Lisbon

I say:
Lisbon
When I cross the river - coming from the south-
And the city I approach opens as though born from its name
Opens and surges into its night-time spaces
Into its long shining of blue and river
Its body of shaped hills-
I see it better because I speak
It all shows better because I speak
Exposes better its being and need
Because I say
Lisbon, that name of being and non-being
With its secret meanders of amazement, insomnia, and tin shacks
And secret glitter of something theatrical
Its conniving smile of intrigue and masks
While the wide ocean dilates west
Lisbon rocking like a great boat
Lisbon cruelly built along its own absence
I say the city’s name
I say it in order to see

Sophia de Mello Breyner
(translated by Ruth Fainlight)



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2011 Selected Poetry
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