Medardo Ángel Silva

Medardo Ángel Silva

Medardo Ángel Silva Rodas (Guayaquil, June 8, 1898 – Guayaquil, June 10, 1919) was an Ecuadorian poet and member of the “Generación decapitada” [Decapitated Generation]. He is considered the most pure of Ecuadorian modernists. The “Decapitated Generation” is a moniker given by journalists and historians to to a group of 4 writers in early 20th century Ecuador, because of similarities in their poetry and because they each died at a young age. The four members of the group are Medardo Ángel Silva and Ernesto Noboa y Caamaño from Guayaquil, and Arturo Borja and Humberto Fierro from Quito. The cause of Silva’s death is not certain; he died at 21 while visiting a young girlfriend. He is believed to have committed suicide, but may have been murdered as the result of a love triangle. Among his most famous poems is “El alma en los labios” [My soul on my lips], made famous in a song by Ecuadorian singer Julio Jaramillo.


Mariana Rodas Moreira, mother (1949) and Silva as a child. Photos from a book by Abel Romeo Castillo.
Mariana Rodas Moreira, mother (1949) and Silva as a child. Photos from a book by Abel Romeo Castillo.
Statue of Medardo Ángel Silva sitting on a bench at the Parque Seminario, Guayaquil
Statue of Medardo Ángel Silva sitting on a bench at the Parque Seminario, Guayaquil
Sociedad Filántrópica del Guayas
He studied at the public school of the Sociedad Filántrópica del Guayas located at that time on 9 de Octubre and Rumichaca (Morro) streets, one block from his home. The building was demolished in 1940 to be replaced by reinforced concrete buildings where a well-known cinema in the country currently operates. On the left: Filantrópica de Guayaquil 1890 -1900. Right: current infrastructure where a well-known cinema in the country operates. Taken from Heritage Photography and Courtesy of Esmeralda Muñoz.
El Telégrafo
In 1919 Silva officially started working at the newspaper El Telégrafo, located at that time in Aguirre 425 between Chile and Chimborazo. Where the Unicentro shopping center currently is. From here he wrote literary criticisms and chronicles of the city. He was hired after many contributions since 1914, among which those made in the section Los Jueves Literarios and the publication of his novel María Jesús in the Folletin del Telégrafo (January 26 to 29, 1919) stand out. Years before the newspaper rejected a poem sent by Medardo when he was 15 years old. The story goes that they believed it was the writing was a copy of the Cuban poet José María Heredia.
Rosa Amada Villegas house

Left: Rosa Amada Villegas’ house where Silva died. It was demolished in 1969. Photo taken from Abel Romeo Castillo’s book. Right: There is currently a hostel in operation. Courtesy of Esmeralda Muñoz.
Tomb of Medardo Ángel Silva
A few meters from his house, going down the Juan Pablo Arenas, the same place where he saw the funeral processions, and arriving at Gate 3 of the General Cemetery of Guayaquil; you can find the crypt B-0004024 where the remains of Medardo are. A golden tombstone indicates that it is shared with his mother. Photo by Ángel Aguirre

A short documentary

Writer Luis Mussó speaks about Medardo Ángel Silva.

Ecuadorian singer Julio Jaramillo sings “El alma en los labios,” a poem by Medardo Ángel Silva
Julio Jaramillo (1935-1978) singing “El alma en los labios,” a poem by Medardo Ángel Silva (1898 – 1919) set to pasillo music by Francisco Paredes Herrera (1891 – 1952).


El alma en los labiosMy soul on my lips
(Spanish text) by Medardo Ángel Silva(English translation by George Silberstern, 2010)
Cuando de nuestro amor, la llama apasionada,
dentro tu pecho amante contemples extinguida,
que solo por ti la vida me es amada,
el día en que me faltes me arrancaré la vida.

Porque mi pensamiento, lleno de este cariño,
que en una hora feliz me hiciera esclavo tuyo,
lejos de tus pupilas es triste como un niño,
que se duerme soñando en tu acento de arrullo.

Para envolverte en besos, quisiera ser el viento,
y quisiera ser todo lo que tu mano toca.
Ser tu sonrisa, ser hasta tu mismo aliento,
para poder estar mas cerca de tu boca.

Vivo de tus palabras y eternamente espero
llamarte mía, como quien espera un tesoro;
lejos de ti comprendo, lo mucho que te quiero,
y besando tus cartas, ingenuamente te lloro,

Perdona si no tengo palabras con que pueda
decirte la inefable pasión que me devora.
Para expresar mi amor solamente me queda
rasgarme el pecho, amada, y en tus manos de seda
dejar mi palpitante, corazón que te adora.
When of our love, the flame of passion,
you contemplate extinguished in your breast,
because for you alone I hold my life dear,
I shall take my life on the day I lose you.

Because my thoughts are full of the tenderness
with which you enslaved me in that happy hour,
far from your gaze, they are as sad as a child,
that sleeps while dreaming of your murmuring voice.

To envelop you in kisses, I long to be the wind.
And I wish to be all which your hand touches.
To be your smile, even be your very breath,
all just to be closer to your lips.

Your words sustain me, and I wait forever,
To call you mine as one who awaits a treasure.
Far from you I comprehend just how much I love you,
and kissing your letters, I truly pine for you.

Forgive me if I lack the words with which
to tell you the burning passion that devours me.
To express my love, all which remains
is to tear open my bosom, beloved, and in your silky hands
place that beating heart which adores you.


  • El árbol del bien y del mal (1918)
  • María Jesús (novel, 1919)
  • La máscara irónica (essays)
  • Trompetas de oro
  • El alma en los labios
  • Obras completas (2004)

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