Poetics / A poem by Manuel Bandeira

I’m sick of cautious lyricism

of well behaved lyricism

of a civil servant lyricism complete with time card office hours

set procedures and expressions of esteem for Mr. Boss, Sir.


I am sick of the lyricism that has to stop in midstream to look up

the precise meaning of a word.


Down with purists!

Up with

all words, especially those that everyone gets wrong

all constructions, above all exceptions to the rule

all rhythms, above all those that can’t be counted.


I am sick of philandering lyricism –




– of all lyricism that gives in to any outside force.


Besides, all this other business isn’t lyricism –

It’s accounting cosine tables a handbook for the model lover

with a hundred form letters and different ways of pleasing

women, etc.


I prefer the lyricism of madmen

the lyricism of drunks

the difficult and bitter lyricism of the drunk

the lyricism of Shakespeare’s clowns

I want nothing more of lyricism that isn’t liberation.

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