Translator's Note: To Children
I love the natural-order appetitive forthrightness of “As Cabras” (“Goats”) and have reached for that here; I’ve also tried to make my English version as aurally interstitched and orally satisfying as the Portuguese original.
One textual note: zinha is the kind of wonderfully economical polychord diminutive we ought to have in English. So softly does it naturalize-domesticate in this poem by its tone-colors of fondness, familiarity, playfulness, endearment, I’ve left it there untranslated to do its work.
Eugénio de Andrade is one of Portugal’s most beloved writers, the kind of poet a Lisbon taxi-man will want to recite to you, mellifluously, once he’s run through his Pessoa, after he’s finished up his Camões—
Creio que foi o sorriso
o sorriso foi quem abriu a porta.
Era um sorriso com muita luz
lá dentro, apetecia
entrar nele, tirar a roupa, ficar
nu dentro daquele sorriso.
Correr, navegar, morrer naquele sorriso.
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This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine