And, at last, God returns
full of intimacy and unexpectedness
contemplated already from centuries above
humble measure of a verbal silence
we thought destined to be lost
See God climbing the steep path
that we have paced a thousand times
and stop to wait without impatience
meek as a sick lamb
Which one of us is the other’s shadow?
Even if no pity preserves the maps
we’ll come down close behind
rampant and empty
like a tree trunk
José Tolentino Mendonça's poems assume a deep belief in poetry in as much as it is secret and delicate. His verse speaks to you in a quiet and enigmatic way, achieved through its lack of punctuation and unexpected 'enjambements'. His themes are his childhood in Madeira, Classic Antiquity, the difficulty of human love and the veiled evidence of divine love. Tolentino Mendonça's elliptic discourse, although containing a depth which doesn't preclude strong statements, becomes memorable through its oblique wisdom and attention to the 'other'.
José Tolentino Mendonça studied theology and was ordained as a priest in 1990. Following an MA in Biblical Studies in Rome, he became a teacher and chaplain at the Catholic University in Lisbon, where he completed a PhD in Biblical Theology. He is also a counsellor at the Culture Pontifical Council at the Vatican and has recently returned from a year as Strauss Fellow at the New York University.
Poetry books since 2000:
De Igual para Igual (2000), A Estrada Branca (2005), A Noite abre os meus Olhos (2006), O Viajante sem Sono (2009), Estação Central (2012), A Papoila e o Monge (2013)