January 9, 2011

Carlos Drummond de Andrade - Brazilian Poet

Carlos Drummond de Andrade was born in Minas Gerais, on October 31, 1902.

His poems approach quotidian issues, and have a good dose of irony and pessimism. In addition to poetry, he wrote several essays and short stories.

Son of farmers of Portuguese ancestry. Drummond studied in the city of Belo Horizonte and later with the Jesuits at the College de Anchieta Nova Friburgo in Rio de Janeiro, from where he was expelled for "mental insubordination." Back in Belo Horizonte, he began his career as a writer with the Diary of Minas, whose readers included followers of the incipient modernist movement in the State of Minas Gerais.

In 1924 he started to exchange letters with the poet Manuel Bandeira. He also met Blaise Cendrars, Oswald de Andrade, Tarsila do Amaral and Mário de Andrade.

Under pressure from his family to obtain a diploma, he studied pharmacy in the city of Ouro Preto, graduating in 1925. He founded with other writers, The Magazine, which, despite its short life was an important vehicle for affirming Modernism in Minas. He joined the public service and, in 1934, transferred to Rio de Janeiro, where he was the Head of Office for Gustavo Capanema, Minister of Education, until 1945.

Drummond then worked as director at the Service of Historic and Artistic Heritage National and retired in 1962. From 1954 onwards he was also a chronicler in the Morning Post and, from the beginning of 1969, in the Jornal do Brasil.

With Sentimento do Mundo (1940), José (1942) and especially A rosa do Povo (1945), Drummond started his work of contemporary history and collective experience, participating in social and political matters.

The amazing series of masterpieces from these books indicates the full maturity the poet achieved and maintained.

In 1965, he published in collaboration with Manuel Bandeira, “Rio de Janeiro in prose and verse.”

Drummond produced some of the most significant works of Brazilian poetry in the twentieth century. A strong creator of images, his works have as a theme, life and the events of the world, with verses that focus on the individual, homeland, family, friends, and social issues, as well as questions about existence, and about his own poetry.

Several works of the poet were translated into Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Swedish and other languages. He wrote hundreds of poems and more than 30 books, including those for children..

He translated to Portuguese the works of several authors like Balzac (Les Paysans, 1845; The Peasants), Choderlos de Laclos (Les Liaisons dangereuses, 1782), Marcel Proust (Le Fugitive, 1925 , García Lorca ( Doña Rosita, the soltera o el lenguaje de las Flores, 1935) Francois Mauriac (Thérèse Desqueyroux, 1927) and Molière (Les Fourberies de Scapin, 1677).

A target of unrestricted admiration, both for his work and for his character as a writer, Carlos Drummond de Andrade died in Rio de Janeiro RJ, on August 17, 1987, a few days after the death of his only daughter, the journalist Maria Julieta Drummond Andrade.

Check out some of Carlos Drummond's poems:


What now, José?
The party’s over,
the lights are off,
the crowd’s gone,
the night’s gone cold,
what now, José?
what now, you?
you without a name,
who mocks the others,
you who write poetry
who love, protest?
what now, José?

You have no wife,
you have no speech
you have no affection,
you can’t drink,
you can’t smoke,
you can’t even spit,
the night’s gone cold,

the day didn’t come,
the tram didn’t come,
laughter didn’t come
utopia didn’t come
and everything ended

and everything fled
and everything rotted
what now, José?

what now, José?
Your sweet words,
your instance of fever,
your feasting and fasting,
your library,
your gold mine,
your glass suit,
your incoherence,
your hate—what now?

Key in hand
you want to open the door,
but no door exists;
you want to die in the sea,
but the sea has dried;
you want to go to Minas
but Minas is no longer there.
José, what now?

If you screamed,
if you moaned,
if you played
a Viennese waltz,
if you slept,
if you tired,
if you died…

But you don’t die,
you’re stubborn, José!
Alone in the dark
like a wild animal,
without tradition,
without a naked wall
to lean against,
without a black horse
that flees galloping,
you march, José!
José, where to?


To wake, to live

How to wake up without hurt?
Restart without horror?
My sleep carried me
to that kingdom where life is inexistent
and I remain inert without passion.

How to repeat, day after day,
the incomplete fable,
to bear the likeness of all rough things
of tomorrow with the harsh things today?

How to protect myself from wounds
that tear in me the events,
any event
that resembles the earth and its purple

And the one more wound inflicted by myself
every single hour - torturer
of the innocent that I am not?

No one answers, life is cruel.



Who had the idea of slicing time into pieces,
which were given the name of year,
was a genius person.
Industrialized hope
pushing it to the limits of its exhaustiveness.

Twelve months are enough for any human being to get tired and give up.
Then comes the miracle of renovation and all stars once again
we pick up another number wishing that
from now on everything will be different..

...For you,
I wish your dreams fulfilled.
The love you waited.
Hope renewed.

For you,
I wish all the colors of life.
All happiness you can smile to
All songs you can thrill.

For you in this new year,
Wish all friends to be better,
May your family be more united,
May your life be more lived.
I would like to wish you so many things.
But nothing would be enough...

So, I wish only that you have many wishes.
Big wishes and may they move you further every single minute,
on route to your happiness!

Shoulders support the world
There comes a time when we no longer say: my God.
A time of absolute purity.
A time when we no longer say: my love.
Because love proved useless.
And eyes don’t cry.

And hands only weave in rough work.
And the heart is dry.

Women knock at the door in vain, don’t open it.
You stay alone, the light goes out,
and in the dark your eyes glow enormous.
You’re convinced, you no longer know suffering.
And you expect nothing from friends.

Old age matters little, what is old age?
Your shoulders support the world
And it weighs no more than a child’s hand.
The wars, famines, and talks in buildings
only prove that life goes on
and not all have freed themselves yet.

Some, finding the spectacle barbarous,
prefer (the delicates) to die.
There comes a time when there’s no point in dying.

There comes a time when life is an order.
Merely life, without perplexity.



I spent one hour thinking of a verse
my pen does not want to write.
Yet, it is here inside
restless, alive.

It is here inside
and does not wish to get out.
But the poetry of this very moment
                                             overflows my whole life.


Pathetic Poem
What kind of noise is that on the stairs?
It is love coming to an end,
It is the man who closed the door
And hanged himself in the curtains>

What kind of noise is that on the stairs?
It is Guiomar who covered her eyes
And blew her nose fortissimo.
It is the still moon upon the plates
And the cutlery shining in the pantry.

What kind of noise is that on the stairs?
It is the dripping of the water faucet,
It is the inaudible lament
Of someone who has lost his gamble
While the music of the band

Goes down, down, down.


Non-reasons of love

I love you because I love you
You don't have to be a lover
and not always know how to be one.

I love you because I love you
Love is a status of grace
and it is not payable

Love is given freely
it is sowed in the wind
in the waterfall, in the eclipse
Love runs from dictionaries
and several regulations.
I love you because I don't love
Enough or too much me
Because love is not swapped
nor conjugated nor beloved.

Because love is love for nothing,
happy and strong in itself.

Love is Death's cousin,
and of the death, winner
Even if they kill it (and they kill)
in every moment of love.



Definitive, as everything that is simple.
Our pain doesn’t come from the things that we’ve lived,
but from the things that were dreamed up and not acquired.
Why do we suffer? Why do we automatically forget
what we had enjoyed and we suffer for our unfulfilled projections,
for all the cities that we would have known next to
our love and did not happen, for all the children that we would have together
and didn’t have, for all the shows and books and silences that we would have shared
and did not share.

For all those kisses canceled, for eternity.
We suffer not because our work is stressful and pays little, but for all the free
hours that we lost to go to the movies, to talk to a friend,
to swim, to date.
We suffer not because our mother is impatient with us, but for all the
moments that we could be confiding to her our deepest
anxieties if she was interested to understand us.

We suffer not because our team lost, but for the suffocated euphoria.
We suffer not because we age, but because the future is being
confiscated from us, thus preventing a thousand adventures to happen to us,
all those with whom we dreamed and we never ever try.
Why suffer so much for love?
The truth was we did not suffer, just thank you for having known a so
nice person, which generated an intense feeling in us and made us
company for a reasonable time, a happy time.

How to ease the pain that is in what wasn’t lived? The answer is simple as a verse:
Deluding themselves less and living longer!
Every day I live, the more I become convinced that the waste of life
are in love that we don’t give, the forces that we don’t use,
in the selfish prudence that nothing ventures, and that, dodging the
suffering, we lose also the happiness.
Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional ...


Check more poems here!

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