Augusto dos Anjos – Monologue of a Shadow

Monologue of a Shadow

by Augusto dos Anjos (1884-1914)

Translation by Wylks Weindhardt* and Peter O’ Neill*

Augusto Dos Anjos was born in the modern named town of Sapé, in the state of Paraíba, near the north east coast of BraZil. He only published one book in his lifetime, two years before his death, with the help of his brother. The collection is called Eu , or I in English. Hailed as the father of modernism, in a short interview granted in 1912, when asked about influences, Dos Anjos cites two names; those of Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe. He could have added Baudelaire, for the poetry of Augusto Dos Anjos underwent the same Copernican effect as the Parisian master, in terms of both content and form. Rigorously academic in his approach to rhyme and meter, Augusto Dos Anjos, like Baudelaire before him, is a master of the sonnet. This would perhaps partly explain the absence of translations of his work into English, for like Baudelaire, they are notoriously difficult to render in English. As for subject matter, death is ever present in Dos Anjos work- Poe’s influence being all apparent. But Dos Anjos’ lexicon, and treatment of his many morbid themes is uniquely his own, as indeed will become instantly apparent in a reading of Monologue of a Shadow. Augusto Dos Anjos was to die of pneumonia, although some argue it was TB, when he was only thirty leaving his wife and two children behind him.
WylkysTranslation Note: What we have tried to give here is the best possible literal translation of the poem sacrificing any attempt at following the very strict rhyming scheme of the Portuguese original for actual content and meaning. Dos Anjos uses rhyme a lot in his work, he is very much like Baudelaire in this respect and so proving incredibly difficult to translate into English. Wylkys and I preferred to retain the force of his work which we felt would be diluted, to a certain extent, if we attempted to retain the rhyme. Besides, rhyme suits so much better Latin languages like Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian, the undulating vowel sounds which all of these languages share are distinctly absent in English and so rendering rhyme less of a pleasure to experience, or such, at least, is how we feel.
For the same reason the original line order has been jettisoned, this is a very dramatic soliloquy. In an attempt at rendering a similar force in the original, I have changed the sequence of lines to suit English syntax sometimes more happily than others. I alone am responsible for this re-ordering much, at times, to the desperation of my colleague. I have reproduced below the original Portuguese and our English translation so that you can see clearly the changes which have been made.
I should like to finally thank Wylkys for firstly introducing me to the poetry of Augusto Dos Anjos and for secondly collaborating with me on this translation, without his help it simply would never have come to light.


Monologue of a Shadow

“ Polyp of hidden recesses,
Larva of telluric chaos…
From the cosmopolitism of the munerae,
From the darkness of the cosmic secret
From the substance of all substance,
I, a Shadow, come to you from out of the ages!

And it is through me that flow simultaneously
The wealth of underground forces
And the morbidity of illusory beings……
The soul of rotary movements
Pulse widely inside my ignoti monad,
While the symbiosis of all things balances me.!

Hovering above the mundane ceiling,
Ignorant to the accident of Senectus
-This universal blood sucker,
Who produces, without even a price,
The virus, the yellowing papyrus,
And the anatomical sadness of the wrinkle.

On the sociological scale, I possess a weapon
– The metaphysics of the Abidharma -—
And I bring, without Brahmanic scissors,
As on the back of the passive azemole,
The subjective solitariness
Of every suffering species..

Corruption is my gospel.
I love shit, the rotting odour coming
From cubicles… In a spit
I show my disgust at human nature.
And the inferior beast who roams in the woods
Is most assuredly my elder brother.

Just like staring at my own tomb,
Under the full American moonlight,
I bitterly face, in the crepuscular
Soul of my own race, and as a vocation
For the disgrace, an ancient tropism
Of the unfortunate..

The crazed miner of origins,,
With an ugly face tattooed with soot,
Comes dirty, scratching the plebeian wounds,
Bringing with him the full aridity of ideas
And the endemic hell of despair;
He – the modern philosopher!

I wanted to understand
The phenomenological life of forms,
Breaking sterile rules which like sudden fires
Explode, and only found then in their
Waste, the grim horror of the whole
Mechanism which everything is finally brought.
Under the sarchophagus path of the plague
The wild beasts will find him tomorrow,
As one submitting to a dismemberment,
And who is already slowly breathing,
The last tropical flash of the damned light
And what is left of his poisonous fingers..

But he’ll live, breaking the wiring
Of this choking law which restricts,
This is the law of the stamen!
Every perishable added,
In the indefinable etherisation
Of the released intra-atomic energy! .

Potential sonority of beings,
Sources of repulsion and pleasure,
Choked inside matter…
Chemo-taxis, aerial undulations,
X-rays, and mysterious magnetism,
Would be heat- all causes for ubiquitous joy!

Clavicle, abdomen, heart and mouth
– the whole clockwork of vulgar guts-
Fingers full of poison,
In synthesis man,
all falling into the hideous logic,
His musculature rotting.

Inside that mess that the humus devours
In a horrendous, playful gluttony,
See! The murderous worms,
Messing around inside the intestines,
Like she dogs with clenched teeth
Inside the physiological cramps of hunger.

The executing bacteria
Consume the decomposing corpse,
It is a tragic, emotive feast…
Even family members gag
Staring at the convulsive, evil larvae
Shaped like an S inside the ghastly cadaver.

After a lifetime of being awake
Such a miserable heritage – reduced to microbes.
That’s the reason this insane man
Spoiled the whole vibrating plasma,
Just like a fakir running through the monasteries
In a scaled suicide, absorbing himself!

But there are other finer stratifications
Of an underground bestiality,
Just like that other dandy satyr
Whose sodomite sensuality,
Nurtures infamy through milk and wheat,
Glorying in his evil cells.

While reeking of the odour of the meat
Of abstinence, in the dim bazaar of prostitution,
Blind, white drunk bacchants kiss him,
His putrid arteries pulsing,
Drunk on the addiction
Of the aphrodisiac of female saliva..

The carnivorous mucus of wolves,
As in the Babylonian Samsara,
Remembering the irrepressible hunger
Which opens, howling at the night in sensual
Raptures, in the full horror of his anomalous
Neurosis, and with all the sensuality of symbiosis.

With all the blunt vehemence of the ram,
Grasping, the monster awaits for its victim
From its ofidic, zoo-plasmic results…
And, as in the firing of a catapult,
All of the congenital passion of a true bastard,
Explodes through the light affecting air.

But many times, as the night expires,
The stripped right hand of a spirit,
Watching rigidly through the thin braid
Of the fluidic filaments of a thin halo,
Extends through the darkness from out of
The dark soul of the night to grab him.

From out of its cavernous soul,
Growing stronger in him the anencephalic torture,
Making ultra-epileptic efforts,
Awakening under the lightless chandeliers,
In a choreography of the damned,
The family now is alarmed with regrets.

It’s the awakening of some underground people,
The skull cave people-
Macbeths of the pathological vigil,
As exhibited in several rembrantesque canvases,
Revealing all of the bloody incestuous practices
Within his family.

The tactile hallucinations multiply…
He feels the megatheriums choking him,
The black wings of the common housefly horrify,
And autopsying his very bitter existence
Reveals a very persistent cancerous conscience,
And three blood stains on his shirt!!

Recognising drunken sleep
In the very Dionysian eagerness of joy,
The consciousness of the satyr hells,
The fuel wanes in the torch,
This necessity of horror
Which is perhaps the characteristic of coal.

Behind the ignivomous light of the moon
There’s the reality of an opaque sphere,
Ah! Inside every soul there’s the proof…
As much as observing raw science –
That pain renews itself like a dart,
Whenever barbarous pleasure strikes.

Only Art, chiselling away at human sorrow,
Can soften the hard rock,
Liquefying the deep telluric fire,
Reducing the orographic roughness of the world
Without disintegrating it, watering it down,
To the condition of the happy prairie.

In this way I prove to the hateful world
Through the great reason of feeling,
Without the methods of obtuse, cold science
And the noisy thunders of the dialectic;
That the highest expression of aesthetic pain
Consists essentially in joy.

And the martyrdom of the creature goes on:
– the homicide in the darkest alleyways,
– the bruise that scars the hostile dry turf,
– the last soliloquy of the suicidal-
And I feel the pain of all of these lives
In my anonymous larvae existence.”

All of which spoke the shadow, and hearing
The words beneath the pale javelin moonlight,
With all the excitement anxiety and nervousness
Condemned to listen to the monotonous owls
Executing among the dirt encrusted skeletons
The chilling orchestrations of an apparent total

It was the song of the universe exhausted,
Crying and laughing at the in-Faust irony
At all of the evil incoherence of those phrases…
Immersed in the nothingness of coagulating
Human blood, perhaps prostituted
At its fountain.

And the maelstrom of such sour phonemes,
Thundering out great massacres,
Will hurt my auditory doors
Until my ephemeral head reverts back
To the quietness of the thickening darkness,
And to the pale dead photospheres.


Monólogo de uma sombra

«Sou uma Sombra! Venho de outras eras,
Do cosmopolitismo das moneras…
Pólipo de recônditas reentrâncias,
Larva de caos telúrico, procedo
Da escuridão do cósmico segredo,
Da substância de todas as substâncias!

A simbiose das coisas me equilibra.
Em minha ignota mônada, ampla, vibra
A alma dos movimentos rotatórios…
E é de mim que decorrem, simultâneas,
A saúde das forças subterrâneas
E a morbidez dos seres ilusórios!

Pairando acima dos mundanos tectos,
Não conheço o acidente da Senectus
— Esta universitária sanguessuga ,
Que produz, sem dispêndio algum de vírus,
O amarelecimento do papirus
E a miséria anatômica da ruga!

Na existência social, possuo uma arma
— O metafisicismo de Abidarma —
E trago, sem bramânicas tesouras,
Como um dorso de azêmola passiva,
A solidariedade subjetiva
De todas as espécies sofredoras.

Com um pouco de saliva quotidiana
Mostro meu nojo à Natureza Humana.
A podridão me serve de Evangelho…
Amo o esterco, os resíduos ruins dos quiosques
E o animal inferior que urra nos bosques
E com certeza meu irmão mais velho!

Tal qual quem para o próprio túmulo olha,
Amarguradamente se me antolha,
À luz do americano plenilúnio,
Na alma crepuscular de minha raça
Como uma vocação para a Desgraça
E um tropismo ancestral para o Infortúnio.

Aí vem sujo, a coçar chagas plebéias,
Trazendo no deserto das idéias
O desespero endêmico do inferno,
Com a cara hirta, tatuada de fuligens
Esse mineiro doido das origens,
Que se chama o Filósofo Moderno!

Quis compreender, quebrando estéreis normas,
A vida fenomênica das Formas,
Que, iguais a fogos passageiros, luzem…
E apenas encontrou na idéia gasta,
O horror dessa mecânica nefasta,
A que todas as cousas se reduzem!

E hão de achá-lo, amanhã, bestas agrestes,
Sobre a esteira sarcófaga das pestes
A mostrar, já nos últimos momentos,
Como quem se submete a uma charqueada,
Ao clarão tropical da luz danada,
espólio dos seus dedos peçonhentos.

Tal a finalidade dos estames!
Mas ele viverá, rotos os liames
Dessa estranguladora lei que aperta
Todos os agregados perecíveis,
Nas eterizações indefiníveis
Da energia intra-atômica liberta!

Será calor, causa úbiqua de gozo,
Raio X, magnetismo misterioso,
Quimiotaxia, ondulação aérea,
Fonte de repulsões e de prazeres,
Sonoridade potencial dos seres,
Estrangulada dentro da matéria!

E o que ele foi: clavículas, abdômen,
O coração, a boca, em síntese, o Homem,
— Engrenagem de vísceras vulgares —
Os dedos carregados de peçonha,
Tudo coube na lógica medonha
Dos apodrecimentos musculares!

A desarrumação dos intestinos
Assombra! Vede-a! Os vermes assassinos
Dentro daquela massa que o húmus come,
Numa glutoneria hedionda, brincam,
Como as cadelas que as dentuças trincam
No espasmo fisiológico da fome.

É uma trágica festa emocionante!
A bacteriologia inventariante
Toma conta do corpo que apodrece …
E até os membros da família engulham,
Vendo as larvas malignas que se embrulham
No cadáver malsão, fazendo um s.

E foi então para isto que esse doudo
Estragou o vibrátil plasma todo,
À guisa de um faquir, pelos cenóbios?! …
Num suicídio graduado, consumir-se,
E após tantas vigílias, reduzir-se
A herança miserável de micróbios!

Estoutro agora é o sátiro peralta
Que o sensualismo sodomista exalta,
Nutrindo sua infâmia a leite e a trigo.
Como que, em suas células vilíssimas,
Há estratificações requintadíssimas
De uma animalidade sem castigo.

Brancas bacantes bêbedas o beijam.
Suas artérias hírcicas latejam,
Sentindo o odor das carnações abstêmias,
E à noite, vai gozar, ébrio de vício,
No sombrio bazar do meretrício,
O cuspo afrodisíaco das fêmeas.

No horror de sua anômala nevrose,
Toda a sensualidade da simbiose,
Uivando, à noite, em lúbricos arroubos,
Como no babilônico sansara,
Lembra a fome incoercível que escancara
A mucosa carnívora dos lobos.

Sôfrego, o monstro as vítimas aguarda.
Negra paixão congênita, bastarda,
Do seu zooplasma ofídico resulta…
E explode, igual à luz que o ar acomete,
Com a veemência mavórtica do ariete
E os arremessos de uma catapulta.

Mas muitas vezes, quando a noite avança,
Hirto, observa através a tênue trança
Dos filamentos fluídicos de um halo
A destra descarnada de um duende,
Que, tateando nas tênebras, se estende
Dentro da noite má, para agarrá-lo!

Cresce-lhe a intracefálica tortura,
E de su’alma na caverna escura,
Fazendo ultra-epilépticos esforços,
Acorda, com os candieiros apagados,
Numa coreografia de danados,
A família alarmada dos remorsos.

E o despertar de um povo subterrâneo!
É a fauna cavernícola do crânio
— Macbeths da patológica vigília,
Mostrando, em rembrandtescas telas várias,
As incestuosidades sanguinárias
Que ele tem praticado na família.

As alucinações tácteis pululam.
Sente que megatérios o estrangulam…
A asa negra das moscas o horroriza;
E autopsiando a amaríssirna existência
Encontra um cancro assíduo na consciência
E três manchas de sangue na camisa!

Míngua-se o combustível da lanterna
E a consciência do sátiro se inferna,
Reconhecendo, bêbedo de sono,
Na própria ânsia dionísica do gozo,
Essa necessidade de horroroso,
Que é talvez propriedade do carbono!

Ah! Dentro de toda a alma existe a prova
De que a dor como um dartro se renova,
Quando o prazer barbaramente a ataca…
Assim também, observa a ciência crua,
Dentro da elipse ignívoma da lua
A realidade de uma esfera opaca.

Somente a Arte, esculpindo a humana mágoa,
Abranda as rochas rígidas, torna água
Todo o fogo telúrico profundo
E reduz, sem que, entanto, a desintegre,
A condição de uma planície alegre,
A aspereza orográfica do mundo!

Provo desta maneira ao mundo odiento
Pelas grandes razões do sentimento,
Sem os métodos da abstrusa ciência fria
E os trovões gritadores da dialética,
Que a mais alta expressão da dor estética
Consiste essencialmente na alegria.

Continua o martírio das criaturas:
— O homicídio nas vielas mais escuras,
— O ferido que a hostil gleba atra escarva,
— O último solilóquio dos suicidas —
E eu sinto a dor de todas essas vidas
Em minha vida anônima de larva!»

Disse isto a Sombra. E, ouvindo estes vocábulos,
Da luz da lua aos pálidos venábulos,
Na ânsia de um nervosíssimo entusiasmo,
julgava ouvir monótonas corujas,
Executando, entre caveiras sujas,
A orquestra arrepiadura do sarcasmo!

Era a elegia panteísta do Universo,
Na podridão do sangue humano imerso,
Prostituído talvez, em suas bases…
Era a canção da Natureza exausta,
Chorando e rindo na ironia infausta
Da incoerência infernal daquelas frases.

E o turbilhão de tais fonemas acres
Trovejando grandíloquos massacres,
Há-de ferir-me as auditivas portas,
Até que minha efêmera cabeça
Reverta à quietação da treva espessa
E à palidez das fotosferas mortas!

*Wylkys Weindhardt born in Curitiba, Brazil, in1971. Wylkys has an extensive multifaceted professional and academic background. He is currently lecturing as a Professor in Film Studies at the University UniBrazil in Curitiba, and has also extensive experience working as an Executive Producer in Adverting. An accomplished Professional Chef and linguist, Wylkys shares a great passion for translating the poetry of Augusto Dos Anjos into English with Peter O’ Neill as an ‘organic’ work in progress.

*Peter O’ Neill (1967) was born in Cork where he grew up before moving to live in France in the nineties. He returned to Dublin in 1998, where he has been living ever since. He has been writing poetry since the eighties, and has been published in reviews in Ireland, USA, UK and France. His debut collection Antiope (Stonesthrow Poetry, 2013) was critically acclaimed: ‘certainly a voice to be reckoned with.’ Dr Brigitte Le JueZ (Dublin City University). With over six collections behind him, he is currently translating Les Fleurs Du Mal.


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