Jun 20

The Ladainha of Pedro Cem

A Lenda de Pedro Cem

Lá no céu vai quem merece
Na terra vale quem tem
A soberba combatida
Foi quem matou Pedro Cem
Deus é pai de nós todos
E eu não sou pai de ninguém
Lá se foi minha fortuna
Exclamava Pedro Cem
Ontem eu fui milionário
Já tive e hoje não tenho
O que ontem me valia
Hoje nem valia tem
Ele dizia nas portas
Uma esmola a Pedro Cem
Quem já teve hoje não tem
A quem eu neguei esmola
Hoje me nega também
Nasci num berço dourado
Cresci num colchão macio
Hoje eu morro no relento
Neste imundo e chão frio
A justiça examinando
Os bolsos de Pedro Cem
Encontrou uma mochila
Dentro dela um vintêm
E um letreiro que dizia
Já teve, hoje não tem

The Legend of Pedro Cem

Those who deserve it go to heaven
On earth, it is the rich who matter
Excessive arrogance
Was what killed Pedro Cem
God is the father of us all
And I am no one's father
"There went my fortune!"
Exclaimed Pedro Cem
"Yesterday I was a millionaire
I used to have everything, but not anymore
What was worth something to me yesterday
Today has no value at all."
He said in the doorways,
"Spare some change for Pedro Cem
Who used to have, and now has nothing
Those to whom I never gave handouts
Now refuse to give me any
I was born in a golden cradle
I grew up sleeping on a soft mattress
Today, I die homeless
On the cold, dirty ground."
The police chief examining
Pedro Cem's pockets
Found a little sack
Inside it a single coin
And an inscription that said
"Once had it all, today has nothing."

The legend of Pedro Cem is widely known in Brazil. I often heard the story told as a parable. There is also a poem by João Martins de Ataíde that tells the story, of which there are various versions. To this day, Pedro Cem continues to serve as a frightening example.

Pedro Pedrossem da Silva was a real person who was born in Porto, Portugal, and died there on February 9th, 1775. An extremely rich merchant and the owner of several companies, he was a powerful, proud, and greedy man. He married Ana Micaela Fraga and had three children: - Luiz Pedrossem, João Pedrossem, and Vicente Pedrossem.

The legend says that Pedrossem, gazing out over the sea from a tower, saw his fleets of ships arriving from Brazil and from India, carrying spices, jewels, and expensive products. Full of vanity, he exclaimed, "Now I couldn’t become poor even if God himself willed it!"

But a fierce storm destroyed the fleet, and Pedrossem lost everything he owned. His pride and greed had driven away all his friends, and he resorted to begging in the streets of Porto: "Spare change for Pedro Cem, who had it all and now has nothing!"

Scholars claim that Pedro never actually became a beggar, though he did sell his property and withdraw from the social and commercial world. But the situation set the stage for the legend, which is told as a lesson that pride goes before a fall.

Source: http://jangadabrasil.com.br/agosto60/cn60080a.htm
Check out the link for the full poem (in Portuguese) by Luís da Câmara Cascudo.