Castro Alves, Brazilian poet

Castro Alves (1847-1871) was a Brazilian poet, representative of the Third Romantic Generation in Brazil. The Poet of Slaves expressed in his poetry the indignation to the serious social problems of his time. He is the patron of chair number 7 of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

Childhood and youth

Antonio Francisco de Castro Alves was born in the village of Curralinho, today city of Castro Alves, Bahia, on March 14, 1847. Son of Antonio José Alves, doctor and also teacher, and Clelia Brasília da Silva Castro.

In 1854, his family moved to Salvador, as his father was invited to teach at the Faculty of Medicine. In 1858 he entered the Baiano Gymnasium where he was a colleague of Rui Barbosa.

Demonstrated passionate and precocious vocation for poetry. In 1859 he lost his mother. On September 9, 1860, at age 13, he recited his first poetry in public at a school party.

On January 24, 1862, his father married the widow Maria Ramos Guimarães. On the 25th, the couple, the poet and their brother José Antônio set off on the Oiapoque steam for the city of Recife, where the young man would make the preparations to enter the Faculty of Law.

The Faculty of Law and Abolitionist Ideas

Castro Alves arrived in Recife at a time when the Pernambuco capital was teeming with abolitionist and republican ideals. In an attempt to enter the Faculty of Law, Castro Alves failed twice.

Five months after arriving, he published the poem "The Destruction of Jerusalem" in the Recife Journal, receiving much praise.

At the Santa Isabel Theater, which became almost an extension of college, real student tournaments were held. In this environment, in March 1863, during a performance of Octave Feuillet's play Dalila, Castro Alves is enchanted with actress Eugênia Câmara.

On May 17, he publishes in the newspaper “A Primavera”, his first poetry about slavery: “La na last senzala, / Sitting in the narrow room, / Next to the brazier, on the floor, / Sings the slave his singing / E when they sing they run to him in tears / I miss their clod ”.

A month later, while writing a poetry for Eugenia, the symptoms of tuberculosis began to appear. In 1864 his brother dies. Even shaken, he is finally approved in law school.

Castro Alves actively participates in student and literary life. He publishes his poetry in the newspaper "O Futuro". In 4th issue, he publishes a satire to the academy and to legal studies.

The disease and the love affair

On October 7, taste the taste of death. A chest pain and an uncontrollable cough reminds him of his mother and the poets who died from the disease. On the spur, he writes "Youth and Death."

That same year, he returns to Bahia, missing his exams and missing his college year. In Salvador, at Rua do Sodré's house, he seeks to rest. In March 1865, he returned to Recife and to law school. Isolated in the neighborhood of Santo Amaro, lives with the mysterious Idalina.

Visiting his friend Maciel Pinheiro, who was sentenced to school prison on the ground floor of the College of Arts, for criticizing the academy in an article in the Diário de Pernambuco, writes the poem “Pedro Ivo”, extolling the Praieira revolutionary and the ideal. republican:

Republic! ... Bold flight / The man made condor! Again the word the condor appears in his poetry, symbolizing freedom. He was later called the Condoreiro Pope.

On August 11, 1865, at the solemn opening of classes, Pernambuco society gathered in the noble hall of the college to hear the speeches and greetings of the authorities, teachers, and students.

Castro Alves is one of them: “Break the Pope's scepter, / Make him a cross! / The purple is for the people / To cover their bare shoulders. (...) ”. The older ones stared in wonder and the younger ones raved.

On January 23, 1866, his father died, leaving five children under 14 years old. The responsibility rested with the widow and Castro Alves, now 19 years old.

Castro Alves begins an intense love affair with Eugenia Câmara, ten years older than him. In 1867 they leave for Bahia, where she would perform a prose drama, written by him "The Gonzaga or the Revolution of Mines".

Then Castro Alves leaves for Rio de Janeiro where he meets Machado de Assis, who helps him to enter the literary media. He then goes to São Paulo and concludes his law degree at Largo do São Francisco Law School.

In 1868 breaks with Eugenia. On holiday, while hunting in the Lapa Woods, he injures his left foot with a shotgun blast, resulting in amputation of the foot. In 1870 he returns to Salvador where he publishes Floating Foams, the only book published in his life, where he presents lyric poetry, extolling sensual love and nature, as in the poem Good Night.

Good Night

Good night, Maria! I'm leaving,
The moon in the windows hits hard.
Good night Maria! It's late ... it's late ...
Don't squeeze me like that about your breast.

Good night! ... And you say - Good night.
Don't tell me like that between kisses ...
But don't tell me discovering the chest,
Sea of ​​love where my desires roam (...)

Antonio Frederico de Castro Alves died in Salvador on July 6, 1871, victimized by tuberculosis, only 24 years old.

Characteristics of Castro Alves Work

Castro Alves is the greatest figure of Romanticism. He developed a poetry sensitive to the social problems of his time and defended the great causes of freedom and justice.

He denounced the cruelty of slavery and called for freedom, giving romanticism a social and revolutionary meaning that brought it closer to Realism. His poetry was like an explosive cry in favor of blacks, and is therefore called "The Poet of Slaves."

His poetry is classified as "Social Poetry," which addresses the theme of nonconformism and the abolition of slavery through epic inspiration and bold and dramatic language as in the poems: Vozes d'Africa and Navios Negreiros, from < in> The Slaves (1883) , which was unfinished.

Slave Ships

It was a Dantesque Dream ... The poop
Which of the lights glows red,
In blood to bathe.
Clink of irons ... crackle of whip ...
Legions of men black as night,
Horrendos dancing ... (...)

And laugh at the orchestra, ironic, shrill ...
And from the fantastic round, the snake
It makes crazy spirits ...
If the old man gasps ... if the ground slips,
Shouts are heard ... the whip crackles.
And it flies more and more ... (...)

With "Love Poet" or "Lyric Poet", the woman does not appear distant, dreamy, untouched as in other romantics, but a real and sensual woman. It was also the "Poet of Nature", as noted in the verses of "No Ball in the Flower" and "Twilight Country", where he praises the night and the sun, as symbols of hope and freedom.

Poems of Castro Alves

  • The Song of the African
  • Paulo Afonso's Waterfall
  • The Cross of the Road
  • Sleeping
  • Love and Be Loved
  • Love it! Black Lady
  • The Two Flowers
  • Floating Foams
  • Anthems of Ecuador
  • Miss you
  • Teresa's "Goodbye"
  • The Heart
  • The Ribbon Bow
  • The Black Ship
  • Ode on July 2nd
  • The Midnight Angels
  • Voices of Africa