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The Unknown Light
The Unknown Light
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Fray Luis de Leon - Author
Willis Barnstone - Editor/translator
Hardcover - 175 pages
Release Date: June 1979
ISBN10: 0-87395-394-0
ISBN13: 978-0-87395-394-8

Out of Print
Paperback - 175 pages
Release Date: June 1979
ISBN10: 0-87395-419-X
ISBN13: 978-0-87395-419-8

Out of Print


This bilingual edition is the first complete English-language collection of poems by this Golden Age writer, considered one of the masters of Spanish literature. Includes León’s own preface and tributes to Garcia Lorca and Aleixandre. Barnstone’s introduction discusses León’s mystical symbols and visions.

“Fray Luis de León (1527–1591), an Augustinian monk of converso origin (i.e., of partly Jewish ancestry), is considered to be one of Spain’s greatest lyric poets … Barnstone’s lengthy introduction situates the poet in the great tradition of Spanish mystical poetry and clarifies León’s special use of theistic mysticism which differed from that of St. John of the Cross. Barnstone also points out León’s reliance on the important Jewish cabalistic influences on Spanish letters … A useful addition for collections of Spanish literature.” — Library Journal

Willis Barnstone, professor of comparative literature at Indiana University, also translated Pedro Salinas’s My Voice Because of You, published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents

"Solitude (Homage to Fray Luis de Leon)" by Federico Garcia Lorca
Preface by Fray Luis de Leon

1. Al sadir de la cárcel
On Leaving Prison (1576)
2. A Francisco Salinas Catedrático de música en la Universidad de Salamanca
To Francisco de Salinas Professor of Music at the University of Salamanca (1577-80)
3. Al licenciado Juan de Grial
To the Licentiate Juan de Grial (1572-76)
4. Vida retirada
Secluded Life (before 1572)
5. Noche Serena
Serene Night (1572-76)
6. Esperanzas burladas
Hopes Turned Sour (1573-74)
7. A Felipe Ruiz
To Felipe Ruiz
8. Descanso después de la tempestad
Repose After the Storm (1576-76)
9. A Felipe Ruiz
To Felipe Ruiz (before 1580)
10. Contra un juerz avaro
Against an Avaricious Judge (1572-76)
11. En la Ascensión
On the Ascension (1572-after 78)
12. Morada del Cielo
Dwelling Place in Heaven (1577-80)
13. Del Morerado y constante. A Felipe Ruiz
Of Moderation and Constancy. To Felipe Ruiz (1577-78)
14. A don Pedro Portocarrero
To don pedro Portocarrero (1576-77)
15. A don Pedro Portocarrero, ausente
To don Pedro Portocarrero, Absent (1569-70)
16. A Nuestra Señora
To Our Lady (1572-73)

Appendix: Other Poems
17. A don Pedro Portocarrero
To don Pedro Portocarrero (1571-72)
18. En el nacimiento de doña Tomasina, hija del marqués de Alcañices, don Álvaro de Borja y doña Elvira Enríquez
On the Birth of doña Tomasina, daughter of the marquis of Alcañices, don Álvaro de Borja and of doña Elvira Enríquez (1569)
19. De la Magdalena. A una Señora pasada lo mocedad
Of Magdalene. To a Lady No Longer Young (1569)
20. Las Sirenas a Cherinto
The Sirens to Cherinto (1565-72)
21. Profecía del Tajo
Prophecy of the Tajo River (1551-58?)
22. En la fiesta de Todos los Santos
On the Holiday of All Saints' Day (1575-76)
23. A Santiago
To Santiago (1577-78 or before 1580)

Alternative Titles
"To Fray Luis de Leon" by Vicente Aleixandre

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