Olavo Bilac: Biography and Poems | Brazilian Poetry

Olavo Bilac Brazilian Poet


Olavo Brás Martins dos Guimarães Bilac (December 16, 1865 – December 28, 1918) was a Brazilian Parnassian poet, journalist and translator, one ofthe most popular of all Brazilian poets. Alongside Alberto de Oliveira and Raimundo Correia, he was a member of the "Parnassian Triad". Elected the "Prince of Brazilian Poets" in 1907 by the magazine Fon-Fon, he is famous for writing the lyrics of the Brazilian Flag Anthem. He founded and occupied the 15th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, from 1897 until his death in 1918.

Sonnet XIII

(From the Milky Way series)

Oh come now (you will say) hear stars! It's clear
You've lost your mind!" I´ll tell you anyway,
I often wake to hear what they will say,
I push my windows open, pale with tear ...

And we converse throughout the night, while high
The Milky Way, like outspread robes, appears
To shine. At dawn, with longing and in tears,
I seek them still throughout the empty sky.

And next you'll say: "My poor, demented friend
What do you say to them? And tell me, pray,
What do they say when they your ears do bend?

I´m tell you: "You must love to comprehend!
For only lie who loves has ears which may
Perceive and grasp the messages stars send.

The Portuguese Language

Last flower of Latium, wild, uncultured, fair,
You are, at once, both splendor and the grave:
Pure gold, the gangue's impurities don't bare
A mine that´s veiled 'mid rocks and graveled.

I love you thus, unknown, obscure and hidden,
A blaring trumpet, lyre of guilelessness,
Whose fury's like the sea that's tempest ridden,
Whose lullabies are love and tenderness!

I love your lush green woods and perfume wrung,
From virgin jungles and expansive sea!
I love you, rude and sorrowful native tongue,

In which my mother said: "dear son of mine!"
In which Camões bemoaned, grieved exile he,
His luckless genius and love's tarnished shine!

Old Trees

Look at these old trees, more lovely these
Than younger trees, more friendly too by far:
More beautiful the older that they are,
Victorious over age and stormy seas ...

The beasts, the insects, man, under the tree
Have lived, and been from toil and hunger free;
And in its higher branches safe and sound
Incessant songs of birds and love are found.

Our youth now lost, my friend, let's not bemoan!
Let's laugh as we grow old! let us grow old
As do the trees, so nobly, strong and bold

Enjoy the glorious kindness we have sown,
And succor in our branches those who seek,
The shade and comfort offered to the weak!

Poemas translated by Frederic G. William
(POETS OF BRAZIL – A Bilingual Selection – New York: Luso Brazilian Books)
Brighm Young University Studies, Provo, Utah, USA; Editora da Universidade Feral da Bahia, Salvador, Brasil.