Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 26

The world is woven all of dream and error
And but one sureness in our truth may lie—
That when we hold to aught our thinking’s mirror
We know it not by knowing it thereby.
For but one side of things the mirror knows,
And knows it colded from its solidness.
A double lie its truth is; what it shows
By true show’s false and nowhere by true place.
Thought clouds our life’s day-sense with strangeness, yet
Never from strangeness more than that it’s strange
Doth buy our perplexed thinking, for we get
But the words’ sense from words—knowledge, truth, change.
We know the world is false, not what is true.
Yet we think on, knowing we ne’er shall know.

Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 25

We are in Fate and Fate’s and do but lack
Outness from soul to know ourselves its dwelling,
And do but compel Fate aside or back
By Fate’s own immanence in the compelling.
We are too far in us from outward truth
To know how much we are not what we are,
And live but in the heat of error’s youth,
Yet young enough its acting youth to ignore.
The doubleness of mind fails us, to glance
At our exterior presence amid things,
Sizing from otherness our countenance
And seeing our puppet will’s act-acting strings.
An unknown language speaks in us, which we
Are at the words of, fronted from reality.

Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 24

Something in me was born before the stars
And saw the sun begin from far away.
Our yellow, local day on its wont jars,
For it hath communed with an absolute day.
Through my Thought’s night, as a worn robe’s heard trail
That I have never seen, I drag this past
That saw the Possible like a dawn grow pale
On the lost night before it, mute and vast.
It dates remoter than God’s birth can reach,
That had no birth but the world’s coming after.
So the world’s to me as, after whispered speech,
The cause-ignored sudden echoing of laughter.
That ‘t has a meaning my conjecture knows,
But that ‘t has meaning’s all its meaning shows.

Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 23

Even as upon a low and cloud-domed day,
When clouds are one cloud till the horizon,
Our thinking senses deem the sun away
And say “’tis sunless” and “there is no sun”;
And yet the very day they wrong truth by
Is of the unseen sun’s effluent essence,
The very words do give themselves the lie,
The very thought of absence comes from presence:
Even so deem we through Good of what is evil.
He speaks of light that speaks of absent light,
And absent god, becoming present devil,
Is still the absent god by essence’ right.
The withdrawn cause by being withdrawn doth get
(Being thereby cause still) the denied effect.

Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 22

My soul is a stiff pageant, man by man,
Of some Egyptian art than Egypt older,
Found in some tomb whose rite no guess can scan,
Where all things else to coloured dust did moulder.
Whate’er its sense may mean, its age is twin
To that of priesthoods whose feet stood near God,
When knowledge was so great that ’twas a sin
And man’s mere soul too man for its abode.
But when I ask what means that pageant I
And would look at it suddenly, I lose
The sense I had of seeing it, nor can try
Again to look, nor hath my memory a use
That seems recalling, save that it recalls
An emptiness of having seen those walls.

Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 21

Thought was born blind, but Thought knows what is seeing.
Its careful touch, deciphering forms from shapes,
Still suggests form as aught whose proper being
Mere finding touch with erring darkness drapes.
Yet whence, except from guessed sight, does touch teach
That touch is but a close and empty sense?
How does mere touch, self-uncontented, reach
For some truer sense’s whole intelligence?
The thing once touched, if touch be now omitted,
Stands yet in memory real and outward known,
So the untouching memory of touch is fitted
With sense of a sense whereby far things are shown
So, by touch of untouching, wrongly aright,
Touch’ thought of seeing sees not things but Sight.

Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 20

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!

Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 19

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.

Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 18

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.

Fernando Pessoa – Sonnet 17

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?