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kborsden
10-06-2015, 02:01 PM
Fernando Pessoa is an oft forgotten poet of the early 20th century. Regardless of that oversight, he is highly regarded as one of the key figures in literature responsible for shaping what we see as modern writing today, and the accepted inventor of the literary concept of the heteronym (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heteronym_(literature))with which he challenged traditional notions of authorship, ownership and individuality: his created alter ego Bernardo Soares wrote exclusively fiction so that Fernando could concentrate his poetic creativity through several other heteronyms. Alberto Caeiro was another of Pessoas ‘internal poets’ who wrote only free verse—from the perspective of an uneducated farmer’s son; Ricardo Reis (an elitist physician) penned classical odes; Álvaro de Campos was a liberal thinking, well-travelled naval man living in London who composed primarily futurist poetry and was a fan of Walt Whitman. There are many, many more who wrote translations, biographies, newspaper articles and political/philosophical works. Pessoa himself became an outlet primarily for essays, critique, editorials and some highly personal works of lyricism. However, even those he regarded as produced by simply just another persona.

Although writing under a non-de-plume or the use of personas as narrative device were not alien concepts of his day, Pessoa was the forefather of the concept when adopting not just a name, but the aesthetics, politics, personal belief, and psychology—in truth allowing his fictional alter ego a living, breathing life-cycle. He believed identity was a mask forced upon the individual and that as people, we become confined to a static set of expectations and fall into mechanical ideals with regards to our capability and potential. Hence his own mask would be a more dynamic, fluid construct of his own design, able to be swapped or morphed into any other to liberate him and his creative efforts. We read him vocalise this in several works; '35 Sonnets' is a simple collection of sonnets titled by number only, #3 elucidates this vision very neatly, but also explores how a single phrase can outweigh the whole--it also looks at what we pin our recall on, negative memories, or pleasant. #8 goes deeper into the recognition of identity.



III

When I do think my meanest line shall be
More in Time's use than my creating whole,
That future eyes more clearly shall feel me
In this inked page than in my direct soul;
When I conjecture put to make me seeing
Good readers of me in some aftertime,
Thankful to some idea of my being
That doth not even my with gone true soul rime;
An anger at the essence of the world,
That makes this thus, or thinkable this wise,
Takes my soul by the throat and makes it hurled
In nightly horrors of despaired surmise,
And I become the mere sense of a rage
That lacks the very words whose waste might 'suage.

VIII

How many masks wear we, and undermasks,
Upon our countenance of soul, and when,
If for self-sport the soul itself unmasks,
Knows it the last mask off and the face plain?
The true mask feels no inside to the mask
But looks out of the mask by co-masked eyes.
Whatever consciousness begins the task
The task's accepted use to sleepness ties.
Like a child frighted by its mirrored faces,
Our souls, that children are, being thought-losing,
Foist otherness upon their seen grimaces
And get a whole world on their forgot causing;
And, when a thought would unmask our soul's masking,
Itself goes not unmasked to the unmasking.

Pessoa produced very few collections in all, and the bulk of his considerably prolific work appeared only in journals and magazines throughout his career, with anthologies being assembled after his death. Likewise, the collected works of Soares became the much read and well loved ‘Book of Disquiet’.

Another direction Pessoa’s poetry took, and which was perhaps controversial for much of his generation, was his thematic exploration of sexuality, in particular his openhanded approach to homosexuality. It’s unknown if Pessoa was gay, but the seminally intimate tone to ‘Antinous: A Poem’ does give an impression of deep understanding and recognition for Hadrian and Antinous’ relationship (please rush off and read it now! (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/24262)). Sexuality is also given the Pessoa treatment in '35 Sonnets', but I'll leave it for the reader to discover.

If this info isn’t enough, research him further, or add some of your favourite poems by any of him to this thread.

kborsden
10-06-2015, 11:59 PM
No love for Fernando? He'll always have ABBA at least, I guess...

kborsden
10-31-2015, 03:56 PM
This has saddened me greatly...

Filigree
10-31-2015, 04:39 PM
That was a long and gorgeous poem. Thanks for the link, and for letting me know about
Pessoa.