Carlos Carbo Viteri (April 13, 1865 – August 13, 1922) was a distinguished Ecuadorian poet, translator, congressman, and diplomat, renowned for his substantial contributions to his country’s literature and politics. Influenced by classical Greek and Latin literature, his romantic poetry captured the nuances of everyday life, earning him recognition and acclaim. His poignant poem “A Guayaquil,” composed for the centennial birth anniversary of Vicente Rocafuerte, notably secured him the second prize in a 1883 poetry contest. He also translated foreign works, such as Alphonse de Lamartine’s “El Poeta Moribundo,” into Spanish, making them accessible to a wider audience. In his political career, Carbo Viteri served actively as a congressman while passionately advocating for conservative principles. His service extended to several important positions including the Secretary of the Guayas Governorate and the Municipal Syndic of Guayaquil. Additionally, he represented Ecuador internationally as its Chargé d’Affaires in Chile. His impactful work in both the literary and political spheres has left an enduring imprint on Ecuador’s cultural and political history.
Carlos Carbo Viteri was born on April 13, 1865 in Guayaquil. Carbo Viteri’s literary contributions and his involvement in various public positions made him an influential figure in Ecuadorian society.
Early Life and Education
Carlos Carbo Viteri received a comprehensive education that laid the foundation for his literary pursuits. He studied with the Christian Brothers and later attended San Vicente del Guayas School in Guayaquil, where he developed a deep appreciation for the classical Greek and Latin authors. Carbo Viteri’s exposure to the rich literary tradition of the classics instilled in him a love for the written word and became the cornerstone of his poetic style.
After completing his high school education, he furthered his studies by enrolling at the University of Cuenca. It was during this time that he decided to pursue a career in law. Carbo Viteri’s education at the university provided him with the necessary legal knowledge and skills to practice law and engage in legal discourse. His legal background not only shaped his professional path but also influenced his perspectives on societal issues, which he would later incorporate into his writings and public engagements.
During his formative years, Carlos Carbo Viteri dedicated himself to refining his poetic skills and leaving his mark on literary publications. Collaborating with fellow writers like José Luis Tamayo and Delfín B. Treviño, Carbo Viteri showcased his exceptional poetic prowess in the quincenario “El Cometa.” In 1883, Carlos Carbo Viteri took part in a poetry contest organized by the Municipality of Guayaquil to honor the Centennial birth anniversary of Vicente Rocafuerte. Carbo Viteri’s poem, titled “A Guayaquil,” earned him the second prize in the competition.
As Carbo Viteri’s poetic journey unfolded, he explored various literary avenues and made significant contributions to publications such as “El Crepúsculo” of Cuenca. Within those pages, he unveiled his versatility and range as a poet, presenting a collection of verses and popular songs that captured the essence of everyday life. Poems like “A la señora Lastenia Toral de Arízaga en el nacimiento de su primogénito” (To Mrs. Lastenia Toral de Arízaga on the birth of her firstborn) and “El Baile” (The Dance) resonated with readers, admired for their eloquence and vivid portrayal of human experiences.
In addition to his original works, Carbo Viteri also delved into the realm of translation. Notably, he skillfully translated “El Poeta Moribundo” (The Dying Poet) by the renowned French poet Alphonse de Lamartine. This venture into translating the works of others showcased Carbo Viteri’s linguistic prowess and his ability to bring foreign literary gems to Spanish-speaking audiences.
Friendships and Collaborations with Fellow Poets
Carlos Carbo Viteri cultivated meaningful friendships with several poets of his time, fostering a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment for his creative pursuits. Among his notable friendships were those with Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno and César Borja Lavayen, both accomplished poets in their own right. These friendships extended beyond the realm of literature and involved mutual support, intellectual discussions, and collaborations on various literary projects. Carbo Viteri’s friendship with César Borja Lavayen was so close that he made him a godfather to his child.
Carlos Carbo Viteri had a notable political career, actively participating in the political landscape of Ecuador. He aligned himself with conservative principles and became a prominent figure within the traditional or Catholic (Conservative) party. He held positions such as Secretary of the Guayas Governorate and Municipal Syndic of Guayaquil. Carbo Viteri fearlessly criticized abuses committed by liberal governments and became known for his eloquent speeches in theaters, universities, and public events.
Carbo Viteri’s political influence extended to the national level when he was elected as a congressman, representing Ecuador in the national Congress. He was highly regarded for his clear voice, lucid arguments, and passionate patriotism. Additionally, he served as the Chargé d’Affaires, representing Ecuador diplomatically in Chile, further expanding his involvement in international relations.
Throughout his political journey, Carbo Viteri remained unwavering in his conservative ideals, distinguishing himself from his family’s alignment with the liberal movement. His dedication to shaping Ecuador’s political landscape and his fearless critique of liberal governments exemplified his commitment to his principles.
Legacy and Impact
Carlos Carbo Viteri, an esteemed writer of his time, made significant contributions to Ecuadorian literature. His works, characterized by their romantic themes and introspective nature, left an impact during his era. While his name may not be as widely recognized today, Carbo Viteri played a role in shaping the literary landscape of his country. His dedication to Ecuador’s cultural heritage and his commitment to preserving its literary traditions are evident in his writings. Although his life was tragically cut short in 1922, Carbo Viteri’s work continues to be appreciated by those who delve into the rich literary history of Ecuador.
In a bittersweet turn, the significant library owned by Carlos Carbo Viteri faced a different fate upon his passing. Sadly, the collection was divided among his children, who spread the books across the living room and placed an advertisement in a newspaper, offering them for sale at the same price. The well-stocked library, featured in the pages of El Telégrafo, attracted visitors who perused, selected, and purchased books from the eclectic assortment. When questioned about the decision to sell, despite not being financially motivated, his son Antonio’s simple response was, “Because we’ve read them.” This dispersal marked the end of a cherished literary collection.
- A Guayaquil (1883)
- A la señora Lastenia Toral de Arízaga en el nacimiento de su primogénito (1884)
- Adiós a Cuenca (1884)
- Al Oriente (1884)
- El Amor y la Poesía (1884)
- El Baile (1884)
- Demanda (1884)
- Fotografía (1884)
- A María (1885)
- El Beso Visual (1885)
- El Plagio (1885)
- Translation of El Poeta Moribundo by Lamartine (1885)
- La Visión del Héroe (1889)
- “Compañía Sirena” bajo el epígrafe de “El Bombero guayaquileño” (1890)
- La Pampa (1891)
- El Dante (1922) – Read for free here.