Posted in English, Portuguese

Segue o Teu Destino

Translating one of the poems I’ve been learning. It’s by Ricardo Reis, one of Pessoa’s Hetronyms. I found it a bit inspiration-postery at first but it’s really grown on me, especially the last two lines of the first verse and the last two lines of the last:

Portuguese versionTranslation
Segue o teu destino.
Rega as tuas plantas.
Ama as tuas rosas.
O resto é a sombra
De Arvores alheias.
Follow your destiny
Water your plants
Love your roses
The rest is just the shadow
Of other people’s trees
A realidade
Sempre é mais ou menos
Do que nós queremos.
Só nós somos sempre
Iguais a nós próprios.
Reality
Is always more or less
Than we want
We alone are always
Equal to ourselves
Suave é viver.
Grande e nobre é sempre
Viver simplesmente.
Deixa a dor nas aras
Como ex-voto aos deuses.
It’s easy to live
It’s great and noble always
To live simply
Leave pain on the altar
Like a votive offering to the gods
Vê de longe a vida.
Nunca interrogues.
Ela nada podes
Dizer-te. A resposta
Está além dos deuses.
Look at life from afar
Never question it
It can’t tell you
Anything. The answer
Is beyond the gods
Mas serenamente
Imito o Olimpo
No teu coração.
Os deuses são deuses
Porque não se pensam.
But serenely
Imitate Olympus
In your heart
The gods are gods
Because they never think of themselves
Posted in English, Portuguese

Rústica – Florbela Espanca.

I mentioned a few days ago that I was trying to memorise poems in both English and Portuguese. Well, today’s is a Portuguese one: Rústica by Florbela Espanca. As with so many of these poems, reading it through once a couple of years ago, I was my usual poetry-reading self: “Yes yes, very poetic. Next!” But now that I’m immersing myself in them, I’m starting to get the point of poetry. Here is the original:

Rústica

Ser a moça mais linda do povoado.
Pisar, sempre contente, o mesmo trilho,
Ver descer sobre o ninho aconchegado
A bênção do Senhor em cada filho.

Um vestido de chita bem lavado,
Cheirando a alfazema e a tomilho…
– Com o luar matar a sede ao gado,
Dar às pombas o sol num grão de milho…

Ser pura como a água da cisterna,
Ter confiança numa vida eterna
Quando descer à “terra da verdade”…

Deus, dai-me esta calma, esta pobreza!
Dou por elas meu trono de Princesa,
E todos os meus Reinos de Ansiedade.

Rústica, Florbela Espanca, from Charneca Em Flor

Florbela Espanca

There are a few unfamiliar words in it so I’ll have a go at translating it:

Rustic

To be the prettiest girl in the village
To walk contentedly on the same trail
To see descending on the cosy home*
The blessings of the Lord on every child 

A calico** dress, well-washed
Smelling of lavender*** and thyme 
With the moonshine quenching the thirst of the cattle****
Giving the doves the sun in a grain of corn

To be pure as the water in the cistern
To believe in a life eternal 
When I go down to the land of truth*****

God, give me this calm, the poverty
I’ll give them my princess throne
And all my kingdoms of anxiety

*=The word used in the original is “ninho” which means nest, but I think in this context its just a folksy way of saying home.

**=my paper dictionary says chintz, but I think chintz is made of calico (?) and that calico goes more with the vibe of the poem. But I’m not an expert in cloth, so I could easily be wrong.

***=I’ve been saying “lavandas” for lavender but I think that might be a brazilism because according to the wiki this is the word used in Portugal.

****=matar a sede means kill the thirst, literally, but quench seems better. And it’s not “a sede do gado” (the thirst of the cattle) but ao gado (to the cattle) , another example of Portuguese speakers using prepositions in a way that are just a little different to what an english speaker would expect.

*****=Descer in this sentence is the future subjunctive, not the infinitive, and I believe its “when I go down” not “when he/she/it goes down” but I can only get that from context since there no way of telling grammatically! I’m not sure what the land of truth means here either. If it’s heaven, why is she descending and not ascending? I’ve read the bible and spent a lot of time in church but this makes no sense to me I’m afraid.

Here’s an analysis I wrote of the poem, in Portuguese, for today’s writing challenge (thanks to Dani Morgenstern for the help)

O Poema de hoje é Rústica de Florbela Espanca. O poema fala do anseio da poeta por uma vida mais bucólica, numa aldeia onde ela seja “a moça mais linda” e o ar seja perfumado de ervas e flores.
Este desejo, esta saudade duma vida sem ansiedade e sem problemas é, no entanto, pouco realista porque a vida numa aldeia tem as suas próprias ansiedades e nem todas as moças podem ser a mais linda. Mas isso não contraria a mensagem do poema nem a vontade que todos nós temos de afastar-nos da vida moderna.
O poema tem quatro versos: dois de quatro linhas e dois de três, e tanto quanto sei, este padrão é muito comum na obra desta poeta. Usa imagens da natureza (o que é pouco surpreendente neste caso!) e temas religiosos. Aliás, a religião não é apenas um tema: a saudade da religião faz parte da saudade da vida simples. É como se Deus não tivesse poder nenhum na cidade e só soubesse tocar o coração de quem vive nalguma quinta.

Posted in English

O Verso Alcançando o Infinito

*groan*

So ages ago, I heard Jose Jorge Letria (a poet who wrote, among other things,”Era Uma Vez Um Cravo”) read a poem called O Dia Mundial da Poesia. I mean, I thought it was called that. I thought he’d written it for world poetry day and he’d called it that because it was about poetry itself, where it comes from and how it’s made. And I spent ages looking for a printed copy because I liked it so much even though my listening skills were terrible and I could only make out about one line in five.

The poem is born of an impulse [… Blah blah blah… ] from the sonorous temptation of a metaphor [… Something something…] Afterwards, it’s writing, the work of hands on the incandescent material of syllables [… Tum ti tum…] The poem is born, finally, from the illusion that there is something left that hasn’t been said [… Etc… ]

I couldn’t catch it all. But I got enough to know I wanted more but I couldn’t find it anywhere online or in any of his books.

Anyway, as you’ve probably gathered by now, it’s not called O Dia Mundial da Poesia at all; it’s called O Verso Alcançando o Infinito. So that explains why I couldn’t find it. Anyway, now I know what to plug into Google, I’ve found another recording of it here…

And if you need the lyrics (I wish I’d had access to then five years ago!) they’re here. Well, some of them are. Another one for my project to learn poetry, I think!

Posted in English

Poetry

One of the things I’ve been doing in my non-portuguese life is trying to learn poems. I had some idea that it would be nice to have more poetry in amongst the clutter of my brain, and also good mental exercise now that I’m well into middle age and finding myself forgetting stuff all the time. In the last couple of weeks I have memorised two. I can now recite Weathers by Thomas Hardy or The Subaltern’s Love Song by John Betjeman by heart. I like the Betjeman best; the rhythm of it is amazing, and it really conveys the sense of being giddy and excited and in love.

Anyway, I was thinking of doing “Mar Português” by Fernando Pessoa next. It’s shorter but I’m expecting it to be harder in anotgher language. So I was really excited to see this video drop into my Youtube recommendations today. Mar Português is the fifth of the five poems she reads. I have been subscribed to the channel for a while but not really following it closely but I can see I am going to have to keep a closer eye on it from now on, because I like this a lot!

Posted in Portuguese

A Poesia

Today’s text was corrected by the very kind Pistaxia. Notes at the bottom as usual

Por motivo nenhum* decidi há duas semanas que queria aprender algo novo. Além dos assuntos técnicos que ando a estudar para o meu desenvolvimento profissional, e além do português que ando a aprender (e que provavelmente continuarei até eu ser enterrado!) apetecia-me aprender um poema. Aliás mais do que um. Uma por semana até… Até ficar sem vontade de ler.

Na semana passada, passei umas horas a memorizar “Weathers” (“Tempos”) do poeta inglês Thomas Hardy, que fala das chuvas da Primavera e do Outono (Spoiler alert: ele prefere as da Primavera).

Filme colorizada do poeta Tom Hardy a ler o seu poema Weathers

Consegui, e já sou capaz de recitar o poema inteiro. Ora bem, isso não é assim tão impressionante. Só tem 18 linhas. Esta semana estou a aprender um mais comprido: “The Subaltern’s Love Song” (a Canção do Amor do… Hum… Oh! Do Subalterno. Devia ter adivinhado!). Depois penso em experimentar alguns portugueses, tal como “Mar Português” de Fernando Pessoa.

Porque é que decidi encher a minha cabeça com  rimas? Porque os poemas fazem parte dos nossos “móveis mentais” e eu conheço poucos.

*=oof, straight out of the gate with my first error. I wrote “sem motivo qualquer” (literally “without any reason”) but its better as “por motivo nenhum” (“through no reason at all”)

The rest of it wasn’t so bad or so interesting. Just errors of carelessness really.

Posted in English

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Homem

At work the other day, in an effort to make my tasks stand out better in the planning software, I decided to swap my default icon from the orange disc with LC on it to a picture. Usually I use a small picture of someone waving the Bandeira portuguesa* but I couldn’t find it so I opted for this instead.

Fernando Pessoa

So far, so whatever, but the next day when I was arriving at work, my email pinged and when I looked at the company email app, there was the six-year-old Fernando Pessoa looking at me, from the corner of the screen. As it turns out, the software is part of office suite and they’re all linked together, so the picture had become my official photograph on the intranet. I got rid of it later that day but a few people were curious as to what had happened.

I sort of miss it actually. It was the only black and white icon there which made it really easy to spot. One of those times when professionalism and efficiency are in opposition.

*I suppose I should really say “The Flag of the Portuguese Republic” since there are still monarchists who insist that the old royalist flag, a blue cross on a white background, is the real Portuguese flag.

Ouça 9. The Flag de HISTÓRIAS DE PORTUGAL de Saudade e Outras Coisas #np na #SoundCloud

Ouça 9. A Bandeira de HISTÓRIAS DE PORTUGAL de Saudade e Outras Coisas #np na #SoundCloud

Posted in Portuguese

É Tudo Uma Questão de Tempo – José Jorge Letria

47586435_756354014698324_6635581299585187840_nMais uma tentativa de apreciar a poesia portuguesa… Gosto muito de José Jorge Letria desde ouvi um poema dele num podcast. Foi a primeira vez (e continua a ser quase a única vez!) que gostei de um poema português. Lamento que ainda falte paciência para ler poesia em qualquer língua, e o problema fica ainda pior quando tenho de alcançar o dicionário a cada 4 linhas! Mas de vez em quando uma luz penetra a escuridão da minha ignorância e consigo ver a beleza da escrita. Às vezes reli os poemas mais de uma vez para aumentar a experiência.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Dia Mundial da Poesia

jose_letriaTradução

O poema nasce de um impulso,
The poem is born of an impulse
de uma febre, da tirania de uma miragem,
from a fever, from the tyranny of a mirage
da tentação sonora de uma metáfora,
from the sonorous temptation of a metaphor
do vazio que teme transformar-se em nada.
from the emptiness that fears becoming a void
Depois é a escrita, é o trabalho da mão
Then comes the writing, the work with the hand
sobre a matéria incandescente das sílabas.
on the incandescent material of syllables.
E, quando damos por nós, é de corpo inteiro
And when we discover ourselves, it’s the whole body
que estamos na fragilidade do poema
that we are in the fragility of the poem
como se tivéssemos ousado cavalgar numa nuvem
as if we had dared to ride on the back of a cloud
para desafiar todos os poderes do céu.
to challenge all the powers of heaven
Quem ousará explicar este sortilégio?
Who dares explain this sorcery?
Nem sequer os deuses, pois esses
Not even the gods, because they
nasceram da própria erupção do verbo,
were born in their own verbal eruption
da explosão da prece fingindo ser capaz
from the explosion of prayer that claims to be capable
de vencer o sofrimento e o assombro.
of conquering suffering and dread.
O poema nasce, afinal, da ilusão
The poem is born, after all, from the illusion
de que ainda resta algo para ser dito
that there still remains something to be said
e de que o silêncio é um cativeiro fugaz
and that silence is a brief captivity
em que as palavras se amotinam
in which the words rebel
para de novo voltarem a ser voz.
to return to being a voice again.

José Jorge Letria, O Livro Branco da Melancolia (2001)