Of Death. Minimal Odes VI and IX by Hilda Hilst, translated by Laura Cesarco Eglin


Plastered rust
profile without drachma

pointed crest
on the smooth insignia

an unsuspected hollow
in the plain

a speck,
a little nothing afloat

briefest contraction:
I recognize you, beloved.



Your hooves bandaged
so I won’t hear
your hard trot.
Is this, little mare,
how you’ll come for me?
Or because I thought you
severe and silent
you’ll come as a child
on a shard of china?
because I disdained you?
Or with the air of a king
because I made you queen?

The Brazilian poet, playwright, and fiction writer Hilda Hilst was born in 1930 and died in 2004. She is the author of 40 books. Literary critics consider her to be one of the most important and controversial writers in the Portuguese language of the twentieth century. She has been awarded many literary prizes. Hilda Hilst’s poetry collection, Da morte. Odes mínimas was first published in Brazil in 1980 and republished by Editora Globo in 2003. Ironic as it may seem, Da morte. Odes mínimas, whose main theme is death, certainly wakes the reader up, as Hilst trusted that the written word had the power to do, to new considerations and experiences of life, as well as to new relationships with death. More importantly, it is a poet’s attempt at rewriting a world view tinged by cultural imaginaries. Hilst is now being recognized as one of Brazil’s most important writers. In spite of this, her work is still not widely known, especially outside Brazil. Da morte. Odes mínimas has never been translated into English before.

Laura Cesarco Eglin is the author of three collections of poetry, Los brazos del saguaro (Yaugurú, 2015), Sastrería (Yaugurú, 2011), and Llamar al agua por su nombre (Mouthfeel Press, 2010). A selection of poems from Sastería was translated collaboratively into English with Teresa Williams, and subsequently published as the chapbook Tailor Shop: Threads (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Cesarco Eglin recently published the chapbook Occasions to Call Miracles Appropriate (Lunamopolis, The Lune series, 2015). Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in a variety of journals, including Modern Poetry in Translation, MiPOesias, Eleven Eleven, Puerto del Sol, Copper Nickel, Columbia Poetry Review, Timber, Blood Orange Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, Drunken Boat, Pilgrimage, Periódico de Poesía, Metrópolis, and more. Her poems are also featured in the Uruguayan women’s section of Palabras Errantes, Plusamérica: Latin American Literature in Translation. Cesarco Eglin’s poetry appears in América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets (University of New Mexico Press, 2016). Cesarco Eglin’s work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the co-founding editor and publisher of Veliz Books.