The themes of conserving the land and the safety of those who live close to the land are paramount in this volume: these are areas that, in the past, she had signalled as concerns specific to women. This theme of territory and refuge, of personal integrity and the conservation of memory, brings out the complementary relation of Poema de Chile and Lagar. In Lagar , on the other hand, the poet adopts the persona of a woman who lacks a secure refuge and is bereaved of human companionship and community.
Distanced from a personal past she takes on the aloof, impersonal authority of the artist, the empty, ravaged vessel. Rather than the classic lyric situation of the poet talking to herself while we eavesdrop on her speech, the poet presents herself in a Cassandra-like persona, or in the sacred voice that speaks through the Sibyl.
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The stress is on the speaker as the primary recipient of the message, rather than on an audience per se. It is her fate and destiny, her place in history to speak; at worst, we ignore her; more frequently, we misunderstand or refuse to believe her message; at best, we haphazardly try to puzzle out her meaning. The most fervently studied work of Mistral is that which most readily admits male critical subjectivity.
In Poema de Chile the space allotted to specifically male concerns is minute.
Typical of preferences for her earlier work is the complaint that Lagar is deliberately lacking in clarity. Or rather, she is talking, but what she says makes no sense because the message is an unexpected, stubborn one:. The refusal to cater to the stereotypical ideas of men about women is the real negation that bothers this author. The earlier volume is almost baroque in its almost archaic vocabulary, its tremendous variety of forms and styles, its anguished introspection, cryptic narratives, and heroic idealism.
To take the anecdotal stance is often to restrict her to the world of those who remember her and to divorce her from the larger world in which she lived. But the single death of Juan Miguel is not the only referent for the pain articulated in the condensed and elliptical language of Lagar.
That death was one more link in a chain of events whose public significance is noted in Lagar. For Mistral, as for most women, the primary role available in a war-torn world is that of the mourner. This was a role she knew like no other: in this regard, Lagar is a work of genius. Written in the aftermath of destruction and havoc and in the wake of the Second World War, the poet of Lagar adopts a Job-like persona even more austere than her earlier ones. They are possessed by a will to burn away all mementos of the past:. Shaken like a tree and in the center of the whirlwind become, testimony.
As in earlier prefaces the poet depicts herself as pitted in struggle against those who oppose and seek to undermine her efforts. I killed her. You women kill her too! The exact nature of these adversaries matters little. Presenting herself as an example of a woman who has survived an ordeal by fire, the speaker has wilfully starved what she had created and what had sustained her.
Mistral well knew that this was an illusion to which women are particularly prone. The distillation of stifled bitterness in Lagar does not prevent her, however, from the nostalgic reconstruction of a safe and feminine world in Poema de Chile , to which we now turn. Poema de Chile [Poem of Chile]. She travels in the company of an Atacamanian Indian boy and a huemul a small Andean deer native to Chile, once abundant but now nearly extinct. Yet neither of these shorter works hints of the extended narrative continuity of Poema de Chile.
In the volumes prior to Poema de Chile , the thematic narratives suggested by poem groupings would break down when the individual sections came together within the covers of a book. This effect may have been deliberate. Perhaps hoping to avoid monotony, perhaps trying to create an overall balance, the poet alternates sections so that no single mood, genre, or theme prevails.
Poema de Chile is unusual in uniting these opposing sides. In the variety of the elements brought together, and in the close, sustained attention to a dramatic situation, Poema de Chile resembles the later lullabies. As in the lullabies, the poet undertakes an imaginary, undercover journey through a fantasy world, accompanied by a small child.
Her poem, ostensibly addressed to him, is presented to a wider public. An important distinction between Lagar and Poema de Chile is that the poet of Lagar mourns the tragic loss of human connections, whereas in Poema de Chile the poet is a ghost, a haunt. In representing herself as having died, it is as if she anticipated the critics who found her useful primarily as a public figure rather than as an unpredictable, living, working poet.
From time to time, tormented by what surrounded her, she would respond. She tenaciously hung on to life, to memory, to what she had most loved in the world. Pull down thy vanity, it is not man Made courage, or made order, or made grace, Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down. Learn of the green world what can be thy place In scaled invention or true artistry, Pull down thy vanity, Paquin pull down!
The green casque has outdone your elegance. Pound, coming to the end of his life, feels remorse. I loved the Earth and I did not seed. Betrayed by the present, the poet takes refuge in the past. To reconstruct life as it could have been, for Mistral, to endeavor what had been left undone became a justification for remaining alive in the present: thus, her single-minded search for details to go into this long poem became central in her reading, her day-to-day life, and dominated much of her correspondence. In meeting the primarily personal need to conclude her days with a return to what might have been, she betrays no interest in returning to the persona of the humble unknown, the suffering nobody.
The poet is once again remaking the past to the demands of the present. As a strange girl who has become a woman whom others call crazy, a ghost-presence who is ignored, she is a larger-than-life figure about whom people speak as if she were not present. As a living phantom, she is a woman who, for all her knowledge of the land, is powerless over the physical world.
Like the poet-guide Virgil in the Divina comedia , she can but observe and counsel; she cannot act. Her only influence is over the little boy, and even he is free to disobey. In the dialogues between the phantom Gabriela and the little Indian boy who accompanies her, Poema de Chile represents an attempt to vindicate herself, to acquit herself of the charge that she is descastada : ungrateful.
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In diction and tone, Poema de Chile and Lagar are antithetical texts. Comparing the two poems is worthwhile: for one, Mistral was in all likelihood aware that Neruda was writing Canto general at the same time as she was writing Poema de Chile. Contrasting the two speaks to a great difference in values, not just between the two poets, but about the degree to which readers of Latin American poetry have regarded the canto nacional [national song] as a genre in which men are preeminent, for all the efforts of poets such as Mistral or Agustini.
Ahora ya no me peleo con palabras sino con otra cosa I came out of a labyrinth of hills and something of this knot that is impossible to untie remains in what I do, be it verse or prose. Page after page, poem after poem, Mistral cultivates Poema de Chile from the fertile ground of Chilean speech. Neither a recado nor a romance presumes an erudite readership. On the contrary, the author assumes merely that her readers have a basic education and a desire to know more about what is native to Chile.
While the vocabulary in this last book is more extensive than in any of the previous ones, it is also more specialized in its reference. If Poema de Chile has yet to attract a wide audience, that at least is partially due to a public that has yet to regard Mistral as a writer with a serious social message.
All action is told, all dialogue is described from that single perspective. By contrast, Dante, poet and traveller, necessarily puts himself at center stage. With that accomplished, the poet crosses the two rivers, and enters alone into Paradise, leaving his spirit-guides behind. Given that her aim is to make that land imaginatively present first to herself, then, by extension, to her public , there is no need for interiorization or self-scrutiny.
The relationship of the characters as revealed in their dialogue is essentially static. Like a travel scene in which stationary actors are filmed sitting in a car or on horseback with a variety of settings behind them, it is the changes in the backdrop that give the impression of movement. The point of this technique is to draw attention away from individual, human, temporal concerns, to lead into deeper, more permanent ones, suggested by the dynamic forces of earth, water, sky.
Gabriela, Virgil and the Meaning of Salvation. She instructs the boy to obtain food by stealth, to sleep in the open, to avoid houses, to remain in the natural realm. Botto had a collection of Nijinsky's photos in various roles, clipped from newspapers and magazines, and in an interview given to Rio de Janeiro's Diario da Noitc, shortly after his arrival in Brazil, he claimed to be staying in the same room 'in a modest boarding house in Santa Teresa' in which Nijinsky had spent his honeymoon back in Nijinsky had in fact lodged in Santa Teresa during his stay in Rio, but he and his bride stayed in the rather more upscale Hotel Internacional.
What is worth noting about this quote is its claim of close friendship — absent from most other fake encomiums recorded in Cati dcs — as well as the motif of shared artistry of stagecraft: Nijinsky the charismatic dancer praises Botto as an equally charismatic performer of his poetry. Upon Nijinsky's death in , Botto assembled a collection of press reports and obituaries, in Portuguese and in French; one of the articles mentioned that Nijinsky hati died unaccompanied in a London hospital, and Botto reflected upon this fact in a poem written on the back of the sheet to which the clipping is glued: Ningueni acompanhou Nijinski morto cm Londrcs mmi hospital.
Sim: ningueni no funeral. E ainda bem. No niundo de hoje Quern e que o compreenderia na sua divma mascara fria?
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That's right: no one at the funeral. No one. And that's just as well. In the world of today Who ever could understand him Under his divine cold mask? Only I accompanied him, Only I, his greatest friend, Kneeled down and kissed him in my soul. Although the event did not take place, much of the handwritten text of the lecture survives in the archive, narrating the story of the intimate friendship between the two poets. At one point Botto quotes from a letter in which Lorca advises him to disregard his critics: 'Men querido Antonio Botto: Deixa-os falar! Tu nao respondas.
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Faz como eu. Tambem tenho sido alvo de verdadeiros msultos. Tu bem Antonio Botto's Impossible Queerness of Being sabes que os teus ritmos de beleza original Don't answer. Do as I've done. I too have been a target of real insults. You know best that your rhythms of original beauty Que eram duros e forcados' [Pessoa recited some of his poems, but Lorca did not feel them. They were hard and contrived]. In real life, back in , Botto did send to Lorca a copy of the edition of CJari dc.
At first cautiously enthusiastic, de Torre turned increasingly frosty and laconic in his replies to Botto, likely having realized that his correspondent was using the nonexistent letters as bait in order to interest de Torre in the publication of his own poems by the same house that had just released the first multi-volume edition of Lorca's Ohms completas. While no firm evidence to this effect seems to exist, most sources claim that Botto's gradual rise to artistic prominence was facilitated by his becoming employed at a well-known bookstore where he met a number of writers who encouraged his talents.
One of them was likely to be Guerra Junqueiro, whose probably apocryphal laudatory comments Botto went on to reprint in his books long after Junqueiro's death in Having wandered into the Bertrand bookstore in Chiado, the young Botto speaks in English to request a copy of Junqueiro's Patria and is approached by the writer himself who happens to be in the bookstore and is curious to know why a British boy should desire to buy a book 'que diz tanto mal da sua Gra-Bretanha' [that speaks so badly of your Great Britain]. Botto answers him 'num pessimo portugues, bastante esquecido em quatro anos de Inglaterra, lidando, apenas, com ingleses' [in very bad Portuguese, having forgotten to speak it in my four years in England, where I only dealt with English people].
As a result of their conversation, funqueiro signs the book for Botto, ends up paying for it, and insists that the boy should visit him at home. The conclusion of the story injects a distinct, and rather disconcerting, note into this account of the beginning of a friendship: 'Ao mesmo tempo, as nossas maos, envolvidas num aperto nervoso e profundo, disseram de parte a parte, sem palavras, o que uma crianca e urn homem talvez tivessem que dizer, mas sem que ninguem ouvisse' [At the same time, our hands, joined in a nervous and forceful grasp, told each other wordlessly what a child and a man might have to say, but without anyone overhearing].
I hope that my retelling of this story in the present context is not interpreted as aimed at casting Guerra Junqueiro in the role of a potential child molester. What it does illustrate rather aptly is, on the one hand, the transformative creativity of Botto's imagination, moulding his own life and self with materially concrete ingeniousness comparable to that his friend Pessoa channelled into the invention of his heteronyms.
On the other hand, it illuminates the kind of environment that may have enabled Botto's ascent as the artist he went on to become, in which male homosociahty of intellectual dialogue taking place in bookstores and cafes went hand in hand with veiled but hardly invisible expression of male homoerotic desire. A number of texts in Botto's 'Caderno proibido' and elsewhere sketch out, in fact, what could be called an ethnography of same-sex relations m pre-World War II Lisbon, featuring, among others, the figure of a lower-class adolescent who is taken under the wing of an older and wealthier man, sometimes a respectable paterfamilias.
It is impossible to ascertain whether this was Botto's own predicament, but he clearly shows himself to be familiar with — and highly sympathetic to — the practice of same-sex prostitution by young Portuguese males, as he launches on occasion into a heated defence of adolescents who trade sexual favours for a degree of economic security. This is what happens, for instance, in a long, rambling poem draft m which condemnation is diverted from the youngsters whom Botto describes as innocent victims of prejudice and toward those benefiting from the economic exploration of female prostitution, while also suggesting the social pervasiveness of homoerotic trade.
For que razao eu sou caluniado Antonio Botto's Impossible Queerness of Being For esses que nao gostam de ninguem E que vivem de andarem no mercado Das mulheres compradas e alugadas — Comercio que repugna a quern nao o tern? Notes to Chapter 7 1. Following his emigration to Brazil in , Botto began to spell his last name as 'Boto' in all publications and manuscripts. I am following currently prevailing Portuguese usage m retaining the spelling associated with the two and a half decades of his most prolific and acclaimed literary activity as a public figure in Portugal.
The most comprehensive critical assessment of Botto's homotextual poetics is an essay by Carlos Manuel Callon Torres, 'Notas para a re-leitura dum maldito: a cultura homossexual nAs Cau des de Antonio Botto', Eusorama, 47—48 October , pp. The foundational status of A Confissao de Eucio with regard to the 'contemporary Portuguese homosexual canon' is stressed by Eduardo Pitta in his likewise seminal essay Eractura: A coudicao homossexual ua literatlira portuguesa contemporduea Coimbra: Angelus Novus, , p. Unless otherwise indicated, all translations from the Portuguese are mine.
The sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was now a species. My experience in a class on 'Cender and Sexuality in Lusophone Literatures' taught at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the spring of These verses belong in a long, unfinished poem, written in and published tor the first time, in its original Portuguese and in English translation, by Richard Zenith in 'Fernando Pessoa's Jay Heteronym?
Antonio Botto, Jaii des e Outros Poenias, ed. While any extended consideration of Pessoa's role as the translator of Botto's poetry is beyond the scope of this essay, his insertion, in the poem's first stanza, of the curious qualifier 'in straying words' absent in the original Portuguese is worth highlighting in the present context. Regie, Vidas Sao I Idas, p. At the same time, it is crucial to take under advisement, in this context, Sedgwick's caveat regarding 'our own empowering effort to recontront the two closets with each other as symmetrical objects ot our own analysis': 'How tar, in developing such an account, are we drawing our own surplus value of interpretive energies from the homophobic commonplace that attributes the enforcement of heterosexist norms to, precisely and double-damningly, the closeted homosexual himself?
The third infraction was disobeying an order issued by Botto's superior. Interestingly, the dispatch orders also the dismissal of three female employees ot the same government office O'ria Rosa, Maria da Nazare Freire, and Deolinda Augusta Calvao , all ot whom are said to have demonstrated the lack ot 'moral reliability necessary for the exercise ot their functions'.
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Diario do Gouemo, 2nd series, 2O2 9 de Novembro de See, for example, Luis Amaro. Botto's working-class family moved to Lisbon from the rural province ot Ribatejo when he- was a child.