The Song of Exile – Gonçalves Dias

The Song of Exile
by Antônio Gonçalves Dias
translated by Nelson Ascher

My homeland has many palm-trees
and the thrush-song fills its air;
no bird here can sing as well
as the birds sing over there.

We have fields more full of flowers
and a starrier sky above,
we have woods more full of life
and a life more full of love.

Lonely night-time meditations
please me more when I am there;
my homeland has many palm-trees
and the thrush-song fills its air.

Such delights as my land offers
Are not found here nor elsewhere;
lonely night-time meditations
please me more when I am there;
My homeland has many palm-trees
and the thrush-song fills its air.

Don’t allow me, God, to die
without getting back to where
I belong, without enjoying
the delights found only there,
without seeing all those palm-trees,
hearing thrush-songs fill the air.

The original can be found here and the translation above is here.

Antônio Gonçalves Dias

Antônio (born in the state of Maranhão) was a Brazilian poet. A respected ethnologist and scholar, he lived much of the time abroad but drowned at age 41 on his way back to Maranhão. His songs, collected in First Poems (1847), More Poems (1848), and Last Poems (1851), which display both exuberance and longing, are a celebration of the New World as a tropical paradise and a glorification of the indigenous people. While in Europe, he wrote a dictionary of the Tupi language. His “Song of Exile” (Canção do Exílio, 1843) is known to every Brazilian schoolchild, and he is regarded as the national poet of Brazil.

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