19th Century

Álvares de Azevedo’s “Oh, Jesus!” [Ai Jesus!] | Luiz Guerra (Trans.)

Luiz Guerra is a Brazilian historian, researcher of medievalisms, and free-lance translator. His previous works include the first Portuguese edition of The Inheritance of Rome, by Chris Wickham.

One of Luiz’s current freelance translation projects is translating the works of the Brazilian Romantic poet and writer Álvares de Azevedo into English exclusively for Reynolds’s News and MiscellanyÁzevedo’s works have never been translated into English before but will be of interest to all Romantic literature scholars and those interested in poetry more generally.

Álvares de Azevedo

Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo (1831–52), referred to usually as Álvares de Azevedo, was Brazil’s most famous Romantic poets. Yet because his works have never been translated into English, Azevedo remains largely unknown to most British and American scholars.

The son of Manuel de Azevedo and Maria Luísa Azevedo, a wealthy couple living in São Paulo in 1831 and who moved to Rio de Janeiro two years later, in 1844 Álvares began attending the Colégio Pedro II. It was here that Álvares learned to read EnglishFrench, and German, became acquainted with the works of European Romantic poets and novelists. He was particularly drawn to the works of Lord Byron, Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Chateaubriand, Percy Shelley, Goethe, and Thomas Chatterton.

1853 edition of Lira dos Vinte Anos

Luiz Guerra’s translation of the following poem, titled ‘Oh, Jesus!’ (Ai Jesus!), is the first time that it has been professionally translated into the English language.

Oh, Jesus! [Ai Jesus!]

Oh, Jesus! canst thou not see that I groan,
That I swoon of passion 
For your blue eyes?
That I pale, that I tremble, 
That my heart expires?
Oh, Jesus!
That for one look, maiden,
Could I die 
For the light from your eyes?
What death! what a beautiful death! 
Rather it would be living!
Oh Jesus!
That for a lost kiss 
I would of pleasure die 
In your snowy naked breasts?
That in the ocean of a groan
M’soul would drown?
Oh Jesus!