Rubén Darío was a leading modernist poet, renowned for his innovations in Spanish poetry. He was born as Felix Rubén Garcia Sarmiento on 18 January 1867 in a little town named Metapa and then spent his childhood in León. The genius in Rubén started to show at the age of three and by his 12th birthday he was writing poetry that was brilliant enough to be published. By the age of 16 he was known all over Central America. He devoted his early life to journalism and lived in various parts of Central and South America. Later he took up his residence in Madrid where he greatly influenced the writers of his generation. Rubén's first collection of poetry, Azul, was published in 1888 while he was living in Chile. It won him world wide recognition. In Argentina he wrote for La Nacion and in 1896 published Los Raros and Prosas Profanas, which won over important critics to an appreciation of modernism. His later books of poetry are Cantos de Vida y Esperanza El Canto Errante, Poema del Otono and Canti a la Ar. Rubén Darío returned to León in 1915 and soon after he died (in February 1916). He was buried the Catedral de León, the city he always loved.
In 1964 his home was declared a museum to honor the memory of a great Nicaraguan poet and León’s favourite son, also recognized as a successful journalist and diplomat of his country. Museo Rubén Darío has exhibits that include his very first handwritten poem and other written works, his bible, photographs, as well most of his furniture. Rubén Darío also has the main street, a park, cemetery and numerous buildings named after him, not only in León, but also in other places, such as Managua, Matagalpa and Estelí.
Silence of the night, a sad, nocturnal
silence—Why does my soul tremble so?
I hear the humming of my blood,
and a soft storm passes through my brain.
Insomnia! Not to be able to sleep, and yet
to dream. I am the autospecimen
of spiritual dissection, the auto-Hamlet!
To dilute my sadness
in the wine of the night
in the marvelous crystal of the dark--
And I ask myself: When will the dawn come?
Someone has closed a door--Someone has walked past--
The clock has rung three--If only it were She!--
León has always been a hotbed of liberal thinking, and it is, unlikely any other city in Nicaragua, visibly Sandinista. The city was ther centerpiece of the bloody battles for power and it was there that Somoza was assassinated. During the long struggle toward a period of revolución, the people – artists, poets, soldiers - risked their lives to paint murals on the walls. They served to educate, encourage or simply remind. From what I saw in León, most of them must have been very beautiful. Now murals are everywhere in the city, old mixed with the new ones. The murals of León are famous throughout the country. They express the political, historical, social and cultural voice of the nation.
Many of Leon's colourful murals are products of the 1980s which have been thoroughly preserved. Perhaps the most famous is located across from the north side of the main cathedral, a long, horizontal piece spreading along two walls and buildings. It tells the history of a proud and turbulent nation (with a Sandinista slant). It was painted in 1988-1990 and restored in 1996, by the Grupo de Muralismo, part of the sisterhood between Hamburg and León.
Strolling the streets of León you'll see many murals and some of them especially deserve to be noticed. The mural on the main picture honors four student martyrs who were killed during anti-Somoza protests on July 23, 1959. Carlos Fonseca, in the top centre, followed by others with red & black flag of the FSLN and the blue one of Nicaragua, carried on their struggle. The Spanish term 'Presentes' can be roughly translated as 'still with us'. The second picture shows, among others, a mural of FSLN revolutionary leader Edgar Munguia, with a nickname La Gata (Spanish female expression for cat). On the third picture is a mural depicting the armed struggle of the Sandinistas. A serpent that grows out of the CIA helmet represents the CIA's immoral role in Nicaraguen elections. Behind it are the helmets of the National Guard and at the top they begin to rebuild their country. On the fourth picture is another long, horizontal mural depicting the revolution. All of these murals can be found in the Central León, while the last one is from the Museum of the Revolution. Several fine examples of murals can be also found in the Museum of Legends and Traditions.