‘Poetry is metamorphosis, transformation, alchemic operation,’ says Octávio Paz, ‘and for this reason it lives close to magic and religion’ (AL 137).  And Guimarães Rosa, the supreme magician of Brazilian literature, sees writing as an ‘alchemic process.  The writer must be an alchemist,’ he says. ‘The alchemy of writing demands the heart’s blood. For one to be a wizard of the word, for one to study the alchemy of the blood of the human heart, one must have been born in the immense empty spaces of solitude.’ (sertão) (LV 13)

[p.96, The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet]