The following chapter from Pessoa: A Biography, forthcoming from Norton/Liveright, tells the story of how Alberto Caeiro, Fernando Pessoa’s first major heteronym, came into existence. The other full-fledged heteronyms, Álvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis, would emerge three months later. (The heteronyms, Pessoa claimed, were not mere pseudonyms, since they thought and felt and wrote differently from their creator.) Although he had published some critical essays and a passage from The Book of Disquiet, Pessoa was still virtually unknown as a poet. Literature, moreover, was not Pessoa’s only interest. Throughout his adult life,he wrote prolifically about philosophy, religion, psychology, and politics.
The story of Caeiro is preceded by a brief sketchof the political climatein Europe before World War I, especially in Portugal, where,less than four years earlier,a revolution had toppled a much–discredited monarchy, replacing it with a tumultuous republic.
For this publication in The Common,I have excluded most of the notes of the book version (bibliographical information, mainly) while adding other notes to clarify references to peopleand events mentioned in earlier chapters.
The wolf belongs to the boy I to the wolf
I ask permission to still be myself this time of night.
Sem barriga, sem fome, sem bebida. Blue notes
from a dead man’s tribute creep up my balcony.
Damn, you know how you know a song,
Over a hundred men suspected of being gay are being abducted, tortured and even killed in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya… —CNN
Looking out at the blue sky we listen to news of men in Chechnya. Touching counters, our washrags move like ghosts. You sweep the kitchen. I tend the cry of the washing machine, the low roof that is our only roof.
they say that the most impressive of all crossings is not thirst or the fear afterwards. The humiliation no longer wounds what does not exist they say bodies in a boat of bodies veins eyes skin penis nails vagina
On December 5, 1976, I arrived in Madrid from Argentina. I flew Iberia airlines, caught the plane in Montevideo because I was afraid of the disappearances happening at the border. I left wearing summer clothes, as if I were a tourist heading for the beaches of Uruguay, then, two or three days later, landed in Madrid, where it was winter. My father and sister saw me off. It took me six years—the years of the dictatorship—to return.
And then, as is its wont, death comes knocking at the door. This time from two thousand miles away.
I try to get the image I have of him in my head to focus. The man who tried to be my father for over thirty years. Officially, not biologically, and not anymore. A death that will nevertheless force me home, back to Lisbon, just when I thought I’d found my place on this dry and sleepy island.
35 Enter inhale. Enter time. Enter inheritance. Enter or else. Enter doors with handles, without handles, manually manipulated. Enter alone feelings. Enter tension. Struggle entering bitterness enter. Love turning towards lust enter. Historic languages enter. Human conditions of oppression enter. Enter roadside assistance. Enter talented man killed too soon. Gravemarker write L.O.W. Enter near Dayton settlement but specifically at Englewood location. Enter chirping bird sounds out of the ceiling again. Enter your own music mixing up into the chirps of birds. Enter memory again. Enter thought again. Enter more and more gunshots. Enter yelling. Enter empathy and critical engagement.