The Lover Transforms

Portrait of François Truffaut by Duane Michals, 1981



«Transforma-se o amador na coisa amada»,
com seu feroz sorriso, os dentes,
as mãos que relampejam no escuro.
Traz ruído e silêncio.
Traz o barulho das ondas frias
e das ardentes pedras que tem dentro de si.
E cobre esse ruído rudimentar com o assombrado
silêncio da sua última vida.
O amador transforma-se de instante para instante,
e sente-se o espírito imortal do amor
criando a carne em extremas atmosferas, acima
de todas as coisas mortas.

Transforma-se o amador.
Corre pelas formas dentro.
E a coisa amada é uma baía estanque.
É o espaço de um castiçal,
a coluna vertebral e o espírito
das mulheres sentadas.
Transforma-se em noite extintora.
Porque o amador é tudo, e a coisa amada
é uma cortina
onde o vento do amador bate no alto da janela
O amador entra por todas as janelas abertas.
Ele bate, bate, bate.
O amador é um martelo que esmaga.
Que transforma a coisa amada.

Ele entra pelos ouvidos, e depois a mulher
que escuta
fica com aquele grito para sempre na cabeça
a arder como o primeiro dia do verão.
Ela ouve e vai-se transformando, enquanto dorme, naquele grito
do amador.
Depois acorda, e vai, e dá-se ao amador,
dá-lhe o grito dele.
E o amador e a coisa amada são um único grito
anterior de amor.

E gritam e batem.
Ele bate-lhe com o seu espírito de amador.
E ela é batida, e bate-lhe
com o seu espírito de amada.
Então o mundo transforma-se neste ruído áspero
do amor.
Enquanto em cima o silêncio do amador e da amada alimentam
o imprevisto silêncio do mundo e do amor.

Herberto Helder





«The lover transforms into the thing loved» with his
savage smile, his teeth,
his hands that flash in the dark.
He brings sound and silence.
He brings the noise of the cold waves
and burning stones which rage within him.
And he covers this primordial sound with the staggered
silence of his last life.
The lover transforms from moment to moment,
and it’s the moment of the immortal spirit of love
creating flesh in extreme atmospheres, wafting
over all death things.

The lover transforms. He cuts through forms to the core.
And the thing loved is an enclosed bay,
the space of a candlestick,
the backbone and spirit
of women sitting.
He transforms into extinguishing night.
Because the lover is everything, and the thing loved
is a curtain
battered by the wind of the lover on the heights
of an open window.
The lover enters through every open windows and
batters, batters, batters.
The lover is smashing hammer.
that transforms the thing loved.

He enters through her ears,
and the woman who listens
holds that shout forever in her mind
burning like the first day of summer.
She hearsand slowly transforms,
while sleeping, into that shout of the lover.
She awakens, and goes, and gives herself to the lover,
she gives him his own shout.
And the lover and the thing loved are a single shout
preceding love.

And they shout and batter.
He batters her with his lover spirit.
And she is battered and batters him
with her spirit of the beloved.
Then the world transforms into this harsh noise
of love.
While overhead the silence of the lover and the beloved feed
the surprising silence of the world and of love.

Translation by Assírio & Alvim


Luís Vaz de Camões’s sonnets are thematically far more diverse than those of Petrarch or William Shakespeare. Some are retellings of Biblical tales (Jacob) or Greek myths, often with a new twist; or they present historical or mythological figures in new scenarios, as in the sonnet which has the goddesses Diana and Venus discussing the merits of trapping animals versus ensnaring human hearts (While Phoebus was lighting up the mountains). Other sonnets take up the theme of the world’s disorderedness and the inevitability of change (Times change, desires change), and life’s brevity (Oh how long, year after year). But love, for Camões as for most Renaissance poets, is an ever-present hope and complaint, a source of pain alternating with ecstasy, a rich symbol and a chimera – an inexhaustible subject of poetic and existential exploration. Love, in the sonnets and sestina presented here, is not merely a hankering after an idealized and beatified ‘senhora’ (lady); it is a psychological territory for self-discovery. This is most blatantly the case in the celebrated Transforma-se o amador na cousa amada, a twentieth-century remake of which The Lover Transforms was produced by Herberto Helder (b. 1930).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s