Cover of Pusteblume

From “Feeling of a Westerner” by by Cesário Verde,
translated from Portuguese by Paul Rowe:

Part I: Vespers

When night descends upon our streets
and melancholy fills the air,
The Tagus, boredom, shifting shades—
They make me long to suffer pain.

The sky hangs low in hazy fog;
The gas from streetlights makes me sick;
The whirl of buildings, chimneys, crowds
Besmeared with London's murky hues.

Happy travelers crammed in coaches
Now scurry off to catch the train.
The countries all blur past: Madrid,
Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg—the world!

Timber frames of future buildings
Recall the cruelty of the cage,
While carpenters, like plunging bats,
leap beam to beam to tolling bells.

Herds of hardened, unkempt caulkers
Return from dreary docks in droves.
I brood in alleys by the river
Or walk by wharves where boats are moored.

Rekindled ocean chronicles:
The Moors, the ships, heroesórevived!
Book of Camões washed ashoreÖ
Those mighty ships, they flee my gaze!

Twilight moves me, yet disturbs!
An English ship casts out its cutters;
On land the clink of cutlery
Reverberates in chic hotels.

Dentists squabble in a streetcar;
A clumsy clown wobbles on stilts;
Childrenócherubs on balconies;
Hatless shopkeepers lean in doorways.

Shipyards, workshops all clear out;
The Tagus glimmers, workers hasten;
Hidden schools of Herculean fishwives
Emerge from shadows with their laughter.

Bursting forth with sumptuous hips! Their
Manly frames remind me of pillars;
And some, in baskets on their heads,
Hold sons who later drown in storms.

Barefoot, unloading coal from ships
Dawn to dusk, they gather at night
In neighborhoods afoul with meows
And rotting fish that breed infection!

>> from Volume 9 Number 1, Spring 2018

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