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Pessoa 35 Sonnets: 11-20

F e r n a n d o   P e s s o a


English Poems

35 Sonnets (1918)

Sonnets 11-20



Like to a ship that storms urge on its course,

By its own trials our soul is surer made.

The very things that make the voyage worse

Do make it better; its peril is its aid.

And, as the storm drives from the storm, our heart

Within the peril disimperilled grows;

A port is near the more from port we part–

The port whereto our driven direction goes.

If we reap knowledge to cross-profit, this

From storms we learn, when the storm’s height doth drive–

That the black presence of its violence is

The pushing promise of near far blue skies.

Learn we but how to have the pilot-skill,

And the storm’s very might shall mate our will.



As the lone, frighted user of a night-road

Suddenly turns round, nothing to detect,

Yet on his fear’s sense keepeth still the load

Of that brink-nothing he doth but suspect;

And the cold terror moves to him more near

Of something that from nothing casts a spell,

That, when he moves, to fright more is not there,

And’s only visible when invisible

So I upon the world turn round in thought,

And nothing viewing do no courage take,

But my more terror, from no seen cause got,

To that felt corporate emptiness forsake,

And draw my sense of mystery’s horror from

Seeing no mystery’s mystery alone.



When I should be asleep to mine own voice

In telling thee how much thy love’s my dream,

I find me listening to myself, the noise

Of my words othered in my hearing them.

Yet wonder not: this is the poet’s soul.

I could not tell thee well of how I love,

Loved I not less by knowing it, were all

My self my love and no thought love to prove.

What consciousness makes more by consciousness,

It makes less, for it makes it less itself,

My sense of love could not my love rich-dress

Did it not for it spend love’s own love-pelf.

Poet’s love’s this (as in these words I prove thee):

I love my love for thee more than I love thee.



We are born at sunset and we die ere morn,

And the whole darkness of the world we know,

How can we guess its truth, to darkness born,

The obscure consequence of absent glow?

Only the stars do teach us light. We grasp

Their scattered smallnesses with thoughts that stray,

And, though their eyes look through night’s complete mask,

Yet they speak not the features of the day.

Why should these small denials of the whole

More than the black whole the pleased eyes attract?

Why what it calls «worth» does the captive soul

Add to the small and from the large detract?

So, put of light’s love wishing it night’s stretch,

 A nightly thought of day we darkly reach.



Like a bad suitor desperate and trembling

From the mixed sense of being not loved and loving,

Who with feared longing half would know, dissembling

With what he’d wish proved what he fears soon proving,

I look with inner eyes afraid to look,

Yet perplexed into looking, at the worth

This verse may have and wonder, of my book,

To what thoughts shall’t in alien hearts give birth.

But, as he who doth love, and, loving, hopes,

Yet, hoping, fears, fears to put proof to proof,

And in his mind for possible proofs gropes,

Delaying the true proof, lest the real thing scoff,

I daily live, i’th’ fame I dream to see,

But by my thought of others’ thought of me.




We never joy enjoy to that full point

Regret doth wish joy had enjoyèd been,

Nor have the strength regret to disappoint

Recalling not past joy’s thought, but its mien.

Yet joy was joy when it enjoyèd was

And after-enjoyed when as joy recalled,

It must have been joy ere its joy did pass

And, recalled, joy still, since its being-past galled.

Alas! All this is useless, for joy’s in

Enjoying, not in thinking of enjoying.

Its mere thought-mirroring gainst itself doth sin,

By mere reflecting solid life destroying,

Yet the more thought we take to thought to prove

It must not think, doth further from joy move.



My love, and not I, is the egoist.

My love for thee loves itself more than thee;

Ay, more than me, in whom it doth exist,

And makes me live that it may feed on me.

In the country of bridges the bridge is

More real than the shores it doth unsever;

So in our world, all of Relation, this

Is true–that truer is Love than either lover.

This thought therefore comes lightly to Doubt’s door–

If we, seeing substance of this world, are not

Mere Intervals, God’s Absence and no more,

Hollows in real Consciousness and Thought.

And if ’tis possible to Thought to bear this fruit,

Why should it not be possible to Truth?



Indefinite space, which, by co-substance night,

In one black mystery two void mysteries blends;

The stray stars, whose innumerable light

Repeats one mystery till conjecture ends;

The stream of time, known by birth-bursting bubbles;

The gulf of silence, empty even of nought;

Thought’s high-walled maze, which the outed owner troubles

Because the string’s lost and the plan forgot:

When I think on this and that here I stand,

The thinker of these thoughts, emptily wise,

Holding up to my thinking my thing-hand

And looking at it with thought-alien eyes,

The prayer of my wonder looketh past

The universal darkness lone and vast.



Beauty and love let no one separate,

Whom exact Nature did to each other fit,

Giving to Beauty love as finishing fate

And to Love beauty as true colour of it.

Let he but friend be who the soul finds fair,

But let none love outside the body’s thought,

So the seen couple’s togetherness shall bear

Truth to the beauty each in the other sought.

I could but love thee out of mockery

Of love and thee and mine own ugliness;

Therefore thy beauty I sing and wish not thee,

Thanking the Gods I long not out of place,

Lest, like a slave that for kings’ robes doth long,

Obtained, shall with mere wearing do them wrong.



When in the widening circle of rebirth

To a new flesh my travelled soul shall come,

And try again the unremembered earth

With the old sadness for the immortal home,

Shall I revisit these same differing fields

And cull the old new flowers with the same sense,

That some small breath of foiled remembrance yields,

Of more age than my days in this pretence?

Shall I again regret strange faces lost

Of which the present memory is forgot

And but in unseen bulks of vagueness tossed

Out of the closed sea and black night of Thought?

Were thy face one, what sweetness will’t not be,

Though by blind feeling, to remember thee!


English Poems
35 Sonnets (1918)
by Fernando Pessoa
Sonnets 11-20


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