Sonnet IV

Cláudio Manuel da Costa
1729 – 1789


I am a cowherd; I don’t deny it, my goods
Are those you see over there, I live happily
By guiding among the fresh flowering grasses
The sweetest company of my herd of cattle;

And there’s where they hear me, the love-¬struck trunks of trees,
Into which the ancients have been transformed;
Each and ev’ry one of them feels their own ruin;
In the way that I too feel all of my worries.

You, oh trunks of great trees, (I say to them) at one time
Considered yourselves to be so firm and secure
Within the arms of a beautiful companion;

Console yourselves in me, oh solid, sturdy trunks;
Because I, at one time, also once witnessed joy;
And today I do weep at the falsehoods of Love.

Acrobat of Pain

We present this work in honor of the 130th anniversary of the poet’s death.

João da Cruz e Sousa
1861 – 1898


Chortle, laugh, in a laughter of storm
like a clown who, lanky and nervous,
laughs, in an absurd laughter, inflated
with violent irony and pain.

With that atrocious and bloody guffaw—:
rattle the jester’s bells, convulsing.
Jump, puppet: jump, clown, pierced
by the stertor of this slow agony—

You’re asked for an encore, and that’s not to be sneered at.
Come on! Tighten the muscles up, tighten up
in these macabre steel pirouettes…

And though you fall on the ground, quivering,
drowned in your hot and seething blood,
laugh! Heart, saddest of clowns.

Translation by Flavia Vidal

The Motion of Ropes in Tugs

Lucila Nogueira
1950 – 2015


The motion of ropes in tugs
European hour of a mists’ kaleidoscope
fingers like submarines in the midst of seaweed
it is not so far
from Babylonia to Jerusalem
City quay of Saint-Nazaire
the moor and set sail of ships
slow movement in motionless water
indefinite horizon in Loire
verandah between scaffolds and cranes
unexpected ecstasy of embarkations
Here I am only a foreigner
and I bring the mark of casualty
I am an outsider passer-by
and as I arrived I should leave
Here I am only a passenger
and no matter how devoted I am
I will remain an outsider
No matter how much I want you
I am farouche
and this city is only in my route
ditch wall bridge and sentinel
as I arrived I should return
Nobody will wave to me
from any window
when I leave
platonic quay of myself
metaphysical dimension of a dream
metaphor quay of the passport body
we are the ships in this night
invisible quay of resurrection.

Translation by Marina Nogueira Martensson

False Advertising

Christiane Sobral
b. 1974


The first time I kissed
It was my girlfriends who kissed
They invented a flavor, a style, a smell
My lips weren’t there.

The first time I kissed
The prince was chosen by these dreaming girls
He was a jerk to me
A toad, a dragon that spat its fire on me

I don’t know what it was like
They didn’t see my closed eyes
I wasn’t there.

Translation by John Keene

Lundu in Praise of an Adoptive Brazilian

Domingos Caldas Barbosa
1739 – 1800


Eyes thus turned gazing,
Head thus inclined
Steps thus taken
She comes to communicate with me.
Oh! Companion,
It cannot be or yes it will be,
The moves are those of a Brazilian.
Who could have told me,
But it is true;
That Lisbon produced
A Pretty Brazilian Woman.

Translation by Lucia Helena Costigan