Hilda Hilst: Biography and Poems | Brazilian Poetry

Hilda Hilst Brazilian Poet


Hilda Hilst (April 21, 1930 – February 4, 2004) was a Brazilian poet, novelist, and playwright. She is lauded as one of the most important Portuguese-language authors of the twentieth century. Her work touches on the themes of mysticism, insanity, the body, eroticism, and female sexual liberation. Hilst greatly revered the work of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett and the influence of their styles like stream of consciousness and fractured reality in her own work. In several of her writings Hilst tackled politically and socially controversial issues, such as obscenity, queer sexuality, and incest.

Poems for the Men of our Time

Beloved life, my death lingers
What to say to man
What journey to propose? Kings, ministers
And all of you, politicians,
What word besides gold and darkness
Stays in your ears?
Besides your RAPACITY
What do you know
Of the souls of men?
Gold, conquest, profit, deception
And our bones
And the blood of peoples
And the lives of men
Between your teeth.


To meet you, Man of my time,
And in the hope you may subdue
The rosette of fire, hatred, and wars,
I will sing to you eternally in the hope of knowing you
one day
And invite the poet and all those lovers of words, and
the others,
Alchemists, to sit with you at your table.
Things will be simple and round, fair. I will sing to you
My own crudeness and earlier unease,
Appearances, the lacerated love of men
My own love is yours
The mystery of the rivers, earth, seed.
I will sing to you the One who made me a poet and
promised me

Compassion and tenderness and peace on Earth
If within you still resides these gifts he gave you.

Translated by Rosaliene Bacchus

Of Desire

Because there is desire within me, everything glimmers.
Before, daily life was thinking of heights
Seeking Another decanted
Deaf to my human bark.
Sap and sweat, they never came to be.
Today, flesh and bones, laborious, lascivious
You take my body. And what rest you give me
After the readings. I dreamt of cliffs
When there was a garden by my side.
I thought of climbs where there were no signs.
Ecstatic, I fuck you
Instead of yapping at Nothingness.

Translated by Lavinia Saad

Ten Calls to a Friend

If I seem to you nocturnal and imperfect
Look at me again. Because tonight
I looked at myself as if you were looking at me.
And it was as if water

To leave your house that is the river,
Just slipping by, not even touching the riverbank.

I looked at you. And it has been so long
That I understand that I am earth. It has been so long
That I wait
For your brotherly body of water
To stretch over mine. Pastor and naut

Look at me again. From a lesser height.
And more attentively.

Translated by Lavinia Saad