Terceto de Junho (June Tercet), Translated by Dean Thomas Ellis

by Lucila Godoi

Lucila Godoi is the alias of a Brazilian poet so diffident, and so obscure, she took the actual name of another poet to be her pseudonym. That other poet is Gabriela Mistral, aka Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga, a Chilean diplomat, educator, and feminist who was the first and only Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and whose picture appears on the 5000-peso note (currently worth about 9 dollars). This is not that woman, or that poet. This poet appeared, or so it appears, just once in print, in a literary magazine called Revista Brasileira in 1945. A handful of her short poems were published there, three of which Manuel Bandeira, the renowned Brazilian poet and literary critic, plucked to include in his anthology of rare contemporary Brazilian poetry, Bissextos Contemporâneos (published in 1946 with a revised second edition in 1964). Bandeira, in his introduction to Ms. Godoi’s work, was as mystified as anyone by her biography: “Everything indicates that she is a true curiosity, even her name,” he wrote in the 1946 edition. And, 18 years later, in the revised edition: “Now we can reveal that the true name of the author is Dulce Ferreira Pontes.” Nothing further is known about her.

Quisera ter a transparência deste céu de junho
Quisera ter a força do mar que reflete a transparência do céu
Quisera amar-te como a intensidade do peixe no seio do mar.

 

I wanted the translucence of this June sky
I wanted the force of the sea that reflects the translucence of the sky
I wanted to love you with the intensity of the fish in the bosom of the sea.

 

 

Dean Thomas Ellis is a writer and translator living in New Orleans. His work has appeared in Another Sticky Valentine, The New Orleans Review, Bloodroot, St. Petersburg Review, and the online series Working Stiff at PBS.org. He has also contributed to the KGB Bar Lit Magazine, and hosts the radio programs Tudo Bem and The Dean’s List on WWOZ-FM in New Orleans and online at wwoz.org. His translation (with Jaime Braz) of Jacinto Lucas Pires’s novel The True Actor was published last fall by Dzanc Books.


Lucila Godoi is the alias of a Brazilian poet so diffident, and so obscure, she took the actual name of another poet to be her pseudonym. That other poet is Gabriela Mistral, aka Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga, a Chilean diplomat, educator, and feminist who was the first and only Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and whose picture appears on the 5000-peso note (currently worth about 9 dollars). This is not that woman, or that poet. This poet appeared, or so it appears, just once in print, in a literary magazine called Revista Brasileira in 1945. A handful of her short poems were published there, three of which Manuel Bandeira, the renowned Brazilian poet and literary critic, plucked to include in his anthology of rare contemporary Brazilian poetry, Bissextos Contemporâneos (published in 1946 with a revised second edition in 1964). Bandeira, in his introduction to Ms. Godoi’s work, was as mystified as anyone by her biography: “Everything indicates that she is a true curiosity, even her name,” he wrote in the 1946 edition. And, 18 years later, in the revised edition: “Now we can reveal that the true name of the author is Dulce Ferreira Pontes.” Nothing further is known about her.

☝ BACK TO TOP