Home > Translation > Love and Light in Brazil: Two Poems by José Carlos Limeira

Love and Light in Brazil: Two Poems by José Carlos Limeira

March 3, 2011

translated by Bruce Dean Willis


Nunca tememos o escuro.
Afinal frutos dos sonhos,
somos inteiros e maduros
se nos encontramos nesta noite
vadia de promessas tantas
desarrumo tuas tranças
te repuxo bem de perto
de um modo incorreto e nu

Senhores donos do poder
podem desligar disjuntores
racionar, nos dizer devedores
por todos os arredores
mas que ninguém se atreva
a investigar certo quarto
bem no meio dos apagões
pois se o fazem verão
nossos corpos nus
cheios de luz
clarões dentro da noite
um homem uma mulher
e nossos sexos, desejos
permanentemente acesos


We never fear the dark.
Finally, the fruits of our dreams,
we are whole and ripe
if we meet this night,
sensual woman of easy promises,
I will let down your hair
I will pull you tightly to me
in a way both improper and bare

Let the bigshot power-brokers
disconnect the circuit breakers
ration the source, reclaim our debt
from downtown to the outskirts, yet
let no one dare
look into a certain room
right in the middle of the blackouts
because whoever does so will see
our corporeal nudity
full of light
radiance from within the night
a man a woman
and our sexes, desires
permanently ignited

* * *


Se não houver luz
Vou amar-te em Braille
Escrever com dedos ousados
Em alfabeto jamais usado
Que escorra em nossas peles, verdades
Túnicas, Guias
Pois somos donos da possibilidade de quebrar
todas as bengalas
De reinventar o sol e a mágica dos dias



If there be no light
I will love you in Braille
write with daring fingers
in an inaugural, exclusive
that flows over our skin as truths,
tunics, guides.
Ours is the possibility of breaking all the staffs,
of reinventing the sun and the magic of the days.

Download the podcast

José Carlos Limeira (born 1951) has been publishing stories, articles, columns and poems since the 1970s, including frequent contributions to the series Cadernos Negros since its inception. His works have been translated into several languages and studied in theses and dissertations in Brazil and abroad. He has been active in cultural organizations such as the Institute for the Study of Black Cultures (IPCN) and the Black Brazilian Writers’ Collective. He founded the first bloco afro in Salvador and also the Black Writers of Salvador Group (GENS). His most recent work (text and CD) is A Noite da Liberdade (The Night of Freedom).

Bruce Dean Willis (University of Tulsa) is a specialist in the literatures and cultures of Brazil, Mexico, and Chile. He posts his creative writing on Latin America at Macaw and is the author of the one-act play Flower Song Symposium: A Dramatic Dialogue about Art.

  1. alex cigale
    March 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    A personal thanks for your beautiful antidote to the darkness, Bruce and Jose.

  2. Barbara LaMorticella
    March 5, 2011 at 4:49 am

    I am rendered practically speechless by these utterly gorgeous poems.

  3. March 7, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Enthusiastic thanks for these kind words! And I’m passing along a hearty “muito obrigado” from José Carlos as well.

  4. José Carlos Limeira
    March 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    My compliments for the excellent translation job to Bruce Dean Willis.He has become a essential allies of my verse. Thanks

    • Joseph Ness
      January 16, 2013 at 3:14 am

      Dear Mr. Limera,

      I am so taken by these unbelievably beautiful poems!
      Would it be possible if I would try to set one or both of these to music.
      It would not be for publishing but just for private composition. I absolutely love your work and it would bring
      moments of meaning for me.
      If you would be interested I would send you the music that I would write…..
      I will look to read more of your wonderful work.

      All best,

      • José Carlos Loimeira
        February 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm

        Dear Joseph
        Will be a real pleasure to me to listen your song, you have my permission, and are so welcome.
        best regards
        José Carlos Limeira

  5. July 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Poemas sobre a luz! Conheço Limeira da Feira! Sucesso!

  1. April 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm
  2. May 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm
Comments are closed.