Interview (fiction) with Sophia de Mello Breyner


Porto Guides


Livraria Lello

This interview didn’t happen, but it could have. It is mere construction, one will say, but what is not in literature? We thought of questions we would like to have asked and the answers came from the collage of excerpts from the work. Because it is with reading we discover what we are looking for, what to look for. And that will always be there.

– What is poetry for?
What presence can ever fulfill the impulse that is in us, endless, of everything being and every flower blooming? This is the mission of the poet: to bring fear to the light and to the outside. And it’s as if a poem is nothing… (Pause) There were moments of strength and truth. My gaze became flat as a glass. I serve to make things see each other. Cleanliness is a poetic art and a form of honesty. And so in every gesture I put solemnity and risk. You will never be able to feel invulnerable, real and dense, because you bring in your fingers shadow, silence and secrets, perfection, purity and harmony.

– What did you sacrifice so you could write?
Nothing was lost on me. Dictation does not imply being happy or sad. (Pause) Sometimes I think I see in my eyes the promise of other beings I might have been if life had been different. I hated what was easy, I looked for myself in the light, the sea, the wind. I lie down late, I wait for a kind of silence that never arrives early. More than anything, I hate so many blooming nights in the spring, overflowing with appeals and waiting, but where nothing has ever come… Learn not to wait for you, for you won’t find yourself. Poetry is offered to each person only once and the effect of denial is irreversible.

– Do you prefer to be read by children or adults?
You are not inside a fruit: here time and sun mature nothing. No gesture, no fate is brief because in all are restless wings. A poem emerges so young, so old, you can’t know how long it has lived in you. (Pause) It is possible that this way is partly linked to the fact that in my childhood, long before I could read, I had been taught to decorate poems. I found poetry before I knew there was literature. I thought that the poems were not written by anyone, that they existed in themselves, by themselves… And that it would be enough to be very quiet, silent and attentive to hear them. From this initial meeting I was left with the notion that to make verses is to be attentive and that the poet is a hearer. But that was something only the child had seen.

– Do you think we should see below the sea line or above the sea line?
You never went to the bottom of the sea and you don’t know how beautiful it is. I belong to those who dive with their eyes open. I tear the sea from the sea and I put it on me and the beating of my heart sustains the rhythm of things.

– Rigor or simplicity?
The poem is freedom. A poem is not programmed. However, discipline – syllable by syllable – accompanies it. In a constant discipline I seek the law of freedom. I transfer the picture, the wall, the breeze, the flower, the glass, the glow of the wood and the cold and virginal liquidity of the water to the world of the clean and rigorous poem. It is the rigor of music that structures the order of forms, variations, the resumption of themes, the counterpoint of repetition. We walk in the detail of the search, in the attention of the search. And it is from the unceasing obstinacy that poetry demands that the “obstinate rigor” of the poem arises. The verse is dense, tense as an arc, exactly said, because the days were dense, tense as arches, exactly lived.

– Ulysses or Calypso?
I will never love anyone who can not live forever, never again will I serve lord who can die. My hope is in the wind and the mermaids. The rebel, even in an inglorious way, is never completely defeated. The rebels, even those whom everything hurts like a knife, those who cut themselves in the air and in their own gestures, are the honor of the human condition. They are the ones who didn’t accept imperfection. And so their soul is like a great desert without shadow and without freshness where the fire burns without consuming.

– One last word?
Leave me clean the air of the rooms and flat the white walls.

“[Às vezes julgo ver nos meus olhos]”, Poesia (1944)
“[Ir beber-te num navio de altos mastros]”, Poesia (1944)
“[Mais do que tudo, odeio]”, Poesia (1944)
“[Nunca mais]”, Poesia (1944)
“O jardim e a casa”, Poesia (1944)
“[Que poderei de mim mais arrancar]”, Poesia (1944)
“[A minha esperança mora]”, Dia do mar (1947)
“[As imagens transbordam fugitivas]”, Dia do mar (1947)
“Kassandra”, Dia do mar (1947)
“[As minhas mãos mantêm as estrelas]”, Coral (1950)
“[Numa disciplina constante procuro a lei da liberdade]”, Coral (1950)
“[Ouve]”, Coral (1950)
A menina do mar (1958)
“Biografia”, Mar novo (1958)
“Meditação do Duque de Gandia sobre a morte de Isabel de Portugal”, Mar novo (1958)
“[Ó Poesia sonhei que fosses tudo]”, Mar novo (1958)
“As grutas”, Livro sexto (1962)
“Instante”, Livro sexto (1962)
“No poema”, Livro sexto (1962)
“O jantar do bispo”, Contos exemplares (1962)
“Praia”, Contos exemplares (1962)
“Retrato de Mónica”, Contos exemplares (1962)
“Arte poética II”, Geografia (1967)
“Escuto”, Geografia (1967)
“Espera”, Geografia (1967)
“Arte poética IV”, Dual (1972)
“Maria Helena Vieira da Silva ou O itinerário inelutável”, Dual (1972)
“O minotauro”, Dual (1972)
“Lagos I”, O nome das coisas (1977)
“Liberdade”, O nome das coisas (1977)
“Landgrave ou Maria Helena Vieira da Silva”, Ilhas (1989)
“O dia”, Ilhas (1989)
“O sol o muro o mar”, Ilhas (1989)
“Elegia”, Musa (1994)
“Arte poética”, O búzio de Cós e Outros poemas (1997)