“Obscure Life” – Poem by Black Brazilian Poet João da Cruz e Sousa

Three Worlds One Vision

Black Lives MatterPhoto Credit: Black Lives Matter

In honor of Black History Month in the United States, my Poetry Corner February 2015features the poem “Vida Obscura” (Obscure Life) by Brazil’s greatest black poet João da Cruz e Sousa (1861-1898).

Born in the Southern State of Santa Catarina, Cruz e Sousa was the son of freed slaves. (Not until 1888 was slavery totally abolished in Brazil.) When their former slave owners adopted and gave João da Cruz their surname Sousa, it became both a blessing and a curse for the child named after Saint John of the Cross.

After he revealed great intellectual aptitude, they enrolled ten-year-old João de Cruz in the Liceu Provincial where he spent the next five years studying French, English, Latin, Greek, mathematics, and the Natural Sciences.

Exposed to higher education and Brazilian white society, Cruz e Sousa assumed he could enjoy the same dignity and…

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