The Azores are nine islands in the Atlantic with just 230,000 inhabitants. Yes you would be hard pressed to find anywhere with a greater tradition of poets and writers – they are literally, islands of verse.
Antero de Quental was one of Portugal’s greatest writers. Born on São Miguel, Antero went to the University of Coimbra to study law. He became a leader of a student movement to challenge and change the provincial life that he felt held Portugal back from its true potential. His article “Good Sense and Good Taste” in 1865 started a national conversation on the future. A poet, philosopher and writer, Antero’s works became a milestone in the Portuguese language, alongside those of Camões or Bocage.
Natália de Oliveira Correia, was an intellectual, poet and activist, who penned the regional anthem of the Azores. Along with José Saramago, Armindo Magalhães, Manuel da Fonseca and Urbano Tavares Rodrigues she helped to found the FNDC, the National Front for the Defense of Culture. She was a key figure on the Azores artistic scene in the 1950s and 1960s. Her works have been translated into several languages.
Vitorino Nemésio Mendes Pinheiro da Silva was a poet and author who hailed from Terceira. His novel Mau Tempo No Canal is a classic, and he went on to teach both on the Mainland and in the Azores.
Joaquim Teófilo Fernandes Braga was a writer, playwright and a politician. He served as leader of the Republican Provisional Government after the abdication of King Manuel II in 1910, and was the second elected President of the Republic. He authored books on the history of literature, ethnography, poetry, fiction, as well as philosophy.
Voices of trees, the wind, the sea!
When, in certain sorrowful dreams,
I’m lulled by your powerful melodies,
I sense that you’re distraught, like me.
Twilight words and secret breath
Of speechless things, mysterious psalm,
Wispy grieving, are you not
The world’s sighing and lament?
A spirit inhabits the immensity:
A cruel yearning to be free
Makes the fleeting forms rave.
I understand your strange tongues,
Voices of seas, mountains, jungles. . .
My soul’s sisters – souls enslaved!