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What's in a Name, by Ana Luisa Amaral

What's in a Name, by Ana Luisa Amaral

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With the elliptical looping of a butterfly alighting on one's sleeve, the poems of Ana Lui´sa Amaral arrive as small hypnotic miracles. Spare and beautiful in a way reminiscent both of Szymborska and of Emily Dickinson (it comes as no surprise that Amaral is the leading Portuguese translator of Dickinson), these poems--in Margaret Jull Costa's gorgeous English versions--seamlessly interweave the everyday with the dreamlike and ask "What's in a name?"

"How solid is a name if answered to," Amaral answers, but "like the Rose--no, like its perfume: ungovernable. Free." There is much freedom within Amaral's poetry, room for mysteries to multiply, and yet her beautiful lines are as clear as water:

 And that time of smiles Which does, incidentally,

 Really exist, I swear, as does the fire

And the invisible sea, which with nothing will agree

March 5, 2019