Becoming Ishmael in Moby Dick,
whenever I find myself growing grim

about the mouth, whenever
it is a damp, drizzly

November in my soul,
it is time to take to sea.

And armed with next to nothing, just
the word that is almost less than a breath

a gust with which I fill the sail and part
in two the air and the water that carry

the soul’s wing and the body’s hull
to meet the beautiful beast

that beckons from the horizon with
his gaze green and lively: the Not-known,

the always most welcome, twin-
brother of creation, the stealer of fire

surrounded by clouds who throws
through the windows of my lodgings

the following flash: all water
around your house is stagnant

pasture for hordes of mosquitoes.
And hearing, turned Ishmael

I part the sea in two—the poem
always one step from the abyss.

© Antônio Moura. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Stefan Tobler. All rights reserved.

Feito Ishmael em Moby Dick,
sempre que sinto na boca uma

amargura crescente, sempre
que há em minha alma um

novembro úmido e chuvoso
é tempo de fazer-me ao mar.

E munido de quase nada, só
da palavra que é puro sopro,

através dela inflo a vela e parto
em dois o ar e a água que levam

a asa da alma e o casco do corpo
ao encontro do belo monstro

que acena do horizonte com seu
olhar verde e vivo: o Desconhecido,

o sempre bem vindo irmão-
gêmeo da criação, ladrão do fogo

lançando envolto em nuvens
pelas frestas dos aposentos

o seguinte clarão: toda a água

em volta da casa já está estagnada,

pasto para hordas de mosquitos.
E, ouvindo isto, feito Ishmael

parto em dois o mar—poema
sempre a um passo do abismo

Antônio MouraAntônio Moura

Antônio Moura was born in 1963 in Belém, capital of the state of Pará, in the Brazilian Amazon. After periods living in São Paulo and Lisbon, he has now returned to Belém. Four collections of his poetry, and three of his translations, have been published: his collections Dez (1996), Hong Kong & outros poemas (1999), Rio Silêncio (2004) and A sombra da ausência (2009), and his translations of Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, Quase-sonhos (2004) and Traduzido Da Noite / Traduit De La Nuit (2009), and of César Vallejo, Contra o segredo profissional (2005). Antônio Moura’s poems have also appeared in many Brazilian journals and newspapers, as well as in a number of contemporary anthologies in Brazil and abroad, including Nothing the Sun Could Not Explain: 20 Contemporary Brazilian Poets (2nd edition; 2003). He is currently being translated into Spanish, Catalan, German, and English. Earlier versions of some translations in this collection have appeared in the UK journals Shearsman and Modern Poetry in Translation, as well as in Crossing / Travessia, a pamphlet from the São Paulo small press Arqueria Editorial.

Translated from PortuguesePortuguese by Stefan ToblerStefan Tobler

Stefan Tobler is the founder of And Other Stories, the publisher who launched Deborah Levy’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted Swimming Home and Carlos Gamerro’s acclaimed The Islands, along with many more award-winning books. It works with networks of writers and translators to handpick the best of international literature for its subscribers and all lovers of fine writing. Stefan Tobler is also a literary translator from Portuguese and German, most recently of Rodrigo de Souza Leão and Clarice Lispector.