Saturday, July 28, 2012

Manuel Maria du Bocage

Main masterpieces:   

  • A Morte de D. Ignez de Castro
  • A Pavorosa Illusão
  • A Virtude Laureada
  • Elegia
  • Improvisos de Bocage
  • Rimas
Historical period in literature: 
Classical literature, period of Neoclassicism


Bocage, the poet of Freedom, the lyrical, the comical

Bocage lived in a time of evident crisis. The economy was fragile. The broad and radical reforms undertaken by Marquês de Pombal were systematically perverted. The indigent people were afraid of his impotences.
Bocage, in addition to poetry, composed satirical poems covering regime’s people and the clergy, which has not pleased obviously the power.
Censorship pursued Bocage throughout his life. Many lines of his poems were cut, others ostensibly
changed, and some poems only appeared posthumously. For this reason it is plenty understandable his desperate yearning for freedom.
In a transitional, troubled, convulsing period, his work reflects this instability. On the one hand, it reflects the influence of classical culture, cultivating his genres, appealing to the mythology, using authentic vocabulary; on the other hand, it is a pre-romantic because he sets himself free from the webs of reason, overflows with intensity all that is in his soul, torrentially expresses his feelings, defends loneliness.
It is well known Bocage’s irreverent character. Indeed, he wrote merciless satires, severe criticisms to the society’s model, to the government, to the powerful ones in general. The social conventions, clergy, doctors, greedy and writers, among others, were also subject of his careful observation and his corrosive criticism. He consubstantiated the voice of the oppressed people, but always with a critical tone, that compensated with laughter, with the caricature and ridicule related with his legitimate dissatisfaction.


Original in Portuguese:
Magro, de olhos azuis, carão moreno,
Bem servido de pés, meão na altura,
Triste de facha, o mesmo de figura,
Nariz alto no meio, e não pequeno;
Incapaz de assistir num só terreno,
Mais propenso ao furor do que à ternura;
Bebendo em níveas mãos, por taça escura,
De zelos infernais letal veneno;
Devoto incensador de mil deidades
(Digo, de moças mil) num só memento,
E somente no altar amando os frades,
Eis Bocage, em quem luz algum talento;
Saíram dele mesmo estas verdades,
Num dia em que se achou mais pachorrento.
Free translation in English:
Thin, blue eyes, tanned face,
His fair share of feet, middling height,
Sad face and figure,
High nose in the middle, and not small;
Incapable of staying in just one place,
Quicker to anger than tenderness;
Drinking in his pale hands, out of a dark cup,
From hellish enthusiasms a lethal poison;
Burning incense to a thousand divinities
(I mean, a thousand girls) in a single moment,
Loving the priests only at the altar,
This is Bocage, in whom some talent shines;
He himself wrote these truths,
On a day when he was bored.


Nicola, a coffee with history

Place for exchanging ideas, literary debates and propaganda of opinions, that's how we can define one of the most fashionable coffees of the eighteenth century. Founded by an Italian in Rossio, Nicola Breteiro, this is one of the oldest establishments in Lisbon.
With the nickname "Academy", due to the wide range of intellectuals who attended it, Nicola had a regular that stood out among all others. This man was Bocage. One of the funniest episodes of the life of the author happened just ahead of Nicola: it is said that a policeman asked him who he was, whence came and whither he went. The poet answered showing his comical side:

"Eu sou Bocage
Venho do Nicola
Vou pr'o outro mundo
Se dispara a pistola." 

(original version in Portuguese)


Consulted sources:  

Portal da Literatura Portuguesa

No comments:

Post a Comment