La Avellaneda, Whom they Called "La Peregrina"

La Avellaneda, Whom they Called "La Peregrina"
Fecha de publicación: 
14 April 2024
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Her heart was not crushed by the wind, but by those unsuccessful loves that tried to twist the course of her life. She was young, so hope continued to settle in her soul, so full of dreams, and, although new faces left her the scar of absence, she once again crossed the margins of the possible. Those experiences fall in the scope of her expression, in that of his poetry so permeated of her, so deeply hers. In the end, the train on which she was waiting for him did not arrive and even the white boat manned by a star was lost at sea, but she still had the breath to keep on dreaming of the aroma that would one day dwell in her chest.

The unforgettable Tula

Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda is considered one of the precursors of feminism in Cuba and Latin America. The applauded drama of Leoncia vindicates the role of women in that society full of prejudices, in which she lived.
She published articles in the press in which she raised the intellectual equality between women and men and even the superiority of women.

She was born in Puerto Príncipe, now Camagüey, in 1814, she manifested her precocity when, at age nine, she wrote verses. The Cuban writer, playwright and poet lived on the island until 1836, when she went to live abroad with her family.

Many disappointments hurt her heart and, among them, the death of her father, the disappointment when her most fraternal friend falls in love with her boyfriend. On her trip to Spain, her nostalgia dictates one of her best-known poems: the anthological Al partir.

¡Perla del mar!, Estrella de Occidente!
¡Hermosa Cuba! Tu brillante cielo
la noche cubre con su opaco velo,
como cubre el dolor mi triste frente.

¡Voy a partir!... La chusma diligente,
para arrancarme del nativo suelo
las velas iza, y pronta a su desvelo
la brisa acude de tu zona ardiente.

¡Adiós, patria feliz, edén querido!
¡Doquier que el hado en su furor impela,
tú dulce nombre halagará mi oído!

¡Adiós!...ya cruje la turgente vela…
el ancla se alza… el buque, estremecido,
las olas corta y silencioso vuela.

Under the pen name of La Peregrina she read verses that were highly praised in the intellectual circles of the time in Seville.

Ignacio de Cepeda, a young law student, would awaken love in the young woman who was soon hurt by not being reciprocated to the extent he longed for. From this romance there was an autobiography and an epistolary that came to light after Cepeda's death at age 90.

Overwhelming was Tula's passion for this indifferent bourgeois who only thinks of himself. In 1840, she published her first drama Leoncia and established friendly relations with José Espronceda and José Zorrilla, among others.

It would be in Madrid, where the first collection of verses from Tula was published with the title of Poems. With the play Alfonso Munio she experienced resounding success.

She shines in the salons because of her Cuban beauty, her literary gifts. She meets the poet Gabriel García Tasara, to whom she gives herself, trembling with love. From those passionate moments, Tula becomes pregnant. Some time later, in the solitude of her room and faced with the elusiveness of her lover, she does not stop wondering what her fate will be; she knows that Tassara is not the same as when they started dating. Only silence accompanies her. When Maria was born, she asked the father over and over again to meet the little girl. All of her requests were in vain.

In the end, it was just her who suffered the premature death of her daughter.

Later, La Avellaneda married Pedro Sabater, who months later died in Bordeaux.

The woman from Camagüey continued to cultivate poetry and already in 1845 she was awarded in a Competition at the Artistic and Literary Lyceum of Madrid. In 1853, she requested entry into the Royal Spanish Academy, from which she received a refusal because she was a woman.

She continued attacking the conventions of that sexist society and strongly defended in several articles “the audacity and cunning of the weaker sex.”

Married in 1856 to the politician Domingo Verdugo, she returned to Cuba afterwards and was recognized by critics and her compatriots who were proud of her achievements; so in 1860 the Liceo of Havana proclaimed her National Poet and her friend Luisa Pérez de Zambrana, another great writer, gave her the crown of laurels.

During that stay, she not only enjoyed the charm of our landscapes, but in the capital she directed the magazine Cuban Album of the Good and Beautiful, where she published very interesting articles about women.

She traveled through cities on the Island that paid tribute to her and they say that in her native Port-au-Prince, she cried emotionally when remembering the happy days of her childhood. For five years she would remain in her homeland. Upon the death of Colonel Verdugo, in Pinar del Río, she embarked to Spain, where she died at her home in Madrid, on February 1, 1873.

She wrote novels such as the anti-slavery Sab, Guatimozín and Dos mujeres, among others. For the scene she created Leoncia, Munio Alfonso, The Prince of Viana, Saúl, Sympathy and Antipathy, and The Daughter of the Flowers...

Her drama Baltasar, which definitively consecrated her, premiered at Teatro Novedades on April 9, 1858 and is considered one of the most transcendental works of Spanish theater at that time.

When referring to La Peregrina, as they called Avellaneda, Cintio Vitier, expressed:

"...We feel in her (and even more than in her verses in the human electricity that surrounds them) a passion, a fire, a vital desire that no Spanish poet has had and that the female voices of our times announce. All of her is the epitome of the American woman".

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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