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Carlos Drummond de Andrade

1902–1987

Carlos Drummond de Andrade was born on October 31, 1902, in Itabira, Brazil. The son of a wealthy ranch-owner, he received a degree in pharmacy in 1925. That same year, he cofounded the literary journal A revista and became involved in the Brazilian Modernist movement. He published his first poetry collection, Alguma poesia, in 1930.

During his lifetime, Andrade wrote over a dozen poetry collections as well as several volumes of short prose. His work was first translated into English by Virginia Araújo in The Minus Sign and Other Poems (Black Swan Press, 1980).  In 1986 a selection of his poetry, with translations by Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Strand, and others, was published as Traveling in the Family: Selected Poems (Random House, 1986). Multitudinous Heart: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a bilingual selection of poems from across Andrade’s career, was published posthumously in 2015.

In a New York Times review, Dwight Garner writes that Andrade “is widely considered the greatest poet in the history of Brazil.” Garner goes on to describe Andrade as “a sophisticated and cerebral poet who…speaks in many registers. He is by turns melancholy and ironic, sentimental and self-deprecating, remote and boyish.”

For most of his life, Andrade worked as a civil servant in Brazil’s Ministry of Education. He died in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 1987.


Selected Bibliography

Multitudinous Heart: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)
Traveling in the Family: Selected Poems (Random House, 1986)
The Minus Sign and Other Poems (Black Swan Press, 1980)

By This Poet

1

Souvenir of the Ancient World

Clara strolled in the garden with the children. 
The sky was green over the grass, 
the water was golden under the bridges,
other elements were blue and rose and orange, 
a policeman smiled, bicycles passed, 
a girl stepped onto the lawn to catch a bird, 
the whole world—Germany, China—
   all was quiet around Clara.

The children looked at the sky: it was not forbidden.
Mouth, nose, eyes were open. There was no danger.
What Clara feared were the flu, the heat, the insects.
Clara feared missing the eleven o'clock trolley:
She waited for letters slow to arrive,
She couldn't always wear a new dress. But she strolled in the garden, in the morning!
They had gardens, they had mornings in those days!