I hear the wind blow,
And I feel that it was worth being born just to hear the wind blow.
…Ever since I was a child, I have had the tendency to create a fictitious world around me, to surround myself with friends and acquaintances who never existed. ( I don’t know, of course, if they didn’t really exist or if it is me who doesn’t exist. On such matters, as in all others, one shouldn’t be dogmatic.) Ever since I became aware of the thing that I call self, I can remember with mental precision, the figures, the movements, the character and the history of several fictitious people who were, to me, as visible and mine as those things which we, perhaps abusively, call real life. This tendency, which exists since I realized that I was a self, has always been with me, modifying slightly the kind of music it uses to bewitch me but never altering its manner of bewitching.
Fate frightens me, Lydia. Nothing is certain.
At any moment something could happen
To change all that we are.
When we leave what is known, the very step
We take is strange. Grave numens guard
The customary boundaries.
We are not gods: blind, we fear,
And prefer the meager life we know
To novelty, the abyss.
Fernando Pessoa, the great Portuguese Modernist, who invented multiple poetic personae, was born June 13, 1888 (d. 1935)…
I don’t know how many souls I have.
I’ve changed at every moment.
I always feel like a stranger.
I’ve never seen or found myself.
From being so much, I have only soul.
A man who has soul has no calm.
A man who sees is just what he sees.
A man who feels is not who he is.
Attentive to what I am and see,
I become them and stop being I.
Each of my dreams and each desire
Belongs to whoever had it, not me.
I am my own landscape,
I watch myself journey -
Various, mobile, and alone.
Here where I am I can’t feel myself.
That’s why I read, as a stranger,
My being as if it were pages.
Not knowing what will come
And forgetting what has passed,
I note in the margin of my reading
What I thought I felt.
Rereading, I wonder: “Was that me?”
God knows, because he wrote it.
—- Fernando Pessoa as Fernando Pessoa
© Translation: 1998, Richard Zenith
From: Fernando Pessoa & Co. – Selected Poems
Publisher: Grove Press, New York, 1998
(Thank you again i12bent)
Symbols? I’m sick of symbols…
Some people tell me that everything is symbols.
They’re telling me nothing.
What symbols? Dreams…
Let the sun be a symbol, fine…
Let the moon be a symbol, fine…
Let the earth be a symbol, fine…
But who notices the sun except when the rain stops
And it breaks through the clouds and points behind its back
To the blue of the sky?
And who notices the moon except to admire
Not it but the beautiful light it radiates?
And who notices the very earth we tread?
We say earth and think of fields, trees and hills,
Unwittingly diminishing it,
For the sea is also earth.
Okay, let all of this be symbols.
But what’s the symbol – not the sun, not the moon, not the earth –
In this premature sunset amidst the fading blue
With the sun caught in expiring tatters of clouds
And the moon already mystically present at the other end of the sky
As the last remnant of daylight
Gilds the head of the seamstress who hesitates at the corner
Where she used to linger (she lives nearby) with the boyfriend who left her?
Symbols? I don’t want symbols.
All I want – poor frail and forlorn creature! –
Is for the boyfriend to go back to the seamstress.
— Fernando Pessoa, as Alvaro de Campos
Could it think, the heart would stop beating.