The Wanderer Guesa

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The inspiration for this project came from the poem The Wanderer Guesa and its author, the poet Sousândrade. A contemporary of Baudelaire and a true patriarch of Brazilian artistic vanguard, Joaquim Manuel de Sousa Andrade (1832-1902) wrote the Guesa, considered his most important work, between 1858 and 1888, as a dramatic narrative epic in 13 cantos, of which chants VI, VII, XII, and XIII were never completed. As an Iberic-American epic, the poem tells the legend of the Guesa, a mythical character picked up at the solar worship of Huyscas indians from Colombia.

The Guesa, whose name means errant man, without a home, was a child stolen from his parents and destined to fulfill the myth of Bochica, the Sun-God. Raised at the temple of the divinity until the age of ten, he would then perform the Suna trail until his ritual sacrifice at the age of 15, when he would be tied to a column – or an equinoctial site built in some circular place – then murdered by arrow. In front of the priests, the xeques, his heart was taken and offered to Bochica, and his blood was preserved in the sacred boughs. After the completion of the ceremony, a new indiction or astrological cycle of 15 years was opened, with the abduction of another child – a new Guesa – who should succeed the victim most recently murdered.

Established as autonomous stylistic units, the two moments of inferno were integrated into the poem. These two excerpts were built as real Walpurgisnacht episodes set in different scenarios of the New World. While the Wall Street Inferno depicts a vertiginous vision of capitalism at its apogee during the 19th Century, through the use of the of newspapers headlines of that time, as well as quotations, historical and mythological references superimposed upon an atmosphere of infernal sarabande in the New York stock exchange, the pandemonium – dance of the Tatuturema, on the other hand, begins at the banks of the Solimões River during a a celebration in hommage to Jurupari, a legislator whose origin goes back to the ancient myths of the Amazonian women. While they are seated around the fire, the natives sing a tragic and lonesome song, lamenting that “with the arrival of the white man our women were kidnapped, our sons enslaved and our lands stolen. In exchange, we received a corrupted civilization conducted by crooked politicians who introduced in our society diseases, luxury, and a false religion preached by clergymen with no God”. During the savage dance of the Tatuturema, which is described as a “dissolution of hell in movement”, parade anthropophagi and civilized indians, judges, priests, and bounty killers, together with mythological entities of the Amazonic fauna and traditional historical figures of Brazil, who erupt as ghosts in the middle of the forest.

Sousândrade recalls that “the transformation of Jurupari from a pagan god to a demon was done by the work and grace of the catechizers”. He emphasizes:

 - As, in most cases, it was not possible to extirpate the indigenous beliefs, rooted in various generations, they decided to make use of them as a vehicle. In the case of Jurupari, it was easier to transform him in Satan than to deny his existence.”

If, as in the Tatuturema, the corruption of his people awakes within the young Inca the feeling of anger and pain, in the Inferno of Wall Street episode the Guesa finishes being murdered by the rogues and speculators of the New York stock exchange.

Stanza 6 of the poem furnished the title for one of the features of this project: “They were days of the halt/Of the conquests of faith/For saving so many impious, Gentile people…/Maranduba Abaré” which was made to represent the long process of colonization imposed by the European Culture over the New World inhabitants.



Sérvulo Siqueira