Culteranismo is a stylistic movement of the Baroque period of Spanish history that is also commonly referred to as Gongorismo (after Luis de Góngora). It began in the late 16th century with the writing of Luis de Góngora and lasted through the 17th century.
Culteranismo is characterized by a very ornamental, ostentatious vocabulary and a message that is complicated by a sea of metaphors and complex syntactical order. The name blends culto ("cultivated") and luteranismo ("Lutheranism") and was coined by its opponents to present it as a heresy of "true" poetry.
|" Estas que me dictó, rimas sonoras, / Culta sí aunque bucólica Talía, / Oh excelso Conde, en las purpúreas horas / Que es rosas la alba y rosicler el día, / Ahora que de luz tu niebla doras, / Escucha, al son de la zampoña mía, / Si ya los muros no te ven de Huelva / Peinar el viento, fatigar la selva."|
|—Luis de Góngora, Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea, 1612|
This movement seems to use as many words as possible to convey little meaning or to conceal meaning. It is also associated with Latinized syntax and mythological allusions. Culteranismo existed in stark contrast with conceptismo, another movement of the Baroque period which is characterized by a witty style, games with words, simple vocabulary, and conveying multiple meanings in as few words as possible. The best-known representative of Spanish conceptismo, Francisco de Quevedo, had an ongoing feud with Luis de Góngora in which each criticized the other’s writing and personal life.
Other practitioners of the style include Hortensio Félix Paravicino.
|Original Spanish||Literal translation||Explanation|
|Era del año la estación florida||It was the flowery season of the year||It was spring.|
|en que el mentido robador de Europa||when the perjured kidnapper of Europa||Zeus kidnapped Europa in the shape of a bull.|
|(media luna las armas de su frente,||(half moon the arms of his forehead||The bull's weapons (horns) are shaped as a crescent.|
|y el Sol todos los rayos de su pelo),||and the Sun all the beams of his hair),|
|luciente honor del cielo,||brilliant honor of the sky|
|en campos de zafiro pace estrellas,||in fields of sapphire grazes [on] stars||The Sun is currently in Taurus
(the constellation of the Zeus bull),
i.e., it is between April and May.