Ao Viandante – A Portuguese Poem

Azulejo 20This is a poem that sits under a tree in the hushed gardens of Castelo de São Jorge. For some reason it really caught my eye and I spent quite some time there just looking at the words, trying to understand, trying to get the gist of meaning. A kind Brazilian man saw me looking and came over and read the poem to me, first in Portuguese and then in English. I was entranced.

Perhaps it is because I have always felt a connection to trees, perhaps that it was a special moment in a quiet place. Perhaps it is because the poem says something so important so simply. To protect the enviroment is to protect ourselves.

Ao Viandante


 Ao Viandante

Tu que passas e ergues para mim o teu braço,
Antes que me faças mal. Olha me bem.
Eu sou o calor do teu lar nas noites frias de inverno
Eu sou a sombra amiga que tu encontras
Quando caminhas sob o sol de agosto
E os meus frutos são a frescura apetitosa
Que te sacia a sede nos caminhos.
Eu sou a trave amiga da tua casa, a tábua da tua mesa,
A cama em que descansas e o lenho do teu barco
Eu sou o cabo da tua enxada a porta da tua morada,
A madeira do teu berço e do teu próprio caixão
Eu sou o pão da bondade e a flor da beleza
Tu que passas, olha-me bem e não faças mal

Veiga Simões, Arganil, Maio de 1914
Veiga Simões was a brilliant Portuguese politician, diplomat, writer and journalist.

To the person who passes through this place

You that pass and raise your arm to me
before you hurt me, look at me well.
I am the heat of your home in the cold winter nights.
I am the friendly shade that you find
when walking under the August sun
And my fruits are appetizing freshness
That satisfy your thirst on the way.
I am the friendly beam of your house, the board of your table
the bed in which you rest and the wood of your boat.
I am handle of your hoe, the door of your dwelling
the wood of your  cradle and of your own coffin.
I am the bread of goodness and the flower of beauty.
You that pass, look at me well and do no harm.

9 comments for “Ao Viandante – A Portuguese Poem

  1. John Fernandes
    September 11, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I found this same poem in the North of Portugal,in a town called Lamego.It was nailed onto what was left of a gigantic oak tree.However the heading was O Viajante “The Traveller”….at the bottom of the hill where we find the oak tree,there is a cathedral with a magnificent cloister…..

    • Lily
      September 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      How lovely John. Thanks for sharing that 🙂

  2. John Straatman
    December 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Dear Reader. I am really in love with Portugal and Lissabon. Since 1988 I travelled often to this lovely country. The first years for business, later on to spend together with my spouse our vacation overthere. When in Lissabon we will each time again visit the castle and stand still in front of the famous poem and read it and each time the words are touching my heart.
    Last week in Lissabon, I went there again.
    Thank you for posting this nice poem.

    • Lily
      December 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      Hi John. Thanks for your comment. I’m really happy to hear you love Lisbon. Wishing you many more happy holidays there.

  3. Anneliese du Toit
    May 24, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    I am from South Africa and live on a wine farm. The land was recently sold, but the homesteads were excluded.
    Then the new owner came and started taking almost all the trees out. I was so very, very upset, it included two very old Pecan nut trees. My friend tried to console me by sharing with me the poem “To the person who passes through this place”. It was much appreciated.
    I also fell in love with Lisbon back in the day, 1978 and has visited it twice since. Actually the whole of Portugal is a wonderful place to me.

  4. Jorge
    December 2, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks for your post

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