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the emptiness of man :: joão cabral de melo neto

by on February 12, 2016

    1.
The emptiness of man is not like
any other: not like an empty coat
or empty sack (things which do not stand up
when empty, such as an empty man),
the emptiness of man is more like fullness
in swollen things which keep on swelling,
the way a sack must feel
that is being filled, or any sack at all.
The emptiness of man, this full emptiness,
is not like a sack of bricks’ emptiness
or a sack of rivets’, it does not have the pulse
that beats in a seed bag or bag of eggs.

    2.
The emptiness of man, though it resembles
fullness, and seems all of a piece, actually
is made of nothings, bits of emptiness,
like the sponge, empty when filled,
swollen like the sponge, with air, with empty air;
it has copied its very structure from the sponge,
it is made up in clusters, of bubbles, of non-grapes.
Man’s empty fullness is like a sack
filled with sponges, is filled with emptiness:
man’s emptiness, or swollen emptiness,
or the emptiness that swells by being empty.

(translated by Galway Kinnell)

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