Mario Quintana’s greatest legacy is contained, of course, within the writing, he left behind him. Quintana, one of the foremost distinctive Brazilian poets, was born in Alegrete in 1906. He began his literary career under the influence of French Symbolism, but he had a good acquaintance with Iberian literary tradition which also influenced his thinking and writing. French was his second language and he translated French and English classic novels into the Portuguese language. He worked a few years as a translator for Livraria does Globo in Porto Alegre, one of Brazil’s largest publishing houses. He also worked as a journalist for the newspaper Correio do Povo, where he wrote a column titled “Caderno H”. Author of the many volumes of verse, he wrote with remarkable economy and almost no rhetoric.
At Alegrete, Quintana worked together with his father and older brother at Quintana Pharmacy. He trained specifically in helping drug dispensation. Such care as must be exercised may account for Quintana’s careful and parallel structuring in many of his poems, which frequently move carefully from low-key openings to sensational endings. In 1926, Quintana entered a contest sponsored by the newspaper Diário de Notícias, for the simplest tale, and won the prize. the story contains poetic and comic elements and is extremely well written. Quintana may be a master of poetic forms, wit, and irony. the design is extremely clear and reflected, sometimes without ever having been given a touch of what the climax of the piece goes to be, but always making exactly its points.
For quite forty years, Quintana wrote and fought against the milieu of pessimism and cynicism, since to be an artist within the province was considered a “kind of sin”. It seems the elite was in theory hostile to literature. Anyway, Quintana continued to write down and revise his poems and epigrams, with extreme care. He wont to say, “It is important to write down a poem several times so on give the impression that it had been written for the primary time.” Quintana devoted most of his time to his work. During these years, the poet became well familiar with literary circles and figures, including Augusto Meyer, a poet, and critic, and Erico Verissimo, a writer and editorial advisor to Livraria do Globo. Throughout his career, Quintana would be encouraged and praised by other great writers like Cecilia Meireles and Monteiro Lobato.
He came to wide public attention together with his first book A Rua dos Cataventos (The Street of Weathervanes) in 1940; it had been followed in 1946 by Canções (Songs). But it had been O Aprendiz de Feiticeiro (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) published in 1950 that built his reputation as a first-rate poet. The exquisite mix between Symbolism and Surrealism, bringing replacement music and a replacement language to Brazilian poetry, is liable for the importance of the book. As an excellent poet, he was ready to identify himself with more general experience and stand forth as a voice for the human spirit. The book was welcomed by Augusto Meyer, his fellow within the glory days of the twenties, because of the expression of replacement poetry and as an example of natural virtuosity. Let’s read a literal translation of 1 of the poems below:
The poem may be a stone within the abyss,
The echo of the poem displaces profiles:
For the sake of waters and souls
Let us murder the poet.
Thus, with a remarkable economy and growing tension, Quintana succeeds in conveying poetic language because the last word is spiritual illumination. The poet’s talent is presented as threatening the new religion of logic.
I believe that the attributes of the poet’s work that keep it front and center on the Brazilian literature stage include the utilization of the lyric, a really personal sort of poetry, the way the poems manage to mix the intellectual with the emotional, the way the poems subvert expectations, the way the poems move from a day to metaphysical issues, the way the poems combine the colloquial and therefore the erudite levels of language, the utilization of straightforward or anaphoric repetitions, the breach of sonnet regularity, the poem’s complex wordplay and gaming with alliteration and assonance, and so on.
Pure poetry is tense in expression, as we see within the poem above, and it’s always unexpected and stylish. Quintana was able, as critics noted, to preserve his joy of living and human spontaneity in times of cold technologies.