(translation) poems, daniel faria

Born 1971, died in 1999.

Daniel Faria is a complicated figure of Contemporary Portuguese Poetry, perhaps the most complicated of all. Daniel died young, at twenty-eight, and left behind a literary legacy of seven published collections of poetry, along other small publications found in literary awards and a plethora of other fragments and pieces that his acquaintances donated to the curation of his work, all of them contained in a single volume, “Poesia de Daniel Faria, edição de Vera Vouga“. Daniel was indubitably of enormous talent, but the eagerness of some to see him as a “regenerator”, a herald of a poetic resurgence along Portuguese literary circles, was concomitant with many pressures to publish work that, albeit good, lacks in a variety of fronts, and perhaps the most nitid one is Daniel’s inability to have a poetic register, or inner-ear, that accompanies the veins and arteries of his themes. A tragedy indeed: to have such a subtle and mature mind command a silent orchestra, or one that can barely play. Out of the entire volume of Poesia, which I do not regret reading for a second, as I do genuinely believe he was of incalculable talent, I still maintain the view that only a lithe portion of his compositions achieved their maximum potential, or were even worthy of their space in the books they occupy. Irregardless of this very-personal-opinion, I translated five poems among those I liked the best, and I do hope to see the bulk of Daniel’s work professionally translated into the English language someday.

Translative note: the Portuguese word “Percurso” is slightly idiomatic. While its literal translation means “pathway” or “route”, Portuguese natives commonly use “caminho” for those meanings, and “percurso” is used more in the sense of “history”, or the path one has thread to get to a certain point, or shall yet thread.

As of now, and just like Herberto Helder, there are no translations of Daniel Faria being performed or sold, though I’m vigilant as to when they might start to appear.

Thank you for reading,

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

65 thoughts on “(translation) poems, daniel faria

    1. I don’t see that in him, you know? I agree with the general school of thought that he was a highly spiritual and epicurean poet, and that he flourished best in his own pocket of natural divinity, the likes of Reis and Caeiro, which he commonly accited, but I don’t find him to be a romantic visionary.
      I believe the nexus of his sensorial poetry is lugubrious precisely in how isolated he was, in how manufactured all of his dual or external poems present themselves. You seem to have two poets: a free, expansive and questing poet alone in a symbiotic real, and a sad, inhuman construct talking about the prospect of romantic duality which he was never able to perceive or appreciate.
      Luís Quintais and Ana Hatherly are, in my humble and primitive view, the two truly romantic visionaries of Contemporary Portuguese Poetry.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Well, it’s not my mantra. I fiercely and passionately defend the points I’m passionate about, be it political or literary or personal, but it’s the ideas and the opinions that we defend and/or deconstruct, not the people, and it’s the ideas and opinions that we follow and/or reject, not the people.
        Folks nowadays seem to forget that empathy is both the understanding that everyone is human and thus deserving of respect, but also that everyone is human and undeserving of blind trust and mythological status. That extends to poets, politicians and parvenus.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. He has some denser poems, especially in his middle books (third and fourth) that are profoundly reminiscent of Edoardo Sanguineti, while the outer edges of his poems, so, his starting and later work, reminds me a bit of Ungaretti, but only the whiff of it. Those are the only Italian modernists that he reminds me of, at least presently.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Interesting. I’ll also have to take another look at Sanguineti. I very much like how you describe the “outer edges of his poems” as reminiscent of of Ungaretti. Yes, just a whiff as you say. Thank again.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, thank you, Bob. That’s really important. And I’ve been reading your stuff recently as well. I remember you from a couple of years back, but I don’t remember you writing as well as you do now.


    1. Daniel would be happy to know it is so. I know I come off a bit negative in the post, but I truly do think the man was beyond brilliant. Just, a bit young, perhaps, and a bit mistreated.
      Always nice to have you by, Bruce.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve been following your series on Portuguese poets. I’m not conversant with Portuguese and can see that literal translation alone cannot advise what the poet is saying. For example the title Do que Sangro, literally translated to English is ‘than bleed’, which you interpret to mean Of what I bleed. The word ‘than’ is used in comparisons as a conjunction, as in “she is younger than I am,” and as a preposition, “he is taller than me.” Hence your use of the phrase ‘of what’.Likewise there are other Portuguese words that you have interpreted differently to the literal translation in the poem. To my mind there are two strands of intelligence which combine to produce the poet’s voice, on the one hand it is the sound patterns we can deduce from the syllabic arrangement of lines that give feeling and intention, and on the other the interpretative use of factual literal language. Getting this right is no easy task -many translations miss out on one strand or another. One way of revealing the poet’s voice in another language is to write a prose literal translation and play around with it until the feeling awareness you get from the native language poem expresses as approximately as you can make it to reproduce the poets ‘voice’. When you have expressed in English as well as you can -then and only then structure thoughts and feelings poetically. The finished translated poem may well have a structure quite different to the original. I wish you every success! The only obvious thing I can see you should change is avoid using the word ‘that’, in most instances that word can be removed and not detract from the meaning or feeling the poem conveys.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hello, Tony!
      I’m tremendously thankful for your following. “Literal” translations are complicated for a variety of reasons, and one of them is CAT, or computer-assisted-translation, which is likely the machine that told you “do que sangro” means “than bleed”. “Do” is a Portuguese contraction of “De o”, which means “of the” (“de o” masculine, “de a” feminine and “de” neuter, a bit like the German cases). By pairing that possessive contraction with “que”, but only when preceded by a noun, we get a comparison; so, “A Ana é melhor do que a Beta” means “Ana is better than Beta”. If “do que” is not preceded by a noun, it acts as a simple possessive and not a comparative; so, “do que sangro” means, literally, “do(of) que(that) sangro (I bleed, since Portuguese verbs are substantives). Thus, “of what I bleed”.
      Regarding my translative style, I’m mostly technical, especially because I’m inexperienced. I make very few alterations to the body of the text, but I do make a few, for example: “a árvore que abre a flor em silêncio” does not mean “the tree that opens its flowers silently”, but literally “the tree that opens the flower in silence”.
      Another example is the infamous Portuguese “que”, which you mention that I translated too often to “that”. “Que”, in Portuguese, is a relative prononimal, an indefinite pronominal, a subordinative conjunction, a coordenative conjunction, an adverb, a preposition and another type of preposition which English does not have. Since we use it so much and so often and for so many things, and it has little to no English equivalents except “that”, it can make translations a little bumpy. The last composition I translated here, “Route”, has no “que” in the original, and no “that” in the translation. One example of how I could not have suppressed a “that” is in the fact that Portuguese infinitive and gerund work a tad differently than in English; again with the tree, I could have replaced “that opens” with “opening”, but the original is “que abre” and not “abrindo”. Your gerund, or ING, can imply both a continuous action or a present action depending on context, but our gerund can only imply a continuous action.
      Now regard the replication of the “poetic voice”, sometimes I get it, when poets are highly stylistic, sometimes its a bit of a capricious whim. Portuguese and English, one being Romantic and the other Germanic, have little to no sonorific similarities. In fact, Portuguese in closer in sound to German than it is to English. English doesn’t even contain the sharp s, nasal diphthongs, the Spanish r or the uvular r, or open a’s. When translating languages whose prosody is so critically distant by nature, it’s more important (at least as far as my training goes), to maintain the idoneity of form and preserve the meaning even above stylistic details or general lyricism. This would be null if I was translating in, for example, French, where I at least have the sound toolkit to play with as far as reproduction.
      What I’ve noticed that I must better (critically so) is the overusage of “that”, which you most rightfully pointed out, and the adjectivisation, since in English adjectives always precede the phrasal subject, and in Portuguese, they can either be before or after, and it’s rather arbitrary. Having to always place them to be presubjective is a bit of a big ridge in verse preservation.

      Either way, Tony, I could be here for days. I’m as annoying a Linguistics student as annoying they come. Your following is ever-appreciated and your feedback is worth gems. Gems!, I declare!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi João, no you are not annoying, I very much appreciate your lesson in Portuguese linguistics -one is never too old to learn. Given what you explain the task of translating into English is much greater than I imagined. I’m curious to know if you think in English -and if you do comparing the same thoughts in Portuguese are able to create a bridge language. this was the ‘key’ behind my querying the ‘poet’s voice’. I travelled extensively during my earlier life and mixed with peoples whose language I did not know, but always the feeling nature triumphed to provide understanding, and I do believe that our thought nature is universal and not bound by the objective expression of language.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do think in English, and I’ve changed the language of all my devices to English, and tend to read in either English, French and more recently, German. But where it regards syntax specifically, no problem figures greater than the fact that Portuguese had a huge degree of inflection, and verbs can have as far as sixty different forms. Our verbs have six tenses and four moods each, which means we generally have an extremely compact phrasal form, if we want to.
        This is what foreigners find hardest to learn about Portuguese in general, and why it’s still such a rare language to know outside the native pool. Having to know, by heart, sixty verb forms for the verb “fazer” or “to do”, is essentially impossible without continuous and extensive exposition to the language.
        English is much simpler, both in regards to syntax, phonetics and general grammar, which justifies the ease with which it became a global language.
        You are of course correct about universality of communication, especially paralinguistic communication, which some people call the human semiotic. Some parts of our expression are transversal across the entire human species, and that is precisely why we didn’t dissolve as a social species despite our massive cultural and linguistic ridges. We find ways to understand, if we must. That universality, however, is sometimes hard to detect in the outer edges of poetry. Of course we know the general semiotic of a tree or the general semiotic of the colour red, but that how a tree can appear as an element of puerile stasis or how red can represent the fervor of divinity, well, those things normally fall outside of generality.
        As poets, we must finds ways to be transmissible as agents of texture and individuality, but as translators, we must understand that two barriers must be jumped: that of being understood as those agents, and how those agents might be understood in an entirely different semiotic system.
        I’m an apologist of notes where they can exist, such as the idiomatic note I put on “route”, as to try and conserve the body as much as possible and do everything else along the edges of the piece. Where that isn’t possible, I defend that no expression goes without the possibility of opprobrium, even when no linguistic barrier is placed.


  2. Beautiful poetry. Thank you for presenting your labour of love translating amazing works. I truly appreciate your artistry. I would not be privy to these poets otherwise — and, I do feel their enriching spirit as I enjoy them. Translating is not an easy task in prose. And, for poetry it is a whole other level of difficult. You do it well. Thank you. Blessings 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It isn’t easy, no, but it’s well worth the time. As far as I can tell, I’m perhaps the only one currently making free translations of poetry from Portuguese from Portugal to English, which is a rather grim thing, especially considering that I’m still a bit inexperienced. But, who knows, I might inspire someone to start as well, or even better, inspire them to start translating from languages they know!
      You’re a wonderful visitor, always, Suzette. Immense hugs and love.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading him, Huzaifa. I’m incredibly joyous that people find this a worthwhile endeavour. I never thought people would appreciate translated Portuguese poems quite as much as they do.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Warren, I was about to complete my reading of your recent post. I’m quite diffuse these days. I’m intensively learning German while reading in English and translation/speaking in Portuguese (as is part of general life). It’s as if my brain is paper thin.

      I might do more Faria later this week, I have to prepare a good deal of resources, though.

      Now, off to Equation, Compassion and Poetry. (see? I’m all switched up)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh no rush Joao! Especially if you are hard at work!!

        I always end up posting too quickly
        and find grammar mistakes everywhere. Quite embarrassing really.

        Anyway, take it easy! As always I apperciate the kindness and wonderful translations !

        Liked by 2 people

      2. There!

        I liked it before I could complete the comment, but I’m hopeful you didn’t think I didn’t read it. I just had a lot to conjure, and due to the linguistic dissonance, I write rather sluggishly.

        I’m hopeful that it was worth the wait.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s seems to me that there is sadness in his words. As though he cannot complete his journey and in the forfeits it. Thank you for the introduction to another Portuguese poetry, translation by no means is an easy thing to do, as there are verifiable means sometimes to a word.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. He was a rather tortured spirit, but you put it well: he was not quite there yet; he didn’t arrive at his poetic destination. Perhaps all he needed was just a little longer, which only adds to the tragedy of his early death.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a good question, but one I haven’t found the answer to. The interest in Faria’s work is rather recent, even if he started publishing near the end of the last century.
        Though I’ve noted acquaintances refer to his death as tragic, I’m unsure of what caused it and unable to find that information, likely safeguarded to protect the aesthetic of his existence, since he was ecclesiastic.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh! That is so sadly tragic, who knows if he had recovered if his mental faculties would have been the same. You truly are diligent in uncovering information. Thank you again and please call me Elle. 🙏🏼🌹

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for these. The translation works so well in pulling at something in the heart and gut and shoulders that, wondering about the challenge of transliteration, what more could a body accept, anyhow?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Owen, that’s absurdly kind of you to say. It means the world, truly.
      I’m so incredibly glad that I didn’t butcher the poetic core of Daniel Faria. These things of impression are infinitely delicate.


  5. Phenomenal..what a talent to have lost. Maybe you can work with a publisher to translate his works into English! Your translations I found faithful and artful, and your recent push of translation content has motivated me to publish an old translation of Thomas Mann I once wrote.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Danke schön, Ryan.

      I’m near the conclusion of formal academic training as a translator, though I do not know, as of yet, which specialization most seduces me. Of course, a stabler life is to be found in industrial and technical translative work, but literary translations are my vocation, or at least, my passion.
      I say this in regards to the process of having an eventual translation published, which you mention. The most or even the only viable path for a translator such as I to penetrate the market of literary translations into the anglophone world is by means of academic assistance, so, normally, I’d need an investigative program with specific incidence on an author, which could be Daniel Faria, and I’d need that program to be in a University of an anglophone country which sisters mine here in Portugal.
      It’s certainly not outside my realm of possibilities, as I am a good student, but it’s a complex process with many variables and would require going abroad for the execution of the translation under the tutelage of a British or Canadian reader, which also leaves me some residue of anxiety, since I’m possessive and incredibly punctilious about my work.
      I’m glad I motivated you to publish a translation, though it saddens me that you didn’t include the original! (merely because I’m now learning German and it would be of huge value to me), though I’ve found it and shall now read side-by-side and absorb as much as I’m able.
      Thank you so much for your support, Ryan. It’s incredibly important, especially since I have such a massive respect for you and your understanding of the difficulties and textures of translation between Romance and Germanic languages.


  6. Thank you very much for this most interesting and informative post on this poet as yet unknown to me, sadly like so very many.
    I am grateful to you for the translations of some of his poems. This is a remarkable skill as I often find myself thinking, because it’s not merely a matter of conveying the meaning of vocabulary in another language. Far more, it’s the intricate and complex process of evoking the very poetry, the lyricism, the music, the spirit of the poem. You have a true gift for this. Thank you.


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