in search of poetry

Don’t write poetry about events.
There’s neither creation nor death in poetry.
Faced with it, life is a static sun,
which neither warms nor brightens.
Affinities, birthdays, personal incidents don’t count.
Don’t write poetry with your body,
that fine, well-made, comfortable body, so hostile to lyrical effusions.
Your drop of bile, your grimace of pleasure or grief in the darkness,
are indifferent.
And do not reveal your feelings to me,
for they take advantage of misunderstandings, and try for a long trip.
Whatever you think or feel, it is still not poetry.
Do not sing the praises of your city, leave it in peace.
The song is neither the movement of machines nor the secret
of houses.
It is not music heard in passing; the murmur of the sea in the streets
beside the line of foam.
The song is neither nature
nor man in society.
For it, rain and night, fatigue and hope have no meaning.
Poetry (don’t draw poetry from things)
elides subject and object.

Don’t dramatize, don’t invoke,
don’t investigate. Don’t lose time in lying.
Don’t be exasperated.
Your ivory yacht, your diamond shoe,
your mazurkas and superstitions, your family skeletons
disappear in the curve of time, they are useless.

Don’t recompose
your buried and gloomy childhood.
Don’t oscillate between the mirror
and your fading memory.
If it faded, it wasn’t poetry.
If it broke, it wasn’t glass.

Explore quietly into the realm of words.
That’s where the poems are waiting to be written.
They are paralyzed, but there is no despair,
there is calm and freshness in the unbroken surface.
There they are, alone and silent, in dictionary form.

Live with your poems before you write them.
Be patient if they are obscure. Be calm if they provoke you.
Wait for each to be realized and consumed
in the power of its words
and the power of its silence.
Don’t force the poem to tear itself from the limbo.
Don’t pick up a lost poem from the floor.
Don’t flatter the poem. Accept it as
it will accept its form, definitive and concentrated
in space.

Draw closer and look at the words.
Each one
has a thousand secret faces beneath its blank face,
and is asking you, with no interest in the reply
you may give- poor or terrible:
Did you bring the key?

Look:
barren of melody and concept,
those words took refuge in the night.
Still damp and impregnated with sleep,
they roll in a difficult river and turn into scorn.

Carlos Drummond de Andrade

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