in Portugal

“Come, selfsame and ageless Night”

ODE (EXCERPT)

Come, selfsame and ageless Night,
Queen of Night, born dethroned,
Night matching innermost silence, Night
Spangled with fast flying stars
In your dress fringed by Infinitude.

Come drifting,
Come lightly,
come in solemn, alone, hands fallen
At your sides, come
Bearing the distant hills down to the foot of the trees
nearby,
Fusing all fields I see into your one field,
Turn the mountain into a single block of your body,
Expunge from it each bit of difference I see from afar,
All the roads climbing it,
All the various trees turning it dark green in the distance,
All the white houses with their smoke rising through the
trees,
And leave but one light and another, and still another,
In the blurred and vaguely disturbing distance,
In the distance suddenly impossible to penetrate.

Our Lady
Of everything impossible we strive for in vain,
Of dreams that come to us by the window at dusk,
Of the schemes that beguile us
To the European sound of music and voices far off and
near by
That hurt us, knowing we’ll never come anywhere near
them…
Come lull us,
Come soothe us,
And kiss our brow, silently,
Our brow so lightly we’re not aware we’ve been kissed
Except for some difference in the soul,
And the hint of a sob that flees like a melody
Out of what ‘s most ancient in us
Rooting all those magical trees
Whose fruits are the dreams we fondly and love
Because we know them apart from any connection with
life. (…)

in «English Poems by Fernando Pessoa»,
Álvaro de Campos Poetry 

 

Fernando Pessoa is the most celebrated Portuguese poet, who had a major role in the development of modernism in Portugal. Pessoa was a member of the Modernist group Orpheu; he was its greatest representative. Pessoa’s use of heteronyms, like Álvaro de Campos, literary alter egos, who support and criticize each other’s works was also unconventional. During his career as a writer Pessoa was virtually unknown and he published little of his vast body of work. Most of his life Pessoa lived in a furnished room in Lisbon, where he died in obscurity.

Fernando Pessoa, by Almada Negreiros, 1954

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