Defoe on Corvo

For Pedro Javier Castañeda García

The English writer came to Corvo in the early ‘80s, at the invitation of Ricardo Ascensão. And he was able to observe the men and the expanse of the vanishing world keenly from a space as tiny as that. In several newspaper columns of the period (published under the title adopted here), we received an account of this from his host – who would, however, lose his life in Spain amid the twisted metal and debris of a traffic accident in which writers J.H. Santos Barros and Ivone Chinita likewise perished.

Defoe left the island immediately, so had no chance to inform us of the shipwreck of the Tapestry, which occurred soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the vessel was transporting Moscow’s Balalaika Orchestra en route to New York to celebrate the new universal harmony.

Two castaways washed ashore at the very moment when the Council of Elders, gathered at the Outeiro, was intoning the poem Chorus of the Elders of Corvo, composed long ago by one Vasco Pereira da Costa, who had himself landed there fleeing the cataclysms of his own island. And they set to playing distant melodies in which the sound of the steppes was lost in the silence of the vast expanses of the West. They played and played for an entire afternoon while the Council, engrossed like chess opponents, discoursed on the fates of cheese and the stars, and on the island’s imperceptible but inexorable westward shift at the rate of an inch a year.

And the castaways never perceived that the desultorily applauding palms with which the musical performance of three elders was crowned were nothing more than a simple manifestation of great relief for the stopping of the strange echoing bells that had been disturbing them in the middle of their Atlantic quietude.

 

Translated into English by Katharine F. Baker and Dr. Bobby J. Chamberlain

[«Defoe no Corvo». Bettencourt, Urbano: Que Paisagem Apagarás.Ponta Delgada: Publiçor, 2010, pp. 43-44.]

 

 

 

 

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  1. Pingback: URBANO EM INGLÊS | AICL – Associação Internacional dos Colóquios da Lusofonia

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