Category Archives: Coelho Neto

From Portuguese: Fish and Theology, by Coelho Neto

(A translation by Francis K Johnson of Nas águas do mar, which was published in the collection A bico de pena in 1904.)

H

is most eloquent pulpit wasn’t adorned with precious carvings or gold leaf, had never seen chisel or gouge, wasn’t ensconced in artificial foliage, and no cherubs circled it in jocund rout, blowing trumpets and playing the lyre. No, the pulpit where he was most eloquent was a huge, rugged cliff, bare and black, rammed into a narrow beach. The waves seethed at its foot, which was swathed in putrid seaweed. That’s where the seagulls landed when the sky was blue, where the petrels took refuge when gales lashed the seas, and it was from that spot that the saint spoke to the fishes.