Anthony Doyle

Books, Writing and Translations

Recent Posts

Blog is a terrible word. It brings to mind blobs, frogs and, onomatopoeically, vomit. I have nothing against blobs or vomit (they serve their purpose), and I quite like frogs, but when you relate all those to someone offering up unsolicited content, it doesn’t sound all that promising. So I don’t plan to use the word again, ever. 

But I’m starting one. Or something that takes the form of one, at least. So for my first “croak”, I’ve opted for a translation I made of a Brazilian poem. 

Not just any poem. 

“A maquina do mundo”, by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, voted the “best Brazilian poem of the 20th Century” in a 2002 poll of Brazilian intellectuals.

A Máquina do MundoThe Machine of the World
E como eu palmilhasse vagamenteAs though I were ambling, ponderously,
uma estrada de Minas, pedregosa,some rough old Minas road, rocky, potholed, 
e no fecho da tarde um sino roucoand at evening-fall the rusted peal of a bell
se misturasse ao som de meus sapatosmixed its bronze moan with my crunching footsteps,
que era pausado e seco; e aves pairassempaced and crisp on the stones; and in the leaden sky
no céu de chumbo, e suas formas pretasbirds were hovering, their charcoal, corvid forms
lentamente se fossem diluindoslowly dissolving, as if swallowed back
na escuridão maior, vinda dos montesinto the greater darkness coming off the mountains,
e de meu próprio ser desenganado,and from my ownmost, disabused self,  
a máquina do mundo se entreabriuthe machine of the world unveiled itself 
para quem de a romper já se esquivavato me, who would sooner have recoiled on sight,
e só de o ter pensado se carpia.just turned and run at the very prospect of it,
Abriu-se majestosa e circunspecta,but it gaped before me, majestic and circumspect,
sem emitir um som que fosse impuroand none but the purest of sounds met my ears
nem um clarão maior que o toleráveland a brilliant light unburdened my glare-worn eyes, 
pelas pupilas gastas na inspeçãosoothing pupils jaded by painful and constant
contínua e dolorosa do deserto,inspection of searing wastes and deserts,
e pela mente exausta de mentarand a mind exhausted by contemplations
toda uma realidade que transcendeof a reality that transcends the reflections
a própria imagem sua debuxadasketched across the pool over which it bends
no rosto do mistério, nos abismos.lost in the face of mystery, in the abyss.
Abriu-se em calma pura, e convidandoIt opened to me calm and pure, inviting
quantos sentidos e intuições restavamwhat meanings and intuitions there remained
a quem de os ter usado os já perderato one who had used up a life’s-worth already
e nem desejaria recobrá-los,and had no inclination to recover them
se em vão e para sempre repetimosif only to retread, forever and in vain,
os mesmos sem roteiro tristes périplos,the same sad, unscripted peregrinations,
convidando-os a todos, em coorte,but here it beckoned to them, one by one in train
a se aplicarem sobre o pasto inéditoto ruminate upon this virgin pasture
da natureza mítica das coisas,of the mythical nature of all things.
assim me disse, embora voz algumaOr so I was told, though no voice was heard,
ou sopro ou eco ou simples percussãono wind rush, or echo, or simple percussion
atestasse que alguém, sobre a montanha,to testify that one, up on the mountainside,
a outro alguém, noturno e miserável,addressed, in colloquy, this listening other 
em colóquio se estava dirigindo:—nocturnal, miserable—, with these uttered words:
“O que procuraste em ti ou fora de“That which you seek within yourself, or beyond
teu ser restrito e nunca se mostrou,your own restricted being, and has never
mesmo afetando dar-se ou se rendendo,revealed itself, or feigned revealing, but coyly
e a cada instante mais se retraindo,withdraws further and further from perception,
olha, repara, ausculta: essa riquezaHark it now, watch and listen: this abundance
sobrante a toda pérola, essa ciênciavastly richer than any pearl, this science,
sublime e formidável, mas hermética,sublime and formidable, and yet hermetic,
essa total explicação da vida,this total explanation of all life,
esse nexo primeiro e singular,this nexus, primordial and singular,
que nem concebes mais, pois tão esquivoso elusive it forever slipped your grasp,
se revelou ante a pesquisa ardenteimpenetrable to the ardent inquiries
em que te consumiste… vê, contempla,that long consumed your mind…see, contemplate,
abre teu peito para agasalhá-lo.”open your bosom and let it come in.”
As mais soberbas pontes e edifícios,The most superb of bridges and high-rise towers,
o que nas oficinas se elabora,all that the workshops of men conspire to design,
o que pensado foi e logo atingeand once so drawn take form and far outstrip
distância superior ao pensamento,in distance even the widest striding thoughts,
os recursos da terra dominados,The resources of the earth harnessed to our will,
e as paixões e os impulsos e os tormentosand the passions, and the impulses, the endless torments,
e tudo que define o ser terrestreeverything that defines terrestrial being,
ou se prolonga até nos animaiscreaturely being, down to the animals, 
e chega às plantas para se embeberto all organic life, and beyond that still,
no sono rancoroso dos minérios,to the rancorous slumber of minerals and ores,
dá volta ao mundo e torna a se engolfarit all swirls around the globe and settles back
na estranha ordem geométrica de tudo,into the strange geometry of the whole,
e o absurdo original e seus enigmas,and the primordial absurdity, its mysteries,
suas verdades altas mais que tantosand towering truths, taller than so many 
monumentos erguidos à verdade;monuments erected in the name of truth;
e a memória dos deuses, e o soleneand to the memory of the gods, and the solemn
sentimento de morte, que florescesentiment of death, which flowers on the stem
no caule da existência mais gloriosa,of even the most glorious existence,
tudo se apresentou nesse relanceit all presented itself in that same flash
e me chamou para seu reino augusto,beckoning me to its august kingdom,
afinal submetido à vista humana.finally bared for human eyes to see.
Mas, como eu relutasse em responderBut as I hesitated, balking before
a tal apelo assim maravilhoso,that miraculous and startling appeal,
pois a fé se abrandara, e mesmo o anseio,for my faith had waned, and even my desire,
a esperança mais mínima — esse anelothe most minimal of hopes—the yearning
de ver desvanecida a treva espessato see dispelled those folds of blackened cloud
que entre os raios do sol inda se filtra;that still encroached upon the sun’s bright rays;
como defuntas crenças convocadasbut as moribund beliefs scrambled to the front,
presto e fremente não se produzissemsummoned from retirement, could not muster
a de novo tingir a neutra facesufficient verve to revive that neutral face
que vou pelos caminhos demonstrando,which I along these roads have shown the world, 
e como se outro ser, não mais aqueleas if some other man, no more the tenant
habitante de mim há tantos anos,who had occupied this body decades long, 
passasse a comandar minha vontadehad seized the reins and stirrups of my will,
que, já de si volúvel, se cerravawhich, fickle as was its wont, curled itself shut,
semelhante a essas flores reticentesafter those shy, ungenerous flowers
em si mesmas abertas e fechadas;that are, in themselves, both open and closed;
como se um dom tardio já não forabut just as later can offend more than never,
apetecível, antes despiciendo,and the belated gift is greeted with disdain,
baixei os olhos, incurioso, lasso,I lowered my gaze, listless, uncurious, 
desdenhando colher a coisa ofertadeclining to claim what was freely given,
que se abria gratuita a meu engenho.there for me to do with as I pleased.
 
A treva mais estrita já pousaraThe most peerless darkness fast descended
sobre a estrada de Minas, pedregosa,upon that rough old Minas road, rocky, potholed,
e a máquina do mundo, repelida,and the machine of the world, its invite rebuffed,
se foi miudamente recompondo,recomposed in a shrinking whorl and then withdrew,
enquanto eu, avaliando o que perdera,as I, trying to measure what I’d spurned,
seguia vagaroso, de mãos pensas.continued on my way, hands wrung empty. 

Receba novos conteúdos na sua caixa de entrada.