Charles Rice-Davis translates Mário de Sá-Carneiro
The three poems produced here, two from Portuguese, one from French, are taken from letters Sá-Carneiro wrote to Pessoa. The poem titled here, “The End,” is one of the better known poems of Portuguese modernism, though in the original letter, Sá-Carneiro gives it no title. Nor did he title the poem translated from French. The three poems touch on recurring thematic and stylistic features of his published work and private letters: ruins, fragments, the desire to inhabit the body of a woman (most famously as a plot point of A Confissão de Lúcio) and the anticipation of his own death (in Paris, for example, as imagined in the 1913 “Dispersão”). Likewise, all exhibit a signature practice of integrating wordless, dotted lines into poems, which he had done in earlier published and manuscript poems. These dotted lines have been restored, thanks to Ricardo Vasconcelos’ exhaustive, monumental edition of Sá-Carneiro’s poetry and correspondence with Pessoa. The lines are ruined, are ruins: inscrutable hieroglyphs that vex the poet’s few, but devoted, readers.