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Silvino Pirauá de Lima

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Silvino Pirauá de Lima

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Last update: 20/03/2020

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

One of the pioneers of Brazilian popular poetry, Silvino Pirauá de Lima was born in the town of Patos, Paraíba, in 1848.

In 1898, because of drought, he moved to Recife, the capital of Pernambuco.

He had a brother who was also a poet, José Martins, and was a disciple of the greatest singer of his time, Francisco Romano Caluête, also known as Romano, Romano de Mãe d’Agua, Romano do Teixeira and Francisco Romano, with whom he travelled through various Brazilian states including Pará, Amazonas and Maranhão, singing improvisations at markets and festivals.

Silvino is considered one of the greatest popular poets from Northeast Brazil and, with Leandro Gomes de Barros, as being one of the creators of ‘cordel’ literature in Brazil. Because of the variety of the themes he approached and his intelligence, his contemporaries called him The Encyclopaedic. He was considered to be the forerunner to novels in verse in Brazil (compositions longer than cordel pamphlets that reproduce oral Iberian literary themes).

Besides being a good improviser and glosser, he introduced various formal innovations into popular poetry and is considered to be the creator of ‘martelo agalopado’, sung in an accelerated rhythm.

According to the poet Francisco das Chagas Batista, who lived with him in 1906 in Recife, Pirauá played the viola admirably and was an expert improviser, a testimony found in his book Cantadores e poetas populares (Popular Singers and Poets), published in 1929.

His novels have been republished and read for a long time by rural residents.

He is the author of, among others, the following ‘cordel’ pamphlets: Desafio de Zé Duda com Silvino Pirauá (Zé Duda’s Challenge to Silvino Pirauá) (16 p.); História de Crispim e Raimundo (The Story of Crispim and Raimundo), published in 1909; História do capitão do navio (The Story of the Ship Captain) (16 p.); História de três irmãs que queriam casar com um rapaz só (The Story of the Three Sisters Who Wished to Marry One Boy) (12 p.); História de Zezinho e Mariquinha (The Story of Zezinho and Mariquinha); A vingança do sultão (The Sultan’s Revenge); Descrição da Paraíba (Description of Paraíba).

He died in the city of Bezerros, in the Pernambuco ‘Agreste’ region, a victim of smallpox, in 1913.

Recife, 27 November 2008.
(Updated on 8 September 2009.)
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2011.

sources consulted

ALMEIDA, Átila Augusto F. de; ALVES SOBRINHO, José. Dicionário bio-bibliográfico de repentistas e poetas de bancada. João Pessoa: Ed. Universitária; Campina Grande, PB: Centro de Ciências e Tecnologia, 1978. v. 1.

GRILLO, Maria Ângela de Faria. A arte do povo: histórias na literatura de cordel (1900-1940).255 f. 2005. Tese (Doutorado em História) – Instituto de Ciências Humanas e Filosofia, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, 2005.

MAYA, Ivone. Silvino Pirauá de Lima: biografia. Disponível em: <>.  Acesso em: 28 nov. 2008.

PIRAUÁ, Silvino. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 28 nov. 2008.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Silvino Pirauá de Lima. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.