Brazilian Songs (01)

I am translating some Brazilian songs, this is first of many others that will come 🙂

During Brazil’s military coup d’état of 1964, Chico Buarque wrote about the events which transpired and avoided censorship by using cryptic analogies and wordplay. For example, in the song “Cálice” (“Chalice”, or Jesus’ Last Supper “Cup”), he takes advantage of the homophony between the Portuguese imperative “shut your mouth” –cale-se– and “chalice” –cálice– to protest censorship against freedom of speech.

Chalice (Chico Buarque)



Father, remove from me this chalice (3x)

of wine tinted with blood!


How to drink this bitter drink

Inhale the pain, swallow the drudgery.

Even if the mouth is shut, the heart still remains

Silence in the city is not heard.

For what is it worth for me to be the son of the holy mother

It would be better that I were born to another

Another reality less lethal

Without so many lies and repression.




How hard it is to wake up silenced

If I hurt myself in the quiet of night

I desire to release an inhuman scream

Which would be a way to be heard

All of this silence makes me dizzy

Dazed, I remain attentive

In the expectation of, at any moment,

To see the monster of the lake emerge




From so much fat, the hog no longer walks

From so much use, the knife has gone dull

How hard it is, father, to open the door

With this word stuck in my throat

This Homeric drunkenness in the world

What’s the advantage of having good will?

Even if the heart is silenced, consciousness remains

Of all the drunkards in the center of the city




Perhaps the world isn’t that small

Nor is life a consummated fact

I desire to invent my own sin

I want to die from my own poison!

And disconnect my mind from yours

May my head lose your way of thinking

I want to sniff diesel fumes

And get intoxicated until I’m forgotten!




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