Dedicated to graduate students

Fernando Pessoa is by some unverified majority vote, the foremost Portuguese poet of the last century (I prefer Alexandre O’Neill). He was a brooding fella, obsessively cerebral, with a dull private life. His legacy was a trove of poems that were never intended for publication but now sustain the employment of many academics. Surely, he would not be so highly regarded if one could not make an industry out of him.

He was not humorous and not ironic. Yet, in this poem I think he tries his best to be all that,


Ah, how delightful
Not to do one’s duty,
Having a book to read
And not read it!
Reading’s a bore,
Studying’s worthless.
The sun gilds things
Without literature.

Willy nilly runs the rivers
Without an original edition.
And the breeze, this very one,
So natural, matutinal,
Since it has time, its in no hurry…

Books are papers daubed with ink.
Study’s the thing where the distinction
Is unclear between nothing and nothing at all.

When there’s fog, so much the better
To wait for King Sebastian’s return –
Whether he comes or not!

Poetry is grand, and goodness too, and dancing…
But best of all are children,
Flowers, music, moonlight, and the sun
That sins only when aborting and not bearing.

And more than all of this
Is Jesus Christ
Who knew nothing of finances
Nor even claimed he had a library…

To listen it in the original, check the video:

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