GUILHERME DE ALMEIDA
Guilherme de Almeida (1890-1969) was born in Campinas, near São Paulo, in a traditional, monarchist honsehold. Hisfirst works were two plays written in French, in partnership with Oswald de Andrade, in 1916. His first book, Nós, was published in 1917. He established himself as a technically proficient, romantically-inclined and popular Parnassian poet over the next five years. He was 31 years old at the time of the Semana da Arte Moderna, and while a most welcome adherent to the movement, lending weight and prestige to its reforming programme, he can be seen as something of a misfit. As one critic said, where Mdrio and Oswald de Andrade saw toucans and sabiás, Guilherme de Almeida continued to see nightingales. While willing, in the name of Modernism, to forswear rhyme and set rhythms, his main themes (exile, nostalgia, heroism, transcendence) and imagery continued to be romantic. He later reverted to his more traditional poetic tendencies. When he died, at 79, he left 27 books of poetry, as well as prose and translations from French.
(Note adapted and translatedfrom Carlos Vogt's Introduction to Os Melhores Poemas Guilherme de Almeida, Editora Global, 1993. The follounng poems are taken from the same edition.)
See also: TEXTS IN PORTUGUESE AND SPANISH
Translated by David Coles
Someone passed me by
Someone passed me by. Their shadow
fell into my path like a cloak
dropped with a languid gesture.
The sun has gone. Slow night comes on.
Yet the shadow remains
sharp, naked, hurled
on the ground like a cloak unfurled.
It is cold.
A rough shudder runs through my body...
I feel a tentative mad desire
to wrap myself a while
in the cloak's warm shade ...
returns in the pale night:
returns to seek their forgotten shadow.
It is day. Along the road, arid and grey,
my life walks shivering away.
Poem of Poorest Rhyme
Poor predictable song
without a single new rhythm,
or unpredictable rhyme
and without a single thought.
Poem without interest
which someone made for no-one,
with complete disinterest,
where no-one can feel anyone.
Poor song without happiness,
always the same, always equal,
without pleasure, without unhappiness,
and nothing exactly unequal.
Poem so indifferent,
no end, no reason,
without anything different
or good or bad, even!
Poor unhappy song
but that's my song;
and yet it's not unlike
my happy life...
I have lost my savage flute
among the reeds of the glassy lake.
Restless rushes of the shore;
burnished coppery and silvery fish
who live in the waters' stirring life;
crickets in the tall trees;
dead leaves whom the nymphs' wing-footed passing awakens;
clean beautiful algae:
— should you find the flute I have lost,
come, with each dusk,
and stoop to examine it! You shall hear
its deep-toned secrets, forgotten by my lips and fingers
among the shy and sandy silences
of its belly.
She came one day knocking at my door,
smiled on her way upstairs and said,
"Good day, tree without leaves and nearly dead".
"My daughter, good day, who died long before."
She entered; and no further word to me said.
Until the day (what day matters no more !)
when songs from the crooked branches did pour
and on the road flocked those-to-be-wed.
She called me and said, "I am leaving now.
I am Felicity! Live on somehow
by the memory of the much I did for you !"
Thus only when parting, with Spring in full leaf,
did she speak her name, bringing me grief,
and taking the only happiness I ever knew !
I have been smoking and thinking for perhaps an hour
under this lamp, and under the wings of silence.
Upon the table,
the golden light has torn, like a circus arena,
a broad disk
and pitched a blue cone above my head.
That is my circus. I watch
my thoughts' pantomime.
Some are joyous and forceful
like shy-wild Amazons ...
others, slender and lithe
like knife-throwing jugglers
who imbue their throws with luxury.
Others are incredible and phlegmatic
like the men who eat fire ...
others are sad, sadder than white-faced clowns
and mime sadly, wearing sequined suns on their bellies.
and light as blond dancers
balancing on a ball... and others impossible
like those tiny Japanese
with oblique eyes, their feet together,
balancing long poles between
silks from distant lands ...
And the great company invisible and slow
presents its show ...
But suddenly something
passes : it is a moth
that turns and turns, light-drunk.
And 1 set to following it:
all my taciturn troupe evaporates into the air.
All that is left is the importunate moth,
— sole real character
in all that singular circus.
Second Song of the Pilgrim
Half-dead, exhausted, wholly beaten,
I cut myself a branch from your garden
and from it made my staff.
For this to be my touch and sight
was ever the pact that dark night
sealed with me constantly.
For neither ghoul nor torrent
nor footpad nor snake
prevailed on the path 1 had to take.
Only the men who saw me passing
alone, were laughing, laughing,
I knew not the reason.
And then, when resting, once,
I heard the cry, "There goes the dunce
with the tree in his hand."
And looking up, saw leaves, flowers,
fruits, birds, lights, and colours
— my staff had burst into bloom.
Who shall come towards me
Along the street that crosses mine ?
Angles of chance,
crossroads of time,
elbows of space,
face to face with the new,
startled by the unrecognisable,
bumping into the unpredictable:
corners of the world.
Life dwells on the corners.
I have not been present
when the crime of living
when the eyes stripped
when the hands touched
when the mouth lied
when the bodies shuddered
when the blood rushed.
I have not been present.
I have been out, far
from the world, in my world,
tiny and forbidden
which I have wrapped and tied
with tightest twine
of my meridians
and of my parallels.
The lines I have written
prove I have been absent.
So I am innocent.
The Three Girls
Three girls on the verandah
each at her lonely trade:
one spins transparent thread
of finest crystal made;
another, stringing amber beads
twists silken and golden braid;
the third embroiders, stitch by stitch,
a fine wedding brocade.
Three girls on the verandah,
each at her lonely trade.
A horseman on his kingly courser
fast by their dwelling strayed,
a damask rose in his gauntlet
of gold and coral inlaid.
The rose he tosses to the three girls
(with whom shall his heart be laid ?),
spurs on his destrier Vendaval
and flees, no longer delayed.
Aside at once their virtuous arts
have the three girls laid.
-"Oh who has cut the lucent thread
of clearest crystal made ?"
-"Oh who has spilt the amber beads
and sundered the golden braid ?"
-"Oh who has broken the silver needle
that sewed my rich brocade ?"
Three girls on the verandah,
fluttering kerchiefs displayed:
-"Return, return, Sir Horseman
on your steed Vendaval arrayed.
Come and reclaim your rose
that is of mischief made:
each petal is a heart,
each thorn, a dagger's blade !"
Three girls on the verandah.
No more. The story´s played.
From: MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION. New Series / No. 6 / Winter 1994-95. Special Feature: Modern Poetry from Brazil. Published by King´s College London.
University of London. Edited by Daniel Weissbort
AN INTRODUCTION TO MODERN BRAZILIAN POETRY. Verse translations by Leonard S. Downes. [São Paulo]: Clube de Poesia do Brasil, 1954. 84 p. 14x20 cm. “ Leonard S. Downes “ Ex. Biblioteca Nacional de Brasília.
The last winds of day-light fanned
The branches like a vagrant band
Of evil-doers wandering round
And monstrous darkness at the breeze
Fell like a night fruit from the trees
Heavy and soft upon the ground.
The landscape like a transfer sharp and clean.
In the new suburb bathed in light
the bangalows are staked like cubes of white
and in the gardens on the seats of green
and parallel slats the sun falls
and with the leaves plays games with yellow balls.
The great striped awnings on the porches shed
a stylized light from overhead.
Strong shadows with unerring hand
trace geometrical pergolas on burning sand.
Pinned on the white day, the colours call
like a strident hand:
a modernist poster on a whitewashed wall.