Juana de Ibarbourou

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Juana de Ibarbourou
Juana de Ibarbourou from Estampas de la Biblia.jpg
Juana Fernández Morales

(1892-03-08)March 8, 1892
DiedJuly 15, 1979(1979-07-15) (aged 87)
Montevideo, Uruguay
Spouse(s)Lucas Ibarbourou
ChildrenJulio César

Juana Fernández Morales de Ibarbourou, also known as Juana de América, (1892–1979) was a Uruguayan poet and one of the most popular poets of Spanish America. Her poetry, the earliest of which is often highly erotic, is notable for her identification of her feelings with nature around her. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times. [1]

Nobel Prize in Literature One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Literature is a Swedish literature prize that is awarded annually, since 1901, to an author from any country who has, in the words of the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction". Though individual works are sometimes cited as being particularly noteworthy, the award is based on an author's body of work as a whole. The Swedish Academy decides who, if anyone, will receive the prize. The academy announces the name of the laureate in early October. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. It was not awarded in 2018, but two names will be awarded in 2019.



Juana's birthplace Casa natal de Juana.JPG
Juana's birthplace

She was born Juana Fernández Morales on March 8, 1892, in Melo, Cerro Largo, Uruguay. The date of Juana's birth is often given as March 8, 1895, but according to a local state civil registry signed by two witnesses, the year was actually 1892. Juana began studies at the José Pedro Varela school in 1899 and moved to a religious school the following year, and two public schools afterwards. In 1909, at 17 years old, she published a prose piece, "Derechos femeninos" (women's rights), beginning a lifelong career as a prominent feminist.

Melo, Uruguay Capital city in Cerro Largo, Uruguay

Melo is the capital city of the Cerro Largo Department of north-eastern Uruguay. As of the census of 2011, it is the ninth most populated city of the country.

Cerro Largo Department Place in Uruguay

Cerro Largo Department is a department of Uruguay. Its capital is Melo. It is located in the east of the country, bordering Brazil to its northeast with Yaguaron River as the natural border, Treinta y Tres Department to its south, Durazno Department to its west and the departments of Tacuarembó and Rivera to its northwest with Negro River as its natural border with them.

José Pedro Varela Uruguayan sociologist, journalist and politician

José Pedro Varela y Berro was an Uruguayan sociologist, journalist, politician, and educator. He was born in Montevideo. Uruguay adopted free, compulsory, and secular education in 1876, thanks to his efforts. It was because of Varela that Uruguay established the 1877 Law of Common Education, which continues to influence Uruguay.

She married Captain Lucas Ibarbourou Trillo (1879-1942) in a civil ceremony June 28, 1913, and had one child named Julio César Ibarbourou Fernandez (1914-1988). In 1918, Juana moved to Montevideo with her family. As was the custom, Juana and Lucas were remarried in a religious ceremony on June 28, 1921 in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Aid. Lucas Ibarbourou died January 13, 1942. Their son Julio became a compulsive gambler and drug addict and Juana spent nearly all of her money, eventually having to sell her houses, property and jewelry, to pay his debts and the costs of his medical care.

Montevideo Capital city in Uruguay

Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay. According to the 2011 census, the city proper has a population of 1,319,108 in an area of 201 square kilometres (78 sq mi). The southernmost capital city in the Americas, Montevideo is situated on the southern coast of the country, on the northeastern bank of the Río de la Plata.

Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro y San Alfonso, Montevideo church building in Montevideo, Uruguay

The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Alphonsus, popularly known as Iglesia de Tapes is a Roman Catholic parish church in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Juana de Ibarbourou died July 15, 1979 in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Uruguay republic in South America

Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, is a country in the southeastern region of South America. It borders Argentina to its west and Brazil to its north and east, with the Río de la Plata to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast. Uruguay is home to an estimated 3.44 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Montevideo. With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America, after Suriname.

Poetry and philosophy

Juana de Ibarbourou was a feminist, naturalist, and pantheist.


Juana de Ibarbourou was an early Latin American feminist. Ibarbourou's feminism is evident in poems such as "La Higuera", in which she describes a fig tree as more beautiful than the straight and blooming trees around it, and "Como La Primavera", in which she asserts that authenticity is more attractive than any perfume. Also, in "La Cita", Ibarbourou extols her naked form devoid of traditional ornamentation, comparing her natural features to various material accessories and finding in favor of her unadorned body.

Common themes

Nature imagery and eroticism define a great body of Ibarbourou's poetry.


Ibarbourou's depiction of death in her poetry was not consistent throughout her body of work. In "La Inquietud Fugaz", Ibarbourou portrayed a binary, final death consistent with Western tradition. In "Vida-Garfio" and "Carne Inmortal", however, Ibarbourou describes her dead body giving rise to plant life, allowing her to live on.

In "Rebelde", one of Ibarbourou's most richly constructed poems, Ibarbourou details a confrontation between herself and Charon, the ferryman of the River Styx. Surrounded by wailing souls on the boat passage to the underworld, Ibarbourou defiantly refuses to lament her fate, acting as cheerfully as a sparrow. Although Ibarbourou does not escape her fate, she wins a moral victory against the forces of death.

Underworld mythological concept

The underworld is the world of the dead in various religious traditions, located below the world of the living. Chthonic is the technical adjective for things of the underworld.

Like most poets, Ibarbourou nursed an intense fear of death. Though it is easy to surmise this from her poetry, she states so explicitly in the first line of "Carne Inmortal."

Example of her poetry

"RECONQUISTA" (Reconquest)

No sé de donde regresó el anhelo
De volver a cantar como en el tiempo
en que tenía entre mi puño el cielo
Y con una perla azul el pensamiento.

De una enlutada nube, la centella,
Súbito pez, hendió la noche cálida
Y en mí se abrió de nuevo la crisálida
Del verso alado y su bruñida estrella.

Ahora ya es el hino centelleante
Que alza hasta Dios la ofrenda poderosa
De su bruñida lanza de diamante.

Unidad de la luz sobre la rosa.
Y otra vez la conquista alucinante
De la eterna poesía victoriosa.

-Montevideo, 1960
Mi pequeño regalo de Pascuas para Nimia Vicens Madrazo,
en su espléndido San Juan de Puerto Rico. Afectuosamente. -Juana de Ibarbourou [2]

Published works

Awards and honors


In Melo, capital city of Cerro Largo Department, there are two museums that display her life:

Notes and references

  1. "Nomination Database". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
  2. "Reconquista", poem written by Uruguayan poet, Juana de Ibarbourou, for the Puerto Rican poet, Nimia Vicens.

Works cited

Research resources

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