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Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

The March of History and Other Poems— Murilo Mendes

Jan 10, 2024 | Poetry | 0 comments

TRANSLATED FROM THE PORTUGUESE BY BAZ MARTIN GIBBONS

 

REFLECTION No. 1

No one dreams twice the same dream
Nor bathes twice in the same river
Nor loves the same woman twice.
God, the origin of all things,
is circulation and infinite movement.

We’re still unaccustomed to the world
Coming to be is a long grind.


THE MARCH OF HISTORY

I found myself on horizon’s edge
where clouds speak,
where dreams have hands and feet
and mermaids seduce the sea.

I found myself where the real is fable,
where moonlight dazzles the sun,
where music is our daily bread
and a child seeks solace from a flower,

where man and woman are one,
where swords and grenades
turn into ploughshares,
where a verb and its actions meld.


HALF BIRD

The woman at the end of the world
gives food to roses,
gives drink to statues,
gives dreams to poets.

The woman at the end of the world
summons light with a whistle,
she turns the virgin to stone,
she tames the tempest,
she diverts the course of dreams,
she writes letters to the river,
luring me from eternal sleep
into her singing arms.


LOVE—LIFE

I lived among men
who neither saw nor heard
nor consoled me.
I was the poet giving gifts
but got nothing in return.
Engulfed in the tempest of love,
I loved long before being born.
Love, a word that creates and consumes beings.
Fire, hellfire: it’s better than heaven.


NATURE

Contemplate these cleansed mountains
and the light tripping down in an oblique dance.
Everything comes from a vastly ancient world
where we’ll discover scattered scraps of photographs
clippings of visible thought
and a love unwilling to collaborate with death
— a boundless bird pecks at these cleansed mountains.

 


Also, read The 8.10 Ferry and Other Poems by Cemal Süreya, translated from The Turkish by Neil P. Doherty and published in The Antonym: 

The 8.10 Ferry and Other Poems— Cemal Süreya


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Murilo Mendes

Murilo Mendes

Murilo Mendes was born in Juiz de Fora, Brazil in 1901. In 1930 Mendes published his first collection, Poemas: 1925—1929, which was celebrated by Mário de Andrade—the father of Brazilian modernism. In the 1950s, Mendes emigrated to Europe meeting surrealists André Breton, Franics Picabia, René Magritte et al. Surrealist imagery remained a significant feature of Mendes’ mature work. He settled for a time in Rome, teaching Brazilian literature, then retired to Lisbon where he died in 1975, two years after completing his final collection, Retratos-relâmpago.

Baz Martin Gibbons

Baz Martin Gibbons

Baz Martin Gibbons is a translator, poet, and author. His most recent publications include translations of Brazilian poets Augusto dos Anjos and Murilo Mendes by Poetry Foundation, Lunch Ticket, Mantis, and an extract from Lima Barreto’s novella O Cemitério dos Vivos is forthcoming in Asymptote. Previous translations of Murilo Mendes won the 2023 Gabo Prize for Literary Translation. He currently divides his time between Brazil and England while working on his MA in Creative Writing at Kingston University, London.

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