When you dismounted the donkey,
With no foolish pretensions, you went to gather
In a blue chickpea-patterned cloth
A ruby bouquet of poppies.
Shortly after, on top of the cliffs,
we camped out with the sun still going down
and there were sliced melons and apricots
and sponge-cake soaked in malvasia.
But all crimson, emerging from the cleavage
of your two breasts like two cakes,
was the greatest charm of the meal,
the ruby-red bouquet of poppies.
Cesario Verde, O Livro de Cesário de Verde (Estante, 2010)
Naquele pic-nic de burguesas, houve uma coisa simplesmente bela, e que, sem ter história nem grandezas, em todo o caso dava uma aguarela.
Foi quando tu, descendo do burrico, foste colher, sem imposturas tolas, a um granzonal azul de grão de bico um ramalhete rubro de papoulas.
Pouco depois, em cima duns penhascos, nos acampámos, inda o sol de via;
e houve talhadas de melão, damascos, e pão de ló molhado em malvasia.
Mas, todo púrpureo, a sair da renda dos teus dois seios como duas rolas, era o supremo encanto da merenda o rmalhete rubro das papoulas.
I was in Porto with a group of tourists. One part of the tour included the Lello bookshop which has a staircase that appeared in a Harry Potter film. Now it has become a tourist attraction and you have to pay for admission to the bookshop, but the entrance ticket entitles you to 3€ from your next purchase. I gathered all the tickets from the group and went to buy some poetry.
One of the books I picked out was Cesário Verde. I had come across him before by way of Pessoa who held the author of The feelings of a westerner in high esteem.
The poems have clarity of structure and form. The poet wrote most of them when he was a very young man so they have the virtues and the faults of a precocious wordsmith. On the one side I admire his facility with rhyme and image, on the other the images and thoughts are adolescent.
My first readings were rather less charitable. To be honest, I thought Cesário was a creep. He trails around after young girls admiring them from a distance and fantasising about their clothes. Carmen said I should remember the age he was writing in. Laurence said it was no different to any number of contemporary pop songs.
The poem I have translated here is a later example of his work.
Is it charming or is it creepy? I can’t make up my mind.