This article examines the representation of nature in Tuntún de pasa y grifería (1937; 2nd ed. 1950), a poetry collection by the Puerto Rican poet Luis Palés Matos. Although Palés's poems do not explicitly address environmental concerns, they actively respond to colonial forms of capitalist developmentalism that shaped the Caribbean during the first half of the twentieth century. Palés offers a critical portrayal of a "natural" landscape dominated by multinational economic interests and by unsustainable models of tourism. In contrast, in some of his poems Palés offers a more ecological vision of nature anchored in the realm of Afro-Caribbean spiritual belief systems. However, Palés does not present an idealized view of nature—his ironic perspective remains ambivalent between a critique of a capitalist modernity in which nature is simply an exploitable resource, and a sacred vision to which modernity, including the poet himself, no longer has access.


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pp. 245-269
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