Jorge Manrique

Biography of Jorge Manrique

Jorge Manrique (c. 1440 – 1479) was a major Spanish poet, whose main work, the Coplas a la muerte de su padre (Stanzas about the Death of his Father), is still read today. He was a supporter of the great Spanish queen, Isabel I of Castile, and actively participated on her side in the civil war that broke out against her half-brother, Enrique IV, when the latter attempted to make his daughter, Juana, crown princess. Jorge died in 1479 during an attempt to take the castle of Garcimuñoz, defended by Marquis of Villena (a staunch enemy of Isabel), after Isabel gained the crown.

Manrique was a great-nephew of Iñigo López de Mendoza (marquess of Santillana), a descendant of Pero López de Ayala, chancellor of Castile, and a nephew of Gómez Manrique, corregidor of Toledo, all important poets of the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. He was, therefore, a member of a noble family of great consequence.

Coplas por la muerte de su padre (English: Stanzas on his father's death) is Jorge Manrique's best composition. In fact, Lope de Vega pronounced it worthy to be printed in letters of gold. It is a funeral eulogy dedicated to the memory of Rodrigo Manrique (his father), who died on 11 November 1476 in Ocaña. Jorge thought that his father led a life worth living, and his poem contrasts types of life (or death)

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Life

Oh! Let the soul its slumber break,
Arouse its senses and awake,
To see how soon
Life, with its glory, glides away,
And the stern footsteps of decay
Come rolling on.

And while we eye the rolling tide
Down which our flowing minutes glide