This sand so clear

Hi, folks,

Next on my series of posts for Spanish and Portuguese Reading Months, hosted by Stuart and Richard, you have four poems by Brazilian author Cecília Meireles, in various translations. You can find the whole series here, along with some other Brazilian gems. Enjoy!

Yours truly,

J.


Introduction

Here is my life:
This sand so clear
Withdrawing that walk
Dedicated to the wind…

Here is my voice:
This empty shell
The shadow of a sound
Preserving its own lament…

Here is my grief:
This broken coral
Surviving its pathetic moment…

Here is my heritage:
This solitary sea —
On one side it was love
And on the other forgetfulness.

(Cecília Meireles, tr. John Nist & Yolanda Leite, in Modern Brazilian poetry: An anthology, 1962)


Portrait

I didn’t have this face then,
so calm, so sad, so thin,
nor these eyes so empty
or these lips so bitter.

I didn’t have these hands so weak,
so still so cold so dead:
I didn’t have this heart
so hidden.

I didn’t expect this transformation,
so simple, so sure, so easy:
— In which mirror did I lose
my face?

(Cecília Meireles, tr. Natalie d’Arbeloff )


The Archangel

The voice of the Anchangel falls.

(From the top of colored towers,
among arrows and stained windows;
from the top of minarets; from the top
of Gothic steeples; from the height
of curved domes; from the fine
Golden Crescent; from the large
baroque belfries; from these
cold Jesuitical triangles;
from the arms of the crosses; from the clouds,
from the tree, from the jet of water,
from the doves´ wings, from the little
corolla of the frail anemone…)

The voice of the invisible Archangel falls.
Lonesome.
Solitary.

(Tell me if you have ever heard it,
thus: far off, full of sorrow, centuries old.)

(Cecília Meireles, tr. John Nist & Yolanda Leite, in Modern Brazilian poetry: An anthology, 1962)


The dead horse

I saw the early morning mist
make silver passes, shift
densities of opal
within sleep’s portico.

On the frontier, a dead horse.

Crystal grains were rolling down
his lustrous flank, and the breeze
twisted his mane in a littlest,
lightest arabesque, sorry adornment

— and his tail stirred, the dead horse.
Still the stars were shining,
and that day’s flowers, sad to say,
had not yet come to light
— but his body was a plot,

garden of lilies, the dead horse.

Many a traveler took note
of fluid music, the dewfall
of big emerald flies
arriving in a noisy gush,

He was listing sorely, the dead horse

And some live horses could be seen
slender and tail as ships,
galloping through the keen air
in profile, joyously dreaming.

White and green the dead horse

in the enormous field without recourse
— and slowly the world between
his eyelashes revolved, all blurred
as in red mirror moons.

Sun shone on the teeth of the dead horse.

But everybody was in a frantic rush
and could not feel how earth
kept searching league upon league
for the nimble, the immense, the ethereal breath
which had escaped that skeleton.

O heavy breast of the dead horse!

(Cecília Meireles, tr. James Merril, in An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Poetry, 1997)


Paul Klee, ‘At the core’, 1935
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