CD Archive: If man had statutes, they would be Thiago's

Poet Thiago de Mello at Casa de las Américas, Cuba. Photo: current redebrasil

One summer afternoon in 1974, walking to the house of a friend who lived in the Náutico, I saw a man with long white hair, all dressed in white, climbing a coconut tree in the garden of the house without shoes. I was impressed by the dexterity with which he climbed and I was almost more struck by the fact that the whiteness of his outfit did not lose its splendor. At that time I was in a high school in the country and as soon as I put on anything it would get dirty with dirt.

A few years have passed, that person was one of the great poets of America; Amadeu Thiago de Mello[1]; and the day was memorable, because when I was barely 14 years old I ended up witnessing a recital by the Brazilian poet and another poet answered from the guitar: Silvio Rodríguez.

Thiago was born in Brazil, in the Amazon, on March 30, 1926 and by this time he is over 91 years old. He lived as a child in Manaus and when he finished elementary school he went to Rio de Janeiro. Later he tried to be a doctor at the National School of Medicine, but abandoned his studies to dedicate himself to the difficult and uncertain path of being a writer.

In 1951 he published his first text in verse, The silence and the word, and for literary criticism he earned the epithet of being “… a poet of the truth, and rare at this time, that is to say it”[2], a sentence that he has maintained throughout his career.

I enjoyed his friendship for several years, during his return to Cuba -thanks to the kindness of Aida Santamaría Cuadrado who brought us together on several occasions-, and I learned that he had been imprisoned in 1964, that he had to go into exile in Chile, that he was a friend there of Pablo Neruda and Violeta Parra, who from that moment began a long pilgrimage of his life through Germany, Argentina, France and Portugal. When the military regime came to an end, he returned to his village, Barreirinha, in the Amazon and still lives there.

In his long life he has published twelve books of poetry and seven of prose.

Friendship is a privilege, Cuba and Casa de las Américas are also your friends. The poet has made it clear for many years and endorsed it even more strongly when he donated the fees that corresponded to him for participating in the first Amazonas Book Biennial to the cause for the release of the 5 Cuban anti-terrorists who were in prison at that time. in the U.S[3].

The House included Thiago de Mello in its collection Words of our America, in a wonderful album the poet reads his work and also honored him by awarding him the Haydeé Santamaría medal in 1989. She was a special person with whom he had a great closeness and with whom Thiago shared his social concerns.

He was born a poet, his texts exude passion, spontaneity, autochthony and authenticity, a melancholy perseverance is present in them that places the human being at the center of his creative axis, in his main concern and in communion with ethics, freedom and love. .

The Statutes of Man is a classic poem of contemporary Brazilian literature and is a work of hope; clamor, movement in which the truth is reflected as in a mirror from which a rare tenderness radiates.

Evidently this poet is very brave in claiming that the order and obligation of man are freedom, happiness, human improvement and respect for being.

Another issue that draws attention to Thiago de Mello’s work is its delicate simplicity, expressed as a higher definition to which each poet aspires, reaching man and describing his circumstances and desires with the words of everyday reality.

The statutes… are really subversive and perhaps they should be Universal Law, because if the love, hope, sincerity and happiness of the inhabitants of the planet were endorsed as inviolable facts, we would be truly innocent until the end of time, oblivious to evil, envy, lies and deceitful “freedom” would reach one meaning another.

Will this tremendous text almost forgotten by our adolescents, young people and adults, reach the future, in these times of new Gods to adore, ineffable devices that spy us and with the reign of the 140 characters?

I don’t know, I cry because stupidity is suddenly erased and that we men have the statutes that these verses cry out for.

I have “dragged” since I apprehended the poem a small surprise, discovered perhaps by skill and not by wisdom; The poet invites with the strength of the winds and the forest of Mother Earth to the delirium that gives the tenacity to make the phrase “… that the crazy have lost everything, except reason” come true.[4].

The statutes of man [5]

To Carlos Heitor Cony[6]

Article 1.
It is decreed that now life is worth,
that now the truth is valid,
and that of given hands
we will all work for true life.
Article 2.
It is decreed that every day of the week,
even the grayest Tuesdays,
have the right to become Sunday mornings.

Article 3.
It is decreed that, from this instant,
there will be sunflowers in all the windows,
that sunflowers will have the right to open in the shade;
and that the windows must remain the whole day
open to the green where hope grows.

Article 4.
It is decreed that the man
you will no longer need to doubt the man.
That man will trust man
as the palm tree trusts the wind,
as the wind trusts the air,

as the air trusts the blue field of the sky.

Single paragraph:
man will trust man
like a child trusts another child.

Article 5.
It is decreed that men
they are free from the yoke of lies.
Never again will it be necessary to wear the breastplate of silence
nor the armor of words.
The man will sit at the table with a clear look,
because the truth will be served before dessert.

Article 6.
It is established, for ten centuries,
the practice dreamed of by the prophet Isaiah,
and the wolf and the lamb will graze together
and the food of both will have the same aurora taste.

Article 7.
By irrevocable decree
is established
permanent reign
of fairness and clarity.
And joy will be a generous flag
forever raised in the soul of the people.

Article 8.
It is decreed that the greatest pain
always was and always will be
not being able to give love to those who love,
knowing what the water is
who gives the plant the miracle of the flower.

Article 9.
It is permissible that the daily bread
have in man the mark of his sweat.
But above all always have
the warm taste of tenderness.

Article 10.
Anyone is allowed
at any time of life, the use of the white suit.

Article 11.
It is decreed, by definition,
that man is an animal that loves,
and that’s why it’s beautiful,
much more beautiful than the morning star.

Article 12.
Decree that nothing will be forced or prohibited.

Everything will be allowed.

Written in Quinta Normal, Santiago de Chile, April 1964.


[1] He is the brother of the musician Gaudencio Thiago de Mello.

[2]According to Sergio Milliet da Costa e Silva (1898-1966) Brazilian writer, art critic and painter.

[3] See: and

[4] Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) an important British writer and journalist of the early 20th century.

[5] I have used the translation of Mario Benedetti.

[6]Carlos Heitor Cony, a Brazilian writer, participated in 1967 as a member of the jury of the Casa de las Américas contest.

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