Three Poems from Of Death. Minimal Odes

 

Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst.

Editor's Note:

Of Death. Minimal Odes, a verse collection by Brazilian poet Hilda Hilst translated by Laura Cesarco Eglin, was a recipient of the 2019 Best Translated Book Awards. The prize jury commented on the book:

The first collection of Hilda Hilst’s poetry to be appear in English, Of Death. Minimal Odes is masterfully translated by Laura Cesarco Eglin. Hilda Hilst’s odes are searing, tender blasphemies. One is drawn to Of Death in the way we’re drawn to things that might be dangerous. These are poems that lure readers well beyond their best interests, regardless of whatever scars might be sustained. In language that is twisted, animalistic, yet at times plain, Eglin reveals another layer in the work of this Brazilian great.

We are proud to feature a selection of poems from Of Death. Minimal Odes in Latin American Literature Today. Click here to read the poems in the original Portuguese.


IX

Your hooves bandaged
so I won’t hear
your hard trot.
Is this, little mare,
how you’ll come for me?
Or because I thought you
severe and silent 
you’ll come as a child
on a shard of china? 
Lover
because I disdained you?
Or with the airs of a king
because I made you queen?

 

XV

As if you fit
on the crest
on the peak
on the obverse of the bone

I try to capture your body
your mountain, your reverse.

As if the lips looked for
their converse
that’s how I look for you
torsion of all depths.

Persecutory, I follow you
tether, muscle.
And you always resemble
everything that runs, time,
the current.

In my mouth. In the emptiness.
In the crooked nose.
Down river you run, silt
stump, towards me.

 

XVI

Horse, buffalo, little mare
I love you, friend, my death,
if you approach, I jump
as one who wants and doesn’t want
to see the hill, the meadow, the mound
on the other side, as one who wants
and doesn’t dare
touch your fur—gold

the bright red of your skin
as one who doesn’t want.

Translated by Laura Cesarco Eglin

Languages

Elena Poniatowska in LALT
Number 11

In the eleventh issue of Latin American Literature Today, we highlight one of the essential voices of Mexican letters, Elena Poniatowska, and we pay homage to the towering literary figure of Chilean poet Enrique Lihn. We also highlight literary journalism from Venezuela and Mexico, indigenous literature in the Maya languages of Guatemala, poems by renowned Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst, and exclusive previews of upcoming books in translation from Silvina Ocampo, Johanny Vázquez Paz, and Sergio Chejfec. 

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Elena Poniatowska

Dossier: Enrique Lihn

Essays

Interviews

Chronicle

Indigenous Literature

Fiction

Brazilian Literature

Poetry

On Translation: Seeking Publisher

Translation Previews and New Releases

Nota Bene