Episode 21: Tea with a Poet, Mário de Andrade

Mário de Andrade
October 9, 1893 – February 25, 1945

 

Welcome to Tea. Toast. & Trivia.

This is the third podcast of the series called,  “It’s all about tea.”

So put the kettle on and join me in discussing the mysteries and adventures of tea: their origins, myths, aromas and delicious tastes.  Today, we are heading to Brazil to meet up with the Mário de Andrade, Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist, art historian,  photographer and one of the founders of Brazilian modernism

My name is Rebecca Budd and I’m looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

*Sound of Boiling Water*

The sound you heard was water boiling. I am making a cup of Yerba Mate, a delicious infusion popular in Brazil that is made with the leaves of the native Yerba Mate plant.  Yerba Mate has a slightly smoky, even bitter flavour that some suggest tastes like a cross between green tea and coffee.  Full of vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants, this is a tea that devotees promise will add vibrancy and an energy boost to your day.  Did I mention that this tea has caffeine?

Yerba Mate is versatile – you can drink it hot or cold, with or without milk or sugar.  Some tea experts maintain that Yerba Mate tea can be easily mixed with other herbs and spices.  In Brazil, Yerba Mate is served in a hollow gourd with milk and a sweetener.  This is a tradition that continues from indigenous cultures.  Which is why Yerba Mate  is a perfect pairing for my encounter with the Brazilian poet, Mário de Andrade.  During his lifetime, he amassed vast amounts of information about Brazilian life and folklore.

*Sound of pouring tea*

That was the sound of pouring my tea.

I am not drinking the tea from a gourd but that does not diminish my enjoyment.  It is a distinct, unforgettable flavour, one that I will come to again and again. Just as I will to the poetry of Mário de Andrade.

Born on October 9, 1893, Mário de Andrade chose to live all 51 years of his life in the moment, surrounded by beauty, art, poetry. A passionate poet, novelist, musicologist, art historian, and photographer, his journey was not for the faint of heart.  As a child, he was a piano prodigy and thought that the piano would be his life’s work.  He studied at the Music and Drama Conservatory of São Paulo.  Tragedy came when he was twenty.  His 14-year-old brother, Renato, died suddenly during a football game in 1913.  It was a period a deep grieving. He returned to live with his family in the city Araraquara, a three-hour drive from São Paulo. He eventually graduated in 1917 with a degree in piano but was unable to give concerts.  His hands, which had been steady as a child, trembled intermittently.

Life moves on and so did Mário de Andrade –  to singing, writing, art and poetry.  He published his first book the year of his graduation under the pseudonym, Mário Sobra.  Although the book received little attention, it was the beginning of his exploration and a growing sense of a distinctive Brazilian identity, of an abiding love for his country and the diversity of culture.

Shortly after graduation and the publishing of his first book, Mário de Andrade left São Paulo for the countryside.  This was the genesis of the meticulous documentation of the history, people, culture, and particularly music of the Brazilian interior, both in the state of São Paulo and in the wilder areas to the northeast.  His pioneering efforts in the field of ethnomusicology went beyond the borders of Brazil. He embraced the breadth and depth of music within its social and cultural settings.

He wrote poetry throughout his musical education but did not think to do so professionally until the career as a professional pianist came to a standstill.

In 1928, Mário de Andrade published his great novel, Macunaíma, which I have yet to read because I have not located a English translation. Macunaíma, “a hero without a character,” born in the Brazilian jungle and possessing strange and remarkable abilities, travels to São Paulo.

Mário de Andrade  is considered Brazil’s national polymath. As a member of the avant-garde “Group of Five, he was the central figure in São Paulo avant-garde movement, reshaping both literature and visual arts in Brazil.  There were strained moments in his relationship with the Brazilian government over the years, but at the end of his life, he became the founding director of São Paulo’s Department of Culture.

On February 25, 1945,  Mário de Andrade  died of a heart attack in his home.

A few months ago, my mother, Frances, sent me a poem by Mário de Andrade, which she had received from a friend, who had received it from another friend and another friend and another. Without question,  the poem passed through many inboxes on its way to mine.  It is called The Valuable Time of Maturity.  Even after all the years, Mário de Andrade poetry continues to resonate, far away from his home in Brazil.

The Valuable Time of Maturity

I counted my years and discovered that I have
less time to live going forward than I have lived until now.

I have more past than future.
I feel like the boy who received a bowl of candies.
The first ones, he ate ungracious,
but when he realized there were only a few left,
he began to taste them deeply.

I do not have time to deal with mediocrity.
I do not want to be in meetings where parade inflamed egos.

I am bothered by the envious, who seek to discredit
the most able, to usurp their places,
coveting their seats, talent, achievements and luck.

I do not have time for endless conversations,
useless to discuss about the lives of others
who are not part of mine.

I do not have time to manage sensitivities of people
who despite their chronological age, are immature.

I cannot stand the result that generates
from those struggling for power.

People do not discuss content, only the labels.
My time has become scarce to discuss labels,
I want the essence, my soul is in a hurry…
Not many candies in the bowl…

I want to live close to human people,
very human, who laugh of their own stumbles,
and away from those turned smug and overconfident
with their triumphs,
away from those filled with self-importance,
Who does not run away from their responsibilities ..
Who defends human dignity.
And who only want to walk on the side of truth
and honesty.
The essential is what makes
life worthwhile.

I want to surround myself with people,
who knows how to touch the hearts of people ….
People to whom the hard knocks of life,
taught them to grow with softness in their soul.

Yes …. I am in a hurry … to live with intensity,
that only maturity can bring.
I intend not to waste any part of the goodies
I have left …
I’m sure they will be more exquisite,
that most of which so far I’ve eaten.

My goal is to arrive to the end satisfied and in peace
with my loved ones and my conscience.
I hope that your goal is the same,
because either way you will get there too .. ”

Mário de Andrade

Thank you for joining me on Tea Toast and Trivia.

May we be in a hurry … to live with intensity, that only maturity can bring. Let’s not waste any part of the candies that we have left.

Until next time, safe travels.

13 Comments

  1. Rebecca, Your interesting section about Yerba Maté tea set me on a googling path. A study shows that its decoction can potentially be used to treat diabetics and obesity also. I have not come across this variety of tea locally but certainly it will be available here. However, I am sure one can come across this in shops at Orchid Road in Singapore or Bangkok. Goes into my Wish-list cart. Re. Mário de Andrade’s Macunaíma, it’s English translation by E. A. Goodland published in 1984 (Random House, NY) is available in Internet. Thank you, Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      You are an amazing source of knowledge, Jo! I found Macunaíma, it’s English translation by E. A. Goodland just as you said I would! You would be interested to know that along the internet exploration journey, I found a translation into Danish, which I found fascinating. From Brazil to Denmark – ideas travel and become a movement of the heart. Yerba Mate is becoming mainstream in Vancouver based on the health benefits, especially since diabetes and obesity is a growing reality. I am going to continue my exploration into the plant. On the other side of the equation, there are medical studies that indicate that Yerba Mate, after prolonged use, can cause problems. What I love most about research – you have to think, to consider, and to base decisions on evidence. It is part of tasting deeply of those remaining candies. Thank you for your comment – you made my day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you. Please find below some texts in English to assist you with your research on Yerba Mate:

    A) Yerba maté tea: the history of its early discovery in Paraguay by Butler, William Mill. (Publication date 1900)
    B) Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet by Kang, Young-Rye, etc (Publication date: 2012-03-21)
    C) Yerba Mate – The Tea of South America by The PAN American Union (May1916)
    D) The Effect of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguarensis) Supplementation on the Productive Performance of Dorper Ewes and Their Progeny by Po, Eleonora; Xu, Ziqian; Celi, Pietro (Publication date 2012-04-19)
    E) XXIV.—On the history of the ‘Maté’ plant, and the different species of Ilex employed in the preparation of the ‘Yerba de Maté,’ or Paraguay Tea by John Miers (Publication date 1861)
    F) Pioneer settlement in northeast Argentina by Eidt, Robert C., 1923- (Publication date 1971)
    G) Mate : a list of references by United States.: Bureau of Agricultural Economics (Publication date 1940)
    H) Foreign agriculture : a review of foreign farm policy, production, and trade by United States. Bureau of Agricultural Economics (Publication date 1943)

    I hope the above information will be of some assistance. Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      Oh Jo! This is wonderful information! Thank you! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Resa says:

    Fabulous podcast! I adore the history about Mário de Andrade. I hadn’t heard of him before. I so relate to his poem, I hear it, feel it and understand. You read it beautifully, Rebecca! Chapeau!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am delighted that you listened in to the podcast. I had never heard of Mário de Andrade before I received the poem in my inbox. I had to stop recording in the middle at one point because he had me in tears with his words, “I want the essence, my soul is in a hurry…”. I was thinking of you especially yesterday. The Vancouver Mural Festival is coming the first of August. On my way to my favourite baker yesterday, I happened along the artists working on their murals. It was a wonderful experience. To see it actually a mural come into being – I had never seen it before. And to talk with the artists was the best part. I’m heading back to record the progress. Thank you, my dear friend, for introducing me to this remarkable and joyful creative endeavour. Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Resa says:

        Watching street artists is a wonderful experience! {{HUGS}} Looking forward to seeing some of that art!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ms Frances says:

    Thank you for this outstanding and interesting historical information on one of the important Brazilian gentleman who made a difference in his life. When my friend gave the poem to me, I did not know anything about him. Thank you for your research and interesting commentary on this very wise Brazilian. He was able to learn so much from his life and experience and pass it on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      I’m so very glad that you forwarded this poem to me. I had never heard of this poet before! He speaks his truth so clearly and with authority!

      Like

      1. Ms Frances says:

        I am so glad you enjoyed this Brazilian poet. I liked him as well. I forgot to tell Deanna this morning as I had intended. I will remember when I see her next.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Clanmother says:

        Yes – please relay my thanks for the introduction to this amazing poet!

        Like

  5. Liz says:

    oh my, what an incredible man – I had not come across his work before now, and so wish that more of his writing had been translated into English. Let’s hope that someone will take up this project some time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      I wondered how this poem would sound in Portuguese!? It is a lovely language. Whoever translated this poem was excellent. The ideas came through so well and resonated with the idea of how much more we appreciate life, the more we advance along our timeline. Those candies taste delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

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