Porfirio Barba Jacob is the third of the pseudonyms under which Osorio published his poems; he used them to try and not die. He identified himself with Ahasverus, the wandering Jew; however he led the wandering life of a poéte maudit, a homosexual bohemian. He could not settle down, sometimes for financial reasons, but mostly because of his overwrought personality. When he was only three months old; his father and mother left him with his paternal grandparents. He particularly loved his grandmother and her death was one of his many reasons for abandoning Colombia. He grew up on the countryside and that inspired him to write his first, beautiful poems, and which made fleeting appearances in his later, darker work. During his lifetime, while he had published less than a hundred of his poems himself, admirers brought out selections of his work against his will. If one were to define his poetry they would call him “classic, romantic and symbolist in his blood”. Barba Jacob is perhaps Colombia’s best-known poet, but critics have accused him of a “gloomy anarchy of thought and conduct”, and of being wordy, plaintive and anachronistic because of his use of quaint and archaic words; they have also said that instead of being an act of rebellion, his bohemian life became one of passive conformity. But his defenders admire his abandonment to passion, his lyrical raptures, his penetration into the darkest aspects of human pain, his brave attitude of remaining open keeping his sexual orientation while living in a puritanical society, and, above all, his artistry: the musical quality of his poems and, being a perfectionist who kept revising, their reflexive, beautiful, symmetry: the lustrous, burnished surface hiding the smoldering fervor behind them.
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