Monday, April 12, 2010

Canto do Noivo (Song of the Bridegroom) - Murilo Mendes

 Another Brazilian poet.  (May be I am being influenced by having lunch Sunday at a slice of home: a "churrascaria" (grilled meats restaurant) in Northeast Philadelphia, where there is a small Brazilian community.  Murilo Mendes (1901-1975) was a part of the Modernist Movement in Brazilian literature during the 1920s-1930s.  He was also a diplomat, studied in France, taught in Italy, and died in Portugal.  He said that he had his first poetic revelation when he saw Halley's Comet in 1910.  I hope to have done justice to it with my translation.  To me, its "take" on marriage in the voice of a bridegroom is unexpected, making the title a bit ironic.
Canto do Noivo (Song of the Bridegroom)
                                                                        transl. from Portuguese - Harrison Tao

I will see your shapes take form little by little,
will see them shift in color, in weight, in rhythm,
your breasts swell in the hot night,
the eyes be transformed at the budding idea of a first child.

I will assist in the unfolding of your ages,
watching over all your transformations.

Already in my memory is the girl mother-to-dolls,
and after that, the one by the window in the afternoon,
and the one who changed on knowing me,
and the one close-by the union of bodies and souls.
The others will come. Your hips that will spread out,
the fallen breasts, the blameless eyes, the hair without luster
will be and tether you closer to the meaning of love,
my darling martyr, shape that I destroyed, integrated into mine.
                                                                                                          Murilo Mendes - Brazilian

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