Ferreira Gullar: Biography and Poems | Brazilian Poetry

Ferreira Gullar Brazilian Poet


José Ribamar Ferreira (September 10, 1930 – December 4, 2016), known by his pen name Ferreira Gullar, was a Brazilian poet, playwright, essayist, art critic, and television writer. In 1959, he was instrumental in the formation of the Neo-Concrete Movement. Gullar was considered one of the most influential Brazilians of the 20th century by Época magazine. The magazine recalls its critical stance in opinion articles about the populism of former President Lula da Silva, posted in national newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.

There are Many Traps in the World

There are many traps in the world
and what is a trap could be a refuge
and what is a refuge could be a trap

Your window, for instance,
opens to the sky
and a star tells you that man is nothing
or the morning foaming on the beach
batters it, before Cabral, before Troy
(four centuries ago Tomás Bequimão
took the city, created a popular militia
and then was betrayed, jailed, hanged)

There are many traps in the world
and many mouths telling you
that life is short-lived
that life is crazy
And why not the Bomb? they ask you.
Why not the Bomb to end it all, since
life is crazy?

Yet, you look at your son, the little kid
who doesn't know
who fearlessly enters life and wants
and seeks the sun, the ball, fascinated, sees
the airplane and questions and questions

Life is short-lived
life is crazy
but there's nothing but life
And you couldn't kill yourself, that's the truth.

You're a prisoner of life as if in a cage.
We're all prisoners
in this cage that Gagarin was the first to see
from above, and to tell us: It's blue.
And we already knew it, so well
that you couldn't kill yourself and wouldn't
kill yourself
and will endure until the end.

It's certain that in this cage there are those who have
and those who have not
there are those who have so much that they alone could
feed the whole city
and those who haven’t enough for today's lunch

The star is a liar
the sea is a sophist. In fact,
man is tied to life and needs to live
man has hunger
and needs to eat
man has children
and needs to care for them
There are many traps in the world and
it's necessary to shatter them.

Translated by Rosaliene Bacchus


Half of me
Is everyone:
The other half is nobody:
Bottomless and alone

Half of me is
A crowded park:
The other half is
Lonely and dark

Half of me is
Balance and reason,
The other half:

Half of me
Enjoys supper at night,
The other half
Is always surprised

Half of me
Is always there
The other half is
Suddenly aware

Half of me
Is all vertigo
The other half:
Translating both parts
Into one another
-a matter of life or death-

is it art?

Translated by Rita Cammarota

My people, my poem

My people and my poem grow together
Like the fruit bears
Itself the new tree

In the people my poem sprouts
Like in the fields
Sugar cane sprouts green

In the people, my poem is ripe
Like the sun
In the future´s tide

My people is reflected
On my poem
Like the corn
Fuses with the fertile soil

To my people, its poem I bestow
Not as one who sings
But as one who sows

Translated by Rita Cammarota

Two and two: four

Like two and two make four
I know life is worth living
Though bread we can’t afford
And the freedom is teeny

Like that blue eyes of yours
And your skin´s dark and silky

Like the ocean´s fierce roar
As the lake sleeps so dearly

Like a time of great joy
Behind the horror fury

And the night holds the day
In its lap made of lilies

- I know two and two make four
I know that life´s worth living
Though bread we cannot afford
And the freedom is teeny

Translated by Rita Cammarota