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Eros, Love, and the (Anti-) Lyric in João Cabral

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Article of journalPeixoto, Marta. (New York University, Estados Unidos). Eros, Love, and the (Anti-) Lyric in João CabralIn  Brandellero, Sara (Guest Editor) João Cabral de Melo Neto (1920-1999) Portuguese Studies, 2014 vol. 30 no. 2 p. 128-142. Keywords:
Melo Neto, João Cabral de


To his last days, João Cabral claimed as a badge of honour his status as an anti-lyric poet, assessing correctly the momentous contribution of this aspect of his poetry to Brazilian and world literature. The critical bibliography on Cabral has followed suit, paying particular attention to Cabral's anti-lyricism, but it should also be noted that a significant portion of Cabral's poetry does not, in fact, turn its back on the lyric. Instead, it is in dialogue with — and perhaps confronts — certain significant aspects of the lyric, achieving ‘um lirismo de tensões’ [a lyricism of tensions] (João Alexandre Barbosa). This paper explores the particular lyricism of Cabral's poetry about eros and love by sketching a chronological development from Pedra do sono (1942) to Sevilha andando (1992) and by examining in some detail the strategies of a few representative poems. It argues that an important portion of Cabral's poetry, including a number of his most luminous poems, can best be understood in the context of the lyrical tradition, to which they make a strikingly original contribution.

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