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Discontinuous Poems

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The frightful reality of things
Is my everyday discovery.
Each thing is what it is.
How can I explain to anyone how much
I rejoice over this, and find it enough?

To be whole, it is enough to exist.

I have written quite a number of poems
And may write many more, of course.
Each poem of mine explains it,
Though all my poems are different,
Because each thing that exists is always proclaiming it.

Sometimes I busy myself with watching a stone,
I don't begin thinking whether it feels.
I don't force myself to call it my sister,

But I enjoy it because of its being a stone,
I enjoy it because it feels nothing,
I enjoy it because it is not at all related to me.

At times I also hear the wind blow by
And find that merely to hear the wind blow makes
          it worth having been born.

I don't know what others will think who read this;
But I find it must be good because I think it
         without effort,
And without the idea of others hearing me think,
Because I think it without thoughts,
Because I say it as my words say it.

Once they called me a materialist poet
And I admired myself because I never thought
That I might be called by any name at all.
I am not even a poet: I see.
If what I write has any value, it is not I who am
        valuable.
The value is there, in my verses.
All this has nothing whatever to do with any will
       of mine.




Source: Poetry (Poetry)

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This poem originally appeared in the October 1955 issue of Poetry magazine

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Discontinuous Poems

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  • Poet Fernando António Nogueira Pêssoa was born in Lisbon, Portugal. His father died when Pessoa was five years old, and the family moved with his mother’s new husband, a consul, to Durban, South Africa, where Pessoa attended an English school. At thirteen Pessoa returned to Portugal for a year-long visit, and returned there permanently in 1905. He studied briefly at the University of Lisbon, and began to publish criticism, prose, and poetry soon thereafter while working as a commercial translator.

    During his life, most of Pessoa’s considerable creative output appeared only in journals, and he published just three collections of poetry in English—Antinous (1918), Sonnets (1918), and English Poems (1921)—and one collection in Portuguese, Mensagem (1933).

    In 1914, the year his first poem was published, Pessoa found the three main literary personas, or heteronyms, as he called them, which he would return to throughout his career: Alberto Caeiro, a rural, uneducated...

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