José María Heredia y Heredia

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Not to be confused with José-Maria de Heredia.
José María Heredia y Heredia

José María Heredia y Heredia (December 31, 1803 – May 21, 1839) was a Cuban poet, born at Santiago de Cuba.

Heredia studied at the University of Havana, and was called to the bar in 1823. In the autumn of 1823 he was arrested on a charge of conspiracy against the Spanish government, and was sentenced to banishment for life. He took refuge in 1825, and then went to Mexico. For a few months he was one of the editors of the literary magazine El Iris.[1] He became naturalized and obtained a post as magistrate.

In 1832 a collection of his poems was issued at Toluca, and in 1836 he obtained permission to visit Cuba for two months. Disappointed in his political ambitions, and broken in health, Heredia returned to Mexico in January 1837, and died at Toluca on 21 May 1839.

Many of his earlier pieces are merely clever translations from French, English and Italian; but his originality is placed beyond doubt by such poems as the Himno del desterrado, the epistle to Emilia, Desengaños, and the celebrated ode to Niagara. One of his most celebrated poems was called "En El Teocalli de Cholula," which explores the universality of nature and immense beauty of indigenous ruins. In common with a number of Spanish and Latin American Romantics, his intellectual formation was in Neoclassicism, and indeed his poetry is notable for its perfection of form as well as (often) the sincerity and depth of his feelings.

Andrés Bello may be thought to excel Heredia in execution, and a few lines of José Joaquín de Olmedo's Canto de Junin vibrate with a virile passion to which the Cuban poet rarely attained; but the sincerity of his patriotism and the sublimity of his imagination have secured for Heredia a real supremacy among Spanish-American poets.


  1. ^ Claps Arenas, María Eugenia (2001). Martha Beatriz Loyo, ed. "El Iris. Periódico Crítico y Literario". Estudios de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea de México (in Spanish) (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas) 21. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.