Jose Asuncion Silva along with Jose Marti, Julian del Casal, Salvador Diaz Miron, and Manuel Gutierrez Najera first wrote poetry in the modernist vein or Moderniso (Modernist poetry that often created an exotic tapestry and in some of its aspects it represented, like contemporary movements in other literatures, a rejection of the materialist world of the day).
His poems are supposed to be some of the most beautiful in the Spanish language. They are marked by technical innovations, haunting musical tones, and a brooding spirit of pessimism. Reflecting the spirit of European symbolism, they had great influence on Ruben Dario and other modernistas. The best known are Nocturno III, an elegy for his sister, Crepusculo, and Dia de difuntos (Day of the Dead). Silva also wrote a novel, De Sobremesa, notable for its rejection of realist conventions and its intense, lyrical focus on emotional experience.
Unfortunately the life of this gifted poet was shadowed by the loss of a crucial manuscript, family debt, and the death of a beloved sister, and he committed suicide in 1896, leaving behind a debt of $210,000.
Fernando Vallejo in his book Almas en pena, chapolas negras, tries to unravel the mystery of Silva's financial setbacks and suicide.