BRAZILWOOD

 

On the occasion of the discovery of Brazil

scapulary

In Our Daily
Sugar Loaf
Give us Lord
Our Poetry
Oath 

(Another translation:
Give us Lord
Our Sugar Loaf
In our Daily
Poetry) 

speech

Cabralism. The civilization of the grantees. The Homeland and Exports.
Carnival. The Backland and the Shanties. Brazilwood. Barbarianly ours. 

A rich ethnic formation. A rich vegetation. Minerals. Cuisine. Shrimp stew, gold, and dance. 

The entire history of the Penetration and the commercial history of the Americas. Brazilwood.
Against the fatality of the first landed white man and diplomatically dominating the savage jungle. Quoting Virgil to the Tupiniquim. The law school graduate. 

Country of anonymous pain. Of anonymous doctors. Society of learned castaways.
Where poetry was never exported from. Poetry tangled in culture. In the creepers of metrification. 

The twentieth century. A blast in learning. The men who knew everything collapsed like rubber Towers of Babel. They burst from so much encyclopedism. 

Poetry for poets. The bliss of an ignorance discovering. Pedr’Alvares. 

A suggestion from Blaise Cendrars: Have your locomotives ready, depart! A black man cranks the handle of the rotational divergence in which you exist. The slightest slip will make you head in the direction opposite your destination. 

Against ministerialism, treading through climates.
Language minus the archaisms. Minus the erudition. Natural and neologistic. The million-dollar contribution of all mistakes. 

From naturalism to household pyrography and a tourist’s Kodak.
All the gifted girls. Mechanical piano virtuosi.
Processions emerged from the bowels of the factories.
It became necessary to undo. Deformation via impressionism and the symbol. A leafy lyricism. The presentation of materials. 

The first Brazilian construction coinciding with the movement of general reconstruction. Brazilwood Poetry. 

Against the naturalist’s shrewdness—synthesis. Against the copy—invention and surprise.
A perspective different from the visual. The equivalent to a physical miracle in art. Stars trapped in photo negatives. 

* * *

And a wise solar laziness. Prayer. A quiet energy. Hospitality.  

Barbarians, picturesque and credulous. Brazilwood. The forest and the school. The kitchen, minerals, and dance. Vegetation. Brazilwood.

 

The History of Brazil 

Pero Vaz Caminha

the discovery

We followed our way across this lengthy sea
Until the eighth day of Easter
We chanced upon birds
And caught sight of land 

the savages

They showed them a chicken
They were almost scared
Refused to lay hands on it
Later they held it as if in awe 

the first tea

After they danced
Diogo Dias
Did the royal summersault 

the station girls

They were three or four maidens very young and very fair
With very long black hair trailing down their backs
And their shameful parts so high and clean
That we from staring at them
Had not shame at all 

Gandavo

lodging

Because the Land itself is such
And so favorable to those who seek it
That it gladly shelters and welcomes all 

chorography

It has the shape of a Harp
Bordering the highest Andean Mountains
And the Peruvian skirts
All standing so superbly high on Earth
That it is said the birds have trouble flying above them 

healthfulness

Its being so salubrious and free from disease
Comes from the winds that traverse it
And since all come from the sea
They arrive so pure and filtered
That they not only do no harm
But rather foster and enhance the life of man 

hydrographic system

The springs found in this land are infinite
And their waters flow into many and very great rivers
Which by way of this coast
Be it from the North or from the Orient
Pour into the Ocean Sea 

gold country

All are provided for
And there are no poor persons
Begging from door to door
In these Kingdoms 

still life

This fruit they call Pineapple
When ripe it has a very sweet smell
And is eaten carved into slices
And thus do the native inhabitants
And they hold it in greater esteem
Than any other apple tree in this land 

natural riches

Many melons cucumbers pomegranates and figs
Of various stocks
Citrons lemons and oranges
A multitude
Many sugar canes
Endless cotton
There is also plenty of brazilwood
In these captaincies 

columbus day

There lives in these parts too a certain animal
They call Sloth
With a thick mane on its neck
And it moves at such a slow pace
That even if it toiled for two weeks
It wouldn’t conquer the distance of a stone’s throw 

The Capuchin Friar Claude d’Abbéville

fashion

Women don’t have their lips pierced
But in compensation
They have perforated ears
And they consider themselves as pretty
With wooden rings in their holes
As the ladies from these lands
With their large pearls and rich stones 

here and there

This habit of walking around naked
Is marvelously deviant and dishonest
Not being perhaps as dangerous
Or as attractive
As the new inventions
Of the ladies from here
Who damn more souls
Than the Indian girls 

the country

There’s a beautiful spring
Exactly in the middle
Unusual in its beauty
And health
Living waters so pure
Gush from it
And flow into the sea
Surrounded by
Palm trees persimmon myrtles
And perched upon
One often sees
Female monkeys and apes

Friar Vicente do Salvador

landscape

They cultivate palm groves with large coconuts
Mainly by the seaside 

the birds

There are eagles from the backlands
Some as large as African ones
Some white some speckled with black
That with their wings spread out
In the manner of a Latin sail
Fly in the wind 

love of one’s enemy

Because once in a while
Out of love
She too frees the captive
And goes off with him across the land 

prosperity of são Paulo

Surrounding this township
Are four villages with friendly folk
Whom the fathers of the Company instruct
Besides many others
Who arrive daily from the backlands 

Fernão Dias Paes

letter

I shall depart
With forty white men alongside me
And my son
And four troops of mine
Scouting folk with gunpowder and lead 

Your Lordship
Should consider this discovery
Of the greatest importance
In view of its great benefit
And many emeralds too 

Friar Manoel Calado

civilization in pernambuco

Women here are so mad
And so costly
That they are not satisfied with taffeta
They adorn themselves with so many jewels
It looks like showers of pearls rubies and diamonds
Have fallen on their heads and necks
All are joys
This seems no earth but a portrait
Of the Garden of Earthly Delights

J.M.P.S.
(from the city of porto)

non-standard speech

Instead of saying corn they say kern
Instead of better they say bettah
Instead of worse verse
Instead of shingle single
Instead of roof woof
And they go on weaving roofs 

Prince Dom Pedro

letter to the patriarch

Having laid awake all night in thought
I resolved to inspect the Grenadiers
So if you see them this afternoon on Rossio Square
Don’t mistake them for a mutiny 

I instructed Miquilina
And the Major of the Mulatto Regiment
To come and report to me
On all that’s being said in the saloons 

I will appreciate your approval of this measure
And I declare
That no supporters of the Brazilian cause are to be found
More faithful than my friends
The Mulattoes

 

English translation: Odile Cisneros