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Poetry

Quasi Sonnet

By Paulo Henriques Britto
Translated from Portuguese by Idra Novey

There is nothing that leads to nothing.
Even to sit in a room, quiet and nude
as Blaise Pascal, will have some effect

on Tanzania maybe, or on New Guinea,
just as the beating wings of a lepidopter—
according to the proverb about butterflies in Peru—

could incite a tidal wave in Shanghai,
or knock down an Iraqi helicopter.

And so we become ourselves, hypocrite lecteur,
at the very least accomplices, you and I.

English

There is nothing that leads to nothing.
Even to sit in a room, quiet and nude
as Blaise Pascal, will have some effect

on Tanzania maybe, or on New Guinea,
just as the beating wings of a lepidopter—
according to the proverb about butterflies in Peru—

could incite a tidal wave in Shanghai,
or knock down an Iraqi helicopter.

And so we become ourselves, hypocrite lecteur,
at the very least accomplices, you and I.

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