The wading crane dance

Henri Matisse, The Dancer, 1949


Commentary on the Book of Pedro Port

“master freedom is the daughter of the wind \ nevertheless it is the soul of democracy” (Pedro Port)

A legging crane dance by Pedro Port (Pedrinho) even for those who have already read some of his poetry and poems and who know his precise and elaborate style, which draws on classical erudition, when faced with this work of his late maturity, which took two decades to complete, you encounter a plethora of dizzying images, you are confronted with a density of strange words and enigmatic references that defy the understanding of even a person with reasonable literary training, academic knowledge and cultural illustration.

If it were a piece of writing by a young poet, by a beginning writer, we could see in this refinement an ostentatious pedantry, but that is not the case, because here we are faced with someone who has already processed these futile ambitions, has already digested his classics, has already metabolized them. in your own language; he knows what he is talking about, he has refined his own style, he now wants to express himself with the naturalness of someone who has mastered his craft and carries it out with applied and constant passion.

Pedrinho is from a lineage of poets as suggested by the old cliché, he lives alone and entirely from and to poetic; he is somewhat inept at the prosaic demands of bare, raw, cruel, everyday life. It breathes nothing but verses, eats little but words, drinks allegories, daydreams images and metaphors. His conversation is interspersed with his verses already written or in preparation. His aesthetic faith is Luckacsian, he debuted as a poet in an anthology in the mid-1960s in Porto Alegre, prefaced by Mário Quintana, traveled through Latin American worlds, lived for a while in Portugal and, finally, landed in Florianópolis in the 1970s, among beach bands. Bom Abrigo, Sambaqui, Lagoa da Conceição and Campeche.

Its themes, figures of speech, concepts and rare or obscure terms explore the pains and joys, adventures and misfortunes, power, tyranny, democracy, achievements, desolation and helplessness of human miseries, through the use of allegories and mythologies.

Even for a reader like myself, not very fond, not exactly assiduous or familiar with poetic language, in this wading crane dance there is a risk of getting excited by the inspired textual constructions, with its surprising findings, with its powerful images, with his semantic virtuosity, even if he has to dance with one foot.

Its rhymed and rhythmic sentences, broken or truncated and broken, linked or interrupted, sometimes follow the automatism of the author's pen, gushing streams of a restless conscience, sometimes tormented, but always sharp in what it points out, instigating in what it suggests. , and provocative in what it states or questions.

It is an attempt on words, a semantic guerrilla, a chaos of filigrees, an ode to the abundance of terms, yes, far-fetched, that rotate, regurgitate, advance, break, open or close paths and passages, lighten shadows, shuffle figures or characters into their dances and twirls, fast or jumping, jumping or swarming in a frenzy of movements within labyrinths, on the edge of abysses and “the seas that ruminate and then calm down in the bovine calms”.

An unsuspecting reader or a superficial reading, however, unaware of the inflections of the language, the curvatures of the argument, the instability of meanings and many other requirements for a good interpretation, may indeed, eventually, have a tormenting experience here.

On the other hand, those who look here with attention, but not with tension, but with a relaxed spirit, allowing themselves to be enveloped by the torrent of words and expressions, being penetrated by the flood of signifiers, emphases and poetic and imagery intonations will have their happy moment. , they will be rewarded and compensated for the deep dive from which they emerge, panting.

Such an attentive reader and possibly an aficionado of poetic writing should not worry because here he will not read demagoguery, there is no “false speech and feigned praise”, it is pure poetry, fair words, fine sentences, a verb to dance, a course to follow, a speech to deliver . For this reader, the risk is being touched by a light enchanting breeze.

The wading crane dance is an epic poem, with dramatic and lyrical inflections, that flows with tireless momentum through the pages of the book. There is no linear story told in it, nor is its language simple. In the lineage of long prose poems, there are no parts or chapters, just an expressive torrent of words spoken/written and read in one breath, which jump and dance around events, legends, myths, allegories, characters and situations.

It is an invitation to immerse yourself in the oceanic Greek mythology, where there are titanic clashes, Homeric tragedies, cruel tyrannies, the pain of mothers with lacerated hearts, herculean tasks, exemplary punishments, Olympic gods, oracles that reveal the future, inspiring muses, democracy in the agora of city-states.

This background is certainly a challenge to understand for an average reader not versed in mythology.[I] or in poetic art, but at the same time it is an opportunity to approach a work of literary quality, inspired, elaborate, with stylistic and narrative findings of great subtlety and expressiveness.

But not everything is complexity and difficulties; the text alternates demanding passages that demand interpretative effort and an airy, receptive, disarmed mind, far from clichés and predictable actions of characters and their expected feelings and emotions, with clear and intelligible ones that refer to the various dimensions of everyday life, be it individual level, or those that occur around power, with its plots, intrigues, abuses and arrogance.

This continuous alternation of allegorical references with those of life as it is in the real and existential sphere, is evident when from the plane of the wading crane dances, in their multiple representations, guises and incarnations, we are transposed to purely human domains, in which we can , through mirroring and similarities, recognize events and characters from our contemporary times.

There are, therefore, in this poetic text passages that can make us impatient, if not exasperate, which are, however, compensated by an inventive expressiveness, by verbal constructions highly suggestive of both the states of the soul and the state of things in the world. A delight, an openness to understanding the subtleties of life, its inflections, its dramas, its risks, its joys and fullness.

I am speaking here, then, of an exquisite text, a tour de force literary, of overwhelming erudition in the universe of classical references in which it moves. We have to go through it with a certain disposition, but there is a guiding thread to guide us, a dancing textual sequence, of a dance that leads and articulates the movements of the wading bird and many other characters. Everything and everyone joins the dance, a crazy dance, in which graceful movements of subtle lightness follow others of unstable and precarious balance. Legends, myths and allegorical figures dance in their ethereal fantastic spaces; others dance on the hard ground of reality, stepping on the materiality of their prosaic existences.

In this way, if we are not contained, intimidated or locked in the mythological labyrinths that permeate the text, understanding is achieved through the entirety of the writing, through the entirety of the text that weaves the plot of life, connecting the events, the actions, the tricks, the tricks that life, society and power are made of.

See the passage in which the author denounces the act of those who claim to act in the name of the people, the grotesque farce of their excesses, their loud-mouthed demagogic arrivism, people who guarantee their power by shouting, who feed on the beliefs and naivety of those who They are supposed to be savior gods, but in human dealings they are only those who oppress the people. Resonances and remissions of a horrible period recently overcome in our country, governed rudely by a scoundrel idiot, “whose weak performance the garrote of tyranny in turn discredited and perverted democracy”.

A country, it must be said, in which civil equivalence has not yet prospered between its real individuals, where rights and freedoms have been restricted since its beginning, when, and still, the bloodthirsty and plundering rage of the predator prevailed and continues to prevail, which continues feeding their usurpation with the “booty of their evils”.

Or pay attention to a passage that suggests the origin and condition of so many:

we were shadows lady
We had no money or rights
 In fact, we didn't have a threshing floor or a riverbank
 We were shadows of swarming history oh lady
 of wandering shadows nameless hordes
of uncertain origins
 we were brought by the winds
 hot air that blows from the islands
 more remote eastern
 to turn over the Ionian land
die in it like platonic shadows
but we shadows still copulate
with all due respect ma'am
of populous shadows we populate
the floor that was from history
the ects that didn't belong to us
according to the sacred right
that grand generations of landowners
always only for themselves they claimed
always to the detriment
of the dark movement
of the dark mass
that they saw gathering that they saw dancing
in the female's gigantic cunt
what shadows never stopped giving birth.[ii]

So often invoked or inspired by the Cantos de Maldoror, perhaps Pedrinho could open his text with an epigraph taken from the work of the French author, Comte de Lautréamont (Isidore Lucien Ducasse): “It is not right that everyone reads the pages that follow; only a few will be able to enjoy this bitter fruit with impunity. Consequently, shrinking your soul, turn around and go back before you penetrate further into such unknown and dangerous lands.”

Against already spent spirits and brains without memory, in Pedro Port's images, we find an intervention agenda for these times so shallow, so violent and lacking in dignity and humanity.

Like Palamedes, prince in Greek mythology associated with the invention of the alphabet, who made words dance and letters sing, Pedrinho puts us in the dance of the letters with which he writes his verses, makes us whirl through the halls of his semantics, wrapped in the musicality of his poetic eloquence.

It calls us to the sovereignty of man, never allowing “nature to simply brutalize the immense and tireless force that assisted him in the fabulous and vital wanderings of his adventures…, linking him to the unbreakable cause of democracy, even today, yet not understood… ”.

From the tangled path we have traversed, among the many legacies of this poem, we are left with a reference to the heritage of democracy, and its pedagogy, as it is intriguing how and why we allowed a politician, “an ominous charlatan, to cast a morbid omen over our young democracy , isn’t this the subject we are trying to catch up on now? So let’s get to it, but without metaphysics…”.

Such is the dance of the long-legged crane, “the dance of dances, it is the craziest dance, it is the most loquacious dance, crazy dance, crazy dance, … a wild string of revelries of endless dances”.

*Remy J. Fontana, sociologist, retired professor at UFSC. Author, among other books, of From splendid bitterness to militant hope – political, cultural and occasional essays (Insular Ed.). []


Pedro Port. The wading crane dance. Florianópolis, Editora Insular, 2023, 196 pages. []


[I] It would not be unreasonable, I dare suggest, for a glossary of mythological references to be included at the end of this poem.

[ii] p.124, 125.

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