They bore sunsets and roads
Thirst for the horizon called them
- Who do you belong to?
Who are your people?
That's how our grandmother held out
A mug of water to the traveller
The literal translation of this poem was made by Stefan Tobler
The final translated version of the poem is by The Poetry Translation Workshop
This beautifully precise and concise poem was a delight to translate.
In the first line, we decided to stick with 'bore' because of the sense of the weight of carrying an object as well as enduring something.
In the second stanza, although the Portuguese has the sense of 'where are you from', we felt that focusing on who your people might be was truer to the original than where are you from.
In the final stanza, we stayed with 'held out' because of the feeling of it being a physical gesture, rather than something more abstract, such as 'offered'. And we also stuck with 'mug', rather than cup or glass, because of its association with something everyday and ordinary.
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2015