January 11, 2023

[Jose] Oswald de [Souza] Andrade (Brazil) 1890-1954

[José] Oswald de [Souza] Andrade (Brazil)



Born in São Paulo in 1890, de Andrade was the son of a wealthy family whose business was in coffee. In 1912 he visited Paris, coming under the influence of F. T. Marinetti's Futurist writings.   

     On his return to Brazil he studied law, and received his degree in 1919. But over these years, he increasingly involved himself the writers and artists, and sought to rebel against the traditional society of Brazilian culture. In 1920, he founded the magazine Papel e tinta, and with other young poets and critics organized the Week of Modern Art in São Paulo in 1922, which is said to have been the beginning of Brazilian modernism.


     In 1923, de Andrade published his first important work, the novel Memórias sentimentais de João Miramar (The Sentimental Memoirs of João Miramar), a book written in telegraphic style he had discovered in the Italian Futurists. But the fragmentation of the narrative into brief chapters, the numerous puns and linguistic associations, and the poetic style and diction have caused the book to be compared with the work of James Joyce.

     A second trip to Paris solidified his involvement in the avant garde, and in 1925 he published Pau Brasil (Brazilwood), in which he propounded the ideas of "primitive" writing free of the influences of other languages and cultures, and a discarding of meter and rhyme, all of which were to the foundations of the Brazilian modernist movement. In a manifesto of 1928, Anthropological Manifesto, de Andrade further developed his aesthetic doctrine, with its emphasis on cannibalism and the native language. In it he continued his advocation of a return to the primitive and an eschewing of European influences.

     His second important fiction, Serafim Ponte Grade, was written during the 1930 revolution that brought Getulio Vargas to power, and helped to make de Andrade aware of the brutal realities of Brazilian life. His preface to that book is an angry statement, satirizing some of his modernist friends and denouncing his own participation in the movement. Henceforward, de Andrade refocused his literary activities on social commitment.

     De Andrade also published plays such as the 1937 O rei da vela and numerous books of poetry, collected in 1945 Poesias reuidas. He died in 1954, completely out of tune with the modernism he had help to create.




Memórias sentimentais de João Miramar (1924 [mixed genre]; Pau Brasil (1925); Primeiro Caderno do Aluno de Poesia Oswald de Andrade (1927); Poesias reunidas (1945).


from Sentimental Memoirs of João Miramar




Crones sails cicadas

Mists on the Vesuvian sea

Geckoed gardens and golden women

Between walls of garden-path grapes

Of lush orchards

Piedigrotta insects

Gnawing matchboxes in the trousers pocket

White trigonometries

In the blue crepe of Neapolitan waters

Distant city siestas quiet

Amidst scarves thrown over the shoulder

Dotting indigo grays of hillocks


An old Englishman slept with his mouth open

like the blackened mouth of a tunnel beneath civilized


Vesuvius awaits eruptive orders from Thomas Cook & Son.

And a woman in yellow informed a sport-shirted individual

that marriage was un unbreakable contract.


Sal o May


The cabarets of São Paulo are remote

As virtues



And the intelligent signal lights of the roads

One single soldier to police my entire homeland

and the cru-cru of the crickets creates bagpipes

And the toads talk twaddle to easy lady toads

In the obscure alphabet of the swamps


Street lamps night lamps

And you appear through a clumsy and legendary fox trot


Delenda lovely Salomé

Oh tawdry dancing girl

Full of ignorant flies and good intentions


The javá is a piggish polka with the blue dust

But the purple enpurples the procession of pink curtains


"I don't give a damn."

"I want to know about the nonsense of waiting with

the revolver on the road."

"That black thug gave her a punch and the woman took

a kick."

"In the belly."

The saxophone persists in an ache of frenzied teeth

Which the maxixe spasms

Between shots and tips

But the open leakage of gas escapes

Into the penitentiary night

"Lord grant us the illumined spongecake of redemption"


The tieté rools heaps of bricks

Water-colored and pink.


Translated from the Portuguese by Jack E. Tomlins



(from Memórias sentimentais de João Miramar, 1924)





Cabralism. The civilization of the donées. The Willing and

the Exportation.

The Carnival. The Hinterland and the Slum.

Brazilwood. Barbaric and ours.


The rich ethnic formation. The richness of the vegetation.

The minerals. The food, The vatapá, the gold and the dance.


All history of Penetration and the commercial history of America.



Against the fatality of the first white man who entered the port

and diplomatically dominated the savage jungles. Citing Virgil to the

Tupíníquím people. The bachelor.


Country of anonymous pains. Of anonymous doctors. Society of erudite

shipwrecked people.

From where the never exportation of poetry. The poetry tangled in the

culture. In the lianas of the versifications.


Twentieth century. A burst in the learning. The men who knew everything

were deformed like rubber babels. They burst free of enclopaedism.


The poetry for the poets. Happines of the ignorance that discovers.



The suggestion of Blaise Cendrars:—You have the locomotives full, you leave.

A black man turns the handle of the rotary where you are. The smallest carelessness

will make you leave, in a direction opposite to that of you destiny.


Against cabinetism, the tramping of the climates.


The language without archaisms. Without erudition. Natural and neo-logic. The

millionaire contribution of all of the mistakes.


From naturalism one had passed to domestic pyrography and the excursionist



All the girls talented. Virtuosos of the player piano.

The processions went out the bulge of the factories.

It was necessary to un-do. Deformation through impressionism and

the symbol. The lyricism brand-new. The presentation of the materials.


The coincidence of the first Brazilian construction in the movement of general

reconstruction. Brazilwood poetry.


Against the naturalistic subtlety, the synthesis. Against the copy, the

invention and the surprise.


A perspective of an order other than visual. The correspondent to the physical miracle in

art. Closed stars in the photographic negatives.


And the wise solar laziness. The prayer. The silent energy. The hospitality.


Barbaric, picturesque and credulous. Brazilwood. The orest and the school. The food, the

minerals and the dance. The vegetation. Brazilwood.


Translated from the Portuguese by Flavia Vidal



(Pau-Brasil, 1925)



Portuguese Mistake


When the Portuguese came

In a heavy rain

He dressed the Indian.


If it had been a sunny morning

The Indian would have stripped

The Portuguese.


Translated from the Portuguese by Régis Bonvicino and Douglas Messerli


(Pau-Brasil, 1925)





I am round, round

Round, round I know

I am a round island

Of the women I have kissed


Because I died for oh! love

Of the women of my island

My skull will laugh ha ha ha

Thinking of the roundel


Translated from the Portuguese by Jean R. Longland



Ballad of the Esplanade Hotel


Late last night

I tried

To see if I

Could write

A ballad

Before I got

To my hotel


Long ago

This heart

Had enough

Of life alone

And wants

To stay with you

At the Esplanade


I wished

I could

Cover this paper

With lovely phrases

It's so good

To be

A minstrel


In future

The generations

Passing this way

Will say

It's the hotel

of the minstrel


For inspiration

I open windows

Like magazines

I must construct

The ballad

Of the Esplanade

And end up

Being the minstrel

Of my hotel


But there's no

Poetry in hotels

Even though

They're Grand Hotels

Or Esplanades


There's poetry

In hibiscus

In the hummingbird

In the traitor

In the elevator




Who knows what

If some day

The elevator

Would bring

Your love

Up here


Translated from the Portuguese by Thomas Colchie



Good Luck


Four hundred years ago

you landed in the Tropic of Capricorn

on the carbuncular plank

of ships

steered by dark stars

the pale beetle

of the seas

Every exile was a king

skinny, insomniac, colorless

as clay


You will create a world

from coarse laughter

from sterile glues

from coarse laughter

You will plant insurgent hatreds side by side

frustrated hatreds

You will invoke humanity, mist and frost

Among the lianas you will build a palace of termites

and from a tower circled by hills

bleating with sincere cincerre-bells

you will rise toward the moon

like hope


Space is a prison.


Translated from the Portuguese by Flavia Vidal



(Poesias reunidas, 1945)





"from Sentimental Memoirs of João Miramar"


"Babbling" and "Good Luck"

Reprinted from Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology, edited by Stephen Tapscott, Oswald de Andrade trans. by Flavia Vidal (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996). Copyright ©1996 The University of Texas Press. Reprinted by permission of Stephen Tapscott.


"Portuguese Mistake"

Reprinted from Nothing the Sun Could Not Explain: 20 Contemporary Brazilian Poets, edited by Michael Palmer, Régis Bonvicino and Nelson Ascher, Oswald de Andrade trans. by Régis Bonvicino and Douglas Messerli (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1997). Copyright ©1997 by Sun & Moon Press. Reprinted by permission of Sun & Moon Press.



Reprinted from An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Poetry, edited with an Introduction by Elizabeth Bishop and Emanuel Brasil, Oswald de Andrade trans. by Jean R. Longland (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of England/Wesleyan University Press, 1972). Copyright ©1972 by Wesleyan University. Reprinted by permission of the University Press of New England.


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