Pessoa Disquieted Times

“Solitude desolates me; company oppresses me”. Fernando Pessoa

“Contradiction is the essence of the universe”. Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa, born Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa (June 13, 1888 – November 30, 1935), was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher and philosopher, described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language. He also wrote in and translated from English and French.


“The sea is fulfilled, and the Empire fell apart.
Lord, Portugal must yet fulfill itself!”

“Message” (“Mensagem”) is Pessoa’s the best known book. It is a small book, with 44 poems describing the Portuguese coat of arms symbolically, and the only published (1934) in his life, excepting for two self-published books of poems in English under the youth pseudonym of Alexander Search. It glorifies the symbolic value of Discoverers, pities Portugal’s sorry state and exhorts to a new, spiritual revolution, within the ideas of Sebastianism and the Fifth Empire.

“Everything is worthwhile
if the soul is not small”.

To the portuguese, the best known poem is Mar Português (Portuguese Sea).

“Oh salty sea, how much of your salt
is tears from Portugal”

He wrote frequently under heteronyms, alter egos with developed personalities, biographies, jobs, habits, attitudes, addresses, etc., who sometimes quoted and interacted with each other and other people

“How do I write in the name of these three? Caeiro, through sheer and unexpected inspiration, without knowing or even suspecting that I’m going to write in his name. Ricardo Reis, after an abstract meditation, which suddenly takes concrete shape in an ode. Campos, when I feel a sudden impulse to write and don’t know what. (My semi-heteronym Bernardo Soares, who in many ways resembles Álvaro de Campos, always appears when I’m sleepy or drowsy, so that my qualities of inhibition and rational thought are suspended; his prose is an endless reverie. He’s a semi-heteronym because his personality, although not my own, doesn’t differ from my own but is a mere mutilation of it. He’s me without my rationalism and emotions. His prose is the same as mine, except for certain formal restraint that reason imposes on my own writing, and his Portuguese is exactly the same – whereas Caeiro writes bad Portuguese, Campos writes it reasonably well but with mistakes such as “me myself” instead of “I myself”, etc.., and Reis writes better than I, but with a purism I find excessive…).” — Fernando Pessoa, “Letter to Adolfo Casais Monteiro”, 13.01.1935

The Book of Disquiet

“Blessed are those who never entrust their life to no one”. The Book of Disquiet- Fernando Pessoa

“The Book of Disquiet published posthumously, is a work by Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935), signed under the semi-heteronym Bernardo Soares. With a preface by Fernando Pessoa, orthonym, the book is a fragmentary lifetime project, left unedited by the author, who introduced it as a ‘factless autobiography’

“There’s no regret more painful than the regret of things that never were”. The Book of Disquiet- Fernando Pessoa

Disquiet:  Meaning and Definition from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

To render unquiet; to deprive of peace, rest, or tranquility; to make uneasy or restless; to disturb. Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? –Ps. xlii. 11.

“As quiet as these disquieted times will permit”–Sir W. Scott.

Syn: To harass; disturb; vex; fret; excite; agitate.

“Walking on these streets, until the night falls, my life feels to me like the life they have. By day they’re full of meaningless activity; by night, they’re full of meaningless lack of it. By day I am nothing, and by night I am I. There is no difference between me and these streets, save they being streets and I a soul, which perhaps is irrelevant when we consider the essence of things”.- The Book of Disquiet- Fernando Pessoa

“Our problem isn’t that we’re individualists. It’s that our individualism is static rather than dynamic. We value what we think rather than what we do. We forget that we haven’t done, or been, what we thought; that the first function of life is action, just as the first property of things is motion”. The Education of the Stoic – Fernando Pessoa


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