Woman Walking Naked Through the House

My translation of a poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987, Brazil), one of his country’s most beloved poets.

Woman walking naked through the house,
you cover me in an enormous peace.
It’s not an urgent, provocative nudity.
It’s a way of walking dressed with nudity,
the innocence of a sister with her glass of water.

Your body is not even perceived
by the rhythm that carries it.
Curves travel by in a state of purity,
bestowing this name on life: chastity.

Body hair that used to fascinate, does not faze.
Breasts, buttocks (tacit armistice)
rest from battle.

I rest, too.

A few thoughts: I like Drummond’s paradoxical concept of a nudity that covers (envolve, in the second line, can mean covers, wraps, or envelops). The concept comes through as well in the fourth line, “dressed with nudity.” This reconciliation between opposing states of dress and undress foreshadows and accentuates the concluding sense of a truce (armistice) in battle. This poem, sometimes grouped with Drummond’s erotic poetry, is not in fact erotic. It is precisely about the stripping of eroticism from nudity, which allows nudity to dress the home with peace, innocence, purity, and chastity. Mere, de-eroticized nudity induces in the speaker / observer a rest, a natural ease. The poem is a welcome, clear-eyed description of home nudity from a major Brazilian poet.

Graphic with photo: unknown source. (There are a few errors in the graphic’s text.)
Text of the original poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade here.

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