from Ten Songs for a Friend

by Hilda Hilst


This mournfulness, this restlessness
the inner convulsions, an endless island,
solitude within, body dying —
all this I owe to you. And they were vast,
these plans — ships
great walls of ivory, fine words,
promises, promises. And it would be December,
a jade horse above the water,
doubly transparent, a line in mid-air —
all this undone by the trapdoor of time
in perfect silence. Some glass mornings
wind, the hollowed soul, a sun I can't see —

this too I owe to you.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Beatriz Bastos

The final translated version of the poem is by The Poetry Translation Workshop


  1. October 20th, 2013 at 3:50 am

    kathleen says:

    brilliant poem

  2. October 2nd, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Steve Cohen says:

    definitely a favorite of mine!

  3. October 2nd, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Ana Britto says:

    Hi, this a lovely poem.

    Where can I find the whole poem by Hilda Hilst? I've "googled" it and got more than one version. 

    I really enjoy this website. It would be great to find more Brazilian poems here:)

    Thanks a lot


    Ana Britto


  4. January 7th, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    thomas says:

    nice job

  5. January 4th, 2010 at 5:49 am

    julie harpum says:

    these poems are seriousy beautiful why are they not better known in europe?

  6. April 26th, 2008 at 4:18 am

    Vanusa Pedrozo says:

    I speak Portuguese and English and I saw some problems in the final translation for this poem.

    In the first line, "Essa lua enlutada, esse desassossego," there is the alliteration of lua (moon) and enlutada (adjective for the one who is mourning). I know it is impossible to keep the alliteration, but I believe the image of the moon is important in the poem, since the idea is that even the moon is sad, and reflects the speaker's feeling.

    Also in the 11th and 12th lines, the images "some glass mornings/wind, the hollowed soul" do not exist in the original poem. In the original poem, the literal translation is "In livid silence. A sun I can't see/ this to I owe you." You could check because the confusion might be result of a typing mistake in the original poem, since in the literal translation by Beatriz Passos those two lines are there too.