(Obra Poética = Poetical Oeuvre)
Quando eu morrer voltarei para buscar
Os instantes que não vivi junto do mar
(When I die I’ll come back
To fetch the moments I didn’t live by the sea)
Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, one of the greatest poets of Portuguese Literature, 1919 – 2004 (Camoens Award). Her paternal great-grandfather was Danish, and on her mother’s side she belonged to Portuguese aristocracy.
I know Sophia’s poetry like I know myself.
Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen is one of the best poets I've ever read. I wish everyone would read her one day, be it in Portuguese, German, or English. Portuguese literature from its roots is a literature of the seas (Portugal is located on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula and plateau, that divides the inland Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean); Sophia is also a poet of the water. The sea is something that’s deeply ingrained within every Portuguese, even in the ones living in the countryside. The sea is always in our minds…
This massive tome of some 1000 pages was the first time I read Sophia’s poetry in its entirety (I started this quest in August). And it gives me a different taste and appreciation for her poetry. I’ve always identified myself with her poetry of the sea, being a “seaman of the mind” myself. The winds and waters of the west coast of my country can be rough and wild, and the beaches there are often good places for those who seek solitude or a bit of space to themselves.
Why do I like Sophia and the abovementioned so much? Not sure. I’ve written many times when I'm a little down, and in those moments her poetry deeply resonates within me. It’s about death, and how things in life teach us about death. I’ve always thought that Portuguese poets have a special affinity with richness in thought and words. Her poems are otherworldly and her words are so richly evocative that it's nearly unbelievable. As with all top-notch poetry, so evocative, beautiful, and lasting.
Besides her work as a writer, she also translated Dante and Shakespeare into Portuguese.
1950, 2010 (Obra Poética)
Attempt at translating the untranslable into German (Strand/Praia):
Die Kiefern seufzen, wenn der Wind hineinfährt
Die Sonne heißt den Boden, und die Steine glühen.
Dort draußen wandeln unwirkliche Meeres-Götter,
Salzweiß, wie Fische leuchtend.
Wilde Vögel plötzlich,
Wie Steine gegen das Licht geworfen,
Schwingen sich auf, zu sterben steil im Himmel,
In weite Räume werden ihre Körper heimgeholt.
Die Wellen stoßen prall gegen das Licht,
Die Stirnen aufgeputzt mit Säulen.
Eine uralte Sehnsucht, mast zu sein,
Wiegt sich in hohen Kiefern.
(Maria de Fátima Mesquita-Sternal)