My friend goes to visit his grave
like someone going
to his country house to plant roses.
Some time ago
he acquired this little homestead.
Planted trees around it,
and occasionally he’ll go there
as if alive
he could do what he would do only if he were dead.
From time to time he’ll see
his death beginning to blossom.
He’ll look around, think, straighten something or other out,
then back to the business of life:
making love, eating, inventing projects,
having already left his death
in the place it deserves.
Translated by Lloyd Schwartz
PREPARANDO A CASA
Meu amigo visita sua cova
como quem vai
à casa de campo plantar rosas.
Há algum tempo
comprou sua casa de terra.
Plantou árvores ao redor
e de quando em quando vai lá
como se vivo
pudesse fazer o que só morto fará.
De vez em quando vai ver
como seu morte floresce.
Olha, pensa, ajeita uma coisa e outra
depois volta à agitação da vida:
ama, come, faz projetos,
pois ja botou a sua morte
no lugar ela merece.
Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna is one of the leading literary figures in Brazil. Poet, critic, journalist, teacher, he’s the author of some forty volumes of poems, essays, and chronicles. He has been president of the National Library Foundation in Brazil, a visiting writer at the University of Iowa, and visiting professor of Brazilian Literature at UCLA and the University of Texas at El Paso.
Lloyd Schwartz is the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English and teaches in the MFA Program at UMass Boston. The author of three books of poetry and a chapbook, his poems have been selected for The Pushcart Prize, The Best American Poetry, and The Best of the Best American Poetry. His publications include the Library of America edition of Elizabeth Bishop, the centennial edition of Bishop’s Prose (FSG), and Music In—and On—the Air, a collection of his music reviews for NPR’s Fresh Air. He was awarded the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.