The works of Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa’s Forever Someone Else, is meant to be a conglomerate of the many different works Pessoa created under his many different pen names. The name of the anthology captures the spirit of many of his poems, as all these different personas were described as having lived different lives, all through the guise of Pessoa himself. He captures a spirit which reminds me greatly of Whitman’s famous line- “I contain multitudes.” Here, I have placed and worked to translate one poem from each of the personas included in my copy of the book, both in Portuguese and in English.

If you have any interest in his other works, the Poetry Foundation, keeps both information about his life and many of his works.

A statue of Pessoa in front of Café a Brasileira

Alberto Caeiro- from A Shepard in Love

Love is a company

I don’t know how to walk the roads alone anymore

Because I already couldn’t walk alone.

A visible thought makes me walk faster

And see less, and simultaneously enjoy all I see.

Even the absence of her is something that’s with me

And I love her so much that I don’t know how to like her.

If I don’t see her, I imagine myself, strong as a giant tree.

But if I see her I tremble, I don’t know what happened to my feelings in her absence.

Everything I am becomes a force that abandons me.

All of reality looks at me like a sunflower with her face in the middle.

The work of Pessoa here chronicles that of Alberto Caeiro, a young sheapard, and the particular poem functions as an interlude between the major three sections of his work as a whole. The three sections are titled The Keeper of Sheep, The Shepherd in love, and Poemas inconjuntos, which roughly translates to poems outside the whole.

Ricardo Reis from From Odes

The gods grant nothing more than life,

So let us refuse, anything that lifts us

To unbreathable heights

Only to accept we have science.

And, while blood pumps in our temples

The same love, we endure,

Like panes of glass, to transparent light

And sad rain running down,

Only warmed by the sun

And reflecting little.

Reis’s philosophy is frequently referenced as “a sad epicureanism” and his work is directly influenced by paganism. This is clearly visible in the work and stands counter to the sequences defined by the shepherd, which are filled with biblical allusions. This stark contrast is what makes the poems so strange to read all together and exemplifies his writing as he frequently wrote on his search to not be considered as one person.

Portrait of Fernando Pessoa (1954) by Almada Negreiros

Álvaro- Wet Rag

The day gave rain.

The morning, at least, was quite blue.

The day gave rain.

Since the morning I was a little sad

Anticipation? Sadness? Nothing?

I know: the shade of the rain is beautiful.

I know: the sun is overwhelming, but because it’s so ordinary, it’s elegant.

I know: to be affected by the changes of the light is not elegant.

But who told the sun or anyone that I want to be elegant?

They game me the blue sky and the sun in plain view.

Fog, rain, shade- I have them all in me.

Today, all I want is peace.

I could even love a home, as long as I couldn’t have it.

I am reaching for peace so much it makes me sleepy.

Lets not exaggerate!

I am so tired, with no explanation.

The day gave rain.

Beautiful lips of the farmer’s daughter,

Fruity pulp of a heart ripe for eating…

When was this? I don’t know…

In this morning’s blue

The day gave rain.

The works of Árvore, frequently longer in form than the other pseudonyms of Pessoa’s, seem to me much closer to his own life than the other pen names. He would frequently use the name to write on his visits to Lisbon and other events of his life, although he did write under the name Pessoa as well.

All together, the works of Pessoa have a wide range due to his use of pseudonyms so frequently, as well as his development of different characters and styles in order to fully utilize these things.

Alberto Caeiro- from A Shepard in Love

O amor é uma companhia.

Já não sei andar só pelos caminhos,

Porque já não posso andar só.

Um pensamento visível faz-me andar mais depressa

E ver menos, e ao mesmo tempo gostar bem de ir vendo tudo.

Mesmo a ausência dela é uma coisa que está comigo.

E eu gusto tanto dela que não sei como a desejar.

Se a não vejo, imagino-a e sou forte como as árvores altas.

Mas se a vejo tremo, não sei o que é feito do que sinto na ausência dela.

Todo eu sou qualquer força que me abandona.

Toda a reialidade olha para mim como um girassol com a cara dela no


Ricardo Reis from From Odes

Não consentem os deuses mais que a vida

Tudo pois refusemos, que nos alce

A irrespiráveis píncaros

Perenes sem ter flores

Só de aceitar tenhamos a ciéncia.

E, enquanto bate o sangue em nossas fontes

Nem se engelha connosco

O mesmo amor, duremos,

Como vidros, ás luzes transparentes

E deixando escorrer a chuva triste,

Só mornos ao sol quente,

E reflectindo um pouco.

Álvaro- Trapo

O dia deu em chuvoso.
A manhã, contudo, esteve bastante azul.
O dia deu em chuvoso.
Desde manhã eu estava um pouco triste.
Anticipação? tristeza? coisa nenhuma?
Não sei: já ao acordar estava triste.
O dia deu em chuvoso.

Bem sei: a penumbra da chuva é elegante.
Bem sei: o sol oprime, por ser tão ordinário, um elegante.
Bem sei: ser susceptivel às mudanças de luz não é elegante.
Mas quem disse ao sol ou aos outros que eu quero ser elegante?
Dêem-me o céu azul e o sol visível.
Névoa, chuvas, escuros – isso tenho eu em mim.
Hoje quero só sossêgo.
Até amaria o lar, desde que o não tivesse.
Chego a ter sono de vontade de ter sossêgo.
Não exageremos!
Tenho efectivamente sono, sem explicação.
O dia deu em chuvoso.

Carinhos? afectos? São memórias…
É preciso ser-se criança para os ter…
Minha madrugada perdida, meu céu azul verdadeiro!
O dia deu em chuvoso.

Bôca bonita da filha do caseiro,
Polpa de fruta de um coração por comer…
Quando foi isso? Não sei…
No azul da manhã…

O dia deu em chuvoso.