maria manuela margarido (1925-2007)

excerpts from “Alto Como o Silêncio,” by Maria Manuela Margarido (1925-Mar. 10, 2007), a poet from São Tomé e Príncipe. This is a translation by João-Maria, 24-year-old writer, blogger, from “littoral Portugal, somewhere near Lisbon.” There don’t seem to be any full-length translated versions of her works by a professional in such field. 

Maria Manuela da Conceição Carvalho Margarido was born in Roça Olímpia, on the island of Príncipe, on September 11, 1925. Her father, David Guedes de Carvalho, was from a Jewish family in Porto, named Pinto de Carvalho. Her mother was mestizo, the daughter of Angolan and Indian parents. From the time she was very young, she would often travel between her island and the Portuguese metropole. 

She received her formal education in Lisbon, where she regularly attended the Casa dos Students do Império [House of Students of the Empire], participating in cultural activities and living with residents from all Portugal’s colonies. Here, she became acquainted with Amilcar Cabral, Agostinho Neto, Joaquim Chissano, Rui Romano, Francisco José Tenreiro, among others.

Her first published collection was  Alto Como Silencio [Loud as Silence], (Lisbon, 1957). As a poet, she was deeply inspired by Négritude writers and thinkers including Senghor and Aimé Césaire. In 1962, she was arrested by PIDE and taken to Caxias. After her release, she was exiled in Paris, where she lived for 30 years and continued her academic training. Following the Carnation Revolution, she became an official Ambassador of São Tomé and Príncipe.

Here is another english translation of Margarido’s work:

(translated from Portuguese by Julia Kirst)

Nightfall … grass on the back
of the gleaming black man
on his way to the yard.
Grey parrots
explode in the palm trees’ comb
and cross each other in my childhood dream,
in the blue porcelain of oysters.
High dream, high
like the coconut tree along the ocean
with its golden and firm fruits
like obstructed stones
oscillating in a tornado’s womb
ploughing the sky with its mad
In the sky the severe anguish
of revolt passes by
with its claws its anxieties its uncertainties.
And an image of rustic lines
takes over the time and the word.


1: (CALIATH) An Empyrean Cycle, a blog by João-Maria

2: Geoff Wisner, “A poem from a very small place”. WWB Daily, Words Without Borders, The Online Magazine for International Literature, Mar 25, 2010.

3: Helena Pato, “Manuela Margarido (1925 – 2007), Grande poetisa de São Tomé e Príncipe, escritora, diplomata e lutadora contra a ditadura fascista e o colonialismo.” Tornado Journal, o jornal global para a lusofonia. 6 January 2019.

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