William Edouard Scott, Rainy Night at Etaples, 1912
Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s poem “Morning Street” appeared in our Fall 1986 issue. He is considered by some to be the greatest Portuguese-language poet of all time.
The splashing rainunearthed my father. I never imaginedhim buried thus, to the din of trolleyson an asphalt streetgiant palm trees slanting on the beach(and a voice from sleepto stroke my hair), as melodies wash upwith lost moneydiscarded confessionsold papers, glasses, pearls.
To see him exposedto the damp, acrid air,that drifts in with the tideand cuts your breath,to wish to love himwithout deceitto cover him with kisses, with flowers, with swallows,to alter timeto offer the warmof a quiet embracefrom this elderly recluse,discarded confessionsand a lamb-like truce.
To feel the lackof inborn strengthsto want to carry himto the older sofaof a bygone ranch,but splashes of rainbut sheets of mud beneath reddish street lampsbut all that existsof morning and windbetween one nature and anotheryawning sheds by the docksdiscarded confessionsingratitude. What should a man doat dawn(a taste of defeatin his mouth, in the air)in whatever place?Everything spoken, drunk, or even pretendedand the rest still buriedin the folds of sleep,cigarette stubsthe wet glare of streetsdiscarded confessionsmorning defeat.
Vague mountainsgreening wavesnewspapers already white,hesitant melodytrying to spawnconditions for hopeon this gray day, of a broken lament. Nothing left to remind meof the seamless asphalt.Abandoned cellarsmy body shiversdiscarded confessions: abruptly, the walk home.
—Translated from the Portuguese by Thomas Colchie
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