First Elegy

By ALBERTO DE LACERDA
Translated by SCOTT LAUGHLIN

The soft whisper of a river
Mingling slowly
With another river: a force
Surging around us
The profound peace
Of this natural rhythm

The soft whisper of a river: the thin
Repetition of the infinite
Always the same sound
But also something different
A weight so profound
It breaks its own barriers
And pierces the extreme edge
Of its inner horizon
A song without end
Beyond thought
Rising from nature or from within us
A song without end
Finally soothing
The force of our questions
Our sorrow, our divided lives
Surging around us
A natural presence
Slow and brilliant
Rising within us and carrying
A light without limits
Our individual being
And the universe both reflected
In this blissful, flowing water

 

ALBERTO DE LACERDA is considered one of the greatest and most prolific Portuguese poets of the second half of the twentieth century. Born in 1928 in Mozambique, he spent his nomadic life living in Lisbon, London, Austin, and Boston, where he was a professor at Boston University. He died in 2007. 

SCOTT LAUGHLIN’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Guernica, Great Jones Street, Post Road Magazine, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications. Scott has an MFA from Converse College and is associate director of DISQUIET: The Dzanc Books Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal. He currently teaches at San Francisco University High School.

 

[Purchase Issue 14 here]

 

First Elegy

Related Posts

Fiston Mwanza Mujila

Immigrants in Years 2070, 2081, and 2097 Must Furnish the Following Documents

FISTON MWANZA MUJILA
certificate of death / sperm samples / fingerprints // date of birth / first name, last name, post-name, nicknames, aliases, sobriquets / spare first and last names just in case… // head circumference / marital status, house-broken status, bastard-status / age / length of brow ridge...

Image of smoke

November 2019 Poetry Feature: Ron Welburn

RON WELBURN
Timucuans know tobacco smoke carries prayers to our Creator. Prayers of smoke. Teaching the how of smoking is external, lumbar, digital, objective. To convert us to Gospel, let’s swap for a while, talk it over. We’re teaching you how to smoke so you will learn how to pray.

hayloft

Choosing a Transitional Object

LUIZA FLYNN GOODLETT
Snip Hansons from Teen Beat while debating / Taylor versus Zac so passionately a curl escapes / its barrette and your best friend tucks it behind / an ear before it catches on lip-gloss. Start a fight / so she’ll get picked up early, forgetting a lanyard / on the den’s yellow shag.