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Log Book

Sophia de Mello Breyner

Translated by Richard Zenith

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Categories: Portuguese
Imprint: Aspects of Portugal
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • I had friends who died friends who went away
    Others broke their face against time
    I hated what was easy
    I sought myself in the light the wind and waves

    from `Biography'

    For Sophia de Mello Breyner, long regarded as among Portugal's major poets, poetry is a way of seeing and receiving life.
    `Poetry,' she writes, `is an art of being. It does not require my time and labour. It does not ask me to have a science or an aesthetics or a theory. Instead it demands the entireness of my being, a consciousness running deeper than my intellect, a fidelity purer than any I can

    Greece, as much as Portugal, informs the geography, mythology and vehement light of Breyner's work. Greece also informs her sense of the achieved lyric. Even in the poems which touch most closely on personal themes of love, loss and expectation, the language remains our common language, without affectation or coy eccentricity. `Each verse is dense, taut like a bow, and exactly stated, because each day was dense, taut like a bow, and exactly lived. The equilibrium between words is the equilibrium between moments.' Her pursuit of right words and a right world is one and the same.
    Sophia de Mello Breyner
    SOPHIA DE MELLO BREYNER was born in Oporto in 1919 and lived in Lisbon from her university days onwards. Her first book of poems was published in 1944, her twelfth and most recent in 1994. She published two books of stories, half a dozen books for children, and translations of Dante ... read more
    Richard Zenith
    RICHARD ZENITH is a noted translator from the Portuguese. His version of Fernando Pessoa's Book of Disquietude was published in Carcanet's `Aspects of Portugal' series. ... read more
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