Missing Brazil

Image: Stela Grespan


Commentary on current Brazil through a selection of verses from Brazilian music

Brazil is killing Brazil / Brazil, SOS to Brazil[I]

Prepare your heart for the things I'm going to tell you / I come from the backlands, I'm an old man from the backlands, and I may not please you / I learned to say no / to see death without crying / and death, destiny, everything / death , destiny, everything / was out of place / I live to fix it[ii]...

Work, work, black / work, work, black / the black is wet with sweat / the hands of the black are just callous / oh my Lord / black is old and this land is so hard, so dry, so dusty[iii]...

When I looked at the burning earth, like the bonfire of Saint John / I asked, oh God in heaven / why such abuse? What a brazier, what a furnace / not a single plant…[iv]

So many people claim to be God/ and promise so many things for the sertão/ Who will give Mary a dress/ who will give John a field// I'm also on Jesus' side/ But I think he forgot/ to say that on earth we have to find a way to live...[v]

Wake up, love: I just had a nightmare / I dreamed that there were people outside, knocking on the gate / It was the hard one, in a very dark car / My holy creature: call a thief! Call thief![vi]

The joust is already coming / and you say I'm getting ready / while I go and get out / you go to the police / and to the delerusca you apologize[vii]...

Today I'm jumping like a frog / to see if I can escape this plague of vultures / I'm already covered in rags / I'll end up being naked / my jacket looks like tow / and I ask you what clothes I'm going to wear to the samba you invited me[viii]/

A poor man's shoe is a clog / life has no solution / a rich man's home is a palace / and a poor man's house is a shed[ix]…//

The cold floats, when they have a few booze, scaring away the sadness / They dream of beef on horseback, french fries, and dessert / is guava smudge, with lots of cheese...[X]/

When the bailiff arrived in the favela/ and against his wishes, he handed Seu Narciso/ a notice, an eviction order// signed Seu Doutor/ as the petition said// within ten days I want the favela to be empty/ and the shacks all on the ground // is a superior order[xi]...

I was born there in Bahia as a housemaid with a foreman / my father slept in a bed, my mother on the pisador / my father said: come here / my mother said like this: without talking[xii]...

When your boy was born, my offspring / it wasn't time for him to burst / he arrived with a hungry face / and I didn't even have a name to give him[xiii]...

One day, I was tired of hunger, of the hunger I had / what a drought, what a hunger I had / what a terrible drought in my Ceará // I put everything I had in an old suitcase / two old pants and a violin / and I touched the macaw stick over here (…)Virgem Santa, the hunger was so much that it even seemed / that even though I was peeing my body was going up / just like if I wanted grandma[xiv]...

“... it was there, young man / that me, Mato Grosso and Joca / We built our maloca / But one day, I don't even want to remember / the men came with the tools, the owner had them knocked down // … how sad that we I felt / every board that fell / hurt my heart[xv]...

“Night has come again/ again at the corner we see each other/ everyone thinks they are mortal/ they share the moon, the night, even solitude// In that club, alone we see each other/ for the last time/ waiting for the day/ that sidewalk running away from somewhere else[xvi]... "

“If we exist, what is it for?[xvii]"

But the day will come / and the world will know / you can't live without giving yourself // who works has the right to live / because the land belongs to no one[xviii].

*Maria Rita Kehl is a psychoanalyst, journalist and writer. Author, among other books, of Displacements of the feminine: the freudian woman in the passage to modernity (Boitempo).



[I] “Quarrels of Brazil”, Aldir Blanc and Maurício Tapajós

[ii]“Sparked”, Geraldo Vandré

[iii]“Work, black”, Sérgio Ricardo

[iv]“White Wing”, Luiz Gonzaga

[v]“Procession”, Gilberto Gil

[vi]“Call a thief”, Chico Buarque

[vii] “On the way up the hill”, Geraldo Pereira sung by Moreira da Silva

[viii]“With what clothes”, Noel Rosa

[ix]“Poor man's shoes” J. Junior and Luís Antonio

[X] “Rancho da guava”, João Bosco and Aldir Blsnc

[xi]“Eviction in the Favela”, Adoniran Barbosa

[xii]“Maria moita”, Carlos Lira

[xiii]“My kid”, Chico Buarque

[xiv] “Gillet eater”, Carlos Lyra

[xv] “Saudosa Maloca”, Adoniram Barbosa

[xvi] “Clube da Esquina”, Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges

[xvii] “Cajuína”, Caetano Veloso

[xviii]“No man’s land”, Paulo Sérgio Valle

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