Belém in the eyes of Mário de Andrade

Mário de Andrade, one of Brazil’s best literary figures, once spent time in Belém and told of his experiences to friend and fellow poet, Manuel Bandeira. Below is the passage…

“However, to really conquer me to the point of aching with desire, only Belém has conquered me in this way. My only ideal from now on is to spend a few months living in the Grande Hotel of Belém. The right to sit on that terrace in front of the mango trees covering the Teatro da Paz, to sit without a worry, slowly devouring ice cream of cupuaçu, of açaí, you know this world, but do you know anything better than this, Manu? I would think it impossible. Look, I have seen stupendeous things. I saw Rio at all hours and from all places, I saw Tijuca and Santa Teresa from you, I saw the decline of the mountain range leading into Santos, I saw the afternoons in Outro Preto and right this very moment, I am looking at the prettiest Amazonian morning. [...]

I want Belém as one wants love itself. It is inconceivable the love which Belém has awoken in me. And as I already said, I am sitting in white linen on the terrace of the Grande Hotel after the rains and inhaling the ice cream, without a want in the world, except to be doing something.” (Passage from the letter Mário de Andrade wrote to Manuel Bandeira, June, 1927)

Porém me conquistar mesmo a ponto de ficar doendo no desejo, só Belém me conquistou assim. Meu único ideal de agora em dianteé passar uns meses morando no Grande Hotel de Belém. O direito de sentar naquela terrasse em frente das mangueiras tapando o Teatro da Paz, sentar sem mais nada, chupitando um sorvete de cupuaçu, de açaí, você que conhece omundo, conhece coisa melhor do que isso, Manu? Me parece impossível. Olha que tenho visto bem coisas estupendas. Vi o Rio em todas as horas e lugares, vi a Tijuca e a Stº Teresa de você, vi a queda da Serra para Santos, vi a tarde de sinoa em Ouro Preto e vejo agorinha mesmo a manhã mais linda do Amazonas. [...]

Quero Belém como se quer um amor. É inconcebível o amor que Belém despoertou em mim. E como já falei, sentar de linho branco depois da chuva na terrasse do Grande Hotel e tragar sorvete, sem vontade, só para agir. (Trecho da Carta de Mário de Andrade a Manuel Bandeira, junho, 1927)

Side note: The Grande Hotel of Belém was demolished in the 1970′s in order to make way for the Hilton Belém, in case you are looking for the same view.

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