The Children

By Eugénio de Andrade 1923–2005 Eugenio de Andrade

Translated from the Portuguese by Atsuro Riley Read the translator's notes

Children grow in secret. They hide themselves in the depths and darker reaches of the house to become wild cats, white birches.

One day when you’re only half-watching the herd as it straggles back in with the afternoon dust, one child, the prettiest of them all, comes close and rises up on tiptoe to whisper I love you, I’ll be waiting for you in the hay.

Shaking some, you go to find your shotgun; you spend what’s left of the day firing at rooks and jackdaws, uncountable at this hour, and crows.

Source: Poetry (June 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2011


Portuguese poet and translator Eugénio de Andrade was born José Fontinhas in Póvoa de Atalaia, Portugal. After his parents separated, the poet moved with his mother to Lisbon and then Coimbra. Influenced by surrealist thought, ancient Greek poetry, and Japanese haiku, Andrade wrote spare, concrete, lyric poems celebrating the body and the natural world with elemental precision.
“[I]n Eugénio’s poetry, more than any other I . . .

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Poems by Eugénio de Andrade

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth, Love, Desire

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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