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FEATURED POET
Poetry Corner
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THIS PAGE WAS LAST UPDATED ON: 1 JUNE 2017
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In fields & cities
workers face
the same pain
& grief.
A thorny
problem.

HAIKU POEM
ROSALIENE BACCHUS
BRAZILIAN
ORAL POET
(1909-2002)
A THORNY
PROBLEM
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O LUAR DO SERTÃO
MOONLIGHT IN THE SERTÃO
LUIZ GONZAGA &
MILTON NASCIMENTO
LYRICS IN ENGLISH
Antônio Gonçalves
da Silva, popularly
known as Patativa
do Assaré, born in
Serra de Santana in
the Northeast State
of Ceará, is a
popular Brazilian
oral poet, improviser
of oral verse,
composer, singer,
and guitar player.

Born into extreme
poverty, he began
working at a young
age on his family's
small plot of land.
With just six months
of formal education
when he learned to
read and write,
Patativa composed
and memorized his
poems while working
on the land, then
later put them in
writing.

National fame came
in 1964 when the
popular Northeast
singer, Luiz
Gonzaga, recorded
his poem
"A Triste
Partida"
(Sad
Departure).  

In spite of his fame,
he never stopped
working on the land
and never left his
hometown.

Patativa not only
gave voice to the
Northeastern peasants and
agricultural workers, but
also to the disadvantaged,
marginalized, and
oppressed.
I'm a popular poet because I never studied literature.
Poetry in literary form, learned poetry, is for those great
men of letters, those great poets, who studied, I don't know
what. And me, to prove that, even without an education, I
can do what I want, because God is who wants it that way,
not me. So, I also write learned poems like "
The Fish."

The advantage of poetry isn't its beauty, it's meter, its
rhyme, its predominant syllables, no.  In truth, it's to tell
something philosophical, that's it, exactly, my poetry is
within this theme, within this frame.

Excerpts from interview with PATATIVA DO ASSARÉ in PATATIVA DO
ASSARÉ: DIGO E NÃO PEÇO SEGREDO,
ESCRITURAS EDITORA, SÃO
PAULO, BRAZIL, 2001. [Translation by Rosaliene Bacchus]

I am a peasant from the Northeast
raised in the harsh interior
a farmhand a courageous beast
a flathead poet inferior
For being a farm worker
I have always been the partner
of pain, grief and lamenting
For this, it’s my turn too
to explain this to you
what it is I am and what it is I sing.

I am a poet farm laborer
from Ceara’s interior
lamentation, pain and misery
I sing here and I sing yonder
I’m friend of the factory worker
who receives a meagre salary
and the impoverished people
And I sing with emotion bred
of my backlands beloved
and the lives of its people.

To resolve and tend
a thorny problem
I seek to defend
in my modest poem
the holy truth incants
the landless peasants
under the sky of Brazil's nationhood
and the families in the city
who suffer and are needy
living in the poor neighborhood.

They follow the same itinerary
suffering the same cruelty
in the cities, the worker in the factory
and in the backlands, the peasantry
Although separate one from the other
what they suffer the others suffer
They burn in the same ember
and live within the same war zone
the landless peasants bemoan
and the homeless factory worker.

Factory worker in the city
if you sufficiently suffer
the same necessity
as your distant brother
leading a harsh life of slights
without workers’ rights
your misfortune grows worse
a great martyrdom it is
that your luck is his
and his luck is yours.

Of this I am aware already
if the factory worker in the city
works constantly
for a small salary
there in the fields the farm worker
finds himself a dependent laborer
under the farm owner’s subjection
a harsh life enduring
like a donkey bearing
a load under submission.

My brother farmhands
and factory workers of the city
we must hold hands
filled with fraternity
in favor of each one
to form one body in common
of city folk and country folk too
for only with this alliance and unity
the star of prosperity
will shine for you.

With the understanding of each other
clarifying your motivation
and making all together
your reclamation
for a democracy
of law and guarantee
fighting for one and all
these are plans well-defined
because in the rights of humankind
we are all equal.

The Peasant Farmer and the Factory Worker
O Agregado e o Operário
by Patativa do Assaré
Translation by Rosaliene Bacchus

SEE ORIGINAL POEM IN PORTUGUESE:
O Agregado e o Operáriofrom his poetry collection Cante Lá
que Eu Canto Cá,
1978

SOURCE:
PATATIVA DO ASSARÉ: DIGO E NÃO PEÇO SEGREDO,
ESCRITURAS EDITORA, SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL, 2001.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE:
In maintaining Patativa's rhyming verses - a constant
ababccdeed
throughout - I sought to preserve their expression and meaning.
PATATIVA DO ASSARÉ
AVE POESIA
HIS LIFE & WORK
(IN PORTUGUESE)
FILM BY ROSEMBERG CARIRY
BRAZIL 2009
DURATION: 1:23:32
The life and work of the
poet Patativa do
Assaré, the relevance
of his poems, the
political significance of
his actions and his
immense contribution
to Brazilian culture.
Owner of a poetic
rhythm of unique
musicality, master of
the art of metrical
verse, and with a
vocabulary combining
the dialect of Northeast
Brazil and classical
Portuguese, Patativa
do Assaré is the
synthesis of popular
knowledge versus
learned knowledge.

With art and beauty,
Patativa do Assaré
unites social activism
with lyricism. Steel and
rose. Because his
poetry speaks about
the struggles and
hopes of the people, it
expands our knowledge
of our world. His poetry
combines words and
ideas that speak out
with the warlike dignity
of the righteous
against all forms of
exploration of people
and hindrance to their
progress.

In the year 2001,
Patativa do Assaré was
chosen as one of the
most important
Cearenses of the
twentieth century.
Farm Workers