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This review is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

PROLONGATIONS FROM THE PORTUGUESE Inhabited Heart: the selected poems of Eugenio de Andrade, translated by Alexis Levitin (Perivale Press, Van Nuys, California) $7.95 pb.

For most of us, modern Portuguese poetry begins and ends with Fernando Pessoa, who died fifty years ago. Pessoa, and the audience for Pessoa, renders any causerie on behalf of other Portuguese poets more vulnerable than it might otherwise have been. In practice (as, for example, with the poetry of Jorge de Sena) efforts to redress the balance have originated with small American presses, so that limited resources and reduced distribution become contributory factors in the fates of what are already hostages to fortune. This familiar set of circumstances applies in the case of Eugenio de Andrade, now in his sixties and obviously as respected a figure in his native country as his namesake Carlos Drummond in Brazil. Portuguese composers have set Andrade's lyrics to music; he has been translated into French, Spanish and Italian; and in the classrooms and literary columns of the republic he is a poet whose stature is not in question.

This welcome selection bears a quotation from the correspondence between Andrade and the great Spanish poet Luis Cernuda, whose letters were published in 1979. What Cernuda admired in his friend was 'the rare gift of making vision and expression coincide to the point where the latter seems a prolongation, a pleasurable extension of the former'. A rare gift indeed, though arguably more often met with than a comparable 'coincidence' in the sensibility of a translator. 'Your words', Cernuda added, 'do not weigh heavy; in you appearance and sound turn to a gentle ...


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