Bento Prado Jr., poet



Presentation and selection of poems from “The only verse”, posthumous book by the philosopher, recently published.

When considering the poetry of Bento Prado Jr., it is difficult to combine the relationship between the leap year and the tenacious. Leap poet was how he modestly called himself. However, it starts early and only death stops the production, covering more than half a century. Strange leap year, with such a fierce attachment to the muse.

Nor was he presumptuous to the point of taking care of single publication in magazines or assembling in a book. When inspiration visited him, he welcomed it, taking notes anyway. For this reason, a good part of his poems are recorded on paper napkins and used envelopes, which he often presented to the occasional interlocutor.

A facsimile of one of these manuscripts, slightly scribbled by graphic amendments, but in clear handwriting, is printed in the journal Look (Year X, Ufscar, 2008), in edition in memoriam. It's about the poem Ipseitas, which is not included in this selection. There, we can have access to the work process: by hand, on unlined paper, with an air of improvisation... which is obviously false. It's just that, despite being very elaborate, sophisticated even, the poems want to maintain the freshness of spontaneity.

All of them have a strong imprint of philosophical meditation. The struggle with the word and the status of the word in the field of knowledge. Criticism, dialectic, methodical doubt. The examination of a concept or the unfolding of an argument, touching a conceptual lyric. The ludic, or the skill of verbal games in which the author is ingenious. The touch of acid humor, the self-directed irony. However, finitude surrounds this workshop.

It is advisable not to leave the versifier blank. The decasyllables ooze from the diction so naturally that they go unnoticed, especially when subdivided or not rhymed. And it was a talent much appreciated by the romantics, who had Victor Hugo and Castro Alves as models. Brings to mind M. Jourdain, That's it for the prose sans les avoir. Except that, consistent with its author, there suddenly comes the baroque mordant of an acuteness, so frequent in these poems. Cave at reader: the reader beware.

This selection, although subjective, is a sampling that seeks to contemplate the main lines of force of the poet's estrus. We must recognize the the only verse the care of intending to include in its scope everything, or almost everything – because, with Bento, you never know.


My thinking is as follows:
– the pythonesses of totality and meaning,
the talking alligators of theologism,
speak the same language
of the blind rhinos of epistemologism.


The implosion of being (1987)
To Tuxo, creator of the Sky Pumpkin concept
What if we gave a gift
more than perfect?

— A shiny black sphere, obsidian
(the densely non-arbitrary of the expression),
a celestial pumpkin without an apse,
a pure conic section,
without a cone to support it,
a firefly,
a thing-in-itself,
an incestuous science,
the navel of the World, that of the Dream
a rare substance,
a transcendent caries,
a flaw in the heart of the Great Diamond,
a pergola, a comma and a valve,
the point or onto where we dive into the invisible,
a nonad, a monad and a gonad,
a fundamental difference,
an infinitely arborescent fractal,
a rhizome facing inwards,
an analysis of the Mona Lisa,
a tear in an amphora
(or the camphor inherent in tears),
an insectable atom of absolute weight,
one new,
to Marilyn Monroe,
a fright and a hiccup,
an Ethics Treaty and a Solution,
the cogito of a dream,
the shadow projected by a negation,
an isthmus, a hiatus and an ivory yacht,
a gerund,
a place where the person dissolves into the landscape,
a number, an arabesque in the air and a noumenon,
a quintessence and the veins of Being,
the maximum density of things that are and destroy each other,
a poem by Drummond:

—Something, in short, very close to itself, where another,
by internal vertigo
or self-awareness, would sink forever.


the only verse (Objet Trouve) (2005)
I stumbled, tonight,
In a more than strange verse,
Only verse present in all royal poems
Or possible from all languages ​​of the world:
First hieroglyph, emblem of Hermes Trismegistus.
Verse itself illegible and empty though necessary,
perverse verse
That condemns us to return, obliquely,
To all the poems written to date,
And all futures,
A closing hinge,
Inside, a hermetic-metallic cube,
Which, monad, mirrors, in its imo, the entire external world.
Beginning and end of all poetry,
Or your constant starting over?
I'm delirious tonight
A single verse,
that no poet ever wrote,
Infinitesimal face of the Great Diamond of Poetry or Being,
Access to all other verses,
Which are shown, simul, to the reader
That they themselves, at that moment, create.

But it was just a glimpse:
Once the Great Diamond is illuminated,
The verse returned to its apparent emptiness
And his complicity with all the others dissolved,
Returning to the ritual of my day-to-day life,
Immersing myself again in my Non-Being.


The message from the earth (1968)
Our feet graze the earth,
but they don't know

– foolish palm – that palm
ground mined by deaf militancy:
– the armadillos act in secret.

How the feet, we don't know,
but first thing in the morning it surprises us
the soul in fever and, in the chest,
the multicolored wound of the tattoo.


Little Song of Exile (1971)
Rice, beans, flour,
this ambrosia;
not the cognac, the caipirinha,
without any stubbornness.


inevitable divorce (2000)
With age, it becomes possible
face the truth face to face,
face the body,
soul face to body.

Tell the truth, the strict lump,
face the truth of the bone,
spontaneously and naturally released
of muscles, tissues, organs and epidermis
that are untying you
(Oh, I miss you…).

Nothing more healthy and Cartesian
that this secession:
What is this carnal and confused body?
where promiscuous,
hell of a mess,
thought and matter?

A certain organization of kids
(would it be tautological or vain
do, from guts, heart),
oily and unreliable organs.

I prefer the hardness of the bone
and the purity of the soul.

May you both, I hope, be happy
on the next occasion of inevitable divorce.


Surgery (2005)
More than half a century
of smoking and alcoholism
could not go unpunished:
– the carcinoma finally settled
under my left jaw,
right above my left heart.

Gauche, I already had pain with my leg
of the same side or faction
that always diverted me in the same direction,
without requiring, however, surgical intervention.

But I will always keep my intent,
to the limit of my passing,
to keep, faithful, on your good side
– the one on the left –
my suffering heart.


Untitled (unknown year)
Shot my left wing,
how could it fly?
Great is the vertigo of the fall,
and rough the ground that quickly approaches,
full of sharp stones.

But since I'm on the left,
with my right wing I can drift,
hoping to land someday
in a transcendental non-place.


Rainbow (1971)
If I gather the members again
of this dispersed body and if I remember
of the ancient verse burned among the rubble,
– it is in the fright of fright, in my astonishment.

If the letter recovers its meaning
more than erased, outbreak of a past,
engulfed in darkness, crooked and dumb,
– is against the blue of a rekindled sky.

Who records, like this, my fado on the horizon
and installs, on the cliff, that bridge
that connects me, me and my source?

What a gentle hand draws in a burning stroke
the flame of that incandescent sentence
that suddenly joins me to the horizon?


Between the eye and the hand (1971)
“Writing has always been for me.
extremely painful occupation”
– Pseudo Jean-Jacques

what an infinite distance
between the hand that writes
and the eye that reads!
the immeasurable time
of a strained silence.

How to write in time,
in the nightmare of the street that climbs,
without following the reverse
the drawing of an earlier verse,
without a foot in utopia
of a first universe verse?

Between one moment and the next,
between my present and my present,
between what I think and what I write,
between what I feel, raw, first,
and what I really feel afterwards,
lightning strikes, an abyss opens
that robs me of all calm,
that gnaws my soul inside,
and makes the design of my name tremble.


in the light of the present (2003)
Just be and taste
The transparent calm of immanence
– Eternal gift.

It is true that, deep down,
In the original abyss, in the I-World,
Chaos bubbles.

But today is serenity day
And far away is the temptation of ecstasy, of diving
In the Dionysian delirium of Substance.

It's enough for me today to be and coincide
With a finite mode of Substance.
For a while
Time itself is suspended.


To be or not to be ? (2004)
“What is nobler to the mind…”
How is it possible to be happy, like me,
In this world so horrible?
It wouldn't be some fault of mine,
deep down unfathomable?

So many slaves dead in the basement of the basement,
so many, so many more, alive on the surface of the Planet.

How, today, to live?
Wouldn't that be the case of the extreme measure?
With suicide could fade
all this horror.

Access to Eternity:
before the Last Judgment that will never occur,
crystallize my end, in this pure moment without time,
in the hiatus that isolates him in the flow of the voracious becoming.

No. My heart will not rest, finally,
In the right hand of God,
In your right hand. No,
would dissolve, without force or substance,
in the Infinite Peace of Nothingness.
Better persist in the continuation

Denial of Gift
– even if out of sheer rage.


*Walnice Nogueira Galvão is Professor Emeritus at FFLCH at USP. She is the author, among other books, of reading and rereading (Senac/Gold over blue).


Bento Prado Jr. The only verse. Campinas: Editora Clandestina, 2020, 125 pages.

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