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The Sights and Voices of Dispossession: The Fight for the Land and the Emerging Culture of the MST (The Movement of the Landless Rural Workers of Brazil)


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Emerging culture by media type -> Poems 46 resources (Edited by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Bernard McGuirk.)

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Culture: Canon of exclusion


Aracy Cachoeira


Under the viaduct (1)

With hunger, cold, on a cardboard scrap(2), the poor old man outstretches his shaking, helpless hand.
Tired hand, that can take no more and soon gives up, empty.
Now only the vacant stare, deceived, suffering, seeking understanding.
So sad an anxious stare from one awaiting, from someone, a gesture of love.
So the hours pass, he waits and waits for alms, his strength ebbing away, as inside he despairs.
In a last possible effort, he touches the dry tatters(3) , he tugs the grimy blanket, and in the most dramatic scene, clinging onto his rags he sighs, now calm and serene, the last breath of his life, as slowly he expires.
But there'll be no tears, there'll be no vigil, nor mourning, it's just one more dying beggar, under the viaduct.

1 Editor's note: Viaduct or Overpass: an expression of solidarity of the Sem-Terra with other destitute and excluded people, the Sem-Teto (Roofless) beggars who live under the Chá Overpass in the centre of São Paulo. The poem, written in 1988, is a part of the (unpublished) collection by Araci Cachoeira, with the title Poemas de São Paulo (Poems of São Paulo). The author says that she found herself in that city one very cold night, when she saw the beggar breathe his last breath. For him, nothing more could be done. Moved by a deep feeling of solidarity, she interrupted her journey to write this requiem.

2 Editor's note: Cardboard: the beggars who live in the public spaces underneath the viaducts use cardboard boxes as improvised shelters or put up the equivalent of a wall to gain some privacy.

3 Editor's note: In the original poem, the word estilangado, a regionalism of the Mucuri River Valley for rags, tattered dress, is used.


November 2002

Resource ID:


Anthology of poems
A first-hand selection, unpublished in Brazil and elsewhere. A militant poetics; the social and political importance of the poet-singer (cantador), the construction of a canon of exclusion; the landless woman; the theme of death as life's horizon; the pedagogic project.
Else R P Vieira

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