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Salvador Novo
(July 30, 1904 - January 13, 1974) Mexico

Salvador Novo

Poet, writer, dramatist, translator, historian

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Salvador Novo was born in Mexico City. Novo defied the machismo and conservative Catholicism prevalent in 20th century Mexican culture by making almost no efforts to conceal his homsexuality. He was, however, accepted by the Mexican government. He held official posts related to culture, was elected to the Mexican Language Academy, and had a television program on Mexico City's history. In fact, some sectors resented the fact that a gay writer would align himself so closely with the government and media after the repression of social movements in the 1960s and 1970s.

Along with Xavier Villaurrutia, he founded the literary journals Ulises (1927) and Contemporáneos (1928). He was an active participant of the renewal of Mexican literature in the first half of the century. Novo is the most skillful prose writer of the "Contemporáneos" generation, and his poetry is among the most original ones in this group. All the poems presented in this selection come from Nuevo Amor, probably one of the best love poetry books ever written in Mexico.

As a poet he started his career at an early age. He had a love affair with the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, that he celebrated in his poems. Novo always remained out of the closet and tried to influence and educate Mexican public opinion about the naturalness of homosexuality, using studies about sexuality published in the U.S.

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Este perfume intenso de tu carne

Este perfume intenso de tu carne,
no es nada más
que el mundo que desplazan y mueven
los globos azules de tus ojos,
y la tierra y los ríos azules de las venas
que aprisionan tus brazos.
Hay todas las redondas naranjas
en tu beso de angustia,
sacrificado al borde de un huerto en que la vida
se suspendió
por todos los siglos de la mía.

¡Qué remoto era el aire infinito
que llenó nuestros pechos!
Te arranqué de la tierra
por las raíces ebrias de tus manos
y te he bebido todo,
!oh fruto perfecto y delicioso!
Ya siempre cuando el sol palpe mi carne,
he de sentir el rudo contacto de la tuya
nacida de la frescura de una alba inesperada,
nutrida en la caricia
de tus ríos claros y puros como tu abrazo,
vuelta dulce en el viento que en las tardes
viene de las montañas a tu aliento,
madurada en el sol de tus dieciocho años,
cálida para mí que la esperaba.

This intense perfume of your flesh

This intense perfume of your flesh
is nothing more
than the world which the blue spheres
of your eyes move and displace,
nothing more than the earth and the blue rivers
of veins imprisoned in your arms.
In your anguished kiss
are all the round oranges
you sacrificed on the edge of a garden
where life for all time to come
broke off from mine.

So remote was the endless air
that filled our breasts!
I pulled you from the earth
by the drunken roots of your hands,
and entire I drank you down,
oh perfect delicious fruit!
Forever now when the sun touches me
I must feel the rude contact of your flesh
born in the freshness of an unexpected dawn,
nourished in the caress
of rivers as pure and clear as your embrace,
sweetened in the afternoon wind that comes down
from the mountains to join your breath
and ripened in the sun of your eighteen years,
warm for me who awaited it.

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His work include:

  • El joven (The Young Man, 1923)
  • XX poemas (1925)
  • Nuevo amor (1933)
  • Espejo (1933)
  • Seamen Rhymes (1934)
  • Décimas en el mar (1934)
  • Romance de Angelillo y Adela (1934)
  • Poemas proletarios (1934)
  • Never ever (1934)
  • Un poema (1937)
  • Poesías escogidas (1938)
  • Dueño mío. Cuatro sonetos inéditos (1944)
  • Decimos: "Nuestra tierra" (1944)
  • Florido laude (1945)
  • Dieciocho sonetos (1955)
  • Poesía 1915-1955, Sátira y Poesía (l961)
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