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Pedro Tamen

(B. 1934)

Pedro Tamen is fundamentally concerned with the weaving of poetics and reality, with the fulfilment of the gap (and meaning) experienced along the dubious borders between these neglected areas.

Pedro Tamen has lived in the countryside, south of Lisbon, since 2000, when he retired from being a Member of the Board of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. He published his first poetry book in 1956 and published profusely thereafter. He has received many prizes for his poetry. He has also received major prizes for his prose translations, the latest being for Marcel Proust's À la Recherche du Temps Perdu.

Poetry books since 2000:

Rua de Nenhures to be published (0), Memória Indescritível (2000), Honey and Poison: Selected Poems (2001), Retábulo das Matérias, Poesia 1956-2001 (2001), Caronte e Memória (prefacio de Carlos Nejar) (2004), Analogia e Dedos (2006), O Livro do Sapateiro (2010)



The fake gods sat down in a circle
As if around a three-legged table
it was necessary to reach the last extremes
it was necessary that the air burn in whispers
for the pencil to start moving
There is no death it said
on one side and the other side of the paper
There is no death it said
on one side and the other side of the paper
the voices are the same the thunder
is the same roaring in our ears for
on one side and the other of the paper it said
there is no death
There is death though in the paper where
the muffled pencil moved
Only in the paper
only in the shrouding paper.

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And at the end of my day
the matter of which my life is made
again abandoned
yet again and again abandoned
asks me in silence
if at the going out of light
life will have a beginning.

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I think of what I left aside
of what I pushed away as left-overs, waste, leathers,
ropes, glue, nails, curses
for my hammered finger,
and I know now
(ah, how much time has gone by,
water under the bridge
going god knows where!)
what I left aside
was the bridge itself,
bridge to this concreteness,
poor but well defined,
a shoe for anyone.

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You shall keep in a small virtual box
what I haven’t done for you,
the hand that didn’t reach your brow,
didn’t even try,
the kiss repeated in words
without the touch
multiplying it as wished.
Inside that box of nothing it won’t take long
for you not to be the only one,
for me not to be the only one,
for us to be the only ones.

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