The beginnings of Portuguese poetry, go back to the early 12th century. Prior to the Carnation Revolution (in 1974), many poets created works known as revolutionary songs. With Almeida Garrett and his poem, the Romanticism became established in Portugal. But it was with the Renaissance, that poets embarked on a new age of literature (due to influences from Italy). Modernism, was responsible for the liberation of the Portuguese view of themselves at least in regard to poetry, mainly thanks to Fernando Pessoa. Portuguese poets, were able to use Pessoa’s legacy, to create diverse poetic expression (as Miguel Torga and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Florbela Espanca and Herberto Hélder). Unlike the world famous literary traditions, Portuguese literature is still something of a hidden treasure trove waiting to be fully discovered by readers outside the country. Regarded as one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century, Fernando Pessoa is beyond comparison. José Saramago (won the Nobel prize in literature in 1998), with his books often offer sharp criticisms on society and religion.

CANZONET – Luis de Camoens

Thou hast an eye of tender bloc, and thou hast locks of Daphne’s hue, and cheeks that shame the morning’s break, and lips that might for redness make roses seem pale beside them. But whether soft or sweet as they, lady! Alas, I cannot say, for I have never tried them. Yet, thus created for delight, lady! thou art not lovely quite, for dost thou not this maxim know, that prudery is beauty’s foe, a stain that mars a jewel! And e’en that woman’s angel face, loses a portion of its grace, if woman’s heart be cruel! Love is a sweet and blooming boy, yet glowing with the blush of joy, and (still in youth’s delicious prime) though ag’d as patriarchal Time, the withering god despises: Lady! would’st thou for ever be as fair, and young, and fresh as he, do all that Love advises!


Again i dreamt of the man who bends over you his hands in your vagina, he touches pushes presses on upwards, reaches your heart with his nails rips it out, pulls it with a fishing line wraps it in a cloth, takes it away the blood doesn’t stop you are nearly dead, gasping, but you don’t die, you are right I wouldn’t be able to satisfy you as intensely as the man of your dreams.

THE THIRD CROW – Ana Hatherly

Oh Lisbon, I would so like to be the third crow in your shield, to be implicit in your flag black and white, like ink and paper, like script and space! To be your drafted shape, your new legend invention of this century, that no longer invents and wonders. Where have these crows come from? Like you, Vincent, I’m not from these parts, not from this place, not from this land, and perhaps I don’t even belong to this world. Yet here I am on this sorrowful Lusitanian beach, full of a useless turmoil that blackens your sands, and pollutes the river’s womb, long abandoned by the dolphins. And seeing the clouds fingered by the wind, feeling the gentle pain of your felt feelings, I beg you, Lisbon, rise again in beauty, reinvent the lost sanctity of your shield.


Were I to sweep every morning this shrub’s, spiky leaves off their harbouring ground, I would then have a perfect metaphor for the reason why I’ve come to unlove you. Were I to wipe clean every morning this window pane and feel, beyond my reflection the distracted transparency of nothingness, I would see the shrub is but a small inferno in the absence of the decasyllabic flame. Were I to look every morning at the cobweb woven between its branches, I would also understand the imperfection that eats at its thread, from May to August, disarming its geometry, its colour. Were I even now to see this poem in the manner of a conclusion, I would notice how its lines grow, unrhymed, in an uncertain and discontinuous prosody unlike mine. Like slow wind, eroding. I would also learn that longing belongs to a web woven in another time, a memory of some insistent beauty perched on some neuron of mine: the fire of a funeral pyre. The most perfect image of art. And of farewell.


On sad days you don’t mention birds. You ring up friends and they’re out and then on the street you ask for a light as if asking for a brand new heart. On sad days it’s winter and you wander off in the cold, cigarette in hand, burning away the wind and you say good morning! To the passers-by after they’ve passed by and you failed to notice. On sad days you talk to yourself and there’s always a bird sitting at the top of things instead of landing on your heart and it doesn’t speak to you.


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