On Time’s Memory

Time is a sieve of our own brand. A net
Made not to catch but to let go: of gold,
Of fish, of bread, or dust; a knotted mould
Formed from ourselves, to let us so forget.
Or else time is blanched, blotted, mangled, sold
To the first wrought story we may have met,
Whoever by, and wherever in ink still wet,
Or else the first we have fed, nursed, and told.

Time is a sieve, but not of our own brand.
If so, it’d be a map of choices, planned
To flatter and be easy. —Rather, it’s
A lion which bites, chews, and chucks the bits
He does not like off, and swallows what fits.
Time—is a sieve we do not understand.


Song of an Exile

Cloudland ridge and ocean plain
__And wide ruins of foam;
Far, far the evening’s eye to meet
__With its western lid, my home.

Deep amid the glooming gold
__A restless land shall greet
Another high and sultry noon,
__The land that first kissed my feet.

Here the sun is never so high,
__But close to the water’s lap
In winter, weaned by the moon’s sway,
__Wrinkling the eyes’ frail sap.

Cloudland ridge and ocean plain
__And a thousand thousand skies
Between my birth and here; and yet
__I hope to see it rise,

On the far side of life’s mourning eve,
__When I have laid me down,
A goodly handful of dust, amid
__The laurels of her dawn’s bright crown.


Frederico Nick is a Brazilian student, currently settling into Portugal with his family, and preparing to enroll in college to study History.


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12 Responses

  1. Sultana Raza

    I liked the imagery and the ideas. I don’t think Time spits out anything, unfortunately… Very talented for a young poet. Keep it up!

    Also, kudos to Evan Mantyuk (or the editors) for choosing very appropriate images.

  2. Monty

    If English is not your native tongue, Fred, then I’m very impressed with your rich use of the language.
    In ‘Time’s . .’ I found it hard to follow the last four lines of the first stanza . . and it was a tad disappointing to notice the two extra syllables in the 7th line, which spoiled the otherwise perfect meter.

    • Frederico Nick

      Thank you! I have been studying English for a long time, so I appreciate it. As for the 7th line, I thought it unnecessary to indicate the contraction e’er (whoe’er, whate’er), although it’s still a somewhat awkward line.

      • Monty

        I agree, Fred: the apostrophe, to my eyes, doesn’t sit well in ‘whoe’er’ and ‘whate’er’.

        Regarding L7 being, as you say, awkward: I feel that lines 5, 6, 7 and 8 are all awkward: individually and collectively. In L5, the word ‘sold’ doesn’t really work . . in L6, the word ‘met’ doesn’t work if it’s to mean “the first story we may have (been told)” . . L7 doesn’t stand up as a line . . in L8, the word ‘have’ should be replaced with the word ‘are’: as in “the first stories we are fed” . . not “the first stories we have fed”. Also, no comma is required after the word ‘nursed’.

        I feel that L10 should start with ‘If it was’ to convey the sense . . and in L11, between the words ‘easy’ and ‘rather’, either a full-stop or a hyphen would suffice. It should be one or the other: but not both. They’re never used together.

        It may sound trivial, but lines 10 and 11 would be easier for the reader to grasp if the word ‘off’ followed the word ‘chucks’ . . so instead of “A lion which bites, chews, and chucks the bits he does not like off..” it would read “A lion which bites, chews, and chucks off the bits he does not like”.

        I realise that some of the above suggestions would interfere with the meter . . but diction is everything, Fred. One must always first get the diction right . . then tweak it to fit the meter.

        But don’t be disheartened by the errors: you write admirably well for one who’s native tongue is not English. I’m truly impressed, and I feel that the errors above might’ve came about simply because you were writing in the same way that you speak; as opposed to writing in a way which considers the unknowing reader. A possible remedy for this is . . once you’ve thoroughly and exhaustively re-read something you’ve wrote, give it to someone else to read out loud to you; hence you’ll get a sense of how a reader grasps the diction.

        I hope you send more stuff to SCP in the future: you’ve got a natural affinity with words, and a healthy feel for poetry.

  3. Luc Ebrewe Dias

    I wish I had responded earlier, but I have been fairly busy. Mr. Nick’s “On Time’s Memory” is an awkward, but striking, sonnet. I cannot place who it reminds me of; but the imagery reminds me of Postmodernist Italian writers, from Montale to Buzzati and beyond. But the clipped English does remind me of some poet; just who I can’t immediately place. My favourite modernist Portuguese poet is Pessoa, who early wrote in English, and with whom my idea of charichords seems a natural fit. One of my favourite New Millennial Internet poets is João Azevedo, or Johnny Salvatore.

    Luc Ebrewe Dias is a poet of Brazil, who has much to learn about Brazilian poetry. Amongst the following poets, his favourite poet is Olavo Bilac: Gregório de Matos (1636-1696), Santa Rita Durão (1722-1784), Cláudio Mauel da Costa (1729-1789), Basílio da Gama (1740-1795), Alvarenga Peixoto (1744-1792), Tomás António Gonzaga (1744-1810), Antônio Gonçalves Teixeira e Sousa (1812-1861), Joaquin Manuel de Macedo (1820-1882), Gonçalves Dias (1823-1864), Álvares de Azevedo (1831-1852), Junqueira Freire (1832-1855), Casimiro de Abreu (1839-1860), Tobias Barreto (1839-1889), Joaquim Maria Machado (1839-1908), Castro Alves (1847-1871), Sílvio Romero (1851-1914), Raimundo Correia (1859-1911), João de Cruz e Sousa (1861-1898), Olavo Bilac (1865-1918), Adolpho Caminha (1867-1897), Alphonsus de Guimaraens (1870-1921), Mário de Alencar (1872-1925), Manuel Bandeira (1886-1968), Cora Coralina (1889-1985), Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954), Menotti Del Picchia (1892-1988), Ronald de Carvalho (1893-1935), Mario de Andrade (1893-1945), Jorge de Lima (1893-1953), Cassiano Ricardo (1895-1974), Raul Bopp (1898-1984), Cecília Meireles (1901-1964), Murilo Mendes (1901-1975), Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987), Carlota de Carmago Nascimento (Loty) (1904-1974), Mário Quintana (1906-1994), Vinicias de Moraes (1913-1980), Manoel de Barros (1916-2014), João Cabral de Melo Neto (1920-1999), José Paulo Paes (1926-1998), Décio Pignatari (1927-2012), Haroldo de Campos (1929-2003), Hilda Hilst (1930-2004), Feirrera Gullar (1930-2016), Roberto Piva (1937-2010), Waly Salomão (1943-2003), Torquato Neto (1944-1972), Paolo Leminski (1944-1989), Ana Cristina Cesar (1952-1983), Philadelpho Menezes (1960-2000).

    • Frederico Nick

      Thank you! Although I must admit the comparison to Postmodernist Italian poetry was the last thing I’d have expected… As to your assessment of Bilac, I totally agree: he is indeed one of our best poets. A masterful sonneteer.

    • Frederico Nick

      If this refers to my delay in responding, I apologize… But, however that may be, it is hard to answer detailed criticism without: completely revising the work if one agrees, hammering out lengthy objections, or simply dismissing one’s own work. I certainly did not mean to be uncourteous. In truth, I appreciate your careful and considered criticism, to what degree you cannot know. Both for your taking the time to study precisely my poetry, and also the fact that one does not easily meet people capable of such technical criticism. Not only to understand the workings of the art, but to discuss it with such clarity, is quite admirable.

      Indeed, I would delight in conversing with yourself about poetry, not only in this forum. I really mean this.

      As for my response, I can only say that I’ve certainly taken it into consideration. I would not answer in detail, because one must not openly bash and commend one’s own writing, at the exact same time… Shall we say, it is ungentlemanly?

      • Monty

        Don’t be silly, Fred: my words “out of reach” weren’t directed at you. You’re not obliged to reply promptly to any comments; indeed, you’re not obliged to reply at all.

        My words were directed at another commenter above who – for reasons known only to himself (and maybe not even to himself) – felt compelled to search the internet for an A to Z of Brazilian Poets, and copy it (chronologically) onto this page.

        Such a truly inexplicable action could only be commited by one who’s so enmeshed in his own fantasies . . that he’s rendered himself (intentionally or unintentionally) obliviously out of reach.

  4. Luc Ebrewe Dias

    That is exactly the point, and I hope Mr. Nick fathoms what I am saying.

  5. Luc Ebrewe Dias

    1. I now remember whose halting language Mr. Nick’s “On Time’s Memory” reminds me of: Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of the poets I early studied and admired.

    2. I can assure everyone who reads this thread that I did not copy this list of Brazilian poets from anywhere; I compiled it myself. Though it was published earlier elsewhere on the Internet along with a poem on Brazil, the main reason was to show how much larger poetry is than the narrow commenters at SCP realize. World literature is huge.

    3. I do disagree with Mr. Nick, however, that it is “ungentlemanly” to “bash and commend” one’s writing at the exact same time. In fact, if one waited for this generation to critique one’s work, one would end up having not been critiqued at all.


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