FERNANDO PESSOA

 

 

(Translation byRichard Zenith)

 

I donít know how many souls I have.

Iíve changed at every moment.

I always feel like a stranger.

Iíve 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 canít feel myself.

 

Thatís 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: ďWas that me?Ē

God knows, because he wrote it.

 

 

The Keeper of Sheep - I

 

Iíve never kept flocks,

But itís like Iíve kept them.

My soul is like a shepherd,

It knows the wind and the sun

And it walks hand in hand with the Seasons,

Following and seeing.

All the peace of Nature without people

Comes and sits at my side.

But I get sad

As the sunset is in our imagination

When it gets cold down in the plain

And you feel night coming in

Like a butterfly through the window.

 

But my sadness is quiet

Because itís natural and itís just

And itís what should be in my soul

When it already thinks it exists

And my hands pick flowers

And my soul doesnít know it.

 

Like the sound of cowbells

Beyond the curve of the road,

All my thoughts are peaceful.

Iím just sorry about knowing theyíre peaceful,

Because if I didnít know it,

Instead of them being peaceful and sad,

Theyíd be happy and peaceful.

 

Thinking makes you uncomfortable like walking in the rain

When the wind gets stronger and it seems to rain more.

 

I donít have ambitions or desires.

Being a poet isnít my ambition,

Itís my way of being alone.

 

And sometimes if I want

To imagine Iím a lamb

(Or a whole flock

Spreading out all over the hillside

So I can be a lot of happy things at the same time),

Itís only because I feel what I write at sunset,

Or when a cloud passes its hand over the light

And silence runs over the grass outside.

When I sit and write poems

Or, walking along the roads or pathways,

I write poems on the paper in my thoughts,

I feel a staff in my hand

And see my silhouette

On top of a knoll,

Looking after my flock and seeing my ideas,

Or looking after my ideas and seeing my flock,

With a silly smile like someone who doesnít understand what somebodyís saying

But tries to pretend they do.

 

I greet everyone who reads me,

I tip my wide hat to them

When they see me at my door

Just as the stagecoach comes to the top of my hill.

I greet them and wish them sunshine,

Or rain, when rain is needed,

And that their houses have

A favorite chair

Where they sit reading my poems

By an open window.

And when they read my poems, I hope they think

Iím something natural ó

An ancient tree, for instance,

Where they sat down with a thump

In the shade when they were kids

Tired from playing, and wiped the sweat

From their hot brows

With the sleeve of their striped cotton smock.

 

 

The Keeper of Sheep - V

 

Thereís enough metaphysics in not thinking about anything.

 

What do I think about the world?

I have no idea what I think about the world!

If I get sick Iíll think about that stuff.

 

What idea do I have about things?

What opinion do I have about cause and effect?

What have I meditated on God and the soul

And on the creation of the world?

I donít know. For me thinking about that stuff is shutting my eyes

And not thinking. Itís closing the curtains

(But my window doesnít have curtains).

 

The mystery of things? I have no idea what mystery is!

The only mystery is there being someone who thinks about mystery.

When youíre in the sun and shut your eyes,

You start not knowing what the sun is

And you think a lot of things full of heat.

But you open your eyes and look at the sun

And you canít think about anything anymore,

Because the sunís light is worth more than the thoughts

Of all philosophers and all poets.

The light of the sun doesnít know what itís doing

So itís never wrong and itís common and good.

 

Metaphysics? What metaphysics do those trees have?

Of being green and bushy and having branches

And of giving fruit in their own time, which doesnít make us think,

To us, who donít know how to pay attention to them.

But what better metaphysics than theirs,

Which is not knowing what they live for

Not even knowing they donít know?

ďInner constitution of things...Ē

ďInner meaning of the Universe...Ē

All that stuff is false, all that stuff means nothing.

Itís incredible that someone could think about things that way.

Itís like thinking reasons and purposes

When morning starts shining, and by the trees over there

A vague lustrous gold is driving the darkness away.

 

Thinking about the inner meaning of things

Is doing too much, like thinking about health when youíre healthy,

Or bringing a cup to a spring.

 

The only inner meaning of things

Is that they have no inner meaning at all.

 

I donít believe in God because I never saw him.

If he wanted me to believe in him,

Without a doubt he would come to talk with me

And come in my door

Telling me, Here I am!

 

(Maybe this is ridiculous to the ears

Of someone who, because they donít know what it is to look at things,

Doesnít understand someone who talks about them

With the way of speaking looking at them teaches.)

 

But if God is the flowers and the trees

And the hills and the sun and the moonlight,

Then I believe in him,

Then I believe in him all the time,

And my whole life is an oration and a mass,

And a communion with my eyes and through my ears.

 

But if God is the trees and the flowers

And the hills and the moonlight and the sun,

Why should I call him God?

I call him flowers and trees and hills and sun and moonlight;

Because if he made himself for me to see

As the sun and moonlight and flowers and trees and hills,

If he appears to me as trees and hills

And moonlight and sun and flowers,

Itís because he wants me to know him

As trees and hills and flowers and moonlight and sun.

 

And thatís why I obey him,

(What more do I know about God than God knows about himself?),

I obey him by living, spontaneously,

Like someone opening his eyes and seeing,

And I call him moonlight and sun and flowers and trees and hills,

And I love him without thinking about him,

And I think him by seeing and hearing,

And I walk with him all the time.

 

 

The Keeper of Sheep XXXIX

 

The mystery of things Ė where is it?

Why doesn't it come out

To show us at least that it's mystery?

What do the river and the tree know about it?

And what do I, who am no more than they, know about it?

 

Whenever I look at things and think about what people think of them,

I laugh like a brook cleanly plashing against a rock.

For the only hidden meaning of things

Is that they have no hidden meaning.

It's the strangest thing of all,

Stranger than all poets' dreams

And all philosophers' thoughts,

That things are really what they seem to be

And there's nothing to understand.

 

Yes, this is what my senses learned on their own:

Things have no meaning: they exist.

Things are the only hidden meaning of things.

 

 

The Keeper of Sheep XLVII

 

On an incredibly clear day,

The kind when you wish you'd done lots of work

So that you wouldn't have to work that day,

I saw Ė as if spotting a road through the trees Ė

What may well be the Great Secret,

That Great Mystery the false poets speak of.

 

I saw that there is no Nature,

That Nature doesn't exist,

That there are hills, valleys and plains,

That there are trees, flowers and grass,

That there are rivers and stones,

But that there is no whole to which all this belongs,

That a true and real ensemble

Is a disease of our own ideas.

 

Nature is parts without a whole.

This is perhaps the mystery they speak of.

 

This is what, without thinking or pausing,

I realized must be the truth

That everyone tries to find but doesn't find

And that I alone found, because I didn't try to find it.

 

 

The Keeper of Sheep II

 

My gaze is clear like a sunflower.

It is my custom to walk the roads

Looking right and left

And sometimes looking behind me,

And what I see at each moment

Is what I never saw before,

And Iím very good at noticing things.

Iím capable of feeling the same wonder

A newborn child would feel

If he noticed that heíd really and truly been born.

I feel at each moment that Iíve just been born

Into a completely new worldÖ

 

I believe in the world as in a daisy,

Because I see it. But I donít think about it,

Because to think is to not understand.

The world wasnít made for us to think about it

(To think is to have eyes that arenít well)

But to look at it and to be in agreement.

 

I have no philosophy, I have sensesÖ

If I speak of Nature itís not because I know what it is

But because I love it, and for that very reason,

Because those who love never know what they love

Or why they love, or what love is.

 

To love is eternal innocence,

And the only innocence is not to thinkÖ


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