The story of the poem begins in João Cabral de Melo Neto’s private press in 1949. This poem is what was then called a “plaquete” (or booklet). The publication consists of a single, long poem by Vinicius. Friends since 1942, when Vinicius visited Recife with Waldo Frank, the two diplomats from the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs corresponded frequently during that time. It was a period when Vinicius was still in Los Angeles, and João Cabral was in Barcelona.
It was from the poem sent for João Cabral’s reading that he felt the impulse to create 50 copies of the poem manually on his press and homemade publisher known under the imprint “O Livro Inconsúntil.” The book was a surprise for Vinicius, to whom Cabral left all the copies. In a letter written in October 1949, the poet-editor added a postscript to his friend from Rio, saying, “I haven’t distributed the book to anyone. Do as you wish with it. And send me one with a dedication.”
HOMELAND OF MINE
“My homeland is as if it weren’t, it’s intimate
Sweetness and a desire to cry; a sleeping child
Is my homeland. Therefore, in exile
Watching my son sleep
I weep with longing for my homeland.
If they ask me what my homeland is, I’ll say:
I don’t know. In fact, I don’t know
How, why, and when my homeland
But I know that my homeland is the light, the salt, and the water
That work and dissolve my sorrow
Into long bitter tears.
I want to kiss my homeland’s eyes
Lull her, run my hand through her hair…
I want to change the colors of her (green and gold!) dress
My homeland, my homeland without shoes
And without stockings, my homeland
Because I love you so much, my homeland, I, who have no
Homeland, I, a seed born from the wind
I, who neither come nor go, I, who remain
In contact with the pain of time, I, an element
Linking action and thought
I, an invisible thread in the space of every farewell
I, the godless one!
Nevertheless, I have you within me like a sigh
Of a flower; I have you like a dead love
To whom I pledged my oath; I have you like a faith
Without dogma; I have you in everything in which I don’t feel
Myself at ease
In this foreign room with a fireplace
And no high ceiling.
Ah, my homeland, it reminds me of a night in Maine, New England
When everything became infinite and nothing land
And I saw Alpha and Beta Centauri climb the hill to the sky
Many caught me standing in the field without light
Awaiting the Southern Cross to rise
Which I knew, but it dawned…
Source of honey, sad creature, my homeland
Beloved, idolized, hail, hail!
What sweeter hope in chains
Than not being able to say to you: wait…
I won’t be late!
I want to see you again, my homeland, and in order to
See you again, I forgot everything
I became blind, maimed, deaf, mute
I saw my humble death face to face
I tore up poems, women, horizons
I became simple, without fountains.
My homeland… My homeland is not a flower, nor does it display
A banner; my homeland is desolation
Of paths, my homeland is thirsty land
And white beach; my homeland is the great centuries-old river
That drinks clouds, eats earth
And urinates the sea.
More than the most gaudy, my homeland has
A warmth, a love, a good
A “libertas quae sera tamen”
Which I once translated in a written exam: “Freedom, which you will also attain,”
And I repeat!
I put my ear to the wind and listen to the breeze
That plays with your hair and caresses you
My homeland, and perfumes your soil…
What a desire comes over me to fall asleep
Among your sweet hills, my homeland
Attentive to the hunger in your bowels
And the beating in your heart.
I won’t tell you the name, my homeland
Your name is beloved homeland, it’s a little homeland
It doesn’t rhyme with gentle mother
You live in me like a daughter, who is
An island of tenderness: the Island
Now I’ll call my friend the Alaudidae
And ask her to ask the nightingale of the day
To ask the Sabiá
To swiftly deliver this avigrama to you:
“My homeland, longing from one who loves you…
Vinicius de Moraes.”
Reference: Vinicius de Moraes – LIVROS DE POESIA. Brazil, s.d. Site: veja.abril.com.br. Available in: Pátria minha | Vinicius de Moraes. Accessed on: October 09, 2023.
Matheus is an entrepreneur at Araujo Media, where he serves as CEO and Creative Director. He shares analyses on his personal blog "matheusaraujo.me" and is currently pursuing a degree in Advertising and Propaganda. Moreover, he has a passion for history, particularly that of Brazil, which led him to become the founder and editor of the Brazilian History portal.