NOT LONG AFTER his arrival in Chile from Nicaragua in 1886, Rubén Darío published an article in the newspaper El mercurio, in which he lamented the present state of the arts. Speaking of Chilean poets in particular, he complains: “Casi todos permanecen silenciosos; casi todos han olvidado el amable comercio de las Gracias. Quién con la cartera del diplomático no cura si la Fama le ha encumbrado a la categoría del primer poeta filosófico de América; quién en prosaicas oficinas cuenta números en lugar de hemistiquios” (qtd. in Martínez, introduction 15; Almost all remain silent; almost all have forgotten the kind commerce with the Graces. One, with a diplomat’s briefcase, cares not if Fame has raised him to the rank of premier philosophical poet of America; another, in a prosaic office, counts numbers instead of hemistichs).1 Darío’s scorn for those...

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