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By Pessoa, Fernando; Lisboa, Eugénio; Taylor, Len Clive

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Extra resources for A centenary Pessoa

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All Pessoa’s work is a search for the lost identity. In one of his most quoted poems he says that the poet is ‘a pretender who pretends so thoroughly that he comes to pretend that the pain he really feels is pain’. When he tells the truth, he lies; when he lies, he tells the truth. We witness not an aesthetic but an act of faith. Poetry is the revelation of his unreality: Between the moonlight and the foliage, Between the stillness and the grove, Between the fact of night and the fact of the breeze, A secret passes.

In those little poems one perceives, more than the poet’s familiarity with Latin and Greek originals, a wise and distilled mixture of Lusitanian neo-classicism and of the Greek Anthology translated into English. ’ The sleepwalking exaggeration of Campos, by a very natural movement of contradiction, turns into the exaggerated precision of Reis. Neither form nor philosophy protect Reis: they protect a phantom. The fact is that Reis does not exist either, and he knows it. Lucid, and with a more penetrating lucidity than Campos’ exasperated kind, he contemplates himself: I do not know from whom I recall my past, I was another, nor do I know myself When with my soul I feel That alien I remember as I feel.

In those little poems one perceives, more than the poet’s familiarity with Latin and Greek originals, a wise and distilled mixture of Lusitanian neo-classicism and of the Greek Anthology translated into English. ’ The sleepwalking exaggeration of Campos, by a very natural movement of contradiction, turns into the exaggerated precision of Reis. Neither form nor philosophy protect Reis: they protect a phantom. The fact is that Reis does not exist either, and he knows it. Lucid, and with a more penetrating lucidity than Campos’ exasperated kind, he contemplates himself: I do not know from whom I recall my past, I was another, nor do I know myself When with my soul I feel That alien I remember as I feel.

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