Cecília Meireles


For the Brazilian poet, Cecília Meireles, the writing of poetry was not so much a vocation or a trade nor even a compulsion. Her poetic voice was as much a part of her nature as singing is to the cicada. Recognised as one of the most important poets writing in Portuguese, she also painted and was an inspiring teacher


It’s easier to rest your ears amongst the clouds
and hear the passing of the stars
than to press them to the ground and catch the sound of your steps.

It’s easier, too, to cast your eyes upon the ocean
and to observe, there in the depths, the silent birth of shapes,
than to hope to appear to be creating with simple gestures
signs of eternal hope.

Neither the stars, nor sea-shapes, nor you, interest me any more.

Over time I’ve developed my song:
I don’t envy the cicadas: I too shall die from singing.


I sing because the instant exists
and my life’s complete.
I’m neither happy nor sad:
I’m a poet.

A sibling to all things fleeting,
I feel neither pleasure nor torment.
I drift through nights and days
on the wind.

Whether I destroy or construct,
whether I’ll last or fall apart
— I don’t, I don’t know. I don’t know
whether I’m here to stay or passing through.

I know I sing. And song is everything.
The rhythmic wing pulses with eternal blood.
And one day I know I’ll be mute:
— nothing more.

Cecília Meireles (1901-1964)

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