Iberia

Fernando Pessoa (Alberto Caeiro)
“Poemas Inconjuntos”, Athena, n.º 5. Lisbon: 1925.

Se depois de eu morrer, quiserem escrever a minha biografia,
Não há nada mais simples
Tem só duas datas – a da minha nascença e a da minha morte.
Entre uma e outra coisa todos os dias são meus.

Sou fácil de definir.
Vi como um danado.
Amei as cousas sem sentimentalidade nenhuma.
Nunca tive um desejo que não pudesse realizar, porque nunca ceguei.
Mesmo ouvir nunca foi para mim senão um acompanhamento de ver.

Compreendi que as cousas são reais e todas diferentes umas das outras;
Compreendi isto com os olhos, nunca com o pensamento.
Compreender isto com o pensamento seria achá-las todas iguais.

Um dia deu-me o sono como a qualquer criança.
Fechei os olhos e dormi.
Além disso, fui o único poeta da Natureza.


If, once I die, they want to write my biography,
There is nothing more simple
There are only two dates: my birth and my death.
Between one and the other every day is mine.

It is easy to define me.
I saw like a damned man.
I loved things with no sentimentality.
I never had hopes that I could not accomplish, because I was never dazzled.
To me even listening was but a complement of seeing.
I realized that things are real and all different from one another;
I realized this with my eyes, never with my thought.
Realizing this with my thought would have meant finding them all the same.

One day I felt sleepy like any child would.
I shut my eyes and slept.
Besides this, I was Nature’s only poet.

Prepared by Nicolás Barbosa López


Si después de morir, quisieran escribir mi biografía
nula, nada me hará simple.
Tengo su dúo de datos: dominios densos y dominios muertos.
Entre una y otra cosa, todos los días son míos.

Son fáciles de definir.
Vi como un condenado.
Amé mis cosas sin sentimentalismo ninguno.
Nunca tengo un deseo que nunca pueda realizar porque nunca fui ciego.
Mas mover nunca fue para mí un acompañamiento de ver.
Comprendí qué cosas son reales y todas diferentes unas de otras.
Comprendí tus consejos, nunca con pensamientos.
Comprendí que con pensamientos, sería todo igual.

Un día de los sanos como cualquier creencia:
un fuerte ojo a dormir.
Alguien dice que fui el único poeta de la naturaleza.


If after dying, they would want to write my biography
void, nothing would make me simple.
I have its duo of data: dense knowledge and dead knowledge.
Between one and the other, all the days are mine.

They are easy to define.
I see like a condemned man.
I loved my things without any sentimentality.
I never have a desire I could not achieve because I was never blind.
But moving was never for me an accompaniment of seeing.
I understood what things are real and all different from one another.
I understood I understood your advice, never with thoughts.
I understood that with thoughts, everything would be the same.

One day of sanity like any belief:
a strong eye to sleep.
Someone says that I was Nature’s only poet.

Prepared by Mai Hunt


Alberto Caeiro is one of Fernando Pessoa’s three main heteronyms (fictional authors with literary styles, influences, and even biographies of their own), along with Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos. In fact, the Portuguese poet acknowledged Caeiro as the master of them all, even of Pessoa himself, in a make-belief literary universe that he called drama em gente (a “drama in people”, instead of one “in acts”). In a 1935 letter written shortly before he passed away, Pessoa mentioned that Caeiro appeared as a full character and author in a “triumphal day” of March 1914, when over 30 poems, perfectly written and finished, spontaneously emerged in a writing frenzy. Although recent philological work proved this to be just another in Pessoa’s fictitious universe (Pessoa, in fact, rewrote many of the poems long after 1914, even after Caeiro’s death in 1915), this myth of poetic creation shows how Caeiro was, paradoxically, regarded as a god-like figure by his creator-disciple. This poem presents one of the most representative themes in Caeiro’s poetry: the intercession of senses between men and reality, as opposed to any interpretation mediated by rational thought.

Prepared by Nicolás Barbosa López


It is often believed that homophonic translations are successfully achieved only between languages belonging to the same linguistic family. With Pessoa, we have attempted a homophonic translation from Portuguese to Spanish, both romance languages. The Spanish translation was done blindly, that is to say, based entirely off a reading of the Portuguese with no prior knowledge of the poem. The likeness of the two versions speaks to the etymological relationship between the two languages. With the dual English translations, we hope to provide readers with a side-by-side comparison of the translations to show how they line up both phonetically and semantically. Notable differences in the two versions that open up room for discussion and interpretation include, first, the movement from ceguei to ciego, suggestive of the blinding effect of dazzlement: mesmerization that consumes and corrupts. Ouvir changes to mover, begging the question, is sight born from sound or from action? Lastly, is the sleepy sensation of a child the true sign of a sane man? These questions challenge us to read and reread —to understand but also to doubt— how we approach foreign language poetry, and more importantly, to see the value in cross-cultural and multilingual dialogues.

Prepared by Mai Hunt

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