James O. Pellicer
The boy who was born on January 18, 1867, in the little town of Metapa, Nicaragua, was named Félix Rubén García, but the world later would know him as Rubén Darío, the poet who would renew Hispanic letters on both sides of the Atlantic. Abandoned by his parents, the child was adopted and reared by his maternal grandfather, Colonel Félix Ramírez, and his wife, Bernarda Sarmiento. He lived through difficult times: the dissolution of the Central American Federation, increasing militarism, local and foreign dictatorships and invasions, growing U.S. intervention, aggressive rivalries between liberals and conservatives, failing economies, high unemployment, and official corruption.
The lad entered the world of culture through some forgotten books in Colonel Ramírez's closets: Cervantes's Don Quixote, plays of the Spanish Golden Age, and the Bible. At a very young age he discovered his gift as a poet; he published some verses in El Termómetro and read some in a local literary club, “El Ateneo, ” in León, where he met the pedagogue José Leonard Bertholet, whose pupil he became. Leonard Bertholet categorically opposed the Jesuits and optimistically adhered to a belief in the progressive perfectibility of humankind. Like many in his day, he had angrily reacted against Pope Pius IX's encyclical letter Quanta cura (1864) proclaiming that education was the domain of the Roman Church by divine mandate, and that any disagreement would be punished by excommunication. The Roman pontiff later put an end to all discussions and polemics on the subject by having the Vatican Council of 1870 declare as a dogma of faith the infallibility of the pope. Leonard Bertholet believed in a universal creator God and in science as a panacea for all evil; thus he preferred to become a Mason. The young Darío followed in his footsteps.
Later he traveled to the capital, Managua, where he read the Colección de Clásicos Españoles Ribadeneira, an anthology of the main classical Spanish