Poems From The Portuguese
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Luís Quintais

(B. 1968)

Luís Quintais poetry somewhat evades the more or less predictable trends of the most recent Portuguese poetry; in its most figurative aspect it owes something to Seamus Heaney and, in its opaqueness, to Wallace Stevens. It is a poetry that codifies language processes and insights in a reflective manner, in an open code, rather than documenting them. This cryptographic trait of his poetry is, precisely, the root of poetry itself, wishfully disfigured, impressed, condensed.

Luis Quintais was born in Angola. He is a professor of social anthropology at the University of Coimbra, where he lives.

Poetry books since 2000:

Verso Antigo (2001), Angst (2003), Duelo (2004), Riscava a Palavra Dor No Quadro Negro (2010), Poesia Revisitada 1995-2010 (2011), Depois da Música (2013), O Vidro (2014), A Noite Imóvel (2017)

Poems

XXVI

24 Setembro, 2018By bitcliq

Ways in, ways out, borders, superimposed blades
over the dense fabric of night.
A man sleeps, the skies move
over the Atlantic, more nocturnal than the sleep
that obscures the recognised image
of his mind moved by death – ‘my death’,

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8

21 Setembro, 2018By bitcliq

Dear Wallace,
redemption is drawing near,
not revolution which, as you know,
never accounted for much,
as gatherings
never do
when they get agitated with that
which may yet fall
from hemlock.

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6 (An Italy of the mind)

In the Italy of the mind
we don’t know
whether it’s night
or day.
In the Italy of the mind
nothing is known
and everything is the subject
of belief.
In the Italy of the mind
beauty
is still possible,
even under
the ashened skies
and that’s perhaps why.

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Let the word redeem you from error

Let the word redeem you from error. Let the word be the error.
You glide over the earth. You glide over the water.
All is swift and extreme. Dust around your sorrow. Dust around your tears.]
That which hits you in full flight. The blindness that hits in full flight.]
You rise to the most secret joy of abandoning your body.
You glide over earth. You glide over water.
Your story, where you wrote the indefinable which is your name. You were a child.]
You spread your wings. And your wings spread the shade
where that which was recognisable and amiable
took shelter.
You glide over the earth. You glide over the water.
You have the ancient talent to spread your wings. Now broken,]
for ever broken. Already without the opening span,
it’s in the sunset you hide your shame.
Of your own will, desire and pain,
you exhume the word from the past, the never existing innocence.
Let the word redeem you from error. Let the word be the error.

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XXVII

I no longer believe, but still think about the sacred,
as if belief had been transfigured into thought,
things of the mind, the only way to have faith.
The blues go out the window, a running tap
ruins us all, we who dreamed
of nature.
Dirty, dirty old town, and dirty these lives
whose voices I don’t even recognise.
All may resemble the hygiene of beginnings
or origins, and there will be someone who will chase the ghost
of inception, the most ancient. Poetry deals in murkiness,
a vast shadow of the invisible design
hanging over peoples’ heads who wait for the end
only to start again as if the end had evaded
movement and repetition.

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XXV

I like it here, I like my reserved way of writing
and my throwing fire on writing’s undivided fire.
I like cities being drawn, laid out
on the table of blood and repeated in the past tense,
as if they were dark bodies
language has taken by storm, but they are not

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XXIX

He placed a bet on the fragility of the outer cover.
Into the post box he dropped the fragile envelope
in which poems were kept.
They would be covering the harsh distance
as well as enforcing compliance with the death
of all certitudes, the imprecision

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