Andrade, Carlos Drummond de 1902–
A Brazilian poet, essayist, and short story writer, Drummond de Andrade was a member of the "Semana de Arte Moderna," a group of poets who set out in the 1920s to revitalize Brazilian poetry. His first collection, Alguna poesia, departs from traditional poetic forms. Although his poetry often has social and political subjects based on contemporary Brazilian affairs, Drummond de Andrade's major poetry is concerned with universal human loneliness.
Much of the poetry of Carlos Drummond de Andrade moves upon the drama of obsessing ideas, for he is obsessed with several convictions of the perfectionist: That he is impossible. That language is absolutely insufficient for the needs of communication. That life is ineffable. That the social order is filled with an injustice for which there is no final resolution. That even though love turns out to be useless, one must love in order that existence may become its own essence. These ideas, and others like them, flow from the soul of a man who will admit of no compromise with what should be in the name of what is. (p. 32)
In "Segrêdo (Secret)," a poem that illustrates the thesis "You cannot communicate poetry," Drummond says, "Everything is possible, only I am impossible."… It is from [a] sense of human impossibility, of personal isolation and abstraction, that comes Drummond's emphasis upon the internal and psychological state, upon the confessional soliloquy as perhaps the best means of expression. Expression, because communication is an entirely different matter. With a parenthesis in the poem "Mundo Grande (Big World)," Drummond admits that in the solitude of his private person he has forgotten the language men use to communicate. Thus art becomes a factor of isolation for the artist, and the man who contains the artist in himself must try to break out of that isolation…. (pp. 32-3)
Carlos Drummond led himself into the situation ineffable, where he became dissatisfied with the inadequacy of language. For Drummond, even those experiences which one can communicate are difficult to achieve because of the weakness of language…. When the verses refuse to come out, Drummond has to enter deep into his sensibility in order to try to force them out. The result, of course, is the most meditative lyricism in modern Brazilian literature. So great is the struggle at times that Drummond (in "O Lutador [The Wrestler]") thinks of composition in the physical terms of wrestling. "To wrestle with words," he says, "is the vainest of struggles." And yet, so soon as the day breaks, he takes up the challenge and pursues it back into darkness and the streets of...
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[Carlos Drummond de Andrade] is probably the most important poet writing at this time in Brazil. Out of his humor and irony, Drummond continues to compose with a curious juxtaposition of the scholarly word with the vulgar. It is especially in his poetry that modern Brazilian literature has achieved the ennoblement of regionalistic and popular expressions. As a master of the delayed cultural envelope, the interpretative reference, Drummond delights in partial and temporary obscurity before everything becomes clear by the last line. His fellow countrymen enjoy in his poetry the following qualities also: sensuous correspondences, synaesthesias, apparent contradictions, anthropomorphizations, dehumanizations, objectifications of the abstract, and subjectifications of the concrete. But far more impressive than any technical virtuosity displayed in his poetry is Drummond's utterly courageous and incorruptible honesty with the human situation, the word, and himself.
Although he lacks the lyric gusto and dazzling verbal mastery of Manuel Bandeira, Carlos Drummond takes the prize from his elder in social consciousness, in the sense of being vitally involved in the deeper contemporary issues of life. From this involvement Drummond refuses to play the role of the romantic, the gossip monger, the decadent, or the escapist. It is from this sense of social involvement, furthermore, that Drummond in his honesty to the word has become the much-needed...
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[The keynote of Carlos Drummond de Andrade's first volume of poetry], and to a great extent the keynote of [his] poetry to the present, can be isolated in the first lyric from Alguma Poesia, "Poema de sete faces." Here Drummond expresses the impossibility of reconciling his own values with those of the world. This dissonance, this friction between systems, not even a perfect rhyme will remedy, and there is no choice but to be "gauche." (p. 58)
While Drummond does not find in perfect rhyme the magic link with which to resolve the differences between the individual and his wasted spiritual ecology—finds it, in fact, a pseudo-solution—he never wholly gave up various kinds of formal patterning. (p. 59)
What was never clear during the early years of modernism, what was blurred by both proximity and polemic, now with hindsight becomes much clearer. From the beginning Drummond attempted to harmonize the liberating impulse of free verse with his personal passion for order and pattern. This attempt was not unique to him. It can be identified even more easily in the work of his friend and compatriot Manuel Bandeira, who was even more reluctant to burn away his own past, and who even accepted the mantle of unofficial laureate. Both poets sought a kind of modus vivendi cum aggiornamento which would not require that they reject violently their personal pre-modernist values. (p. 61)
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[Carlos Drummond de Andrade is] eminently Brazilian, with an acute eye for the ridicule, steely irony, skepticism tempered by tenderness and vice-versa and, above all, his flawless congeniality to the complex and contradictory state of mind and soul that is "to be Brazilian."
Although he wrote in one of his arts poétiques, "Do not make lines out of events," it is impossible to dissociate his poetry from the "events" of literary and social history since 1922. Not that he took facts as themes, but in the sense that facts created an atmosphere, intellectual and emotional, which reflected and certainly conditioned the "atmosphere" of his poetry…. Each one of his main volumes corresponds to a particular moment in the history and evolution of literary principles and moral concepts. In 1930 Alguma poesia was the book of victorious modernismo and the no less victorious inauguration of the Second Republic. (p. 16)
The Second Republic, in literature as well as in politics, was rapidly disintegrating, however, as Sentimento do mundo (Sense of the World; 1940), with the first intrusion of "events," showed with insistent urgency…. Brazilian intellectuals fought with words the same war others were fighting with swords; Drummond entered the second phase of his career as a poet, going through a process of ever-increasing sympathy with socialist ideas without ever accepting full regimentation in any...
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