In her most perfect form

Exile is this alone:

Today in the land of my parents

Only light remains unsuspected






I Am Leaving



I am leaving: Don’t tell

Anyone the wonder

Of leaving this way with nothing

Without so much as longing


I am leaving I am the wind

And not exactly a man

For this reason I cannot mourn

The absence in my fingers

Of your fire hair

Of your eyes of your fingers

Of your voice of your lips

I am leaving I go without lips

I go without voice without any fingers

I go without eyes or hair

I am leaving I am the wind

I once was a man

I go entirely alone










You will arrive again with your ships of sleep

Your sibylline zeal

Your trail of butchered memory


You will return again eternally old

Full of pain and holly


And white-haired peasants

And white-footed children

Must die hanging from a snowy gallows


And a full silence despised

By the silence of autumn in agony

Will squeeze the throat of December rising


On the horizon








O exílio é isto e nada mais

Na sua forma mais perfeita:

Hoje na terra de meus pais

Sómente a luz não é suspeita






Eu Vou Partir



Eu vou partir Não indiques

A ninguém a maravilha

De partir assim sem nada

Sem sequer uma saudade


Eu vou partir Sou o vento

E não pròpriamente um homem

Por isso não sei chorar

A ausência nos meus dedos

Dos teus cabelos do fogo

Dos teus olhos dos teus dedos

Da tua voz dos teus lábios

Eu vou partir Vou sem lábios

Vou sem voz sem nenhuns dedos

Vou sem olhos nem cabelos

Eu vou partir Sou o vento

Antigamente era um homem

Vou inteiramente só








O Inverno



E vai chegar de novo com seus barcos de sono

Seu ardor sibilino

Seu rastro de memória trucidada


E vai chegar de novo eternamente velho

Cheio de dor e de azevinho


E as camponesas de cabelos brancos

E as crianças de pèzinhos brancos

Hão-de morrer suspensas de uma forca de neve


E um silêncio de todo desprezado

Pelo silêncio do Outono em agonia

Vai apertar a garganta de Dezembro que surge


No horizonte





Translator's Note

It has been said that translation is the ultimate close reading, and Alberto de Lacerda uses language that forces his audience (not to mention his translator) to read closely or miss something. At first glance de Lacerda’s poetry appears simple—short lines, no punctuation, one-page poems—but a closer examination reveals him as a poet of nuance. Each poem works much like a parable: there is a story on the surface, but something more poignant lies beneath if the reader should decide to spend enough time searching for it. In translating Alberto de Lacerda, I attempt to keep line length and even word count as close to the original as possible, making the process of conveying the multitude of underlying meaning rewarding, if not a little maddening. It could be argued that all writing, and specifically poetry, requires some type of translation in order to be “understood,” and the work of Alberto de Lacerda continues to remind readers that the space between words is what brings language to life. 

Calvin Olsen


In the Classroom