Zeltgeist

Poem By Fernando Pinto do Amaral

My contemporaries speak a lot
and say: "So, here's how it is"
in the brazen manner of ones fed
by the sound of their own voices as they start
explaining at length present trends
in the arts, humanities or those societies,
which are becoming, little by little, the same
as each other, in this first world where we were born,
now that the second world has ceased to exist
and the third, take war leave hunger,
keeps its abstraction, in folkloric distance.
It seems metaphysics is dead
and truth sleepwalks, wandering
the empty corridors where
some of my contemporaries' millions
of sentences meet in the dark. Still,
they speak of everything enthusiastically,
throwing in decisive ‘proposals'
and riding the ‘challenges' of new paths
for mankind, while enjoying
alcohol-free beer, decaffeinated
coffee and, above all,
loveless love, to be able to maintain
their physical and mental balance.
My contemporaries almost always say
they do not moralise, and that's why
they force everybody to be free, healthy, happy,
even the ones who don't want to be:
they forbid tobacco, sugar
and, whenever in pain, they take pills
because joy is a chemical matter
and it's advisable to take it at certain times, like
pleasure under the surveillance of condoms
and such other compulsory seat belts,
so that one day they may die
in complete good health.
When I muse upon my contemporaries,
their trendy conversations, their fashionable places,
I find them so endearing, I wish I were
at least as naïve as they are,
sharing each thrill on their lips,
the ephemeral flame of their laughter
all through the night. However,
I'm tempted by the sloth of remaining
thus lazier than any Oblomov
on a Portuguese scale - oh sweet anaesthetic
invading my body, freeing me
of that spell called "the spirit
of the time" in which we are living, under the debris
of a sky crumbled into a thousand
still bright small pieces, virtual
stars shining intermittently
on the surface of all the screens
that my contemporaries switch on and off
each and every day, never forgetting
to press the necessary key
for the save function
and thus reach into eternity.

Translated by Ana Hudson

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