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Julia De Burgos: The Making of a Poet

“Never had my lover’s generosity had more fountains!” (Julia De Burgos).  When I think of great poetry, I think of Julia De Burgos.  A famous bohemian poet born in Puerto Rico in 1914.  She was something akin to a shooting star;  a life that burnt so brightly but tragically ended too soon.  She lived fully, loved fully, experienced great loss and took her stand as “modern thinking” independent woman in a era dominated by men, who still operated under the old guard.    As a young girl she grew up in the Barrio Santa Cruz, in a town called Carolina, which was situated up on a mountain range in Puerto Rico.    She was part German, African and Spanish;  though she grew up in poverty, she was well educated and enjoyed listening to Wagner and Beethoven.   She endured the loss of six of her thirteen siblings, persevered in hunger, and dealt with her fathers alcoholism.

Julia was tall, bright and athletic.  Eventually, she set out finding various jobs including one in which she began writing for a radio program.  Rumor has it, she was fired for her political views.  She married several times and set out to self publish her own poetry.  “As for the legend of Julia de Burgos the poet, consider that before she had even published one book, she was compared in the Puerto Rican equivalent of Life Magazine to Chile’s Gabriela Mistral, Argentina’s Alfonsina Storni, Uruguay’s Juana de Ibarbourou, and Puerto Rico’s Clara Lair,” (Song of the Simple Truth, The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos).   A strong political activist, speaker and possibly an officer in the Nationalist Party at the time, she made a lot of friends and enemies.

Unlucky in love, she tried to fill the void inside her soul with alcohol to alleve the pain.  I Was My Own Route, is a great example of Julia expressing her feelings on the matter:

I wanted to be like men wanted me to be:

an attempt at life;

a game of hide and seek with my being.

But I was made of nows,

and my feet level upon the promissory earth,

would not accept walking backwards,

and went forward, forward,

mocking the ashes to reach the kiss

of the new paths.


At each advancing step on my route forward

my back was ripped by the desperate flapping wings

of the old guard. 


She remarried again to Armondo Marin, a musician and accountant, and in 1944 they had moved to New York.  That marriage also failed and Julia began struggling with poor health and alcoholism.  She ended up taking ill at the young age of 39 and dying in a foreign country on the streets of New York without identification.  She was taken and buried in the City’s Potter’s Field.  Her friends diligently searched for her and found out what had happened.  They took her body back to Puerto Rico and laid her to rest in the town where she was born.

Photo:Venita Oberholster
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Like Julia, each one of our lives has a beginning, middle and end.  Our choices determine the outcome of our lives.  As I’m sure you’ve heard it said, ““You are where you are right now
in your life because of your choices,
you have made and the actions you have taken.
If you want to change your life,
remember that change starts with you,” (Jeffrey Keller, President of Attitude is Everything)

Julia’s life ended tragically.  What about your ending?  Are you headed in the right direction?  What will be the outcome of your life?  God has given all of us Free Will.  That means we are not robots.  He gives us the ability to make choices;  Sometimes we make the wrong choices and end up suffering the consequences.  So how do we start making the right choices?  How do we know what direction to turn when our compass seems broken?

We turn to the Source, the Creator of all life – we turn to God.  We take hold of the free gift, the Salvation and Redemption He offered us through His Son Jesus Christ, who died at Calvary to pay our sin debt.  We turn to the One who created us, who knows us better than we know ourselves;  The One who loves us unconditionally.

We turn to Jesus, who gave His perfect sinless life as a ransom for many.  Jesus, The Son of God, who was raised to life on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of God in the Heavenly’s.  We turn to the One who loves us.  Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6)  If we want to get our lives back on track we first need to accept Christ Jesus as our Savior.  Then, we will be at peace with God.

Start reading God’s word and spend time with The Lord in prayer and find a good Bible based church in your area.    If we want to end our days in peace, joy and love we will need to make the right choices along the way.  “Our intimacy with God – His highest priority for our lives – [will] determine the impact of our lives,” (Charles F. Stanley, Life Principles Bible).


References:  Song of the Simple Truth, Julia De Burgos.