Felipe was born in Tábara, Zamora, Spain, while his parents were on travel. His father was a notary public, and consequently very well off. His family established in Santander. Later on, Felipe would study pharmacy and start a business as a pharmacist, mostly to amuse his father. However, literature was stronger and he eloped with an itinerant theatre troupe. As a result, he was charged with fraud, due to the bankruptcy caused by his abandonment of business, and spent two years in jail. When he gained freedom, he started writing for literary reviews and later on his first books were published. He is one of the best contemporary poets of Spanish literature, and scholars have counted him among the generation of year 27.
His poetry touched upon the difficult Spanish situation and the feeling that history would repeat itself for the worst. His use of reiteration or repetition and the use of the verse in the biblical fashion brought him close to the works of Walt Whitman with a biblical and Hebrew flavor (Antología rota, 1947). His poetry also has characteristics of the Modernismo and the Vanguardismo movements (Drop a star, 1933). His poetry lacks rhyme.
He lived the last years of his life in Mexico, where he became a central character of the post war Spanish exiles. There he met actress and singer Sara Montiel, for whom he felt a great attraction. He died in Mexico City on 17 September 1968.
Seven of Leon Felipe's poems were found in a notebook that Che Guevara was carrying when he was captured by the Bolivian Army and the CIA.
- Versos y oraciones de caminante (I, 1920; II, 1929)
- Drop a star (1933)
- Goodbye, Panamá (1936)
- La insignia (1937)
- El payaso de las bofetadas y el pescador de caña (1938)
- El hacha (1939)
- Español del éxodo y del llanto (1939)
- El gran responsable (1940)
- Traducción de Canto a mí mismo, de Walt Whitman (1941)
- El poeta prometeico (1942)
- Ganarás la luz (1943)
- Parábola y poesía (1944)
- Llamadme Publicano (o Versos y blasfemias de caminante) (1950)
- El ciervo (1958)
- Cuatro poemas, con epígrafe y colofón (1958)
- ¿Qué se hizo del rey don Juan? (1962)
- Oh, este viejo y roto violin! (1965)
- Versos del merolico o del sacamuelas (1967)
- Israel (Discurso poemático pronunciado el 31 de Julio de 1967 y publicado posteriormente en 1970 Finisterre, México D. F.)
- Rocinante (1969)
- Puesto ya el pie en el estribo (1983)
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