Francisco Brines did not open all the boxes from the move that took him from his home on María Auxiliadora street in Madrid to Elca, the family farmhouse in Oliva (Valencia). 21 years later, while collecting material for the exhibition that the University of Alcalá de Henares was going to dedicate to the Valencian poet on the occasion of the delivery of the Cervantes Prize, Àngels Gregori, director of the foundation that bears the name of the writer who died on 20 May at age 89, he found three folders in a box. One of them kept up to 79 poems, unpublished, never published. They seemed to be part of a handwritten book although it only contained the annotation “For the Insula Prize for Poetry.”
Three months ago, Gregori immediately sensed that it was a book that the RAE academic spoke about repeatedly, lamenting its loss, since he wrote it as a teenager, between 15 and 17 years old, at the end of his forties. . At that time he was studying at the Jesuit college in Valencia and began to question the Catholic religious beliefs that he had acquired in his formative years, in a country ruled by the National Catholicism of the Franco dictatorship.
The book was titled God made wind as the author himself recalled, who came to enjoy and also laugh at his adolescent verses recovered weeks before he died in a hospital in the neighboring town of Gandía. This early work was chosen by Brines himself to be handed over as a legacy to the Cervantes Institute. He could not deposit it last April due to his fragile state of health, nor could he then go to receive the Cervantes Prize in Alcalá de Henares. For this reason, it was the Kings who gave him the distinction in his house in Oliva eight days before he died. And this Monday it was the director of Cervantes, the also poet Luis García Montero, who received the legacy, also in the Elca farmhouse, from the poet’s niece, Mirona Brines, for his protection. His last destination will be the new Patrimonial Library of the organization, also located in the hometown of Cervantes.
Àngels Gregori had time to show the contents of the folder found to the author of The autumn of the roses. “He got really excited when I was reading it to him. It was like going back to your teens. It was also very exciting for me to read it to him, to hear how he made fun of a verse and how he commented on another that it was not bad at all. It is a book with his first proofs as a poet, but somehow we can see part of Brines’ later poetics. In the title of The poem found and lost in the forest there are already certain resonances that later pick up in others such as The lost and found child in Elca, which belongs to his last original book, The last coast . He would ask me: ‘What do I do? Do I publish it or not? ‘ At first I said no and then: yes. It is not the best Brines book, but it is a Brines book. We do not know if it will end up being published in a few years. Let’s see ”, explains the director of the foundation.
At that time, the poet from Oliva studied from Monday to Friday in Valencia with the Jesuits and on weekends he often went to the house that the congregation had in the nearby town of Alaquàs. One of his poems is titled Nights of spiritual exercises. “For the first time, Brines is aware that he is beginning to doubt his faith; she has her first religious crisis, ”says Gregori. Another one of those unpublished poems, God was alone never published, it was shown at the Alcalá de Henares exhibition, inaugurated on April 23. In it, he already demonstrates a surprising command of the language ”, he adds. In the same folder there were some drawings by Brines himself.
Another folder included “wonderful” first-time prose pieces on the first cities he visited, such as Cuenca or Valladolid, Gregori points out. “Brines barely kept anything, but his mother did, and I believe that thanks to her these folders have been preserved,” he adds. In the third of them there is correspondence with Luis Cernuda, with Vicente Aleixandre, also with his family. She reproached him for writing so little, especially when he was a reader at Oxford. “I am a lazy letter writer,” he answered.
A lazy perfectionist who circled the verses. He had been announcing for years that he was finalizing a new collection of poems, Where death dies, of which some poems have transcended. The Tusquets publishing house plans to publish the book in October with the inclusion of a score of compositions worked in the last 25 years, some of “extraordinary intensity”, such as Welcome to the year 2000 O Declaration of love to Elca”, According to the director of the poet’s foundation, whose tolerant, open-minded and open-minded personality made her many friends.
Proof of this is that writers such as Felipe Benítez Reyes, Luisa Castro, Fernando Delgado, Vicente Gallego, Carlos Marzal or Lola Mascarell have also participated in the donation to the Cervantes box with the contribution of a book each with some special meaning related to Francisco Brines. Also the visual artists Mariona Brines and Carmen Calvo. García Montero, for his part, leaves in this extended legacy two first editions of Diary of a newly married poet, by Juan Ramón Jiménez, and Solitudes, by Antonio Machado, teachers and two of Francisco Brines’ favorite poets.