Silva, José Asunción (hōsāˈ äsōnsyōnˈ sĭlˈvä) [key], 1865–96, Colombian poet, one of the precursors of modernismo. Silva's life was shadowed by the loss of a crucial manuscript, family debt, and the death of a beloved sister. He committed suicide at 31, leaving behind poems marked by technical innovations, haunting musical tones, and a brooding spirit of pessimism. Reflecting the spirit of European symbolism, they had great influence on Rubén Darío and other modernistas. The best known are "Nocturno III," an elegy for his sister, "Crepusculo," and "Día de difuntos" [day of the dead]. Silva also wrote a novel, De sobremesa, notable for its rejection of realist conventions and its intense, lyrical focus on emotional experience.
See studies by B. T. Osiek (1978) and S. Ingwersen (1986).
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