fiama hasse pais brandão I (translation)

Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão
Three Poems from Três Rostos (1989)

Portuguese literature lacks no female contributions; in fact, to every great female portuguese author, I can name an equally grand male counterpart, and this pairing game can go on for as long as there is a memory capable of absorbing that many names. None stands out, to me, as glowingly as Fiama. Born in 1938 in the same Lisbon as I was born in, having studied Germanic Philology, the same field as I studied, in the same University and Faculty, and being in a state of permanent confusion and clarity, as I am, and sporting the same sort of maritime soft-spokenness as I do, I could hardly imagine anyone as oddly myself as she was. In fact, I believe her to have been more myself than I currently am. Where we differ, however, is in our writing: Fiama stops inside her poetry; breathes; and things continue, often without her. I could hardly fathom such a thing, or such a distance. But since my youth, I’ve always been deeply infatuated with Fiama, and the third poem of these first translations, Demonstration that the Tagus runs near Lisbon, stands as one of my most imprinting and unforgettable readings to date. Perhaps because the Tagus truly runs near me, and because at times, I can be dominated by its presence, and I can be dominated by its absence.

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

13 thoughts on “fiama hasse pais brandão I (translation)

    1. Bruce! How do you fare? I find that one to be the oddest. I don’t think I quite understand it, but, amid translation, I did come closer to its hidden parts. Still, something about it eludes me, while the third composition figures itself so clear to me, crystalline even. A testament to the privacy of poetry, I suppose.
      How is life in New Zealand, besides a COVID-free haven of seemingly faultless structural integrity?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. João-Maria – lovely to hear from you. I detest the cosmogonic egg in the second one, but until then the poem without making much sense evoked an extraordinary sense of the existence of things. I can’t really explain what I mean. It’s sort of like when Teilhard de Chardin burst into tears over the metal on a plough. I guess I’m not making much sense. The poem moved me until the egg. This COVID-free haven is a curse – as herd immunity will never arrive. And besides, despite our horrid Prime Minister trying to get a Nobel Prize, NZ gets 20-50 cases a day. Free? No – closed down and locked up!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Vielen Dank, WB.
      Ich denke, dass die Art und Weise, wie die portugiesische Sprache funktioniert, oft zu dieser “Fremdheit” führt. Dennoch gelingt es uns immer wieder, inmitten dieser Fremdheit einen Sinn zu finden. Deutsch ist nicht viel anders, nur schwieriger.
      Vielen Dank, dass Sie vorbeigekommen sind.


  1. Hi Joao-Maria, Thanks for your visit to my site tonight. It always means a lot to me when you come by. You’ve been quiet for a while. I just read your translation and description. Thanks for introducing me to this poet. I found her work moving. I’m still working on my grasp of styles like hers and your own. But I am nevertheless grateful for articulations that expand my awareness of language and what it can do. All the best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, David. I always remember you in every occasion in which I do return. You tend to be one of the first that I revisit.
      Like I wrote to Wooden with my deplorable German, I think the kinks and wrinkles of Portuguese are precisely what makes us such eldritch creatures when we do write in other languages, and even in translation. I find that many of my difficulties writing clearly in English are the same as those I see when translating Portuguese authors, which is very interesting to me.
      Thank you so much for coming by, as always, and the absolute best to you too.


    1. Fiama is great and I knew you would like it. I am the best I’ve been in quite some time. Find it hard as always to balance all my endeavours, but I feel sane and healthy.
      I hope you are fine too! I will do more Fiama translations and am yet to introduce you to many more Portuguese wonders, surely.

      Liked by 1 person

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