February 21, 2013

Henriqueta Lisboa


Henriqueta Lisboa [Brazil]
1901-1985

Brazilian poet Henriqueta Lisboa was born in 1901. Throughout a career in which she published over nine works of poetry, numerous essays, and translations, Lisboa was awarded the Prêmio Machado de Assis for a lifetime achievement by the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

     Brazilian poet Manuel Bandiera wrote of Lisboa: “I would say that the poetry of Henriqueta is characterized by a constant perfection, like that of Cecília Meireles [born the same year]. But this perfection is not the fruit of a natural asceticism, acquired by the force of a difficult spiritual discipline, or a rigorously economic vocabulary.” Exploring the history of her native Minas Gerais, Lisboa wrote out of a deeply internalized Christian spirituality, dedicated to meditations on death and change. Although modernism and feminism highly influenced her, Lisboa’s poetry is an original vision of an “intense, stately, lyrical integrity.”

     The poet died in 1985.

 
BOOKS OF POETRY

Fogo fátuo (1925); Enternecimento (Rio de Janeiro: Paulo, Pongetti: 1929); Velório (1936); Prisioneira da noite (Rio de Janeiro: Civilizaçäo Brasileira, 1941); O menino poeta (Rio de Janeiro: Bedeschi, 1943; Belo Horizonte, 1975; 1984); A face lívida (Belo Horizonte: Impreso Official do Estado de Minas Gerais: 1945); Flor da morte (1949); Obras completes (Livraria Duas Cidades, 1955); Montanba viva: Caraça (1959); Belo Horizone bem querer (1972); Poemas escólhidos (Belo Horizonte: EDDAL, 1974); Pausada do ser (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira, 1982); Obras completas (Säo Paulo: Livraria Duas Cidades, 1985)

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS

Poems escolbidos: Chosen Poems, trans by Hélicio Veiga Costa (Editora e Distribuidora, 1981); selection in Stephen Tapscott, ed. Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996)

 
Echo

Green parrot
let out the shrill scream.
Rock in sudden
anger, replied.

A great uproar
invaded the forest.
Thousands of parrots
screamed together
and rock echoed.

From all sides
strafing space
steely screams rained
and rained down.

Very piercing screams!

But no one died.

—Translated from the Portuguese by Hélico Veiga Costa

(reprinted from Prisioneira da noite, 1941)

 
Camellia

Come to see the camellia,
born at daybreak,
before the sun tans
its skin.

So mild in its privacy. It is the circle
where hearts meet. The bond
of mutual understanding. The wings
of the angel clenched by peace. The dove
which perches upon the offered palm. The moon
that has forgotten the clouds and is still
in an unadorned intimacy. The soft
and white knot of friendship. The nest
that closes itself—perfect.

—Translated from the Portuguese by Hélico Veiga Costa

(reprinted from Montanba viva: Caraça, 1959)

________________
Copyright ©1981 by Hélico Veiga Costa. Reprinted from Ed. by Stephen Tapscott, Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Edition (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996).

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