Swifts turn in the heights of the air;
higher still turn the invisible stars.
When day withdraws to the ends of the earth
their fires shine on a dark expanse of sand.
We live in a world of motion and distance.
The heart flies from tree to bird,
from bird to distant star,
from star to love; and love grows
in the quiet house, turning and working,
servant of thought, a lamp held in one hand.
Silence is always here and everywhere;
sometimes we hear it more clearly:
on the meadows there is mist, the door of the granary is open,
far away a redwing sings and one
white butterfly wings incessantly
around the branch of an elm that
sways slightly against the background of the setting sun.
Twilight leaves everything without faces or script,
only the difference between light and dark remains —
it is just the midsummer night itself
and an old pocketwatch on the desk
suddenly starts very loudly
Night and the House
–Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen
Night reunites the house and its silence
From the foundations up
To the still flower
Only the ticking of time’s clock is heard
Night reunites the house and its destiny
Now nothing is scattered nothing divided
Everything watches like the vigilant cypress
Emptiness walks in its living spaces
Death does not come from outside. Death is within.
Born-grows together with us.
Goes with us to Kindergarten and school.
Learns with us to read and count.
Goes sledging with us, and to the pictures.
Seeks with us the meaning of life.
Tries to make sense with us of Einstein and Wiener
Makes with us our first sexual contacts.
Marries, bears children, quarrels, makes up.
Separates, or perhaps not, with us.
Goes to work, goes to the doctor, goes camping,
to the convalescent home and the sanatorium. Grows old,
sees children married, retired,
looks after grandchildren, grows ill, dies
with us. Let us not fear, then. Our death
will not outlive us.
Life is a house in ruins. And we mean to fix it up
and make it snug. With our hands we knock it into shape
to the very top. Till beneath this we fasten a roofbeam
that will watch the coming and going of our skyless life,
two crooked segments. They are fitted together,
timbers in concord. Smooth beams, and wide.
Two in touch. That’s the craft we nurture in folding
doubled flesh on a frame. Conjoining the smooth couplings
that sometimes arch into one. Aslant above a cold world,
hollow wood wafting passion. Then stock still for a time.
And how clear cut the roof, creaking love at times,
as it chides the worm to keep off and await its turn.
When we don’t have the fatherland that we have
Lost by silence and by resignation
Even the voice of the sea renders itself exile
And the light that surrounds us is like a lattice
Quando a pátria que temos não a temos
Perdida por silêncio e por renúncia
Até a voz do mar se torna exílio
E a luz que nos rodeia é como grades
A better patriotism…
War is no longer declared,
only continued. The monstrous
has become everyday. The hero
stays away from battle. The weak
have gone to the front.
The uniform of the day is patience,
its medal the pitiful star of hope above the heart.
The medal is awarded
when nothing more happens,
when the artillery falls silent,
when the enemy has grown invisible
and the shadow of eternal armament
covers the sky.
It is awarded
for desertion of the flag,
for bravery in the face of friends,
for the betrayal of unworthy secrets
and the disregard
of every command.