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Mouzinho’s Sonnet 40: a Reading in four Stanzas

Hélio J. S. Alves
p. 47-55

Texte intégral

1Vasco Mouzinho, an exact contemporary of Shakespeare’s, put into print, in his rst volume of poetry of 1596 (Discurso sobre a vida e morte de Santa Isabel Rainha de Portugal, & outras varias Rimas), a set of 51 sonnets. Some of these poems have been remarked for the depth of their subjectivity, others for their allegorical conventionality. My reading of the sonnet Nũ seco ramo, nu de fruyto e folha (number 40 in the series) will show, however, that Mouzinho was interested, like Petrarch before him, in articulating those two types of discourse together.

2A poem about love, sonnet 40 is also an intensely meaningful discussion about the connections between intimate ‘feeling’ (sentir) and outward ‘knowing’ (conhecer), between old emblematic representation and modern writing on the subject, and therefore about the powers and the limits of poetry itself.

Nũ seco ramo, nu de fruyto e folha,
Ũa queixosa rola geme e sente
Do casto ninho seu parceiro ausente,
E vê-lo a cada sombra se lhe antolha.

Dali dece a ũ a fonte onde recolha
Algũ alento, e porque não consente
A dor ver água clara, juntamente
A envolve c’os pés e o bico molha.

Se ausência e amor sentida a rola tem,
Que nem de ausência, nem de amor conhece,
Em quem pesar nem sentimento cabe,

Que farão em quem sente o que padece,
Quem de seu mal conhece e de seu bem,
Temo que venha a não sentir e acabe.

Prima stanza

3Nũ seco ramo, nu de fruyto e folha was written by Vasco Mouzinho, a Portuguese poet who lived sometime between the last third of the sixteenth century and the rst quarter of the seventeenth. The sonnet is included as number 40 in the author’s rst printed book, Discurso sobre a vida e morte de Santa Isabel Rainha de Portugal, & outras varias Rimas, published in 1596 (some copies seem to have been printed the year after). The very title Varias Rimas places Mouzinho’s lyric output within the framework of Petrarchism, a tendency which was nding a considerable outlet in Portugal during the 1590s. The love poetry of Camões (in 1595 and 1598), of Diogo Bernardes (in 1594 and 1597) and of the poet hiding under the pseudonym Lizardo (also in 1597), all included the word Rimas in their title-pages and, mostly, also the word Varias. In Mouzinho’s case, the reader can tell from the heading of every sheet of paper in the edition that the title Varias Rimas was applied only to the 51 sonnets in the book, plus the one poem in terza rima and the onng=t

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