I first came across this poem while reading Formação da literatura brasileira for the nth time. This time around, I was struck by the brief section on Junqueira Freire, and something about the tortured sensuality of the Bahian monk’s poetry led me to Google “Junqueira Freire homossexual.” A few thousand hits were unanimous in declaring him, if not gay, then at least not straight – a statement made with some degree of certainty, given his authorship of “what is likely the only Brazilian Romantic poem dedicated to openly homosexual desire.”
The poem’s title was “A um moçoilo” (To a Lad, roughly), and the first line was “Eu que te amo tão deveras” (I who love you so truly). That was all that furious Googling could turn up. The poem had been reproduced in an anthology from 1969 by Gasparino Damata dedicated to gay Brazilian poetry – Poemas do amor maldito – which was, in turn, elusive and out of print.
In the age of Project Gutenberg and Google Books, it seemed ridiculous not to be able to turn up a few lines written no fewer than 150 years ago and published within the last 100. I tried the library at PUC in Rio (no dice), solicited the book in vain at the new Brasiliana library at USP (the book didn’t have a locator number yet), and finally, several months later, Inter-Library Loan delivered the slim volume to the library counter at Brown.
The poem, happily, is surprising – not least, as one friend pointed out, for the absolute lack of guilt in the poetic voice’s desire for the young lad. This love is cheeky and persevering, even in the face of what might be a devastating slight; and it is expressed with a brazen physicality, from the affectionate reference to the lad’s “queixinho” to the explicitly declared desire for a kiss and carnal passion.
(It’s worth remembering that Junqueira Freire died short of his 23rd birthday, in 1855.)
I’ve transcribed the poem and leave it here for the next person who searches for the phrase “A um moçoilo.” Read it in good health.
A UM MOÇOILO
Eu que te amo tão deveras,
A quem tu, louro moçoilo,
Me fazes chiar e amolas,
Qual canivete em rebolo;
Eu que, qual anjo, te adoro,
Então, menino, eu sou tolo?