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Four Translations

Eduardo Miranda

Eduardo Miranda was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1966. Poet, writer and musician, he lives in Ireland since 2004, where he works as IT consultant, composes music and edits an eletronic magazine (in portuguese) called TUDA

He has poems published in anthologies as Amigos (Casa Pyndahýba, 1994); Contra Lamúria (Casa Pyndahýba, 1995) and a solo book Quase (Casa Pyndahýba, 1998).

As musician he has recorded two albuns with his old band WEJAH–Renascença (Faunus Records, 1988) and Narrow Road (Progressive Rock Worldwide, 1996).  He actually develops a new project called The Virtual Em3.

Fernando Pessoa – Autopsychography
Pessoa’s poem is marked by the forgery of the feelings – the art of misrepresentation. Autopsychography derives from Portuguese word “Psicografia” (Psychography), which derives from the Greek, meaning ‘writing from the mind or soul of a medium, words suggested by a spirit or entity’.


The poet is a mere dissimulator
His dissimulation seems so real
That he dissimulates to be dolor
The dolor which he can really feel.

And those who read his writes,
In the pain chore feels well,
Not both the pains he delights,
But the one which no one tells.

Thus in the gutters of the funny wheel,
Spin, spin, to put my mind apart
This convoy of hope made of steel
This convoy of rope called heart.



O poeta é um fingidor.
Finge tão completamente
Que chega a fingir que é dor
A dor que deveras sente.

E os que lêem o que escreve,
Na dor lida sentem bem,
Não as duas que ele teve,
Mas só a que eles não têm.

E assim nas calhas de roda
Gira, a entreter a razão,
Esse comboio de corda
Que se chama coração.

Mário Quintana – The Contra’s Little Poem
In this little poem, Quintana uses a homograph – “passarão” – the future sentence of the verb “to pass”, which can be interpreted as “the death”, but also means “big bird”. This meaning is out-of-context till the next verse, where Quintana uses the word “passarinho” – meaning “little bird” – which echoes with “passarão”, bringing up its second meaning, gracefully. In the English version I play with ‘pass away’ and ‘pass by’ echoes.

The Contra’s Little Poem

All of those who may
Forbid me to fly:
They will pass away
I'm passing by.


Poeminha do Contra

Todos esses que aí estão
Atravancando o meu caminho
Eles passarão...
Eu passarinho.


Cruz & Souza – Skull
The leading figure of the Symbolist movement in Brazil, Cruz e Sousa was the son of freed slaves. His poetry weds the technical principles of French Symbolism to themes drawn from his social concerns and his own personal suffering. This poem describes a skull, emphasizing that we are all the same, and the death takes us all, either white or black.


Eyes which were eyes, two holes
Neither green nor blue, cold and dull...
Two dark eyeholes in a deep stroll

Nose of delicate feature, insolent,
Shaped not to be lenient but cruel.
What's been done of the sweet scent?
Skull! Skull!!

Mouth of white teeth and lips
Kindly rounded and almost wailful.
Where the smile, the laugh, the quips?

Skull! Skull!! Skull!!!


Olhos que foram olhos, dois buracos
Agora, fundos, no ondular da poeira...
Nem negros, nem azuis e nem opacos

Nariz de linhas, correções audazes,
De expressão aquilina e feiticeira,
Onde os olfatos virginais, falazes?!
Caveira! Caveira!!

Boca de dentes límpidos e finos,
De curva leve, original, ligeira,
Que é feito dos teus risos cristalinos!?
Caveira! Caveira!! Caveira!!!


João Cabral de Melo Neto – from Death & Life Severina
"Morte e Vida Severina" (partially translated by Elizabeth Bishop as "Death and Life of a Severino") is Cabral's most famous work. It’s a very long narrative poem, and the part I took here became a song sang by Chico Buarque de Hollanda, and describes the life of a poor country man in the dry north-eastern part of Brazil, dreaming about to have his own land.

extracted from Death & Life Severina

The grave you are,
measured by strife
is the smallest share
you've got in life.

Neither wide nor profound,
just the perfect range,
it’s the piece of ground
yours innately grange.

It’s not a big grave,
but measured and spared,
the land which you crave
one day to see shared.

It’s a big grave for your blunt
dead body, untied and uncurled,
you’ll feel yourself more pleasant
than you ever felt in the entire world.


extraído de Morte e Vida Severina

Essa cova em que estás,
com palmos medida,
é a cota menor
que tiraste em vida.

É de bom tamanho,
nem largo nem fundo,
é a parte que te cabe
neste latifúndio.

Não é cova grande.
é cova medida,
é a terra que querias
ver dividida.

É uma cova grande
para teu pouco defunto,
mas estarás mais ancho
que estavas no mundo.


Copyright © 2009 Eduardo Miranda