La Jungla Amanecida de Ardalani: Mysticismo y Erotismo en la Lirica Latino Americana




Ortiz-Avila, Anaisabel

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The lyric work of Mexican-border poet Elvia G. Ardalani overcomes cultural, chronological and natural frontiers. The author, Professor of Peninsular and Latin American literature at the name o f university, Edinburg Texas, has published three books of poetry: “Por recuerdos viejos, por esos recuerdos (1988), Y comerás el pan sentado junto al fuego (2001) and De cruz y media luna (2006). Ardalani contemplates the ‘border identity’ not as a geographic space between Mexico and USA but as self-imposed limits on human essence. She underscores that each human being is a product of his/her life experiences, of what one absorbs or rejects, and that those experiences determine our own frontiers. The author’s poetic corpus reveals her power to create a feminine universe that derives from self-knowledge of her body, her creative capacity whether it is meta-lyric or maternal; and finally from a supernatural ability, that we will call transfiguration from body to spirit. The analysis of a selection of Ardalani’s poems illustrate how the poet transcends borders by claiming: 1) her body, her lover’s body and her feminine desire—breaking with the archaic idea that the female body serves masculine desire. 2) a woman’s understanding of physical and meta-lyrical creation, and finally 3) the capacity of transfiguring virtue from erotic to sacred space. Ardalani initiates her ideology’s proposal when her lover’s physical body and her own become territories to be explored. The corporal pleasure redeems the lovers from their social bondages. The mutual surrender summons a ritual of reconciliation, purification, and renewal from a painful and enslaving past. The poetic voice proposes sensual love as the reconciliation and the renewal of life. The protagonist confronts the anxiety of separation from her lovers and through it is purified of the physical realm. Here, Ardalani revisits in ideology The Songs of Songs and The legend of Layla y Majnun. Both texts, which belong to an oriental tradition—Jewish and Islamic respectively—propose the idea of loving ‘the other’. Unconditional love of the absent lover becomes a sacrilegious devotion with Eros purified through the renunciation of the flesh and transformed into Agape love. The lyric voice evokes the protagonist-lovers of both stories: Shulamite and Layla. Ardalani proposes the lover’s body and her own as an optimal lyrical space ripe for exploration and creativity. This sensual space delivers her to a creative process of meta-writing and to the pinnacle of the creative power of a woman’s body: maternity. With the same authority that the bodily-lyric space is reclaimed, the author reconciles in her poetic corpus antagonistic heritages -Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. This syncretism is emphasized in descriptions of the lyric subject’s mestizo offspring. By applying the linguistic and multicultural concept of Maria Rosa Menocal, which purports that Jewish and Arabic influences are foundational components of our Occidental romantic lyric legacy, Ardalani stands out as a clear example of the multicultural legacy. Ardalani is also aligned with poets who explore the theme of the total surrender in love enabling ascension from the physical to the spiritual realm. In this context the names of two great lyric voices in the Hispanic literary world: Saint John of the Cross and Ibn Hazem of Córdoba, stand out. Ardalani’s lyrics are a search for transcendence that begins in the sensual exploration of the bodies of the lovers. According to the Islamic-Sufi mysticism it is through the delightful corporeal nature where lies the portal that leads to love’s transcendence from the erotic to the divine. More than a Neo-platonic ideology, Ardalani's approach is closer to mystic literature: to Ibn Hazem’s love theory proposed in Ring o f the Dove and to Saint John of the Cross’ Sviritual Canticle o f the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ. The lyric voice describes how the lovers amalgamate and fuse into one being and how such a transfiguration allows them to connect to the supreme reality. In our literary analysis, the Supreme Reality stands for Allah the merciful, the compassionate and Yhw-- Yahwe—The God of the Old Testament. Following the research of Luce Lopez-Baralt about the Islamic mysticism influences in the work of Saint John Cross, this analysis identifies seven Sulfist symbols in the poetic corpus of Ardalani. Ardalani’s poetic proposal is as archaic as contemporary, as erotic as mystic, as oriental as Latin-American.



poetry, women authors


Ortíz-Avila, A. (2008). La jungla amanecida de Ardalani: Mysticismo y erotismo en la lirica Latino Americana (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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