Murilo Mendes: Biography and Poems | Brazilian Poetry

Murilo Mendes Brazilian Poet


Murilo Monteiro Mendes (May 13, 1901 – August 13, 1975) was a Brazilian Modernist poet, considered to be one of the forerunners of the Surrealist movement in Brazil. Between 1924 and 1929, Mendes published his first poems in the Modernist magazines Antropofagia and Verde. His first poetry book, simply called Poemas, was published in 1930; it won the Graça Aranha Prize. His second poetry book, Bumba-Meu-Poeta, was released shortly afterwards, and in 1933, Mendes published História do Brasil.

Dead Man

Man stretched on the table.
his black clothes make him larger.
the four big candlesticks sysymmetrically arranged
build up na imaginary tomb in the room.

The family portraits framed in plush
rub their hands in glee.

His polished shoes
show the revenue stamp.
The neighbour’s porr children
take a phot on the shoe.

Translated by Abgar Renault


I proclaim Thee great and wonderful,
Not because Thou hast made the sun to avail by day
And the stars to avail by night;
Not because Thou hast made the earth and all that is therein,
The fruits of the field, the flowers, the cinemas, the locomotives;
Not because Thou hast made the sea and all that is therein,
The animals and plants, submarines and sirens;
I proclaim Thee great and eternally wonderful
Because Thou makest Thyself tiny in the Eucharist,
So tiny that I, weak and wretched, am able to contain

Translated by Dudley Poore

Song of the Bridegroom

I will see your shapes take form little by little,
will see them shift in color, in weight, in rhythm,
your breasts swell in the hot night,
the eyes be transformed at the budding idea of a first child.
I will assist in the unfolding of your ages,
watching over all your transformations.
Already in my memory is the girl mother-to-dolls,
and after that, the one by the window in the afternoon,
and the one who changed on knowing me,
and the one close-by the union of bodies and souls.
The others will come. Your hips that will spread out,
the fallen breasts, the blameless eyes, the hair without luster
will be and tether you closer to the meaning of love,
my darling martyr, shape that I destroyed, integrated into mine.

Translated by Harrison Tao