Ary Dos Santos – Poet

José Carlos Pereira Ary dos Santos (Lisbon, São Sebastião da Pedreira, December 7, 1936 – Lisbon, Santiago, January 18, 1984) was a Portuguese poet and declaimer.

He was in the history of Portuguese music for having written poems for 4 songs that won the RTP Song Contest and selected to represent Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest: Desfolhada Portuguesa (1969), with interpretation by Simone de Oliveira, Menina do Alto da Serra (1971), performed by Tonicha, Tourada (1973), performed by Fernando Tordo and Portugal no Coração (1977), performed by the group Os Amigos. In addition, his important collaboration as a lyricist of fados and/or songs performed by Amália Rodrigues and Carlos do Carmo is also noted.


From a high-bourgeois family of aristocratic origins, he was the son of doctor Carlos Ary dos Santos (Lisbon, São Jorge de Arroios, 31 May 1905 – Lisbon, São Sebastião da Pedreira, 11 May 1957) and his wife Maria Bárbara de Miranda and Castro Pereira da Silva (Setúbal, Vila Nogueira de Azeitão, 6 April 1899 – Lisbon, Benfica, 9 April 1950). German brother of Maria do Rosário de Castro Pereira Ary dos Santos (1938), Maria Isabel Pereira Ary dos Santos (1940) and Diogo António Pereira Ary dos Santos (1944-1965), and blood brother of Ana Maria Granger Ary dos Santos (1953). He was the great-grandson of the 2nd Lord of Manique do Intendente, 1st Baron of Manique do Intendente and 1st Viscount of Manique do Intendente (son of Diogo Inácio de Pina Manique, 1st Lord of Manique do Intendente) and Maria Guilhermina Frederica de Sousa Holstein de Pina Manique, right cousin of the 1st Count of Palmela, 1st Marquis of Palmela and 1st Duke of Faial, therefore 1st Duke of Palmela.

Being linked to practically all the European royal houses, it is the case of Princess Maria Anna Leopoldina of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, closely related to the kings of Denmark and Norway and, more remotely, to Tsarina Catherine II of Russia, as mentioned in Ary’s own work (in Adereços, Addresses, Guimarães Editores, Lisbon 1969, p. 31). His paternal grandfather was Prof. Dr. Carlos Ary dos Santos, professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Lisbon and author of several essays in his professional field, as well as on numismatics and medals. Nephew of the lawyer and author Alfredo Ary dos Santos, first cousin of the ambassador and author Carlos Macieira Ary dos Santos, second cousin of the columnist for the newspaper Observador and priest P. Gonçalo Portocarrero de Almada.

Ary dos Santos began his education at Colégio Infante Sagres, in Lisbon, but, having been expelled for bad behavior, he moved to the Jesuit College Nun’Álvares, in Caldas da Saúde, Santo Tirso. He later returned to his studies in Lisbon, at Colégio São João de Brito, where he was one of the first students.

After his mother’s death, he saw some of his poems published by family members. He was 14 years old and would later reject this book, which he considered of poor quality. The eminent poet would reveal his qualities in 1954, when he was included in the Anthology of the Almeida Garrett Prize.

At the same time, incompatible with his father, he abandoned the family home. For his economic support he carries out the most varied activities, from selling machines for chewing gum to being employed in an advertising company. He attended the Faculties of Law and Letters, but never finished the courses.

His effective literary debut came with the publication of A Liturgia do Sangue (1963). In 1969 he joined the Portuguese Communist Party, with which he actively participated in the poetry sessions of the then titled Canto Livre Perseguido.

Through music, he will reach the general public, competing, more than once, for the RTP da Canção Festival, under a pseudonym, as required by the regulations. He would rank first with the songs Desfolhada Portuguesa (1969), performed by Simone de Oliveira, Menina do Alto da Serra (1971), performed by Tonicha, Tourada (1973), performed by Fernando Tordo and Portugal no Coração (1977), performed by the group Os Amigos.

With Fernando Tordo, he writes more than 100 poems for the musician’s songs and the duo Tordo/Ary continues to be, to this day, one of the most prolific in the History of Portuguese Music. He wrote timeless songs, such as Tourada, Estrela da Tarde, Cavalo à Solta, Lisboa Menina e Moça, O Amigo Que Eu Sing, Café, Dizer Que Sim à Vida, Rock Chock, Meu Amigo Is Far. These songs were performed by singers such as Fernando Tordo, Carlos do Carmo, Mariza, Amália Rodrigues, Mafalda Arnauth and Paulo de Carvalho. Some of the latter’s biggest hits, such as Os Putos, Lisboa Menina e Moça and Quando Um Homem Quiser, were based on poems by Ary dos Santos.

Carlos do Carmo also sang Lisboa, Menina e Moça, Os putos, and other lyrics by Ary, including his anthological album Um Homem na Cidade, composed of 12 songs, all with lyrics by the poet, combined with a set of innovative compositions. ; among them, in addition to Um homem na cidade, refer to Fado do Campo Grande, Nova feira da flea, Namorados de Lisboa, Fado varina or Ballad for an old lady. In addition to these, Estrela da tarde, Menor/Maior, Autumn Sonata or Novo Fado Alegre are also reference themes in the fado singer’s career, written by Ary dos Santos. om After the 25th of April, he became an active cultural promoter of the left, traveling the country from head to toe. In the Hot Summer of 1975, together with militants from the UDP and other radical forces, he was involved in the assault on the Spanish Embassy in Lisbon.

His death

Author of more than six hundred poems for songs, Ary dos Santos made many friends in the middle. He himself recorded texts or poems by and with many other authors and performers. He also became notable as a declaimer, having recorded a double album containing O Sermão de Santo António aos Peixes, by Father António Vieira. At the time of his death, he had in preparation a book of poems entitled As Palavras das Cantigas, where his purpose was to gather the best poems of the last fifteen years, and another one entitled Estrada da Luz – Rua da Saudade, which was intended to be a romanticized autobiography.

A man with a strong personality and excessive appetites, a heavy smoker and drinker, he would eventually fall ill with cirrhosis, dying at the age of 47 on January 18, 1984, at his home at Rua da Saudade, n.º 23, R/C. right, in Alfama, Lisbon. He instituted as his universal heir the Portuguese Communist Party.


His name was given to a square in the Alfama district, and an evocative tombstone was unveiled on the facade of his house, on Rua da Saudade, where he lived practically all his life. Also in 1984, the work VIII Sonetos de Ary dos Santos was launched, with a study on the author by Manuel Gusmão and graphic planning by Rogério Ribeiro, during a session at the Portuguese Society of Authors, of which the author was a member. In 1988, Fernando Tordo edited the album O Menino Ary dos Santos, with poems written by Ary dos Santos in his childhood. In 2009, Mafalda Arnauth, Susana Félix, Viviane and Luanda Cozetti voice the tribute album Rua da Saudade – songs by Ary dos Santos.

Today, the people’s poet is recognized by everyone and everyone knows José Carlos Ary dos Santos, as his work remains in everyone’s memory and, surprisingly, many of his poems are still up to date. All the great singers have interpreted it and even today there are good voices singing it perfectly. From Fernando Tordo, Simone de Oliveira, Tonicha, Paulo de Carvalho, Carlos do Carmo, Amália Rodrigues, Maria Armanda, Teresa Silva Carvalho, Vasco Rafael, among others, to the most recent such as Susana Félix, Viviane, Mário Barradas, Vanessa Silva and Katia Guerreiro.

On the 4th of October 2004 he was posthumously made Grand Officer of the Order of Infante D. Henrique.


On June 4, 2016, the Ary dos Santos Municipal Library was inaugurated in Sacavém (Loures).

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