“The Ballroom in Bloom” by Castro Alves

Castro Alves was a Brazilian poet and playwright. His abolitionist writing won him the epithet of “O Poeta dos Escravos” (“The Poet of the Slaves”).

How lovely the shores of this powerful river,
Which flows away frothy, unrivaled, supreme:
There in bromeliads, among golden blossoms,
Sylphs and fairies establish their home.
And, in beautiful sprinkles,
The delicate fireflies
Kindle their flames
For the ballroom in bloom.
And then—in arcades
Of soft gilded petals—
The festive crickets
In feverish orchestra
Strike up a tune.
And the tiny
Butterflies
Go lightly,
Serenely,
Swarming,
Spinning,
Waltzing,
Flying
In the
Air!

—Translated by David Bowles
March 14, 2014

O baile na flor

Que belas as margens do rio possante,
Que ao largo espumante campeia sem par!…
Ali das bromélias nas flores doiradas
Há silfos e fadas, que fazem seu lar…
E, em lindos cardumes,
Sutis vaga-lumes
Acendem os lumes
P’ra o baile na flor.
E então — nas arcadas
Das pet’las doiradas,
Os grilos em festa
Começam na orquesta
Febris a tocar…
E as breves
Falenas
Vão leves,
Serenas,
Em bando
Girando,
Valsando,
Voando
No ar!…

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