feeling of the world

Dóra Maurer, 4 of 3, 1976


Commentary on the book by Carlos Drummond de Andrade

“Sad lighthouse of Ilha da Rosa” (Night at the apartment window).

Anyone who glances over these lines will certainly remember that Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987) and his work have already been the subject of exhaustive exegesis by literati, historians, sociologists, psychologists... what can Afrânio Catani add to all this? I do not argue with readers, but I argue in my defense that it is always possible to write something about Drummond that draws attention to some aspect that, even reiterative, could constitute an incentive to read his poetry.

feeling of the world, originally published in 1940 with a print run of only 150 copies, which were distributed among friends and writers, was Drummond's third book, at the time when the poet from Minas Gerais was 37-38 years old, he had moved to Rio six years ago de Janeiro, he had been an assistant and later a cabinet officer (1930) to Gustavo Capanema in his home state, he had been appointed chief of staff to the same Capanema (1934) at the Ministry of Education and Public Health, in addition to being responsible for the work of the Board of Directors -General of Education and to be a member of the Ministry's Efficiency Committee (1935). He spent the entire dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas in the Estado Novo (1937-1945) as Gustavo Capanema's chief of staff.

Before feeling of the world, he published some poetry (1930) and swamp of souls (1934), wrote to the Journal of Mines and for magazines, he was an assistant in the writing of the Magazine of Teaching (from the Department of Education), worked in the Minas Gerais (official state agency) as an editorial assistant and editor, he was an editor for The Tribune. afternoon diary and collaborator in Academic Magazine.

One can read in a kind of afterword to this edition, unsigned, that Carlos Drummond de Andrade wrote short stories and chronicles for many of these publications, which made him even better known among those readers less versed in poetry. Sentence…, in turn, brings together 28 of his poems, several of which have become true classics, widely known and constantly quoted. This set of verses “crystallizes some qualities of the previous books and projects them into his next book, A people's rose (1945), one of the decisive works of Brazilian literature.

The strong power of observation of reality and events, so important in this book conceived during the Second World War, already figured in feeling of the world. Nothing more natural: adjusting his lens to capture the events of his time – the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas, the rise of Nazism and fascism in Europe, the decline of rural life and the intense urbanization of Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian cities –, the poet managed to capture the spirit of a time convulsed by politics and the radical transformations of a historical period that helped shape the world we know today” (p. 75).

Em Sentence…a mixture of humanism, a less than optimistic world view, a hopeless and corrosive tone, the tensions of the modern city, the political events of the time, large doses of lyricism, criticism of selfishness, homage to the 50th birthday of his friend – the poet Manuel Bandeira .

“I only have two hands/and the feeling of the world/ (…) Didn’t the comrades say/that there was a war/and it was necessary/to bring fire and food/(…) this dawn/more night than night” (“Sentimento do mundo”) – this is the opening poem, in an explicit political tone, just like in “The shoulders support the world” (“There came a time when it is no use dying/ There came a time when life is an order/ Life only, without mystification”), in “Congresso Internacional do Medo”, in “Elegia 1938” (“You work without joy for a decrepit world,/ where forms and actions do not contain any example./ You laboriously practice universal gestures,/ you feel hot and cold, lack of money, hunger and sexual desire./(…) Accept the rain, war, unemployment and unfair distribution/ because you cannot, alone, dynamit the island of Manhattan”).

“There were gardens, there were mornings in those days!!!” (“Louvenir of the ancient world”) and “And there is no one else in the world but this boy crying” (“Boy crying in the night”) are moving lyrical moments, alongside the well-known and no less touching “Confidência do itabirino” (“I had gold, I had cattle, I had farms./Today I am a civil servant./Itabira is just a picture on the wall./ But how it hurts!”).

The mind-boggling rhythm of Rio de Janeiro in the 1930s completely envelops the poet, resulting in “Morro da Babilônia” (which includes terror, fascination, voices and even “a well-tuned cavaquinho”), “Indecision by Méier”, “ Nocturne at the window of the apartment", "Privilégio do mar" ("On this mediocrely comfortable terrace,/we drink beer and look at the sea/we know that nothing will happen to us"), "Inocentes do Leblon" ("The innocent people of Leblon/didn't see the ship come in./Did I bring dancers?/Did I bring emigrants?/Did I bring a gram of radium?/The innocent, definitely innocent, ignore everything,/but the sand is hot, and there is a soft oil/which they rub on their backs, and forget. ”).

After feeling of the world the poet collaborates in several other magazines and in different newspapers, translates, works in the Directorate of National Historical and Artistic Heritage (DPHAN), becomes head of the History Section, in the Studies and Heritage Division, participates in several radio programs , publishes dozens of books of poems, sees his work consecrated in anthologies edited in Brazil and abroad, retires in 1962, after 35 years of public service, receives many awards, refuses some and, in 1984, ends his career in regular columnist after 64 years dedicated to journalism.

The poet's heart was already weakened. On August 5, 1987, his daughter Maria Julieta Drummond de Andrade (1928-1987), writer, teacher, translator, victim of cancer, died. Carlos and Maria Julieta were very close. Twelve days later, on August 17, he suffered a fatal heart attack.

*Afrânio Catani He is a retired professor at the Faculty of Education at USP and is currently a senior professor at the same institution. Visiting professor at the Faculty of Education of UERJ, Duque de Caxias campus.


Carlos Drummond de Andrade. feeling of the world. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1st. ed., 2012 (17th reprint, 2021) [1940]. Text creation: Júlio Castañon Guimarães.

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