Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet, 1888-1905. Author of much beautiful poetry, often composed of rather sad overtones, much like in the Portuguese Fado. He loved to write about saudade, fado, and the Portuguese "Mar" (ocean). An example of his writing follows:

Mar Português

Ó mar salgado, quanto do teu sal
São lágrimas de Portugal!
Por te cruzarmos, quantas mães choraram,
Quantos filhos em vão rezaram!
Quantas noivas ficaram por casar
Para que fosses nosso, ó mar!

Stop living and read. -fp

Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa, Portuguese poet. Born 1888, died in 1935.

He was born in Lisbon, but his father died when he was 5. His mother married the Portuguese consul to South Africa, and they moved there, where Fernando learned English. At the age of 17, he moved back to Portugal alone.

He dropped out of Lisbon University, and supported himself as a translator of business letters and documents into English and French.

He founded the journal "Orfeu", and his most famous book is "The Book of Disquiet", which is (sort of) the "autobiography" of Bernardo Soares. However, only one book of his writing was published in his lifetime: 35 Sonnets.

He is best known for writing under a variety (70 or so) of different pen names, each with a distinct style, and a fleshed out biography. He filled a wooden trunk with his various manuscripts of poetry, prose, manifestos, and everything else, each written by a different character with a distinctive style.

He died a virgin, and there is some speculation that he was gay. This speculation is based on his friendship with gay writers and admiration for Walt Whitman. Hmm. His one romantic interest in life (with a female) happened when he was 28. During an experiment in automatic writing, he thought he was contacted by spirits who wanted him to lose his virginity. Some years later he met Ophelia Queiroz, a girl 10 years younger than he. At one point he said to her, "Do you like me because I'm me or because I'm not?" Their relationship was doomed.

How many masks wear we, and undermasks,
Upon our countenance of soul, and when,
If for self-sport the soul itself unmasks,
Knows it the last mask off and the face plain?
The true mask feels no inside to the mask
But looks out of the mask by co-masked eyes.
Whatever consciousness begins the task
The task's accepted use to sleepness ties.
Like a child frighted by its mirrored faces,
Our souls, that children are, being thought-losing,
Foist otherness upon their seen grimaces
And get a whole world on their forgot causing;
And, when a thought would unmask our soul's masking,
Itself goes not unmasked to the unmasking.

-Sonnet VIII, one of Pessoa's English poems, from 35 Sonnets, published in 1918

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