Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938)

Poem and translation: Peso ancestral.

Storni was an Argentine poet. In 1911, she began to write and publish poetry and began her teaching career. She was known as a non-conformist and center of controversy; as a journalist, she was vocal in defense of women’s rights (Castro-Klarén, Molloy, and Sarlo 143). At 20 years old, alone in the world with her son, she was in Buenos Aires supporting herself by her writing and became a well-known part of “literary cafe culture” (Tapscott 106).

Her books include La inquietud del rosal (1916), El dulce daño (1918), Irremediablemente (1920), Languidez (1920), and Ocre (1925) (Lagos 37).

Always suspicious of politics and especially of communist, socialist, or leftist leanings, María Monvel says of Storni:

Extraño caso de mujer que piensa tanto como sinte, Alfonsina Storni es sin duda la mejor poetisa argentina y una de las mejores de América. Extraordinariamente intelectual, su verso es puro y culto, de una gran sencillez que es al mismo tiempo una suprema elegancia. Apenas si se ha enredado un poco en las filas izquierdistas, para lo cual, se ve, no tiene afición ni temperamento. Su gusto por la sencillez y su nítida visión de las cosas, la alejan quizás del obscurantismo del día. (Monvel 105)

Strange case of a woman who thinks as much as she feels, Alfonsina Storni is without a doubt the best Argentine poetess and one of the best of America. Extraordinarily intellectual, her verse is pure and refined, showing great sensitivity at the same time as a supreme elegance. She was entangled a bit with the leftists ranks; however, it can be seen she hasn’t the inclination nor temperament. Her taste for simplicity and her sharp vision of things are greatly enjoyed perhaps because of the obscurantism of the current day.

“Peso Ancestral,” one of Storni’s most famous poems, is often anthologized. It can be read as a personal exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, or as a woman’s vision of the weight of history, connections with the past, and the problem of the agony of double consciousness that develops with feminist awareness.

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