ColombiaOne.comCultureRafael Pombo: The Immortal Poet of Colombian Children's Literature

Rafael Pombo: The Immortal Poet of Colombian Children’s Literature


Rafael Pombo
Statue of Rafael Pombo. Credit: Peter Angritt/CC BY-SA 4.0

Jose Rafael de Pombo y Rebolledo, born on November 7, 1833, in Bogota, is an iconic figure in Colombian literature. This illustrious writer is widely recognized for his fables and stories for children, which have left an indelible mark on children’s literature in both Colombia and throughout Latin America. Pombo’s work stands out for its lyrical style, exquisite rhyme, and its ability to entertain and educate young readers.

Fables That Transcend Generations

Rafael Pombo’s fabulous creations continue to be loved and read by generations of children in Colombia and beyond. Two of his most iconic fables, “La pobre viejecita” (The Poor Old Lady) and “El renacuajo paseador” (The Wandering Tadpole), are literary gems that have stood the test of time. These charming stories are characterized by endearing characters and situations that convey important values and teachings to children.

A Man of Multiple Talents

Pombo, in addition to being a prolific writer of children’s literature, was a versatile intellectual with a rich educational background. He studied various languages and excelled in translating classical Greco-Latin literary works. His body of work encompasses a wide variety of genres, demonstrating his versatility as an author. He was a writer, translator, intellectual, diplomat, and journalist.

A Life Between Colombia and the United States

Pombo lived for 17 years in the United States as the Secretary of the Colombian delegation in New York. During this period, he witnessed significant historical events and experienced a creative flourishing in his literary career. His years abroad influenced his perspective and enriched his literary output.

A Commitment to Culture and Art

Pombo’s commitment to culture and art is reflected in his efforts to promote various forms of artistic expression. He founded the newspaper “La America” and had the vision of creating the Vazquez Academy, a center dedicated to the arts in Bogota. Although his idea did not come to fruition due to bureaucratic obstacles, his passion for art and culture endures in his legacy.

Tributes and Recognitions

On August 20, 1905, Rafael Pombo was honored with the title of National Poet of Colombia in a ceremony held at the Teatro Colon. Additionally, in 1912, he became a member of the Colombian Academy of Language, where he served as Perpetual Secretary. His influence on Colombian literature and culture was so significant that in 2012, on the centenary of his passing, the Ministry of Culture of Colombia declared that year as the “Year of Pombo in Colombia.” UNESCO also included Pombo in its official calendar of celebrations.

The Immortal Legacy of Rafael Pombo

On May 5, 1912, Rafael Pombo passed away, but his literary and cultural legacy lives on in every page of his fables and in the hearts of all who have enjoyed his stories over the years. His ability to entertain and educate children through poetry and narrative makes him a national treasure and an undisputed reference in Colombian children’s literature, while his work continues to inspire new generations and reminds us of the importance of imagination, creativity, and education in the lives of children. Rafael Pombo remains an immortal poet, whose words will endure for generations to come.

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