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The Children

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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)
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The Children

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  • 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 can think of, the sound is the sense,” noted translator Alexis Levitin in his introduction to Forbidden Words: The Selected Poems of Eugénio de Andrade (2003). Levitin concluded, “The heart of his genius is woven into the delicate, minutely wrought balance of sound in his words.” Levitin has brought more than ten of Andrade’s numerous collections into English, including Inhabited Heart: The Selected Poems of Eugénio de Andrade (1985), White on White (1987), and Solar Matter: Matéria Solar (1995). Andrade, whose work has...

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