“Blues da Piedade”


Since completing reading the novel, I have been trying to make sense of the recurrence of the name “Piedade” throughout the novel.  The name comes up quite a few times:

  1. “Then [Connie] told them of a woman named Piedade, who sang but never said a word” (264).
  2. “There is nothing to beat this solace which is what Piedade’s song is about, although the words evoke memories neither one has ever has: of reaching age in the company of another…” (318).
  3. “When the ocean heaves sending rhythms of water ashore, Piedade looks to see what has come” (318).

At first I wanted to know what “Piedade” means–it is a Portuguese word meaning “pity.”  If you replace “Piedade” with “pity” in the above sentences, you can see how the word fits into the context of the sentence, specifically number 2:

“There is nothing to beat this solace which is what pity‘s song is about, although the words evoke memories neither one has ever had: of reaching age in the company of another; of speech shared and divided break smoking from the fire; the unambivalent bliss of going home to be at home–the ease of coming back to love begun.”

Pity is defined by dictionary.com as:

noun, plural pities.
1. sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy:

to feel pity for a starving child.
2. a cause or reason for pity, sorrow, or regret:

What a pity you could not go!
3. Informal. motivated by a sense of pity or sympathy for others or for oneself:

to have pity sex with a virgin; to go on a pity date with a loser.
verb (used with object), pitied, pitying.
4. to feel pity or compassion for; be sorry for; commiserate with.
verb (used without object), pitied, pitying.
5. to have compassion; feel pity.
6. have / take pity, to show mercy or compassion.
The definition that most stands out to me is “to show mercy or compassion.”
It is quite obvious that the nine men who attacked the Convent did not show mercy or compassion towards the women there.
What do you make of the translation/definition of Piedade?
I still wanted to know more so I googled “Piedade’s song” and came across this song called “Blues da Piedade” which translates to “The Blues of Pity” or “The Blues about Mercy.”  I have pasted the English translation:
The Blues About Mercy
Now I’ll sing to the miserable people
That roam around the world, defeated
To these not well sowed seeds
That are already born seeming to have been aborted
To the people with a very little soul
Who grieve over little stuff
Always wanting what they don’t have
To those who can see a light
But who can’t shine a light on their mini-certainties
They’re always counting money
And it doesn’t change when there’s a full moon
To those who don’t know how to love
They keep waiting
For someone to fit their dreams
Like varices that worsen
Like bugs around the lamp
Let’s ask for mercy
Oh Lord, mercy
To these coward and fogy1 people
Let’s ask for mercy
Oh Lord, mercy
Give them greatness and a little bit of courage
I want to sing only to the weak people
That are in the world but who are wasting their time here
I want to sing them the blues
With a preacher and the bass drum at the square
Let’s ask for mercy
Because there’s a fire burning under the sparse rain drops
When talking about disgrace, we’re all the same
Let’s sing the blues about mercy
Let’s ask for mercy
  • 1.A person with old-fashioned ideas

While this song did not come out until 2004 (Morrison’s Paradise was first published in ’97), I think it definitely relates to Paradise in what its asking.  I like how the song references differences between the old and the new–something we have been paying close attention to in the novel.

Sorry if this post was kind of messy–I tried!




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