Ruben Dario is one of the most influential and biggest role models in Nicaraguan history. Every Nicaraguan person knows who Ruben Dario is. He was known as “The Father of Modernism.” Ruben Dario was known and idolized for his beautiful poetry that has resonated for generations in Nicaragua. To this day, students are required to know the history of Ruben Dario and recite his poetry.
Dario’s success began at the age of 13, where his first publication made it into a newspaper for the city of Rivas with the name of “Termometro.” Since his first publication, he was known throughout Nicaragua as their “child poet.” Congress of Nicaragua noticed Dario’s passion for poetry, so they sent him on a scholarship to study in Europe, which was eventually revoked because the President Pedro Joaquin Chamorro believed that his poetry was written to defy Dario’s family and the rest of the country.
Dario remarried four times in his life but wrote several poems throughout his marital endeavors. After travelling to Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador and Spain, in 1907, he finally returned to Nicaragua. In 1916, after undergoing an operation, Dario passed away in February in the city of Leon, the city he always adored.
To this day, Ruben Dario is commemorated throughout Nicaragua with many schools, buildings, monuments and streets specifically named after this acclaimed poet. He also has the largest theatre in the country named after him as well as a city and a museum. He continues to be one of the most important and influential people in Nicaragua to date.
Here is a poem from Ruben Dario, one of his most famous translated to English:
To Margarita Debayle
Margarita, how beautiful the sea is:
still and blue.
The orange blossom in the breezes
The skylark in its glory
has your accent too:
Here, Margarita, is a story
made for you.
A king there was and far away,
with a palace of diamonds
and a shopfront made of day.
He had a herd of elephants,
A kiosk, more, of malachite,
and a robe of rarest hue
also a princess who was light
of thought and beautiful as you.
But one afternoon the princess
saw high in the heavens appear
a star, and being mischievous,
resolved at once to bring it near.
It would form the centrepiece
of a brooch hung with verse, pearl,
feathers, flowers: a caprice
of course of a little girl.
But also, because a princess,
exquisite, delicate like you,
the others then cut irises
roses, asters: as girls do.
But, alas, our little one went far
across the sea, beneath the sky,
and all to cut the one white star
that saw her wondering and sigh.
She went beyond where the heavens are
and to the moon said, au revoir.
How naughty to have flown so far
without the permission of Papa.
She returned at last, and though gone
from the high heavens of accord,
still there hung about and shone
the soft brilliance of our Lord.
Which the king noted, said: you,
child, drive me past despair,
but what is that strange, shining dew
on your hands, your face, your hair?
She spoke the truth; her words shine
with the clear lightness of the air:
I went to seek what should be mine
in that blue immensity up there.
Are then the heavens for our display,
with things that you must touch?
You can be altogether too outré,
child, for God to like you much.
To hear that I am sorry, truly,
for I had no plans as such. But,
once across the windy sky and sea
I had so much that flower to cut.
Whereupon, in punishment,
the king said, I’d be much beholden
if you’d go this moment and consent
to return what you have stolen.
So sad was then our little princess
looking at her sweet flower of light,
until and smiling at her distress
there stood the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those fields are as I willed them,
and your rose but signatory
to the flowers up there that children
have in dreaming formed of me.
Again the king is laughing, brilliant
in his robes’s rich royalty,
he troops the herd of elephant,
in their four hundred, by the sea.
Adored and delicate, the princess
is once more a little girl
who keeps for brooch the star and, yes,
the flowers, and the feathers, the pearl.
Beautiful, Margarita, the sea is,
still and blue:
with your sweet breath have all the breezes
Now soon from me and far you’ll be,
but, little one, stay true
to a gentle thought made a story
once for you.
The Princess and the Star
Margarita, the sea lies fair,
And from the bowers
The winds bring a subtle scent
Of orange flowers.
In my soul a lark is singing—
Your voice, my dear!
I am going to tell you a story.
Sit down and hear!
There once was a mighty monarch,
With a palace of diamonds bright,
And elephants in a stately troop,
And a tent that was made of light,
And a tower of malachite costly,
And a mantle of gorgeous hue,
And a fair little, sweet little princess,
As pretty, my darling, as you.
One evening the princess, gazing,
Saw a star in the heaven’s afar.
She was mischievous, surely, the princess—
She wanted to gather that star.
To adorn for her bosom a breastpin
She wished it, the dear little girl,
Along with the verse of a poet,
A feather, a flower and a pearl.
It seems dainty princesses, darling,
Are much as you are today,
For lilies they pick, and roses,
And stars. They are made that way!
So she went, the lovely princess,
O’er the sea, and under the sky,
To cut the white star that she longed for
From the vault of the heavens on high.
She went up by the moon, and farther,
On that beautiful summer eve;
But the bad thing was that she went away
Without asking her father’s leave.
And when she came back from the Lord’s fair park
In the heaven’s azure height,
She was seen all wrapt in a glory soft,
In a splendor sweet and bright.
And the king said: ‘What were you doing?
I have looked for you everywhere.
And what is that on your bosom
That burns with a light so fair?’
The princess told no falsehood;
She gave him an answer true.
‘I went to gather my star,’ she said,
‘From the heavens vast and blue.’
The king cried, ‘Oh, what madness!
What a fancy strange and wild!
I told you no one must touch the sky.
The Lord will be angry, child!’
‘I meant no harm,’ she answered;
‘I went, I don’t know why
Across the waves, in the blowing wind,
And I cut the star from the sky.’
Said her father, ‘You must be punished.
Go back to the sky once more,
For what you stole from the shining heights
To its place you must restore.’
The princess grew pale and mournful
For her lovely flower of light;
But then kind Jesus appeared to them—
His smile it was sweet and bright.
‘In my country’s fields up yonder
I gave her that rose,’ said he.
‘My flowers belong to the little girls
Who think and who dream of me.’
The king donned glittering garments,
And there by the shore he made
Four hundred elephants tall and grave
March past in a grand parade.
And the princess is fair to look on,
With her breatpin, the happy girl;
For it shines with the star, with a poet’s verse,
With a feather, a flower and a pearl!
Margarita, the sea lies fair;
The breezes clear
Waft orange blossoms’ fragrance—
Your breath, my dear!
Ere long you will be far distant,
But keep, little girl, I pray,
A kindly thought of the friend who tried
To tell you a tale one day!