Sunday, November 8, 2015

Seven-Sided Poem (Bishop translation) by Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Seven-Sided Poem

When I was born, one of the crooked
angels who live in shadow, said:
Carlos, go on! Be gauche in life.

The houses watch the men,
men who run after women.
If the afternoon had been blue,
there might have been less desire.

The trolley goes by full of legs:
white legs, black legs, yellow legs.
My God, why all the legs?
my heart asks. But my eyes
ask nothing at all.

The man behind the moustache
is serious, simple, and strong.
He hardly ever speaks.
He has a few, choice friends,
the man behind the spectacles and the moustache.

My God, why hast Thou forsaken me
if Thou knew’st I was not God,
if Thou knew’st that I was weak?

Universe, vast universe,
if I had been named Eugene
that would not be what I mean
but it would go into verse
faster.

Universe, vast universe,
my heart is vaster.

I oughtn’t to tell you,
but this moon
and this brandy
play the devil with one’s emotions

(Translated by Elizabeth Bishop)


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