Vinícius de Moraes – Sonnet of love like a river

This infinite love of but a year
that is larger than time and all other things
This love that is real, and yet, notwithstanding
I scarcely believed existed still.

This love that appeared out of the blue
And that amid the drama became peace
This love that is the tomb wherein
My body lies buried forever.

This love of mine is like a river; an endless
And indolent nocturnal river,
Gliding gently through the wilderness…

And that carries me in its celestial course
aglow with passion in the darkness out
To the endless space of an endless sea.

Vinicius de Moraes
(translation by John Lyons)

Soneto do Amor Como Um Rio

Este infinito amor de um ano faz
Que é maior do que o tempo e do que tudo
Este amor que é real, e que, contudo
Eu já não cria que existisse mais.

Este amor que surgiu insuspeitado
E que dentro do drama fez-se em paz
Este amor que é o túmulo onde jaz
Meu corpo para sempre sepultado.

Este amor meu é como um rio; um rio
Noturno, interminável e tardio
A deslizar macio pelo ermo…

E que em seu curso sideral me leva
Iluminado de paixão na treva
Para o espaço sem fim de um mar sem termo.

Montevideo 1957


Two songs of silence

Two songs of silence

Listen how silence
Suddenly descends
For our love

Horizontally. . .

Believe only in love
    And in nothing else
Hush; listen to the silence
    That speaks to us
Most intimately; listen calmly
    My dear as love
Strips the petals of silence
    One by one. . .

Leave words to poetry. . .

Vinicius de Moraes, Oxford 1939

translation by John Lyons


Vinicius de Moraes – the poet from Ipanema

vinicius-de-moraesVinicius de Moraes, (1913-1980) was a Brazilian dramatist, journalist, poet and composer. He is most famous for having written the words to the immortal bossa nova song, “Girl from Ipanema”, with music by Tom Jobim.

In 1938 Vinicius was an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied English Literature. There he also wrote a series of playful and amorous sonnets, one of which is translated below.

His success as a lyricist has overshadowed his reputation as a very fine poet but perhaps in years to come the balance will be redressed. The Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, was a great friend of Vinicius and an admirer of his poetry.


No greater nor no stranger love than mine
exists, that seeks not to soothe the beloved
And on sensing she is happy, grows sad
Yet seeing her distressed, rejoices.

For it only finds peace if the beloved’s heart
resists it, and so takes more pleasure
from the perpetual adventure it pursues
than from an ill-adventured life.

My crazy love, which wounds with its caress
And quivers when it wounds, but would rather
Wound than die – and lives randomly

True to its law of living for the moment
Fearless, crazy, delirious – wrapt
In a passion for all and for itself.

Oxford, 1938

Translation by John Lyons

Here is the original Portuguese text:


Maior amor nem mais estranho existe
Que o meu, que não sossega a coisa amada
E quando a sente alegre, fica triste
E se a vê descontente, dá risada.

E que só fica em paz se lhe resiste
O amado coração, e que se agrada
Mais da eterna aventura em que persiste
Que de uma vida mal-aventurada.

Louco amor meu, que quando toca, fere
E quando fere vibra, mas prefere
Ferir a fenecer – e vive a esmo

Fiel à sua lei de cada instante
Desassombrado, doido, delirante
Numa paixão de tudo e de si mesmo.

Oxford, 1938