Thursday, December 05, 2013

Your Shoulders Hold Up the World

A time comes when you no longer can say: my God.
A time of total cleaning up.
A time when you no longer can say: my love.
Because love proved useless.
And the eyes don’t cry.
And the hands do only rough work.
And the heart is dry.

Women knock at your door in vain, you won’t open.
You remain alone, the light turned off,
and your enormous eyes shine in the dark.
It is obvious you no longer know how to suffer.
And you want nothing from your friends.

Who cares if old age comes, what is old age?
Your shoulders are holding up the world
and it’s lighter than a child’s hand.
Wars, famine, family fights inside buildings
prove only that life goes on
and nobody will ever be free.
Some (the delicate ones) judging the spectacle cruel
will prefer to die.
A time comes when death doesn’t help.
A time comes when life is an order.
Just life, without any escapes.

Poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade; translation by Mark Strand.

The version above, which I prefer to the revised one included in Strand's Looking for Poetry, is from Souvenir of the Ancient World, published in 1976 by Antaeus Editions in an edition of 500 copies. The typography is by Samuel N. Antupit. I've cropped the page a bit.

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