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View Poll Results: How do you rate Fernando Pessoa

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Thread: Rate a Poet: Fernando Pessoa

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  1. #1
    Has a few recurring issues kborsden's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    Where opinions have a distinct aroma.

    Rate a Poet: Fernando Pessoa

    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 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.


    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.


    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!). 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.
    Last edited by kborsden; 10-31-2015 at 04:01 PM.
    Kieran Borsden
    "to be born Welsh, is to be born--not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but with song in your heart, and poetry in your soul"

    -->Read Me

    Got to write an Englyn or 2

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