Do not make verses about happenings.
For poetry, there is no creation or death.
In her eyes, life is an unmoving sun,
Which neither warms nor lights.
The attractions, the anniversaries, the personal incidents
do not matter.
Do not make poetry with the body.
This excellent, complete and comfortable body, so unfit
for lyrical flow.
Your drop of gall, your face-making of pleasure or of pain
in the dark
Are of no account.
Do not tell me your feelings,
Which capitalize on ambiguity and attempt the long journey.
What you think and feel, that is not yet poetry.
Do not sing your city, leave it alone.
The song is not the movement of the machines or the secret
of the houses.
It is not music heard in passing; nor the sound of the sea
in the streets near the edge of spume.
The song is not nature
Or men in society.
For it, rain and night, fatigue and hope mean nothing.
Poetry (do not make poetry out of things)
Eliminates subject and object.
Do not dramatize, do not invoke,
Do not investigate. Do not waste time telling lies.
Do not be anxious.
Your ivory yacht, your diamond shoe,
Your mazurkas and superstitions, your family skeletons
Disappear in the curve of time, are worthless.
Do not resurrect
Your buried and melancholy childhood.
Do not oscillate between the mirror
And your fading memory.
If it faded, it was not poetry.
If it broke, it was not crystal.
Penetrate deftly the kingdom of words:
Here lie the poems that wait to be written.
They are paralyzed, but not in despair,
All is calm and freshness on the untouched surface.
Here they are alone and dumb, in the state of the dictionary.
Before you write them, live with your poems.
If they are obscure, be patient. If they provoke you,
hold your temper.
Wait for each one to actualize and to consume itself
In the power of language
And the power of silence.
Do not force the poem to come out of Limbo.
Do not pick from the ground the poem that was lost.
Do not flatter the poem. Accept it
As it will accept its own form, final and concentrated
Come closer and contemplate the words.
Has a thousand secret faces under a neutral face
And asks you, without interest in the answer,
Poor or terrible, which you will give it:
Have you brought the key?
Barren of melody and meaning,
The words have taken refuge in the night.
Still humid and saturated with sleep,
They roll in a difficult river and turn themselves
Translated, with the help of Yolanda Leite, by JOHN NIST
MODERN BRAZILIAN POETRY, AN ANTHOLOGY
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1962