My Poetry Corner June 2017 features the poem “The Peasant Farmer and the Factory Worker” (O Agregado e o Operário) by Antônio Gonçalves da Silva, known as Patativa do Assaré (1909-2002), a popular Brazilian oral poet, improviser of oral verse, composer, singer, and guitar player.
The son of poor peasant farmers eking out a subsistence livelihood in the semi-arid hinterlands, known as the sertão, of the Northeast State of Ceará, Patativa began working at an early age on his family’s small plot of land. At the age of four, he lost his sight in one eye due to lack of medical assistance. With his father’s death four years later, he had to work as a farmhand to help his family, leaving him no time to attend school. During his six months of formal education, he learned to read and write.
God was his Master; Nature was his teacher.
Sertão Nordestino – Northeast Brazil [Photo Credit: poesiafaclube.com]
I was born listening to songs
of birds in my mountain terrain
and seeing wonderful marvels
that the beautiful woodlands enclose.
That is where I grew up
watching and learning
from the book of nature
where God is most visible
the heart most sensitive
and life has more purity.