Pedro Salinas has a reputation of one of the great love poets of his time. In his poem ‘La voz a ti debida’ he explores a deeper meaning of love by comparing appearance with reality and the superficial with the transcendent. This particular poem is one part of a trilogy of love poems written by the author between 1933-1939. All three were well received. The other two poems ‘Razon de amor’ and ‘Largo lamento’ describe the reason for love and the pain of separation, whereas the first focuses on the confusion of love.
The works of Pedro Salinas were referred to as “prosias” by Federico Lorca; a famous Spanish poet from a similar era. Prosias is something Lorca used to describe a work wherein there is no distinguishable pattern, rather a mixture between prose and poetry. Testament to this fact there seems to be no recognisable pattern throughout the poem. Pedro Salinas uses language that is not conventional to the poetry of his time; he uses a lot of symbolism, metaphor and imagery. However, the love is described negatively – it does not focus on a particular character, the benefits of being loved, being in love or on a particular love story.
There is no reference of love between two specific people therefore illustrating how Salinas refers to love in a different manor to his contemporaries. Salinas writes in a very natural way; he does not use rhyme, specific line length and there does not appear to be any kind of prominent patterns. The poem is an exploration into the absolute, wit and beauty. Salinas associates love with confusion, this is made clear in the first few lines of the poem in which he uses imagery of a mask, he is showing that love can be deceiving and changes the way someone can think, act and behave: Extraviadamente amantes, por el mundo. ?Amar! ?Que confusion sin par! ?Cuantos errores! Besar rostros en vez de mascaras amadas. ’ The imagery in the poem such as the choir of mermaids symbolizes the fact that love can obscure reality, causing people to fantasize, creating an exaggerated impression of their lives. This correlates with the confusion that is highlighted by the reference to masks. Mermaids are also supposed to be associated with beauty and desire, they are angelic, virginal and young.
They are also surrounded by water, so they are with nature, suggesting that love is natural, involuntary and all encompassing. As a result people’s identities are altered as they are overcome with emotion and fantasy. Furthermore, the mermaid in snow was confusing, however this could have been a device which Salinas used to represent the confusion of love, as he associates opposites with each other. This could be suggestive of the fact that love can enable people to be attracted to one another despite their differences.
Moreover, Salinas shows that ultimately this can often result in failure, as these people are incompatible as are mermaids with snow. ‘sirenas y corales en las nieves perpetuas, y en el fondo del mar, constelaciones ya fatigadas, las transfugas de la gran noche huerfana, donde mueren los buzos. Los dos. Que descarrio! ’ The reference to the death of the divers suggests that they met their fate whilst searching for, or exploring, love. This shows that love is alluring, seductive and uncontrollable as it can lead people astray and destroy them. ‘?
Este camino, el otro, aquel? Los mapas, falsos, trastornando los rumbos, juegan a nuestra perdida, entre riesgos sin faro. ’ This phrase strengthens the argument that what people believe about love is often false; they are misled. This is suggested by maps being false, people are unaware of the confusion that love can cause. Salinas uses imagery to show that love can be controlling; rash decisions may be made upon their lust. My understanding of this section is that people are happy not to be right, they are ‘on the edge of victory but have no desire to win’.
This further suggests that love clouds vision and alters the normal way in which people think and act; they are not their normal selves. ‘De alegria purisima de no atinar, de hallarnos en umbrales, en bordes tremulos de victoria, sin ganas de ganar’ Salinas goes beyond the surface with regards to love, he does not so much focus on individuals and their identities, but more on what love is as a concept. The lovers that the narrator describes are anonymous and are therefore are lacking in identity.
This is a purely intentional feature included by the author in order to allow each individual reader to extract and relate to particular aspects of his writings. Therefore I believe that the poem conveys a universal meaning about love, and about how people can become infatuated with others, becoming dependent and losing their identities. The phrase ‘Extraviadamente amantes, por el mundo’ is be representative of this, as the narrator is suggesting that love can often be misleading for everyone. I enjoyed reading this poem as it is written in an unusual style with lots of imagery.
Due to the interpretative nature of ‘La voz a ti debida’, each individual reader is able to extract and understand Salinas’ descriptions of the concept of love in various ways, depending on their own identity and personal experiences of love. Salinas’ descriptions of love could be considered somewhat ambiguous; in that sense, he has played with a general understanding of human emotion and compassion with the aim of making his work more widely applicable and understandable to a larger group of readers. This is exactly as Salinas would have wanted – for every individual to feel as if each line had been written specifically for them.