also discusses how the intellectual atmosphere of the time influenced Jiménez’s contemporaries, including those well-known members of the literary Generation of 1898 Antonio Machado, José Ortega y Gassett, and Miguel de Unamuno.Fogelquist, Donald. Juan Ramón Jiménez. Boston: Twayne, 1976. An excellent starting place. Offers a solid overview of the poet’s life and works.Jiménez, Juan Ramón. Platero and I. Translated by Antonio T. de Nicolás. Boulder, Colo.: Shambhala, 1978. A complete, excellent translation, though the translator’s claim to having kept the lyricism, rhythm, and beauty of the original text intact is a linguistic impossibility.Olson, Paul R. Circle of Paradox: Time and Essence in the Poetry of Juan Ramón Jiménez. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967. An important and essential study of the major symbols in Jiménez’s poetry.Wilcox, John C. Self and Image in Juan Ramón Jiménez: Modern and Post-Modern Readings. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1987. By concentrating on the relationship between the author and the reader, this study reveals the art of Jiménez’s early poetry. Many of the poems that Wilcox studies have parallels in Platero and I.
Categories: Places