Rui Cóias


Rui Coias







He said

traveling is being able to depart for the place

up ahead,

each place impressing us only because it suggests

the next one that will come into view.

And in the end, when we let go of everything

and hear nothing but the bells’ tolling,

the landscapes cease to exist, being no more

than our breathing set free.

“ What impels us is our being able to bury

the body in another place ;

since everywhere we’ve been we left our body

within sight of the place just beyond.”

I understood that, without showing any fear,

he’d discovered the world’s transparency,

he’d been helped by the hovering

faces of travelers.

And I remembered how time teaches us,

from early youth to old age,

to allow a pause in our eyes whenever beauty overwhelms,

a pause in our hands and eyes which are what tell us

the small part of us that always remains.



© Translation from the portuguese: Richard Zenith





Nothing exists that hasn’t had a beginning.

Even in the distance, a clear lit speck,

in territories stripped from all limits, on

sands that flow from unknown seas,

we only contemplate the extent of what we perceived.

If fields in Livonia lead to fields in Masuria,

if tiles are smoothed in tepid bath waters,

and further on graveyard follows graveyard, and

in their midst, inert in the lack of wind, the birch wood stands,

if the sun is the flame of the olive oil crumbling the bread

or the chipped lightening on the walls of Helsingør,

if the death plot is everywhere the same,

be it in the Santa Maria flute or in the Tallinn concertina

it is because we modulate in one place what has seeped from another.

Even unwillingly, or perhaps it’s the shadows on the move,

we weave no more than a row of chances and discretions

along a current which takes each one of us, separately,

to the most sensitive final passage.

Even if laboriously we detach the places,

detailing their diversions and extremes

– the similarity between what they are and what we thought they were,

even throughout regions intersected by extensive trains,

where night will fall in scales of lavender,

we’ll follow the same story – we sink our feet in the same mud.

In that which repeatedly sucks us in,

as we yearn for whatever comes to pass further in the next cove

smoothing with our hands the oak trees on whose bark we inscribe,

like others before us, our sinuous names, our loves,

we constantly return to the point where all is repeated and begun,

of which we grasp a mere minute – an instant,

the blade mediating between this year and the next.



©Translation from the Portuguese: Ana Hudson





Et in Arcadia ergo

How far, amidst the glades,

when the soul delighted in vigorous thoughts and remained untouched

pierced by the useless golden flame

of the city of Arcadia, I imperviously followed

the lonely birches across the sky.

And because youth is indifferent to us ; because

of that love for the beautiful, through the night, submissively alone in its muteness,

life, so close to the ephemeral,

was that which the future stills ignores, deluding this future’s end.

But we are drawn to the young dead ; we love

with contempt life’s briefness

till exhausted we stumble into deception. That life which, as a dark hedge,

reconciles the spirit with the heart – the latter

because it is the last, the utmost, the voice scraped off another voice, this

heart, our heart, which doesn’t reflect on what is born

drops on the road an overwhelming rose, and judges love

in the same spirit.



©Translation from the Portuguese: Ana Hudson





Places don’t exist, never existed, not even the ancient ones.

What exists is what we see in them, the brick dust traces making them vanish.

Only thus we’ll land. Lightly, just for the remembrance.

Not in order to touch the lilac columns or go across on the tangerine sailing boat.

Only vaguely we progress. We don’t walk under the sun.

The nomads’ feet are not blackened by the sand and the sea in small ports.

The elms shelter us, not the terraces.

The dust traces bruise us with a faint drop

we can wile between our fingers and still it doesn’t solidify.

Nothing has changed since the first lament ; the eyes

taking us along the Mediterranean horizon are our eyes,

and the olive trees its day-long boundary.



©Translation from the Portuguese: Ana Hudson





There are no lives left, nor is there a new beginning through their endings,

nor will love bestow on us an insinuating smile,

nor will the past leave insinuating breaches in the present,

nor will I lightly touch my time,

nor will god touch us in no man’s land,

nor will I pass through it without remembering, nor will I just pass through.

We were left with promises of a distant hope,

our shoulders’ halo spread over hot sands,

and each outward breath was the last without us knowing it

-– it’s so slight that we don’t notice its extinguishing,

the dispelling of its hesitating rustle,

the drifting of the faint smoke of our having been

no more than the crash of a swerving body.

What will become of us if only one truth is the truth

-– our life being exerted in it, nothing but a vigilant semblance

halting the flow of the moving light, and the void of movement

whispering each immediate name – never seen, yet to be

slaughtered, yet to become – even if we are

momentarily numbed into something else

as if imagining the sun on a field of olives

or the evanescent gentleness it contemplates,

its lovingness nonetheless, its close call touching the mirror

although its kiss is its regained strength, just like a son

-– what will become of us?

And the vines descend — slowly descend,

and we are hushed, anticipating the time to come —

and my father points at the enclosed olive groves ablaze, and

his voice in the night escapes the afternoon, through a tunnel

-– my father declares, watching the dogs in the distance, this is the end of the path,

my father insists this is the end of the path, the dogs in the distance

-– and we all love the world, and what happens in it at every step,

and the origin of each one of us, the presence, the parting

-– we all love the overturned world, the spike on its summit, its secret

-– we all fear the innocuous breathing, our

departing hour – the lustreless detour, and the incense,

the impeding detour,

its announcing toll.



© Translation from the Portuguese: Ana Hudson











BIO – Rui Cóias


Born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1966, Rui graduated in Law at the University of Coimbra, worked as a legal advisor, and also pursued studies of Philosophy at the University Nova in Lisbon.

As a Poet and essayist, he has authored the books “A Função do Geógrafo” (The Role of

the Geographer) and “A Ordem do Mundo” (The World`s Order), which immediately earned public recognition and has outlined a very unique path in Portuguese poetry in recent years.

His third book of poetry entitled “La Nature de La Vie” (The Nature of Life), French/Portuguese bilingual edition, translated by Marie Claire Vromans, sponsored by the Instituto Camões (Portugal) and by the Embassy of Portugal in Brussels, was recently published in Belgium, and presented at the Transpoesie Festival 2014, in Brussels, organized by EUNIC. Off late his work is receiving international attention and he has earned a name as one of fine contemporary Portuguese poets.


Recently his book “L `Ordre du Monde” (The World`s Order L`Ordre du Monde), was published in France, in a French/Portuguese bilingual edition, by the renowned French publisher L `Harmattan editions.


In his work, the distinctions between time and space, between the personal and the impersonal, are inaccurate; basically, it’s all a vast territory through which travels or emotionals make useful connections with space, memory and identity, but without any presumption set the intelligible world. Happiness is always within reach, or within our retreat, within us, and we also, at any time, pursue the beauty of the world.


Rui Cóias has been invited to integrate several literary and poetic anthologies both in Portugal as well as abroad, namely in France, Italy and Brazil. Besides French, his work has been translated to English, Slovakian and Macedonian.

He has also been invited to many reputed international poetry festivals. Most recently, he represented Portugal at Transpoesie 2014, in Brussels, and at Struga Poetry Evenings in Macedonia. Struga Poetry Evenings is the oldest poetry festival in the world famous for the legendary ‘Bridges’ event. He was also the portuguese representant at Capalest (Slovakia), and at Voix Vives de la Mediterranée, in Sète (France), one of the most important poetry festivals in Europe. In all these festivals he was a part of the official anthology.


Rui Cóias has been at Poetry International Web (Holland) and Poems from the Portuguese (Portugal). He keeps a blog about travelling and literature, and presently lives in Lisbon.


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