Antonio de Castro Alves

(14 March 1847 – 6 July 1871 / Curralinho)

O Navio Negreiro Part 4. (With English Translation) - Poem by Antonio de Castro Alves

Era um sonho dantesco… o tombadilho
Que das luzernas avermelha o brilho.
Em sangue a se banhar.
Tinir de ferros… estalar de açoite…
Legiões de homens negros como a noite,
Horrendos a dançar…

Negras mulheres, suspendendo às tetas
Magras crianças, cujas bocas pretas
Rega o sangue das maes:
Outras moças, mas nuas e espantadas,
No turbilhao de espectros arrastadas,
Em ânsia e magoa vas!

E ri-se a orquestra irônica, estridente…
E da ronda fantastica a serpente
Faz doudas espirais…
Se o velho arqueja, se no chao resvala,
Ouvem-se gritos… o chicote estala.
E voam mais e mais…

Presa nos elos de uma só cadeia,
A multidao faminta cambaleia,
E chora e dança ali!
Um de raiva delira, outro enlouquece,
Outro, que martirios embrutece,
Cantando, geme e ri!

No entanto o capitao manda a manobra,
E após fitando o céu que se desdobra,
Tão puro sobre o mar,
Diz do fumo entre os densos nevoeiros:
'Vibrai rijo o chicote, marinheiros!
Fazei-os mais dançar!…'

E ri-se a orquestra irônica, estridente. . .
E da ronda fantastica a serpente
Faz doudas espirais…
Qual um sonho dantesco as sombras voam!…
Gritos, ais, maldiçõoes, preces ressoam!
E ri-se Satanas!…

English Translation


It was a Dantesque dream…the deck
With lanterns reddening the glow,
Washing with blood.
Clink of iron…snap of a whip…
Legions of men so black as the night
Hideous dancing…

Black women holding to their breasts
Tiny children, whose black mouths
Are watered by their mother's blood;
Younger women, nude and frightened,
In the turmoil of spectres dragged
In vain anxiety and sorrow!

And the orchestra laughs, loudly
And from the fantastic round, a serpent
Makes crazy spiral…
If an old man arcs his back, if on the floor he falls,
Screams are heard…a whip snaps.
And flies more and more…

Tight on links of a single chain,
The famished crowd oscillate
And cry and dance, there!
One is delirious with anger, another gets insane
And another one, who is brutalized by tortures
Sings, moans and laughs!

The captain, commands the manoeuvre,
And after staring at the sky which unfolds
So pure above the sea,
He speaks from the soot between a dense fog
"Sway hard the whip, sailors!
Make them dance more!"

And the orchestra laughs, loudly
And from the fantastic round, a serpent
Makes crazy spirals…
Screams, moans, courses, prayers resound!
And Satan laughs!

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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 3, 2010

Poem Edited: Wednesday, June 13, 2012


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