‘Requiem’ in memoriam Lêdo Ivo (1924-2012)

The Brazilian poet Lêdo Ivo passed away December 23rd, 2012, during a visit to Seville, Spain. Ivo is considered a major figure in Brazilian poetry of the last century, and a member with Carlos Drummond de Andrade and João Cabral de Melo Neto, of the “Generation of 45” who advanced an ideal of Concrete poetry anchored in modernist poetics, anti-lyricism and social realism. His first collection, As Imaginações was published in 1944. ‘Requiem’ is a late work composed between 2004-2006 after the death of his longtime companion, and published with other poems in a collection of the same title in 2008. It is a long monologue written in eight parts and begins with a bare, Giacometti advance into the light: ‘Aqui estou, à espera do siléncio.’ [Here I am, waiting for the silence.] The entire poem, translated into English by Kerry Shawn Keys (with help from José Carlos Dias) and published in the literary magazine The Drunken Boat with the translators notes, can be read here. In memoriam, this is part V of ‘Requiem’ in the Keys translation followed by the original Portuguese in italics.

 

from Requiem ‘V’

 

Happy are those who depart.

Not the ones who reach the rotten ports.

Happy those who depart and never come back.

 

For I stay always half way

and my journey remains unfinished.

Happy are those who don’t know the final station.

 

Happy those who disappear in the fog,

those who open windows at dawn,

those who light the lights of the airfields.

 

Happy are those who cross the bridges

when the afternoon lands among the refineries like a bird.

Happy those who possess an inattentive soul.

 

Happy are those who know that, at the end of the passage,

Nothing awaits them, like a scarecrow in a corn field.

Happy those who only find themselves when windborne or lost.

 

Happy are those who have lived more than one life.

Happy are those who have lived countless lives.

Happy those who vanish when circuses pull up their tents.

 

Happy those who know that each fountain is a secret.

Happy are those who love storms.

Happy those who dream of illuminated trains.

 

Happy those who loved bodies and not souls,

who heard the hoot of white owls in the silence of the night.

Happy are those who found a lost syllable in the dew of the grass.

 

Happy those who crossed the obscure night and the untimely fog,

who saw the crackling fire dancing in the big bonfires of June,

happy those who watched the sky open like an altar cloth

to welcome the flight of the falcon.

 

Happy those who live on the outlying islands

and are surrounded at nightfall by a cloud of leaf-cutter ants.

Happy those who just sat around and then one day left.

 

V

Felizes os que partem.

Não os que chegam aos portos apodrecidos.

Felizes os que partem e não regressam jamais.

 

Que eu esteja sempre no meio do caminho

e a minha viagem seja inacabada.

Felizes os que não conhecem a estação final.

 

Felizes os que somem no nevoeiro,

os que abrem as janelas quando nasce a manhã,

os que acendem as luzes dos aeródromos.

 

Felizes os que atravessam as pontes

quando a tarde pousa entre os gasômetros como um pássaro.

Felizes os que possuem uma alma distraída.

 

Felizes os que sabem que, no fim da travessia,

o Nada os espera, como um espantalho num milharal.

Felizes os que só se acham na perda e no vento.

 

Felizes os que viveram mais de uma vida.

Felizes os que viveram vidas inumeráveis.

Felizes os que desaparecem quando os circos vão embora.

 

Felizes os que sabem que toda fonte é um segredo.

Felizes os que amam as tempestades.

Felizes os que sonham com trens iluminados.

 

Felizes os que amaram corpos e não almas,

os que ouviram o pio das corujas brancas no silêncio da noite.

Felizes os que encontraram uma sílaba perdida na relva orvalhada.

 

Felizes os que atravessaram a noite obscura e a bruma inoportuna,

os que viram o fogo crepitante nascer nas grandes fogueiras de junho,

felizes os que assistiram ao céu abrir-se como um pálio para acolher 

                                                                          [o vôo do gavião.

 

Felizes os que moram nas ilhas periféricas

e são rodeados ao cair da noite por uma nuvem de tanajuras.

Felizes os sedentários que um dia foram embora.

Ledo Ivo