HILDA HILST: I - OF DESIRE & OTHER POEMS

 "Do you see me as mad?...

Because there is desire within me, everything glimmers"

 

Hilda Hilst - by surrealist photographer Fernando Lemos
Hilda Hilst - by surrealist photographer Fernando Lemos

 

Hilda Hilst was born in 1930 in Jaú, Brazil. A prolific writer whose work spans many different genres, including poetry, fiction, drama and newspaper columns, her eccentric personality — she claimed she would go to a planet called Marduk in her afterlife — attracted more public attention than her work. She was a beautiful woman with an active social life in São Paulo, but at a certain point she decided to retreat to the countryside to dedicate herself entirely to writing. She died in 2004, and while she had already received some public recognition, many of her important books were already out-of-print by then. Her popularity has grown since then, and all of her books have been published in new editions. Some of her work has also been translated into Italian, French, Spanish and German. - Beatriz Bastos

 

OF DESIRE 

 

 

Because there is desire within me, everything glimmers.
Before, daily life was thinking of heights
Seeking Another decanted
Deaf to my human bark.
Sap and sweat, they never came to be.
Today, flesh and bones, laborious, lascivious
You take my body. And what rest you give me
After the readings. I dreamt of cliffs
When there was a garden by my side.
I thought of climbs where there were no signs.
Ecstatic, I fuck you
Instead of yapping at Nothingness.

 

(translated by Lavinia Saad) 

 

I come from ancient times. Long names: 

Vaz Cardoso, Almeida Prado 

Dubayelle Hilst... events. 

I come from your roots, breaths of you, 

And I love you tiredly now, blood, wine 

Unreal cups corroded by time. 

I love you as if there were more and derailings. 

As if we stepped on ferns 

And they screamed, both our victims: 

Otherworldly, vehement. 

I love you small like one who wants MORE 

Like one who guesses everything: 

Wold, moon, fox and ancestors.

 

Say of me: You are mine.

 

(translated by Lavinia Saad)

 

Hilda Hilst - by surrealist photographer Fernando Lemos
Hilda Hilst - by surrealist photographer Fernando Lemos

 

I smile when I wonder

 

Where in your room

 

You keep my verse.

 

Away from your

 

Political books?

 

In the first drawer

 

Close to the window?

 

Do you smile when you read

 

Or are you tired of seeing

 

Such abandon

 

Amorous spark

 

On my ripened face?

 

Do I seem beautiful

 

Or am I to you, perhaps

 

Too much of a poet,

 

And not serious enough?

 

What does the man think

 

Of the poet? That there's no truth

 

In my drunkenness

 

And that you prefer

 

A friend more peaceful

 

And less adventurous?

 

That you simply cannot

 

Keep in your room

 

Worldly traces

 

Of my passionate words?

 

Do you see me as mad?

 

Do you see me as pure?

 

Do you see me as young?

 

 

 

Or is it true

 

That you never knew me?

 

(translated by Beatriz Bastos)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Various poems (translated by Lavinia Saad)

 

 

From cicadas and stones, words want to be born.

But the poet lives

Alone in a corridor of moons, in a water-house.

From world maps, from shortcuts, voyages want to be born.

But the poet inhabits

The field of inns of insanity.

 

From the flesh of women, men want to be born.

And the poet pre-exists, between the light and the nameless.

 

*

 

Do not look for me there

Where the living call upon

The so-called dead.

Look for me

Within the deep waters

In squares

Within a heart fire

Between horses, dogs,

In the ricefields, along the high

bank

Or with the birds

Or mirrored

In someone else,

Climbing a hard path

Rock, seed, salt

Life's paths. Look for me there.

Alive.

 

*

 

While I write a verse, you surely live.

You work your wealth, and I work my blood.

You will say that blood is not having your gold

And the poet tells you: buy your time.

 

Ponder your hurried life, listen to

Your inner gold. I speak of another yellow.

While I write a verse, you who never read me

Smile when someone speaks to you about my verse.

To you, a poet is like an ornament, and you change the subject:

“My precious time cannot be wasted on poets.”

Brother of my moment: when I die

Something infinite also dies. It’s hard to say it:

A POET’S LOVE DIES.

And this is so large that your gold cannot buy it,

And so rare, that that smallest piece is so vast

That it doesn’t fit in my corner.

 

*

 

If I seem to you nocturnal and imperfect

Look at me again. Because tonight

I looked at myself as if you were

looking at me.

And it was as if water

Desired

 

To leave your house that is the

river,

Just slipping by, not even

touching the riverbank.

 

I looked at you. And it has been

so long

That I understand that I am

earth. It has been so long

That I wait

For your brotherly body of water

To stretch over mine. Pastor and

naut

 

Look at me again. From a lesser

height.

And more attentively.

 

*

 

What if I tell you that I saw a bird

Upon your sex, should you believe it?

And if it isn’t true, the Universe will not change at all.

If I say that desire is Eternity

Because the moment burns without end

Should you believe it? And if it’s not true

So many have said it that it could be.

In desire we are touched by sophomania, ornaments

Immodesty, shame. Why can’t I

Dot with innocence and poetry

Bones, blood, flesh, the now

And everything in us that will become misshapen?

 

*

 

The Obscene Madame D

 

 

The hours. Ecstasy. Dryness. Stung before the outdoors, I lapped the

air, colors, nuances, and I stopped breathing before certain ochres, the veins

of certain leaves, before the smallest of leopards, before the gray-white

feathers that fell from the roof, gray of a stony gray, a shimmering

silver-gray, and having seen, having been what I was, am I this one now? How

can I have been Hillé, vast, and plunging fingers into the matter of the world,

how having been, can I have lost she who was, and be today who I am?

 

*

 

 

OF ALCOOLICAS 

 

 

Life is raw. A handle of tripe and metal. 

 I fall into it: a wounded stone embryo. 

 Life is raw and hard. Like a mouthful of viper. 

 I eat it on my pale tongue 

 Ink, I wash your forearms, Life, I wash myself 

 In the scant narrowness 

 Of my body, I wash the bone rafters, my life, 

 Your leaden nail, my rouge coat. 

 And we wander well-heeled the streets, 

 Crimson, gothic, tall bodies and glasses. 

 Life is raw. Ravenous like the crow’s beak. 

 And it can be so giving and mythic: a brook, a tear, 

 An eddy in the water, a drink. Life is liquid. 

 

* 

 

Heights, strips, I climb them, I cut them out 

And the two of us hover, Life and I 

In the red of the tempest. Drunk, 

We dive clear-headed into the croaking wine. 

What stylish jest. What straight-backed 

Seraphins. The two of us in vapors, 

Lyrical and lobotomized, and the ditch 

Becomes peak, and mud is transluscent 

And Nothing is extreme. 

I unpeel mad daily life 

And its pasty rite of paraboles. 

Patient, priestesslike, very well-mannered 

We await the tepid dusk, the glass, the house. 

 

Ah, everything becomes dignified when life is liquid. 

 

* 

 

Also raw and hard are the words and faces 

Before we sit at the table, you and I, Life 

Before the shimmery gold of drink. Slowly 

Stillnesses, water lentils, diamonds appear 

Over past and present insults. Slowly 

We are two ladies, soaking in laughter, rosy 

Like a berry, the one that I glimpsed in your breath, friend 

When you allowed me paradise. The sinister of hours 

Becomes a time of conquest. Languor and suffering 

Become forgetfulness. After we lay down, death 

Is a king who visits and covers us with myrrh. 

You whisper: Ah, life is liquid.

 

 

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