Alberto Arvelo Torrealba 

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About the author

Alberto Arvelo Torrealba, lawyer, educator and poet, author of the famous poem Florentino y el Diablo. Born 4 September 1905 in the city of Barinas, he was a schoolboy there and went on to the Liceo in Caracas where he took his bachelor’s degree in 1927. He studied law in the Central University of Venezuela, qualifying as an Advocate and, in 1935, as a Doctor of Political Science.

      A poet in the tradition of the “Bards of the Plains”, he published his first volume of verses, Música del Cuatro, in 1928. A dedicated teacher, he taught Spanish and Literature in various Colleges and Liceos of the Metropolitan Zone, 1935-6: Sacred Heart of Jesus College, Sucre College, Polytechnic Institute, Liceo Caracas, Andrés Bello and Fermín Toro. He became Technical Inspector of secondary education in the Federal District, and of primary education in Barinas and Apure, in 1936, and was appointed Secretary of the Government of Portuguesa State, 1937, and President of the Technical Council for Education, 1940. In the same year he published his Glosas al Cancionero, a model of poetry with popular roots which also contained the first version of his poem Florentino y el Diablo

     In 1941-44 he was President of the State of Barinas. While in office, he dredged the riverbeds of the Pagüey and the Masparro, and restored the routes of commerce in the western Plains region. A member of the Court of Appeal, 1948, Ambassador of Venezuela in Bolivia, 1951-2, and in Italy, 1952, he was then Minister of Agriculture and Stockbreeding, 1952-5. Retiring from politics, he devoted himself to his profession and his literary calling. He published a study of the poet Francisco Lazo Martí (of the State of Guárico) in 1965, followed by that poet’s Collected Poetic Works in 1967. His own translations of Giuseppe Ungaretti appeared in 1969.
On 31 May 1968 he became a member of the Academia Venezolana de la Lengua.
      The principal works of Arvelo Torrealba include: Caminos que Andan; Cantas: Poemas; Florentino y el Diablo; Lazo Martí: Vigencia en Lejanía; Música de Cuatro; and Obra Poética.
      In 1974 Orlando Araujo published a book on Arvelo Torrealba called Contrapunto de la Vida y Muerte: ensayo sobre la poesía de Alberto Arvelo Torrealba. 
      The author died in Caracas on 28 March 1971.