If you watched or (as I did) read about the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, you will have caught the reading of a poem (in Portuguese by Fernanda Montenegro, in English by Judi Bench).
I don’t know if I ever read “A Flor e a Náusea” when I was an exchange student in Brazil but I do remember the author, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, especially for his everyday, quite left-wing writings and poetry (which, in 1970, under the military dictatorship, represented both an engagement with and an escape from the brutal reality).
Anyway, here are the opening stanzas of “The Flower and Nausea” (I’ve slightly modified the translation):
A FLOR E A NÁUSEA
Preso à minha classe e a algumas roupas,
vou de branco pela rua cinzenta.
Melancolias, mercadorias espreitam-me.
Devo seguir até o enjôo?
Posso, sem armas, revoltar-me?
Olhos sujos no relógio da torre:
Não, o tempo não chegou de completa justiça.
O tempo é ainda de fezes, maus poemas, alucinações e espera.
O tempo pobre, o poeta pobre
fundem-se no mesmo impasse.
THE FLOWER AND NAUSEA
Prisoner of my class and some clothing,
I walk, dressed in white along the gray street.
Melancholy, merchandise harass me.
Must I keep going until I am nauseous?
Can I rebel without arms?
Filthy eyes in the tower clock:
No, the time of complete justice hasn’t come.
It’s still the time of dung, bad poetry, hallucinations and hope.
A poor time, a poor poet
Merge together in the same impasse.