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Poema de Sete Faces, Carlos Drummond de Andrade
When I got home last night around 2, having had some drinks and gone out dancing with my friends, I thought of this Brazilian poem. Please excuse my congested voice and the less-than-perfect sound quality from my cellphone.

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(no transcription available)

Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Quando nasci, um anjo torto
desses que vivem na sombra
disse: Vai, Carlos! ser gauche na vida.

As casas espiam os homens
que correm atrás de mulheres.
A tarde talvez fosse azul,
não houvesse tantos desejos.

O bonde passa cheio de pernas:
pernas brancas pretas amarelas.
Para que tanta perna, meu Deus, pergunta meu coração.
Porém meus olhos
não perguntam nada.

O homem atrás do bigode
é sério, simples e forte.
Quase não conversa.
Tem poucos , raros amigos
o homem atrás dos óculos e do bigode.

Meu Deus, por que me abandonaste
se sabias que eu não era Deus
se sabias que eu era fraco.

Mundo mundo vasto mundo
se eu me chamasse Raimundo,
seria uma rima, não seria uma solução.
Mundo mundo vasto mundo,
mais vasto é meu coração.

Eu não devia te dizer
mas essa lua
mas esse conhaque
botam a gente comovido como o diabo.

The "mundo, mundo, vasto mundo" part gets quoted a lot by people who know the ways of modern Brazilian poetry. And the last section, that starts "Eu não devia te dizer", translates as:

"I shouldn't be telling you this
but this moon
and this cognac
can get a man sentimental as hell."

which I think is just adorable.

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6 comments or Leave a comment
gir1fromipanema From: gir1fromipanema Date: September 30th, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is! Adorable, I mean. Brazilian always is adorable. Although I feel like last year when I was listening to New Zealand bookcrosser Lyttletonwitch being interviewed on the BBC (by the end of it I was begging for subtitles ;-) ). My dictionary is getting a good workout just now :-).
florafloraflora From: florafloraflora Date: September 30th, 2007 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow. Do you speak Portuguese or are you reading along word-by-word? Either way, cool.
gir1fromipanema From: gir1fromipanema Date: October 1st, 2007 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I took two years of Portuguese way back when (about 10 years ago), and have been trying on and off to revive it (self study, no time for classes). I can read along with the help of a dictionary, but colloquial writing/speaking or poetry leave me somewhat helpless...
Speaking it? Not at the moment, I'd think.
islandmomma From: islandmomma Date: September 30th, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love to hear Brazilian Portugese, it's softer and more romantic than the "original" THank you
henrydt From: henrydt Date: October 2nd, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Mundo mundo


I lived for a while in the vast portugese world of New Bedford, but I didn't really pick up much of the language. It always sounded like Spanish spoken with Polish consonants. Would you mind doing a translation??

Here is what I get:

Seven Faceted Poem

When I was born a short year that lived under a shadow said,"Go Carlos, don't be left behich by life.

To houses of men's bones that come behind the ????? a late purple maybe, not so much desired.

O bond against painful dogs, with yellow branches. for so much pain , my God, asks my heart, but my eyes ask nothing.

(I kinda have the feeling that I'm not quite getting it)

florafloraflora From: florafloraflora Date: October 2nd, 2007 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Mundo mundo

Hee! It's interesting that you say that about Polish, because one time when I was speaking Portuguese in public in New York City (this was before Brazil got trendy, and Portuguese was hardly ever heard or studied in the US), somebody asked me if it were Russian. I do think Russian sounds a lot like Portuguese, especially Brazilian Portuguese with the squishy consonants (dzh, tch, zh, sh) and the nasally, almost whiny-sounding vowels.

OK, here's my quick-and-dirty superliteral translation. It doesn't sound as silly in Portuguese, and other disclaimers, yadda yadda.

SEVEN-FACETED POEM [just as you thought, or you could call this "Seven ways of looking at the author" after Wallace Stevens]

When I was born, a crooked angel
the kind that lives in the shade
said: Go, Carlos! be gauche in life.

The houses spy on men
who chase after women.
The afternoon perhaps were blue,
were there [or there were] not as many desires. [this part with the subjunctive is deliberately ambiguous]

The tram goes by full of legs:
white black yellow legs.
God, what are all those legs for, asks my heart.
But my eyes
don't ask a thing.

The man behind the mustache
is serious, simple and strong.
He hardly talks.
Few and rare are the friends
of the man behind the glasses and mustache.

My God, why didst thou forsake me
if thou knewest that I was not God
if thou knewest that I was weak.

World world vast world
if I were named Raimundo
it would be a rhyme, not a solution.
World world vast world,
even vaster is my heart.

I should be telling you this
but that moon
and that cognac
can get a man sentimental as hell.
6 comments or Leave a comment