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The Prince of Brazilian Poets
Olegário Mariano Carneiro da Cunha, the son of Olegária Carneiro da Cunha and José Mariano Carneiro da Cunha, Pernambuco hero of the Republic’s Abolition of Slavery, was born in Poço da Panela, on the outskirts of Recife, Pernambuco, on 24 March, in 1889, the same year as the Proclamation of the Republic.
Olegário Mariano moved with his family to Rio de Janeiro at the age of eight. Initially he lived in Aldeia Campista, then Flamengo and later in Cosme Velho, where he was the neighbour of Machado de Assis.
He wrote poetry before he was 13. In 1904, aged 15, he published his first book: Visões de moço (Visions of a Young Man), prefaced by Guimarães Passos. He then started to write for the magazines Fon-Fon, Careta and Para Todos, published in Rio de Janeiro.
He studied at the High School Colégio Pio-Americano. The guidance and stimulation for verse came from one of his teachers, Alberto de Oliveira, who would later give him his first prize for literature.
He enrolled in the Faculty of Law, but did not start the course because he went to work at his father’s public registry. This was frequented by, apart from politicians, Olavo Bilac, Guimarães Passos, Emílio Menezes, and others.
Olegário Mariano also met Machado de Assis, whom he admired greatly. A friend of his father’s, the Baron of Rio Branco, wanted Olegário to pursue a diplomatic career, but the idea did not meet his father’s approval. He was greatly influenced by Gonçalves Dias, as can be seen in his patriotically inspired works, such as Meu Brasil (My Brazil).
He married Maria Clara Sabóia de Albuquerque in 1911, going to live in Europe for almost a year.
In 1926 he was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters, occupying the 21st chair, in the place of Mário de Alencar.
As had happened to his father, who had received a notary office from President Rodrigues Alves, Olegário Mariano received one from Getúlio Vargas in 1930.
He dedicated himself to a political career by being appointed to the Constituent Assembly that formed the 1934 Charter, and in the 2nd Federal Chamber. He also worked as Federal Inspector of Secondary Education and as Theatre Censor.
In 1938 he was elected Prince of Brazilian Poets by Brazilian intellectuals in a contest by the magazine Fon-Fon, replacing Alberto de Oliveira, who had gained the title after the death of Olavo Bilac, the first recipient of the title.
He represented Brazil in the Melo Franco Mission to Bolivia and was appointed to the Brazilian Academy of Letters in the Lisbon Inter-American Conference for orthographic agreement (1945), Brazilian ambassador to Portugal (1953), and member of the Lisbon Academy of Science.
Known as the “poet of the cicadas”, because of his favourite subjects, he is considered to be the last Brazilian romantic poet, and his contribution to the history of Brazilian popular music has not been well studied. However, he left 21 compositions in partnership with Joubert de Carvalho, with nineteen unrecorded.
Joubert released in 1927, two poems by Olegário: Cai, cai, balão (Fall, Fall Balloon) and Tutu Marambá. The poet utilised music and, from then on, other songs came, such as De papo pro ar (From Gossip to Fact) (1932) and The Pain of Remembering (1933). He also formed a duplet with Gastão Lamounier, releasing the tango Reminiscência (Reminiscence) (1929), the waltz Arrependimento (Regret), and the slow waltz Suave recordação (Smooth Remembrance).
He died on 28 November 1958, in Rio de Janeiro, and was entombed in the São João Batista cemetery.
Main Works: Ângelus (1911); Sonetos (Sonnets) (1912); Evangelho da sombra e do silêncio (Gospel of the Shade and the Silence) (1913); Últimas cigarras (The Last Cicadas) (1920); Castelos na areia (Castles in the Sand) (1922); Cidade maravilhosa (Marvellous City) (1923); Batachan (1927); Destino (Destiny) (1932); Poesias escolhidas (Chosen Poetry) (1932); O amor na poesia brasileira (Love in Brazilian Poetry) (1933); Canto da minha terra (Song of My Land) (1933); Vida, caixa de brinquedos (Life, a Box of Toys) (1933); O enamorado da vida (The Lover of Life) (1937); Da cadeira n.21 (From Chair 21) (1938); Abolição da escravatura e os homens do Norte (Abolition of Slavery and Men of the North) (1939); Em louvor da línguaportuguesa (In Praise of the Portuguese Language) (1940); A vida que já vivi (The Life I’ve Lived) (1945); Quando vem baixando o crepúsculo (When Twighlight Descends) (1948); Tangará conta histórias (Tangará Tells Stories) (1953).
His complete work was published by the publishers Livraria José Olympio Editora under the title of Toda uma vida de poesia (The Full Life of a Poet) (1958).
He left a type of autobiography under the title: Se não me falha a memória (If My Memory Doesn’t Fail).
Recife, 24 May 2005.
Updated on 14 September 2009.
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2011.
Updated on 02 april 2018.
ENCICLOPÉDIA Barsa. Rio de Janeiro: São Paulo: Encyclopaedia Britannica do Brasil, 1995.
MENEZES, Raimundo de. Dicionário literário brasileirinho. 2.ed. Rio de Janeiro: Livros Técnicos Científicos, 1978.
OLEGÁRIO Mariano. Disponível em: <http://www.biblio.com.br/Templates/biografias/olegariomariano.htm>. Acesso em: 17 maio 2005.
OLEGÁRIO Mariano [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <http://bonavides75.blogspot.com.br/2016/03/olegario-mariano-127-anos.html>. Acesso em: 20 mar. 2018.
VASCONCELOS, Ary. Panorama da música popular brasileira. São Paulo: Livraria Martins, 1964.
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Source: ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. Olegário Mariano. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.