Wednesday, November 30, 2011


14. November 30, 1935

After having written his last commentary, in English, on November 29, Pessoa spent many hours in considerable discomfort, passing in and out of lucidity, during the night and the following day.

Shortly before 8:30 at night, Pessoa had a moment of ease. He opened his eyes and looked around him. When he couldn't make out the identity of his friends and his doctor, nor distinguish objects clearly, he serenely said, squinting his eyes a little, "Give me my glasses" (this request in Portugese), and then entered the abyss of silence.

Many important poets' last words have had to do with wanting to see more clearly--Goethe's famous request, "More light, more light" being one of the better known.

Poets have a need to see--whether their vision depends on the particular and literal images of poets who paint in words what they see in the landscape, as in William Carlos Williams' poem:

"so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

or a more universal landscape frought with metaphors, as in this observation from Pessoa in The Book of Disquiet:

"Eternal transients in ourselves, there is no other landscape but what we are. We possess nothing, since we do not even possess ourselves. We have nothing since we are nothing. What hands could I stretch out towards the universe? The universe is not mine: I myself am the universe." (p. 145)

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