Sea of fears

They went, left, and gave birth (they were told)
They came out of the eggshell of drowsiness
Contemplating the fine thread from the dream mantle
Some shouted for God and the Devil
Eyes bulging down into the depths of the salty sea while the tiller disappeared
The lookout on the topsail became silent, the seagulls fled from the certain return

The sounding walnut shells floated within
The man who instructed the helmsman held the risks of the sailing charts
He used the compass, estimated, awaiting the advice of darkness
Where rows of flickering heavenly lamps landed
The stars
He dreamt, scorned fear, sobbing in deaf sorrow the unrevealing heroes – the crave to navigate, and captivate men, land and unutterable moonlights for The King


In glowing water, in dancing tiles of broken glass
That the Sun and Moon agitated
There were rude faces of hunger that gazed
Fish and wreckage beneath
A blow of trade winds and the tropic’s appeal, the dryness
The promess, perhaps the faith trimmed with fruitful superstitions of other fears, salt
New wreckage of quarrels, border wars
Threshing-floors, cattle, and land ownership
How far submission compels us to –
One flees from the village and the plough to amaze oneself in the ocean’s mirror

Roaring water underneath cut by the edge of the keel
Foaming waves as steep hills
Dancing restlessly and in them fear warmed the coldness
Memories at full speed, what remained and what was not known
Figures planted in the inner eye of consciousness, which the watery wine refused to put to rest
Exalted, banging from side to side in dizziness
Carrying as a burden and only luggage: fears
The destruction that a solemn cure bore them by way of the vengeful guillotine

From the bottom of the mantle, from the bottom of the unrest
Atrocious eyes and jaws awaited fragility
The cartilages left to butcher, a grimace, a vacuum that absorbs
And is delighted, a banquet of evil gods
A speciality of the gods scattered by the storm

Salty sea, you are Portuguese by shame and exile
We launched ourselves in fear beyond the fear that frightened us away
Pushed into the waves, rolled-up trousers and bare arms manoeuvre
The oars of hope, what discovery and wealth awaits us
In heaven on earth, women and sublime lovers
Stories Homer has left as bait
To see them insignificantly on the bulwarks from port to starboard in the prattle
What stayed behind and the living hidden mystery
The impulse of a brave captain or fugitive from Kingdom laws
Of bed lovers,
Followed against the wind that combed the sails of the cross of the crucified
Eyes gazed at the astonished cloud’s abdomen that dropped blameful ashen tears

Oh Portuguese Sea, I am your customer deceiving truth
I am the levity of adventure
The hero who remains at formation when all retreat
Pressed by spells and nightmares that gold and swindle disguise
I am the insignificant conquest that returns to Lisbon, and sings the trills
Of a Fado, a dry colouring of strings
Voice from the piercing treason:
Sea we see and sea that embraces in each wave, rocks
There Castile as a spear that compels us to survive
It will always be as it is in the tongue of the land that welcomes us
The Sun and fortune, the ultimate challenge of existence
In sea, eternal sea, sea of fear

Exorcizing intellect profiles
Sea, (you are) river of victory

translated by Ana Andrade


António Manuel Ribeiro, March 2012