Ladainha: Pedro Cem

Lá no céu vai quem merece – Those who deserve it go to heaven

Na terra vale quem tem – On earth, it is the rich who matter

A soberba combatida – Excessive arrogance

Foi quem matou Pedro Cem – Was what killed Pedro Cem

Deus é pai de nós todos – God is the father of us all

E eu não sou pai de ninguém – And I am no one’s father

Lá se foi minha fortuna – “There went my fortune!”

Exclamava Pedro Cem – Exclaimed Pedro Cem

Ontem eu fui milionário  – “Yesterday I was a millionaire

Já tive e hoje não tenho  – I used to have everything, but not anymore

O que ontem me valia  – What was worth something to me yesterday

Hoje nem valia tem  – Today has no value at all”

Ele dizia nas portas  – He said in the doorways,

Uma esmola a Pedro Cem  – “Spare some change for Pedro Cem

Quem já teve hoje não tem  – Who used to have, and now has nothing

A quem eu neguei esmola  – Those to whom I never gave handouts

Hoje me nega também  – Now refuse to give me any

Nasci num berço dourado – I was born in a golden cradle

Cresci num colchão macio  – I grew up sleeping on a soft mattress

Hoje eu morro no relento – Today, I die homeless

Neste imundo e chão frio – On the cold, dirty ground.”

A justiça examinando  – The police chief examining

Os bolsos de Pedro Cem – Pedro Cem’s pockets

Encontrou uma mochila – Found a little sack

Dentro dela um vintêm  – Inside it a single coin

E um letreiro que dizia – And an inscription that said

Já teve, hoje não tem – “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.


Check out the link for the full poem (in Portuguese) by Luís da Câmara Cascudo.

Leave a Reply

+ 4 = thirteen