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Jacint Verdaguer

The 'Prince of Catalan Poets'

Jacint Verdaguer

Jacint Verdaguer i Santaló (1845-1902) grew up in the small town of Folgueroles, in rural Catalonia, the son of poor but literate peasants who loved to read. They sent their clever son at age 11 to the seminary of Vic, and he first attracted wider attention in 1865, he participated in Barcelona's Jocs Florals and won four prizes. At age 22 he was ordained a priest, or mossèn in Catalan.

His poetry attracted the attention and friendship of Frédéric Mistral, who led the revival of the Occitan language of southern France, and would win the Nobel Prize for literature, notably for his epic poem, Mirèio (1865).

Verdaguer, however, suffered from a mysterious disease that led to chronic fevers and wasting away. His doctor sent him to Barcelona, with its superior medical treatments, where he met Claudio López, the Marquis of Comillas. The Marquis was charmed by the lyrics of the young priest and arranged for him to serve as chaplain of the ships of the Companyia Tranatlántica between Spain and Cuba, a position he filled for two, making nine crossing back and forth, and inspiring his own great epic poem, L'Atlàntida, in dense rich Catalan verse and imagery, described by Robert Hughes as a

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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by PD Art