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Poetry

Song of Seeing

Translated from Portuguese

Having lived many years in the scrub grass in the way of birds
The boy took on a bird's kind of stare—
He obtained a fountainesque vision.
He observed things the way birds observed them.
All the unnamed things.
Water wasn't the word water yet.
Rock not the word rock.
They just were.
Words were free of grammar and could inhabit any position.
So it was the boy could inaugurate them as he pleased.
He could give rocks the costumes of the sun.
He could give song the sun's format.
And, if he wanted to end up a bee, it was only a matter
of opening the word bee
and stepping inside it.
As if it were the infancy of language.

Translation of "Cancao do Ver." Copyright Manoel de Barros. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2007 by Idra Novey and Flavia Rocha. All rights reserved.

English

Having lived many years in the scrub grass in the way of birds
The boy took on a bird's kind of stare—
He obtained a fountainesque vision.
He observed things the way birds observed them.
All the unnamed things.
Water wasn't the word water yet.
Rock not the word rock.
They just were.
Words were free of grammar and could inhabit any position.
So it was the boy could inaugurate them as he pleased.
He could give rocks the costumes of the sun.
He could give song the sun's format.
And, if he wanted to end up a bee, it was only a matter
of opening the word bee
and stepping inside it.
As if it were the infancy of language.

Translation of "Cancao do Ver." Copyright Manoel de Barros. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2007 by Idra Novey and Flavia Rocha. All rights reserved.

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