Monday, October 29, 2012

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (1919—2004) is considered Portugal's finest, 20th century, female poet. Besides writing her own poetry, she is known for her children's books, and her translations of Shakespeare and Dante into Portuguese. She was raised a Catholic, and remained devout all her life. In 1999 she became the first woman to receive Portugal's highest poetry honour: The Prémio Camões.

She has said, “Poetry is my understanding with the universe, my way of relating to things, my participation in reality, my encounter with voices and images. That is why the poem speaks not of an ideal life but of a concrete one”.

The following poems were translated by Richard Zenith.


Lord free us from the dangerous game of transparency
There are no corals or shells on the sea floor of our soul
Just a smothered dream
And we don’t really know what dreams are
Silent conductors faint songs
Which one day suddenly appear
On the broad flat patio of disasters

The Navigators

Multiplicity makes us drunk
Astonishment leads us on
With daring and desire and calculated skill
We’ve broken the limits —
But the one God
Keeps us from straying
Which is why at each port we cover with gold
The sombre insides of our churches

This is the first Kingdom Poets post about Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen: second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: