Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pessoa /Alvaro de Campos

The well of nigredo:
" The ancients used to invoke the Muses.
We invoke ourselves.
I don't know if the Muses appeared-
Invoked and invocation must have had some
But I know we don't appear.
How often I have leaned
Over the well I suppose I am
And bleated 'Ah!' to hear an echo,
And have not heard more than what I saw-
The vague dim dawn-grey of the water answering
the light
Down there in the uselessness at the bottom...
No echo for me...
Only, vaguely, a face,
Which must be mine since it can't be someone else's.
It is a thing almost invisible,
Except as and when luminously I see
There at the bottom...
In the silence and the false light at the bottom...

What a Muse !..."

(Translated by Jonathan Griffin )

The essence of Pessoa was religion and scepticism, writes J.Griffin in the Introduction to this translation.And he goes on : "Pessoa was not a naif, anything but . He was looking for a meaning, not ruling out any possibility and not liking what he thought he found. He believed as a man believes who wishes he did not:
' Why did you give what I asked, Holiness?
I know the Truth , at last, of the real Being.
Would it had pleased God I should know less! '.

Pessoa , through all his heteronyms, lived and wrote constantly in this akward oscillation between believing and denying.
I conclude with Griffin: "So, in poem after poem, the end-effect is a lucid mystery : in a closed form, an open content."

(See the Introduction to Fernando Pessoa, Selected Poems, Penguin )

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