Brazil, according to no less an observer than Elizabeth Bishop, is a place where poets hold a place of honor. "Among men, the name of 'poet' is sometimes used as a compliment or term of affection, even if the person referred to is . . . not a poet at all. One of the most famous twentieth-century poets, Manuel Bandeira, was presented with a permanent parking space in front of his apartment house in Rio de Janeiro, with an enamelled sign POETA―although he never owned a car and didn't know how to drive." In a culture like this, it is difficult to underestimate the importance of the nation's greatest poet, Carlos Drummond de Andrade.
Drummond, the most emblematic Brazilian poet, was a master of transforming the ordinary world, through language, into the sublime. His poems―musical protests, twisted hymns, dissonant celebrations of imperfection―are transcriptions of life itself recorded by a magnanimous outcast. As he put it in his "Seven-Sided Poem": "When I was born, one of those twisted / angels who live in the shadows said: / 'Carlos, get ready to be a misfit in life!' . . . World so wide, world so large, / my heart's even larger."
Multitudinous Heart, the most generous selection of Drummond's poems available in English, gathers work from the various phases of this restless, brilliant modernist. Richard Zenith's selection and translation brings us a more vivid and surprising poet than we knew.
"In new translations by Richard Zenith, we meet a sophisticated and cerebral poet who, true to this book's title, speaks in many registers. He is by turns melancholy and ironic, sentimental and self-deprecating, remote and boyish. . . .Mr. Drummond is worth encountering on the page."―The New York Times
"One of Brazil's most important poets."―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902–1987) was born in a small town in Minas Gerais. While he spent most of his life working as a government bureaucrat, he regarded poetry as his true vocation, and his first book was published in 1930. During six decades of writing, his work went through many phases, transcending styles and schools while being strongly influenced by modernism. Few critics or serious readers would dispute his status as Brazil's greatest poet. Richard Zenith lived in Brazil and France before immigrating to Portugal in 1987. He has translated the poetry of Luís de Camões, Fernando Pessoa, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, and João Cabral de Melo Neto.