Salgado Maranhão

Salgado Maranhão’s “Mythic Ground” translated by Alexis Levitin
May 27, 2022 Maranhão Salgado

Salgado Maranhão translated from Portuguese by Alexis Levitin


Mythic Ground


For the living, this is the ground,
the incorporeal fenced around
by the world of the mind,
far beyond nothing at all,
the misery that must befall
a temple made of flesh;
and — for a time — to express
forever and the end:
the jasmine’s pride that sends
its perfume to our lungs
triumphant over dung.
Or a backdrop of tripe
that casts a slimy light
on the trellis of imagination.
To live is elation
like a sharp little knife.
And if it signals strife
the lily broken, twisted
in the face of myth,
then the past remains in time,
intact with its one crime.



Chão de Mitos


Este é o chão dos vivos
no incorpóreo abrigo
do cerco da mente,
que se faz presente
muito além de nada,
que é misera estada
de ser templo e carne;
e—a um tempo—alarde
do sempre e do fim:
é o brio de jasmim,
que vence o estrume
com seu perfume.
Ou o chão das vísceras,
que alumbra a treliça
da imaginação.
Viver é paixão
feita a canivete.
E se nos compete
o lírio partido
na cara do mito,
fique ao tempo o ido
com seu delito.

Salgado Maranhão, winner of all of Brazil’s major poetry awards, has toured the United States five times, presenting his work at over one hundred colleges and universities. In addition to fifteen books of poetry, he has written song lyrics and made recordings with some of Brazil’s leading jazz and pop musicians. Five collections of his work have appeared in English: Blood of the Sun (Milkweed Editions, 2012), Tiger Fur (White Pine Press, 2015), Palavora (Dialogos Books, 2019), Mapping the Tribe (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020), and Consecration of the Wolves (Bitter Oleander Press, 2021). His poem “The Old Indian” appeared in a special on the Amazon in The New York Times on Oct.4th, 2020. The appearance of A Cor da Palavra (Color of the Word) just this month marks his first book launch in Portugal.

*pictured with translator Alexis Levitin