Translation: Five Poems by Thiago Ponce de Moraes


Thiago Ponce de Moraes. Photo: Filippo Ronca

Thiago Ponce de Moraes is a Brazilian poet and translator. He has published the poetry collections Imp. (Caetés, 2006) and De gestos lassos ou nenhuns (Lumme Editor, 2010). He is currently finishing his PhD thesis on Paul Celan’s poetry and teaches the Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ). Ponce has participated in several national and international festivals, including the Festival International de la Poésie de Trois-Rivières in 2015 and the Struga Poetry Evenings in 2016. As a translator, he made Portuguese versions of poets as Basil Bunting, Emily Dickinson, Antonio Gamoneda, J.H. Prynne, Robert Creeley, Robert Lax, William Blake, Yannis Ritsos and several contemporary poets from Latin America and Europe. He is also releasing his third poetry collection, Dobres sobre a luz (Lumme Editor) and a bilingual pamphlet, glory box (Carnaval Press), which includes my own translations of poems from all of three of his collections.

Thiago and I will both be reading at the launch of Dobres sobre a luz and glory box, this Saturday night in São Paulo in Estúdio Lâmina at São João 108.

These translations are all taken from glory box.

WHEN YOU BABBLE those syllables
And I give back the night to you,
It is you in my mouth and your tongue
.        Is my tongue.
When your lips tremble
And I touch them with my skin,
I am right over your body and your body
.        Is my body.
When silence holds sway
And my eyes yours so close,
Our legs enlaced together, we exist,
.        We are each other’s.

BEFORE I SAW the great beauty
Of your eyes barely opening –
What childhood had awoken from dreaming?
What longing was drowned in its infancy?

As wandering in sleep: as a punch – in the teeth?
In the waters of memory – as comfort?
Down to childhood’s roots – as a fissure reopening the ground –
As a caesura sets apart this stanza’s murmured lament?

Before looking your eyes enclose
Such beauty, memory’s desire,
The will-o’-the-wisp of sight, these fireworks –
Your words ignite.

I RETURN TO YOU through the dense
Cipher of my temples.
No one is speaking,
.                Once again,

.        A deep well.

I think of guessing your steps
In May.
There’s no rush
Or stars

.                That I can hear,
Only the far-off sleep here.

I throw my rope down
And beg for any image

The rope returns

.       You depart.


Always this or always the other or neither this one nor the other.

With the far-off word you approach this name,
And in your name, torn out by the Root,
You search for its salts.

You confuse the break of day if you are dawning
And make authentic all who find morning
In the word day.

Your fathomless syllables sound the melancholy
Ingrained in the melody that hides
Between the word listen and the word, written.

You adjourn names, in infinite ports you draw near
To voices. In the word abyss
You fall.


.                          There is no reason.
At most there are stars, longings.

You open a book. How many constellations will not take you in.
With your golden hair you desire that this will be
The home you are searching for,
The word that exists but slips through your fingers.

You have just one recollection, when it gleams, and it blinds,
For them to come. Any memory you keep as a colour,
Even when dead,
And follow it with the will-o’-the-wisp of your voice.

Not even the brightest stars, not even the hungriest
Longings: all is lack – Love/Time.
There remains your ashen hair that you lean
Over your life with, turning your face to the sky.

Poems by Thiago Ponce de Moraes, translated by Rob Packer. Originally published on the Struga Poetry Evenings website and in Glory Box published by Carnaval Press, London.

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