Biography of Alfonsina Storni
Storni was born in Sala Capriasca, Switzerland to an Argentine beer industrialist living in Switzerland for a few years. There, Storni learned to speak Italian. Following the failure of the family business, they opened a tavern in the city of Rosario, Argentina, where Storni worked at a variety of chores.
In 1907, she joined a traveling theatre company which took her around the country. With them she performed in Henrik Ibsen's Spectres, Benito Pérez Galdós's La loca de la casa, and Florencio Sánchez's Los muertos.
Back in Rosario she finished her studies as a rural primary teacher, and also started working for Mundo Rosarino and Monos y Monadas local magazines, as well as Mundo Argentino.
In 1911 she moved to Buenos Aires, seeking the anonymity of a big city. The following year her son Alejandro was born, the illegitimate child of a journalist in Coronda.
In spite of her economic difficulties, she published La inquietud del rosal in 1916, and later started writing for Caras y Caretas magazine while working as a cashier in a shop.
Storni soon became acquainted with other writers such as José Enrique Rodó and Amando Ruiz de Nervo , and established friendships with José Ingenieros and Manuel Ugarte.
Her economic situation improved, which allowed her to travel to Montevideo, Uruguay. There she met the poet Juana de Ibarbourou, as well as Horacio Quiroga, with whom she would become great friends. Her 1920 book Languidez received the first Municipal Poetry Prize and the second National Literature Prize.
She taught literature at the Escuela Normal de Lenguas Vivas, and she published Ocre. Her style now showed more realism than before, and a strongly feminist theme. Solitude and marginality began to affect her health, and worsening emotional problems forced her to leave her job as teacher.
Trips to Europe changed her writing by helping her to lose her former models, and reach a more dramatic lyricism, loaded with an erotic vehemence unknown in those days, and new feminist thoughts in Mundo de siete pozos (1934) and Mascarilla y trébol (1938).
A year and a half after her friend Quiroga committed suicide in 1937, and haunted by solitude and breast cancer, Storni sent her last poem, Voy a dormir ("I'm going to sleep") to La Nación newspaper in October 1938. Around 1:00 AM on Tuesday the 25th, Alfonsina left her room and headed towards the sea at La Perla beach in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Later that morning two workers found her body washed up on the beach. Although her biographers hold that she jumped into the water from a breakwater, popular legend is that she slowly walked out to sea until she drowned.
Her death inspired Ariel Ramírez and Félix Luna to compose the song Alfonsina y el Mar ("Alfonsina and the sea"), which has been performed by Mercedes Sosa, Tania Libertad, Nana Mouskouri, Mocedades, Andrés Calamaro, Katia Cardenal and many others.
Also, fifty years after her death, she inspired the Latin American artist Aquino to incorporate her image into many of his paintings.
Storni once referred to men as el enemigo, "the enemy." Much of Storni's work focuses on what she sees as the repression of women by men. This often takes the form of personal insults directed at men in general.
Alfonsina Storni's Works:
La inquietud del rosal ("The Restlessness of the Rose" 1916)
El dulce daño ("Sweet injury" 1918)
Irremediablemente ("Irremediably" 1919)
Languidez ("Languidness" 1920)
Ocre ("Ochre" 1925)
Poemas de amor ("Love poems" 1926)
El amo del mundo: comedia en tres actos - play ("Master of the world: a comedy in three acts" 1927)
Dos farsas pirotécnicas - play ("Two pyrotechnic farces" 1932)
Mundo de siete pozos ("World of seven wells" 1934)
Mascarilla y trébol ("Mask and trefoil" 1938)
Antología poética ("Poetic anthology" 1938)
Teatro infantil ("Plays for children" 1950)
Poesías completas ("Complete poetical works" 1968)
Nosotras y la piel: selección de ensayos ("We (women) and the skin: selected essays" 1998)
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Alfonsina Storni Poems
Little Little Man
Little little man, little little man, set free your canary that wants to fly. I am that canary, little little man, leave me to fly.
I Am Going to Sleep
Teeth of flowers, hairnet of dew, hands of herbs, you, perfect wet nurse, prepare the earthly sheets for me and the down quilt of weeded moss.
Lighthouse in the Night
The sky a black sphere, the sea a black disk. The lighthouse opens
Today my mother and sisters came to see me. I had been alone a long time
You said the word that enamors My hearing. You already forgot. Good. Sleep peacefully. Your face should Be serene and beautiful at all hours.
My melancholy was gold dust in your hands; On your long hands I scattered my life; My sweetnesses remained clutched in your hands; Now I am a vial of perfume, emptied
A Eros (To Eros)
HE AQUI que te cacé por el pescuezo a la orilla del mar, mientras movías las flechas de tu aljaba para herirme
Quiero un amor feroz de garra y diente Que me asalte a traición a pleno día Y que sofoque esta soberbia mía este orgullo de ser todo pudiente.
A Madona Poesia (To My Lady of Poetry)
AQUI a tus pies lanzada, pecadora, contra tu tierra azul, mi cara oscura, tú, virgen entre ejércitos de palmas
Tu Me Quieres Blanca
TU ME QUIERES alba, Me quieres de espumas, Me quieres de nácar. Que sea azucena
Soy un alma desnuda en estos versos, Alma desnuda que angustiada y sola Va dejando sus pétalos dispersos.
It's ten o'clock at night; in the room in semidarkness My sister is asleep, hands on her chest; Her face is very white and very white her bed, As if it understood, the light is almost unlit
What Would They Say?
What would the people say, reduced and empty, If one fortuitous day, by some extreme fantasy, I were to dye my hair silvery and violet, were to wear an old greek gown, exchanging the comb for a circlet of flowers: forget-me-nots or jasmines,
Hombre pequeñito, hombre pequeñito, suelta a tu canario que quiere volar Yo soy el canario, hombre pequeñito, déjame saltar.
I Am Going to Sleep
Teeth of flowers, hairnet of dew,
hands of herbs, you, perfect wet nurse,
prepare the earthly sheets for me
and the down quilt of weeded moss.
I am going to sleep, my nurse, put me to bed.
Set a lamp at my headboard;
a constellation; whatever you like;
all are good: lower it a bit.