João Cruz e Sousa (1861 - 1898)
The launcher of Symbolism in Brazil is placed, by some scholars, together with Mallarmé and Stefan George, among the three greatest symbolists in the world, forming the "great harmonious triad".
Besides having a good physical appearance, he was an extremely cultured man and praised by his masters. But none of that, for people at the time, surpassed the fact that he was black, which caused him serious problems.
In life, he suffered a lot and did not know success. He moved from Santa Catarina (his home state) to Rio de Janeiro and, with great effort, became an archivist at Central do Brasil, a position that guaranteed him subsistence and did not value even a tenth of his capacity intellectual. He ended up attacked by the "poets' disease", tuberculosis, which killed his entire family with him.
It is in this environment of pain that his incredible work is born, where melancholy and revolt shine through, but with magically rich and sonorous verses. Art is the key word. Libertarian art, anxious, creative, that escapes from metric standards without losing class, musicality. Cruz e Sousa is, without a doubt, one of the greatest exponents of Brazilian poetry.
Among his works are Missal, Broqueis, The Lighthouses and Last Sonnets, all poetry books.
One of them follows:
guitars that cry
Ah! dormant, lukewarm guitars,
Sobbing in the moonlight, crying in the wind...
Sad profiles, the vaguest outlines,
Mouths muttering with regret.
Nights beyond, remote, that I remember,
Nights of solitude, remote nights
That in the fancy blues board,
I go on constellation of unknown visions.
Subtle palpitations in the moonlight.
I look forward to the most homesick moments,
When there they cry in the deserted street
The live strings of weeping guitars.
When the sounds of the guitars are sobbing,
When the sounds of guitars on the strings moan,
And they go on tearing and delighting,
Tearing the souls that tremble in the shadows.
Harmonies that puncture, that lacer,
Nervous and agile fingers that run
Strings and a world of ailments generate,
Moans, cries, who die in space...
And dark sounds, sighed sorrows,
Bitter sorrows and melancholies,
In the monotonous whisper of the waters,
Nightly, between cold remakes.
Veiled voices, velvety voices,
Volupts of guitars, veiled voices,
wander in the old fast vortexes
From the winds, alive, vain, vulcanized.
Everything on the guitar strings echoes
And it vibrates and writhes in the air, convulsing...
Everything in the night, everything cries and flies
Under the feverish flutter of a pulse.
That these foggy and dreary guitars
They are islands of atrocious, funereal exile,
Where they go, tired in the dream,
Souls that were immersed in mystery.
CROSS AND SOUSA. Guitars that cry.
Text kindly provided by Rodrigo Gâmbera.
Order C - Biography - Brazil School
Source: Brazil School - https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/biografia/joao-cruz-sousa.htm