Portuguese Poet /Poeta Português, 1855-1886
Cesário Verde, as depicted by Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro
in the frontispiece to the Livro de Cesário Verde
Cesário Verde was Portugal's major poet of the nineteenth-century. He was born on 25 February, 1855 (the feast-day of São Cesário), and died of tuberculosis on 19 July, 1886. He lived all his life in Lisbon, although part of each year was spent at his family's estate at Linda-a-Pastora, some 15km away, to the west. Part of the Verde family lands were acquired from them by the state to build the Forte do Alto de Caxias.
Left to right: The Verdes' house at Linda-a-Pastora- the premises suffered a fire in the early twentieth century which destroyed the house's library; the title-page of the first edition of the Livro de Cesário Verde,1887; statue to Cesário in Lisbon's Rua de Dona Estefânia.
Cesário's father was also the owner of an ironmongery business with premises at numbers 2 to 8 of the Rua dos Fanqueiros, on the corner of that street and the Rua da Alfândega, only yards from the Praça do Comércio in central Lisbon. Cesário, as the eldest son of the family, ran the business for a number of years prior to his early death. His poetic output was limited by his commercial responsibilities and during his lifetime he earned little acclamation for his poetry. On his death at Paços do Lumiar, in the northern suburbs of Lisbon, on 19 July 1886, his poetry remained scattered amongst various newspapers of Lisbon and Oporto, and in a number of literary journals.
The other Lisbon addresses at which Cesário lived included:
In 1887, Cesário's close friend, António José da Silva Pinto, published a limited edition of two hundred copies of Verde's poetry under the title O livro de Cesário Verde, (Lisboa: Typographia Elzeveriana). This compilation included only twenty-two of the forty known works of the poet. The edition also included a number of textual alterations, deletions, additions and changes of title. The poems were also arranged in a non-chronological sequence, divided into two sections entitled Crise romanesca and Naturais, comprising six and sixteen poems respectively. For decades the Livro was accepted as the authoritative and complete works of Cesário Verde. Work by Luís Amaro de Oliveira, Pedro da Silveira and, later, Joel Serrão located a number of other extant poems and variants of those published in the Livro. These appeared in various editions of Serrão's Obra completa de Cesário Verde.
BR> Left to right: The Verde ironmonger's shop, now a bank, which stands at the corner of the Rua dos Fanqueiros and the Rua da Alfândega, in central Lisbon; Cesário Verde's grave (July 1998) in Rua 7 of the Prazeres cemetery, in western Lisbon; the epitaph on Cesário's tomb.
The Need for a New EditionEven Serrão's editions in the 1960s to 1980s failed to challenge the dubious authority of the Livro fully. Although they did present the variant readings of the texts, Serrão's editions enine still maintained the Crise and Naturais dichotemy and gaveprimacy to versions of the poems produced in Silva Pinto's edition rather than those known to have been produced by the poet himself. Eventually, in 1988 Serrão moved some way to rectifying the problems of the Livro by reordering his texts in a more truly chronological sequence. Nevertheless, an edition is still awaited of Verde's poetry which both accords with texts known to have been produced by the poet, rather than altered by Silva Pinto, and which prints the poems inthe correct chronological sequence. In 1999 Ângela Marques produced an edition which was by far the nearest to this ideal in her Cesário Verde: obra poética e epistolografia, (Porto: Lello, ISBN 972-48-1767-9).
Click on the title-links below for text of poems....
L to R: One of a two-stamp set issued in 1957 to commemorate, belatedly, the centenary of the poet's death in 1955; Cidade Universitária station bears this quotation in ceramic tiles on its walls; another Metro station homage to the poet.
Thanks to acknowledgements of his importance by such major poets as Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá-Carneiro, aswell as the accessibility provided by the editions of Serrão, Cesário is today accepted as Portugal's major poet of the late nineteenth century. A bronze bust of Cesário is to be found in the Rua D. Estefânia, whilst his grave, in Lisbon's Prazeres cemetery had a commemorative device attached to it in the early 1990s. He was also honoured by appearing on two Portuguese postage stamps in 1957. There is also a street named after him in Lisbon, although it has no connections with the poet's life.
Projecto Vercial site.
2. A number of Verde's poems can be found on the Internet.
3. The Portuguese National Library holds some archive material relating to thepoet. This material includes the manuscript of Verde's longest and last published poem 'Nos' of 1884.
4. Information on Cesário and countless other Portuguese writers isto be found here, which also has links to other literary sites.
For all your musical needs...ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS NORTH-WEST
Compiled by John Laidlar