A Brazilian Poet

As most of us are watching The World Cup taking place in Brazil, I thought I would share this lovely story of the Brazilian poet, Manuel Bandeira, with you once again. I wrote about it in my early blogging days so most of you may be unfamiliar with it.

It reminds me of why I love Brazil.

Manuel Bandeira 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 let’s think about how we honor our poets.


Here is one of my favorite Bandeira poems (the 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


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)