Manuel Bandeira, the Brazilian poet, was given a life-long private parking space in front of his apartment building in Rio de Janeiro by city officials.
The plaque above the space read POETA.
The best part of the story is that Bandeira not only didn’t own a car; he didn’t even know how to drive (I just love that!).
Today I think about how we honor our poets, what role they have in our lives, the lengths we’ll go to show them how much we care. How would you honor your favorite poet?
Here is one of my favorite Bandeira poems (English translation follows original Portuguese):
Momento Num Café
Quando o enterro passou
Os homens que se achavam no café
Tiraram o chapéu maquinalmente
Saudavam o morto distraídos
Estavam todos voltados para a vida
Absortos na vida
Confiantes na vida.
Um no entanto se descobriu num gesto largo e demorado
Olhando o esquife longamente
Este sabia que a vida é uma agitação feroz e sem finalidade
Que a vida é traição
E saudava a matéria que passava
Liberta para sempre da alma extinta
MOMENT IN A CAFÉ
When the funeral procession passed by
The men who were in the café
Tipped their hats mechanically
In a perfunctory and absent-minded salute to the dead
For they themselves were all turned toward life
They were swallowed up in life.
They were relying upon life.
One of them, swept off his hat
In a long and slow arc of a gesture
And stared at the hearse:
For this man knew that life is a fierce and timeless agitation
That life is a treason
And he paid his respects to the flesh which passed by
Forever freed from the dead soul.
(trans. by John Nist and Yolanda Leite)
What a wonderful poem and great blog post. Thanks for my bigger thought for the day.
you’re most welcome – I really love his poetry so am happy to hear when others do too.
This is a beautiful poem. I could picture the scene so vividly. And I loved the facts that he was honored with a parking space even though he didn’t drive and didn’t have a car. It makes you realize that sometimes we honor people in ways that aren’t always relevant. My son does that sometimes when he gives me gifts that are really all about him and have nothing to do with me. But he’s so proud and eager to give them to me. That’s what makes them special.
It’s true; the unexpected gifts are sometimes the most beautiful.
A parking spot means more than just convenience – it’s a symbol that you’ll always be welcomed here, and I think it’s a very touching gift!
I hadn’t thought of that – you are so right! And also that others are encouraged to visit you too!
Thank you for introducing me to this poet. My favorite poet is Pablo Neruda and so other than trying to read all his writings, another way I would like to spread his work is to do some simple street art and place some of his verses in random places around the world—yet, I’m too afraid to do something considered illegal 🙂
That would be a great idea! Have you seen the movie “Il Postino” about Neruda’s time in Italy? It is such a charming movie…. Thanks for checking out my blog – I just had a look at yours and love your post topics and writing style so will be following along 🙂
This is a vivid and quite remarkable poem. Thanks for sharing
I’m glad it touched you too – it’s one of my favorite poems.
Wow! What a great way to honor a poet. I haven’t read any of Bandeira’s work. This is such a lovely poem. Thanks for sharing!
so glad you like the poem too. Thanks for dropping by 🙂
Love this post…and the poem (it gave me chills). Thank you for reminding me of this wonderful poet.
You’re most welcome – I love Bandeira’s way with words; they really stay with you, don’t they?
I guess you will also appreciate Vinícius de Moraes, Carlos Drummond de Andrade…among other brazilian poets…it seems to me that does exist a brazilian poetics…as if poetic also express the cultural scene… thanks for visiting my writings. Walter
Yes, I love their poetry too- I agree with you, there does seem to be a Brazilian poetics. I think the Portuguese language and the Brazilian cultural marry themselves so well to create something beautiful 🙂 I’ve enjoyed reading your writing, thanks for sharing it with us.
thanks for this comment…I appreciate your witings and blog so much…let me tell that the official language is Portuguese, but I guess the official language should be Brasilian..Portuguese if from and for Portugal and some countries…but Brasil should have a proper language, Brasilian…some things are brasilian culture: bossa nova, other various musical genres (samba and other), cultural themes and so on…perhaps in a tale story of Clarice Lispector you will find some source of my elaborations regarding literature, writing/reading and writer practice…warm regards…I hope see you soon…al the best, Walter
I love Lispector’s writings! There’s one about chickens/roosters (I can’t remember the name right now) which is especially great. I agree with you, Brasilian is really a much better name for the language: it explains the history so much better. Eu morava em Sao Paulo por alguns anos como uma crianca e visitar algumas vezes, mas eu nao falo muito bem mais. Mas e uma bela lingua. Eu posso “ouvir” o ritmo de que em sua poesia 🙂