The evolution of Dario's poetry is marked by the publication of the books in which scholars have recognized his fundamental works: Azul... (1888), Prosas profanas y otros poemas (1896) y Cantos de vida y esperanza (1905).
Before Azul... Dario wrote three book and a great number of loose poems which make up what is known as his "literary prehistory" ("prehistoria literaria".) The books are Epístolas y poemas (written in 1885, but published until 1888, under the title Primeras notas), Rimas (1887) and Abrojos (1887). In the first of these works his readings of Spanish classics is patent, as is the stamp of Victor Hugo. The metric is classic[16] and the tone is predominantly romantic. The epistles, of neoclassic influence, are directed to writers such as Ricardo Contreras, Juan Montalvo, Emilio Ferrari and Victor Hugo.
In Abrojos, published in Chile, the most acknowledged influence is that from the Spaniard Ramón de Campoamor.[17] Rimas, also published in Chile and on the same year, was written for a contest to imitate the Bécquer's Rimas, hence, it is not strange that the intimate tone adopted in this book is very similar to the one present in the writings of the Sevillian poet. It consists of only fourteen poems, of amorous tone, whose expressive means[18] are characteristically bécquerian.[19]
Azul... (1888), considered the inaugural book of Hispanic-American modernism, has as many tales in prose as poems that caught the critics' attention through their metric variety. It presents us some of the preoccupations characteristic of Dario, such as his expression of dissatisfaction towards the bourgeoisie (see, for example, the tale "El rey burgués") A new edition of the text was published in 1890, this one was augmented with several new texts, amongst which were sonnets in Alexandrine verses.
Modernism's stage of plenitude and of the Darian poetry is marked by the book Prosas profanas y otros poemas, a collection of poems in which the presence of the erotic is more...