Poetry by Ricardo Reis (Fernando Pessoa)

*

The sea lies; muzzled moaning winds
…………Captive in Aeolus;
With but the trident’s prongs the vast
…………Waters Neptune cleaves;
The white strand bespeckled with small
…………Sparkles ‘neath the Sun.
We unavailingly seem great.
…………Naught, i’th’ world without,
Our apparent greatness reckons
…………Or truly serves us.
If mild marine’s my markings deep
…………Three waves dismisses,
What’ll the sea echo ‘pon me on
…………Saturn’s somber shore?

*

The gods do not consent to more than life.
Let us then all refute which may lead to
…………Unbreathable summits,
…………Eternal and unbloomed.
Let us be aware through mere acceptance,
And, whilst our blood still pumps through our temples,
…………Nor does our love wither
…………From within, let us last,
As clear panes of glass, transparent to light,
Allowing the sad drizzle to flow down,
…………Tepid beneath the sun,
…………Casting slight reflections.

*

The ancient rhythmic stomping of bare feet,
This repetitive rhythm of the nymphs,
…………When canopied by trees
…………They beat the sound of dance,
Ye upon the white strand shall remember
How befoul’d the foam’s become; Ye, children,
…………Still dispossessed of cure
…………Of having cure, restore
The roaring wheel, while Apollo arches,
As a high bough, the gildening blue curve,
…………And the eternal tide
…………Flows, flooding or ebbing.

*

Th’ roses in the Garden of Adonis–
These ephemerals, Lydia, I love,
…………For the day they are born,
…………In that same day they die.
To them, light shines everlasting, because
They’re born when dawned is the Sun, and wither
…………Before Apollo has
…………Run its visible course.
Let us then live our lives as just one day,
Willingly unaware, Lydia, that
…………There’s night ere and after
…………What little our lives last.

*

……As if every kiss
……Bade us both farewell,
Let us kiss, my Chloe, in love.
……Mayhap we soon shall
……Feel the touch which calls
The barque which comes but deserted,
……And sheaves together
……Our mutual selves
And the uncaring sum of life.

*

How brief a time is the longest of lives
And Youth within it! O Chloe, Chloe,
…………Should I not love, nor drink,
…………Nor catch myself distraught,
The unimplorable Law weighs ‘pon me,–
I ache the unurg’d hour, Time incessant,
…………And to my ears shall come,
…………Down from the reeds, the sound
At the unseen rivage where cold lilies
Grow from the deep nether lands, and the stream
…………Knows not where daylight is,
…………Wailful moaning whisper.

*

Fate I fear, Lydia. Naught is certain.
At any time it may come to pass that
……All about us may change.
When through unkenned paths, the steps we ourselves
Take are unfathomable. Grave gods guard
……The hemming rims of wont.
We are not deities: sightless, –and fearful–
Let us favor this meager given life
……To novelty, abyss.

*

With haste will end all that must come to end!
To die unripe before the gods as one’s
……………………………………To die! All is hollow!
Naught is known, imagination makes all.
Surround yourself in roses, love, drink, and
…………………………….Be still. All else is naught.

*

Crown me with roses,
Crown me, in truth, with
Roses–

Roses which wither
In face of with’ring
So young!

Crown me with roses
And with fleeting leaves.
That’s all.

Bios

Ricardo Reis (a heteronym of Fernando Pessoa)

Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was born in Lisbon and is arguably Portugal’s greatest poet. One of the most prolific minds in the history of poetry, Pessoa created several heteronyms under which he wrote in different styles. His most famous heteronyms were Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos, Bernardo Soares, and Ricardo Reis, a neopagan “Greek Horace who writes in Portuguese,” as he once put it. Pessoa was also a translator, having masterfully translated into Portuguese Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” among other works.

Alessandro Palermo Funari

Alessandro Palermo Funari is a 30-year-old history graduate from Universidade de São Paulo and has worked as a translator since 2010. Recently, he finished a literary translation course at Casa Guilherme de Almeida, a biographical-literary museum run by the State of São Paulo's Department of Culture and Poiesis Institute. There he translated some of Fernando Pessoa’s poems into English and poems by Edith Sitwell, Walt Whitman, and Louise Labé into Portuguese. He can be reached at alefunari@gmail.com.

English translation copyright (c) Alessandro Palermo Funari, 2016.