Wednesday, October 1, 2014



By José Craveirinha

Translated from the Portuguese by Arthur Brakel

Not so much

Now and again
take me in your arms
and wrap me in the brown and yellow caress of your desire

Now and again
so that I can forget
until morning when they come to get us
and we don’t know if we’ll be back
and if we’re man or thing
and if we can know the nature of true laughter
and if this be true or false
Call the Children
and the house
and the woman with the frightened eyes
without the waking appearance of remorse

not so much

Just now and again

take me in your crossed arms
and wrap me in the brown and yellow caress of your love
and in the peaceful certainty of your affection

Now and again
Just now and again
take me in your arms
my love

José Craveirinha  was a journalist in Mozambique, East Africa, who became the foremost lyric poet of his nation. His early poems inspired African pride and protest during the long (and successful) struggle for independence from Portugal.

The child of a Portuguese father and a black mother of the Ronga ethnicity, Craveirinha was raised in the language and culture of Portugal. His poems, written in Portuguese, address such issues as racism and the Portuguese colonial domination of Mozambique. He was one of the African pioneers of the Négritude movement.

As a journalist, Craveirinha contributed to numerous Mozambican magazines . He also played football and coached other athletes. He arranged an athletic scholarship in the United States for Maria de Lurdes Mutola, who won a gold medal in track and field at the Olympics in 2000, and his son Stelio also held the national long jump record.

Craveirinha was awarded the Prémio Camões, the world's highest honour for lusophone literature, in 1991. He was considered several times for the Nobel Prize for Literature.In 2003, Craveirinha was declared a "national hero" by President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, who praised Craveirinha's literary contribution to the fight against colonialism.

What makes Craveirinha a great poet and person are human sympathy, unpretentiousness, a passionate sense of justice, attachment to his land and people, uninhibited lyrical eroticism, a powerful command of words, the directness and concentrated vigor of his verses, an extraordinary combination of reality and dream-like imagery, and a profound seriousness alternating with subtle irony. In 1979, during a private conversation, when the talk turned to the struggle for a better Mozambican society out of love for humanity, the poet wondered why there was so much hate and so little generosity even after the victory had been won. He concluded: "It is easier for man to be heroic than to be humble.”

Source : Bending the Bow: An Anthology of African Love Poetry by Frank M Chipasula (Editor)