We will provisionally not sing love,
who took refuge below the underground.
We’ll sing fear, which sterilizes hugs,
we won’t sing hate, because it doesn’t exist,
there is only fear, our father and our partner,
the great fear of backlands, seas, deserts,
the fear of soldiers, the fear of mothers, the fear of churches,
we’ll sing fear of dictators, fear of democrats,
we will sing the fear of death and the fear of after death.
then we will die of fear
and over our tombs will bloom yellow and fearful flowers.-Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987)
International Congress of Fear (‘Congresso Internacional do Medo’) is one of the poems written by Carlos Drummond de Andrade. Born in Itabira, a city in the state of Minas Gerais, Drummond is considered one of the greatest Brazilian poets of the 20th century. The text takes on the political and social theme of that time, the end of World War II, and expresses all the suffering, fear and barbarism of the period.
His literary works are part of the second phase of Brazilian Modernism, known as the Generation of 30, since it covers the period between 1930 and 1945. Modernism had its landmark in the country at the Week of Modern Art in 1922, and its objective was to break with traditionalism and classical European models in art and culture manifestations. The modernists emerged with a critical and subversive tone, which was necessary to find the Brazilian identity, valuing popular culture and language, in addition to seeking the freedom of art.
Drummond’s poetry is in line with this rupture, but goes beyond it, as he also develops a reflective and existential character about man, addressing themes such as loneliness and the individual’s position in a world that was becoming increasingly artificial and technological, marked by wars and political tensions. We got exactly that in the poem introduced at the beginning, that post-war feeling.
a Poetry of daily life
Another issue often observed in his poems is daily life, but in a subjective and unique way. Drummond manages to transform everyday feelings or situations into something surprising. We can see this through one of his most famous poems In the middle of the way (‘No meio do caminho’) :
In the middle of the way there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the way
had a stone
in the middle of the way there was a stoneexcerpt from the poem “No meio do caminho”, by Carlos Drummond de Andrade
This is an excerpt from the poem that shows the obstacles that arise in each individual’s life. The poem marked Brazilian literature, for showing that it is not necessary to stick to traditional formats and that there is literature in the most simple things, you just need to find it.
Most of his works, especially the ones in books like “Sentimento do Mundo” and “A Rosa do Povo” will permeate this feeling of loneliness and pessimism. It is possible to see how the end of World War II, the New State, a dictatorial regime during the government of president Getúlio Vargas, and all the political and revolutionary tensions at the time, affected his and many other poets at the time of writing. There is a critical and social content in his poetry, showing that the context in which we live directly influences the way of acting in art.
Therefore, the poetry of Carlos Drummond de Andrade is plural and still reflects current society. His poems are studied and admired, and the richness and circumstances of the words makes him one of the main and most important writers in the history of Brazil.