(Antonio Tabucchi 1943 – 2012)
TWO FOR THE BOOKS
1. Too good to be true?
Not at all. Italians still
shop at the tabacchi for
pens, bus tickets, stamps,
for cigarettes and other
smokes when they fear
they are running out.
Once, in Paris (so goes
the story) a young student
locked in on a word so very
like his own name in the title
of a poem versified from a
language he did not yet know.
The rest? The rest is history.
2. Cruz na porta da tabacaria!
(Grant me this rhetorical flourish,
for no longer will a family nail a
cross to a door to signal a death.)
No matter. Gone now is the teller of
the vagarious story, a man of words
who (for ever and a day) espoused
a language, a country, and a poet.
George Monteiro is Professor Emeritus of English and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, Brown University, and he continues as Adjunct Professor of Portuguese Studies at the same university. He served as Fulbright lecturer in American Literature in Brazil–Sao Paulo and Bahia–Ecuador and Argentina; and as Visiting Professor in UFMG in Belo Horizonte. In 2007 he served as Helio and Amelia Pedroso / Luso-American Foundation Professor of Portuguese, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Among his recent books are Stephen Crane’s Blue Badge of Courage, Fernando Pessoa and Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Literature, The Presence of Pessoa, The Presence of Camões, and Conversations with Elizabeth Bishop and Critical Essays on Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Among his translations are Iberian Poems by Miguel Torga, A Man Smiles at Death with Half a Face by José Rodrigues Miguéis, Self-Analysis and Thirty Other Poems by Fernando Pessoa, and In Crete, with the Minotaur, and Other Poems by Jorge de Sena. He has also published two collections of poems, The Coffee Exchange and Double Weaver’s Knot.
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