translated from João Cabral de Melo Neto


ne education from stone: for lessons,
for an understanding of stone, return often
to capture its unemphatic, impersonal voice
(through diction it commences classes).
Its moral lesson, the cold resistance
of what flows and is flowing, is hammered out;
that of poetics, its concrete flesh,
that of economics, its compact crowding of itself,
are lessons of the stone (outside in,
a changed primer) for whoever spells it out.
Another education by stone: in the Sertão*
(inside out, and pre-didactic) ,
in the sertão, a stone does not know how to lecture;
and if it tried, nothing would be taught.
There, you don’t learn stone; there, stone,
a stone from birth, thrusts itself into the soul.