The mere life of the obscure

Hi, folks,

Next on my series of posts for Spanish and Portuguese Reading Months, hosted by Stuart and Richard, you have two poems by Brazilian author Cora Coralina, translated by Gilson P. Borges. You can find the whole series here, along with other Brazilian gems. Enjoy!

Yours truly,


All Lives

Inside me lives
An old backwoodswoman
Of evil eye,
Crouched by the embers,
Looking at the fire.
She cures blights
Makes spells…
Black magic, terreiro.

Inside me lives
The washerwoman from the
Red River.
Its good smell
Of water and soap.
Small circle of clothes,
Clothes bag
Blue powder.
Its coroa verde
de são-caetano

Inside me lives
A cook.
Pepper and onion.
Well-done food.
Clay pan.
Old kitchen
All black.
Ringed with picumã bunches.
Sharp stone.
Coconut pot.
Crushing garlic-salt.

Inside me lives
The working-class woman.
So proletarian.
So gossipy,
Impudent, unprejudiced,
With little slippers,
And many children.

Inside me lives
The peasant
—Grafted to the land,
A little moody.
Hard worker.
Early riser.
Good midwife.
Good child raiser.
Her twelve children,
Her twenty grandchildren.

Inside me lives
The prostitute.
My little sister…
So despised
So maligned…
Disguising in happiness her
sad fate.

All lives, inside me:
In my life—
The mere life of the obscure.

(Cora Coralina, translated by Gilson P. Borges)

My epitaph

Dead… I will be tree
I will be trunk, I will be frond
And my roots
Tied to the stones of my cradle
Are the broken strings of a lyre.

Embellish with green leaves
My tombstone
As a symbol
Of vegetative life.

He will not die
Who left in the earth
The melody of his song
In the music of his verses.

(Cora Coralina, translated by Gilson P. Borges)

Laura Knight

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