A telegram to Vladimir Putin

Em 1938, o poeta Murilo Mendes, revoltado com a anexação da Áustria por Hitler, fez o que estava a seu alcance: mandou um telegrama ao tirano.

In 1938, the poet Murilo Mendes, disgusted with Hitler’s annexation of Austria did what he could: he sent a telegram to the tyrant. | Photo: Reproduction

)15071233 15071233 That was before. Well before. Before Anitta considered putting music to the funkable verses of a Bráulio Bessa. Before the Macabéas melted by the poetry of Carpinejar. Even before Quintana’s diminutives and Leminski’s puns. It was also before the empty aestheticism of Concretinism. Anyway, before. Back when we had poets.

Or, to be more precise, in 1938. Adolf Hitler, already seeing himself on the mission to dominate the world, had annexed Austria. Revolted by what he saw as an act of aggression to the land of his musical idol, the poet Murilo Mendes did not hesitate: he entered the nearest post office and from there sent a telegram to Hitler. In which it read: “In the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, I protest against the occupation of Salzburg”.

But as I said in the first paragraph, that was before. Before the poets became vulgar and spent the night begging for change for their free verse of talent. Before cynicism, Machiavellianism, scientism and materialism, all together and mixed, created hordes of non-readers who, just seeing a book in verse, feel like vomiting. Before publishers had advertising departments specializing in virtue signaling applied to guerrilla marketing.

What would have gone through the poet’s head? Impossible to say. Adapted to today’s world, Murilo Mendes’ gesture is seen as useless stupidity. Which is, by the way, how the world today sees poetry itself. I, who try not to surrender to the utilitarianism that surrounds me, however, prefer to see the poet’s gesture as the Christian sacrifice of those who do their part, do what they can, do what they consider right because it’s right, not because it’s useful. or it will prevent a world war.

I will, however, insist on the same point for the third time: that was before. First of all, it’s relative, full of nuances and not-quite-that. Before tinfoil hats became fashionable. Before social media turned smart people, who might as well be writing verse, into social lunatics addicted to being right. Before poetry readers exchange Murilo Mendes’ Complete Works for tedious essays by political scientists.

You understand now why I use as an epigraph for this space the phrase by T. S Eliot according to which “For us, there is only trying. The rest is none of our business”? Not everything is pragmatism and, in my smallness, I recognize my inability to foresee all the consequences of my texts (and actions). I wake up every day hoping to do my best and not harm anyone. But I do, and sometimes my best is at best mediocre.

In my human and industrious mediocrity, I like to think that there are a few worthy poets out there in the lines of post offices. When his turn comes, the poet tells the bored attendant that he wants to send a telegram. The demand causes a certain furor in the agency. There’s a young man here who wants to send a telegram. Does anyone know how to do this? After which the attendant asks the poet what the message will be, to which he responds by handing her a little piece of paper which reads: “От имени Петра Ильича Чайковского протест против оккупации Украины”.. 15071233

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