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Your Shoulders Hold Up The World --plus eight more poems | Poem


YOur Shoulders Hold Up The World

A time comes when we no longer can say:
     my God.
A time of total cleaning up.
A time when we no longer can say: my love.
Because love proved useless.
And the eyes don't cry.
And the hands do only rough work.
And the heart is dry.
They knock at our door in vain, we won't open.
We remain alone, the light turned off,
and our enormous eyes shine in the dark.
It is obvious we no longer know how to suffer.
And we want nothing from our friends.

Who cares if old age comes, what is old age?
Our shoulders are holding up the world
and it's lighter than a child's hand.
Wars, famine, family fights inside buildings
prove only that life goes on
and not everybody has freed themselves yet.
Some (the delicate ones) judging the spectacle cruel
will prefer to die.
A time comes when death doesn't help.
A time comes when life is an order.
Just life, without any escapes.

- Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Translations by Jodey Bateman
Editing by Summer Breeze
Flesh That Is Shamed
The House of Times Past
To Remember Life
The Wanderer's Illusion
The Great Pain of Things That Happen
Appariation of Love
Display Window of Women
New Year's Recipe

                 Carlos Drummond de Andrade was born in a small mining town in Brazil, in the state of Minas Gerais.  He attended boarding school in Belo Horizonte, the state capital, and was later expelled from a Jesuit school.  As a young man Drummond was influenced by modernism and by a growing sense of Brazilian national identity, giving rise to a uniquely Brazilian aesthetic.  Drummond founded the modernist journal The Review in 1925 and would later publish poems in the Revista de Antropofagia.  In 1929, having already worked as a pharmacist, he joined the Department of Education and began to publish journalistic articles, as well as his first book of poems.  In 1934 Drummond moved to Rio de Janeiro, continuing in the civil service while adding translations from the French and Spanish to his literary work.  By this time he had become skeptical about a poetics of national identity; his later work would imply the political only through personal experience.  Drummond became friends with his first English-language translator, Elizabeth Bishop, with whom he shared a concern for the idiom of the common Brazilian citizen.  He continued to publish books of poems after he retired from the civil service in 1962.