by Alex L.
November 30th marks anniversary of Fernando Pessoa’s death in 1935.
Pessoa is arguably the most popular Portuguese poet to date, and inarguably the poet with the most heteronyms ever. Even looking up the word heteronym on Wikipedia brings up a photo of Pessoa. In his short lifetime, he wrote more than many authors have published in an average lifetime, some of which have only recently been discovered or translated. Pessoa is a more modern Whitman, with some of the style of poets like Gibran, although more accessible. Where Gibran centers on the heavy, leading you through the maze that is his poetry, Pessoa enjoys even the smallest things. Pessoa is a great poet, fun and interesting to read without being too dense.
One poem, titled “Sleep” by Pessoa reads:
“I’m so sleepy it hurts to think.
So sleepy. Sleeping is for man
What waking is for the animals.
It’s to live life unconsciously,
The way animals live on life’s surface.
It’s to be, unawares, my profound being.
Perhaps I’m sleepy for having touched
The spot where I feel the animal I shunned,
And sleep is a memory I found.”
Pessoa takes the simple things in life and shades them with the best colors of language, without ever overdoing it, recognizing that less is more.
You can find Pessoa’s work in the Library’s collection here.