Florbela Espanca was born December 8th, 1894 and died December 8th, 1930 at the age of 36. She is considered one of the preeminent voices in Portuguese poetry, though she has very rarely been translated into English. Espanca is credited as one of the first feminists in Portugal; she is seen as a role model and precursor to the feminist movement for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that she was the first woman to attend law school at the University of Lisbon in 1917. All of the work translated here comes from her last book—Charneca em Flor—which was published just before her death in 1930.
Kay Cosgrove is a poet and translator. She has a translation forthcoming in the anthology Into English: An Anthology of Multiple Translations (Graywolf, 2017) and her poems have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, The Laurel Review, The North American Review, EPOCH Magazine and elsewhere. She is the recipient of prizes from The Westchester Review, Inprint and The Academy of American Poets. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the University of Houston’s Literature & Creative Writing program, where she serves as a poetry editor for Gulf Coast.
Ser poeta é ser mais alto, é ser maior
Do que os homens! Morder como quem beija!
É ser mendigo e dar como quem seja
Rei do Reino de Aquém e de Além Dor!
É ter de mil desejos o esplendor
E não saber sequer que se deseja!
É ter cá dentro um astro que flameja,
É ter garras e asas de condor!
É ter fome, é ter sede de Infinito!
Por elmo, as manhãs de oiro e cetim…
É condensar o mundo num só grito!
E é amar-te, assim, perdidamente…
É seres alma e sangue e vida em mim
E dizê-lo cantando a toda a gente!
To Be a Poet
To be a poet is to be taller, to be larger
Than men. To bite like others kiss.
It is to be a beggar and to give like you are king
of the kingdom of brief and ever-lasting pain.
It is to have a thousand wishes, splendor
And not even know what you desire.
It is to have here inside a star, a flame.
It is to have the condor’s talons and wings.
It is to be hungry, to thirst for the infinite.
The gold and satin mornings like an antique helmet;
It is to condense the world into a single cry,
And it is to love you, even so, desperately.
You are the soul, the blood, and the life in me
And I tell it to everyone through my song.
Verses de Orgulho
O mundo quer-me mal porque ninguém
Tem asas como eu tenho! Porque Deus
Me fez nascer Princesa entre plebeus
Numa torre de orgulho e de desdém.
Porque o meu Reino fica para além …
Porque trago no olhar os vastos céus
E os oiros e clarões são todos meus!
Porque eu sou Eu e porque Eu sou Alguém!
O mundo ? O que é o mundo, ó meu Amor ?
—O jardim dos meus versos todo em flor…
A seara dos teus beijos, pão bendito…
Meus êxtases, meus sonhos, meus cansaços…
—São os teus braços dentro dos meus braços,
Via Láctea fechando o Infinito.
Verses of Pride
The world distains me because nobody
Has wings like mine. Because God
Begot me princess among the people
In a tower of pride and disgust.
Because my Reign goes beyond here.
Because I bring in my look the vast skies
And the gold and lightening are all mine.
Because I am who I am and because I am somebody.
The world? What is the world, oh my Love?
—The garden of my verses all in bloom,
The wheat field of your kisses like blessed bread.
My ecstasy, my dreams, my fatigue,
—They are your arms inside my arms,
the Milky Way closing the Infinite.