Francisco González Bocanegra: Google doodle celebrates 198th birthday of Mexican poet

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Today’s Doodle honours Francisco González Bocanegra, the Mexican poet and playwright who wrote the words for the Mexican National Anthem, or Himno Nacional Mexicano.

Francisco González Bocanegra was born into a Spanish family in San Luis Potosi on this day in 1824. Bocanegra spent seven years in Spain after the federal edict for all Spaniards to leave Mexico in 1829, before returning to Mexico at the age of twelve. In 1849, he relocated to Mexico City, where he became a poet and became a member of the capital’s literary community.

Officials from the Mexican government encouraged the country’s poets to write the National Anthem’s lyrics in 1853. Despite his enthusiasm in the challenge, Bocanegra’s modesty prevented him from taking part in the competition. He told his fiancée about the competition, and she used an unusual but effective incentive strategy: she locked the young author in a room and promised to let him out only when he finished the song’s lyrics. Bocanegra slipped the finished product—ten stanzas in Italian octaves—under the door four hours later.

His submission was accepted, and Bocanegra’s song was first performed at the Santa Ana Theater on the eve of Mexico’s Independence Day in 1854. (known today as the National Theater). In 1943, the government designated this hymn as the nation’s official anthem, and the rest is history! His lyrics are now enshrined in the Mexican National Anthem and have been translated into 12 indigenous languages spoken across the country.