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Fernando Pessoa and Co.: Selected Poems

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  620 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) - a poet who lived most his life in Lisbon, Portugal, and who died in obscurity there - has in recent years gained international recognition as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Now Richard Zenith has collected in a single volume all the major poetry of "one of the most extraordinary poetic talents the century has produced" ( ...more
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Published December 1st 2007 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published April 1st 1999)
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Jim Fonseca
Fernando Pessoa, the most famous Portuguese poet, claimed to do nothing but “pretend and posture.” Does this remind us of Proust? They were contemporaries: Pessoa 1888- 1935; Proust 1871-1922. Pessoa was very likely gay and had a convoluted personality; multiple personalities, really, or at least he wrote as if he did.


We are told in the Introduction that three of Pessoa’s primary characters are distinguished by how they “feel:” one just “feels;” another adjusts his feelings to reality; a third
Bill  Kerwin

Those familiar with this early 20th century Portuguese poet will smile at the title, for Pessoa was indeed a “company” of poets, having fragmented himself into some five dozen “heteronyms,” that is, noms de plume which are carefully conceived alter egos, each equipped with a cover story fit for a spy.

This anthology collects the works of four of those heteronyms. First comes Alberto Caeiro, a fair-haired young fellow scarred by unrequited love who died of tuberculosis at 26. He writes as if he we
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetshere
If I could do in verses
What she does with laundry
Perhaps I would lose
My surfeit of fates.

This particular volume boasts a fifty page introduction to Pessoa's verse, his construction of heteronmyns, separate literary identities along with biographies to purse different methods of verse. It sounds fascinating - or almost perverse. The thematics range from the pastoral to the paradoxical. Inspiration appears to extend from Horace to Whitman. The idea that these predate much of Borges is extremely in
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I, the solemn researcher of futile things,
Who could go and live in Siberia just to get bored of it
And who thinks it's fine not to feel too attached to his homeland,
For I don't have roots, I'm not a tree, and so I have no roots...
I, who often feel as real as a metaphor,

I, the inborn unhappiness of all expressions.
The impossibility of expressing all feelings,

And what seems to mean nothing always means something...

* Rereading Álvaro de Campos: another favorite now. My sort of least favorite from th
Ben Winch
The wind in the darkness howls
Its sound reaching ever farther.
The substance of my thought
Is that it cannot cease.

It seems the soul has a darkness
In which blows ever harder
A madness that derives
From wanting to understand.

The wind in the darkness rages,
Unable to free itself.
I’m a prisoner to my thought
As the wind is a prisoner to air.

(Richard Zenith, Pessoa & Co, 1998)

Rage in the dark, the wind –
Huge sound of on and on.
My thought has nothing in it
Except that it can’t die down.

The soul contain
Dec 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is an excellent book for people who are just discovering the richness of Pessoa's work. Although unknown to many readers prose and poetry of Pessoa deserve the priority on every poetry lover's bookshelf. He will amaze you, his heteronyms will confuse your mind and at the end you'll ask yourself... "How come I've never been introduced to this marvelous this poet whose honesty is sometimes schocking and to this solitary being ..
And you will think and think...yes..he does that well.
M. Sarki
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Though respected by many and thought by Harold Bloom to be "Whitman reborn", Pessoa leaves me cold and unfeeling. His poems are certainly easy to read and soft to the eye, but my indifference to his work has never faltered. It is proof positive to me at least that all of us are affected differently, that one size does not fit all, and that each of us brings a personal life experience to the pages we read that at times has so much of nothing to do with the world's countless others that the feelin ...more
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This poem demonstrates Pessoa's art better than any words I may conjure.

Where There Are Roses
We Plant Doubt

Where there are roses we plant doubt.
Most of the meaning we glean is our own,
And forever not knowing, we ponder.
Foreign to us, capacious nature
Unrolls fields, open flowers, ripens
Fruits, and death arrives.
I'll only be right, if anyone is right,
When death at last confounds my mind
And I no longer see,
For we cannot find and should not find
The remote and profound explanation
For why it is we li
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reality is always
more or less
than what we want.
Only we are always
equal to ourselves.
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
superb. one of a kind poet. brilliant.
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend gave me this book for my birthday, not realizing that I share my birthday with Pessoa, so I got a kick out of that. I also love owning this book, so that I can go back to it again and again. For those that don't already know, this great Portuguese poet invented a number of literary alter egos for himself, and they would critique each other's work! This volume translates poetry written under the major "heteronyms" (as Pessoa called them) as well as work written in his own name. Because t ...more
Dean Vincent
Soul-destroying existential, first person "autobiography," that is his life in thought, not the dates or details. Every time I try to read this I get bogged down in despair. Love it!
Sanjay Varma
Feb 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Interesting sideshow to the mainstream modernist poets and thinkers, such as Pound, Breton, Marinetti. I say "sideshow" because I feel certain that Pessoa is an introvert and thrives in solitude. And so he could never live in Paris and attain the close camaraderie that the modernists felt for each other. And this means that his technique of writing via his heteronyms is primarily a natural expression of his introspection. It is not primarily a fragmentation of personality for a theory; it is not ...more
F. Rzicznek
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When you dogear every page of a book, what's the point?
Peter Landau
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Richard Zenith both translated the poems from Portuguese in this collection by Fernando Pessoa and wrote the long introduction. There are actually several introductions, one for each “heteronyms,” or literary alter-egos, he wrote under. The man was legion! Zenith does a very good job of sketching the life and work of the great Portuguese modernist, creating a vivid picture of a real kook. I was concerned the poems would pale in comparison to the crazy biography. Not a chance. Whoever Possoa wrot ...more
Dustyn Hessie
Nov 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thinkers
This is actually a very poor representation of Pessoa's work: either the translator butchered the poetry (which is highly probable) or Pessoa is just a much stronger prose writer than a poetry writer (also quite probable). In either case, I'd have to admit that this anthology leaves the demanding reader with quite a bit of a compromise: Should I trust Zenith or not? I mean, as far as Zenith's work on Pessoa goes, I am compelled to take the side of the artist and ask why this translator wastes so ...more
As one can expect, this is a selection from each of the major poetical works of Pessoa, including "Songbook," "Odes," "Keeper of the Sheep," and "Messages." However, I was disappointed to find that only seven poems from "Messages" were included. "Messages," I thought, should be given the most weight, if not translated in its entirety, since this is the only volume Pessoa himself published in his lifetime and contains the most important elements of his Portuguese national mythology. I am still lo ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: free-time
I adore Pessoa's poems. I adore Pessoa's heteronyms. I adore his/their writing styles. It's just that I could use more heteronyms and more poems. So this four-star rating does not refer to Pessoa's work, rather on the book/collection itself. Regarding my adoration of his poems, on page 85 is one of my faves:

"They spoke to me of people, and of humanity.
But I've never seen people, or humanity.
I've seen various people, astonishingly dissimilar,
Each separated from the next by an unpeopled space."

Terri Jacobson
This book is about the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Pessoa was a fascinating person. He wrote poems by different "heteronyms" or literary alter-egos. He had 72 different heteronyms under which he wrote. This book discusses the 3 major heteronyms, Alberto Caeiro, Ricardi Reis, and Alvano de Campos. It also gives some information about Pessoa himself. A fair number of poems by each entity is included. The book is well-written and really quite interesting. It's an excellent resource for anyone ...more
Oct 18, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Tough to get through, but the translation might not be as stellar as its ubiquity would lead one to believe. To be honest, the short biography of Pessoa in the introduction is the most interesting thing to me. His lifestory is fascinating, but the writing actually produced under his various heteronyms ranges significantly in quality as well as style. Book of Disquiet, his journal-like book under the name Bernardo Soares seems like it may be better.
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Portugese nut who split his writing output into numerous "heteronyms"- fully fledged authors of their own with distinct viewpoints and writing styles who proceeded to debate and critique each other's work in the periodicals of his time. Very mellow and contemplative poetry written in a clear, unforced style. Credit to the editor/translator for a great selection (Pessoa was very prolific and scattered it seems)
Peter Crofts
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great collection of Pessoa's poetry. I'd go with the Penguin collection "A Little Larger Than The Universe" first simply because it is about twice the size and it is a few bucks cheaper (at least in Canada).

Check out my review of the Penguin edition for a more in depth review of Pessoa as a poet.
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good collection of poems for those who are Pessoa's beginner readers. There is a very helpful introduction as well as intro to each heteronym. This is a good start for those interested in the wonderful poetic philosophical world of Fernando Pessoa (and Co). I really enjoyed it and want to read more of his work.
Antonio Delgado
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be human is to act, to impersonate. To suffer and to be satisfied, to be happy and to be sad, fall into the same act, the same impersonation. This Pessoa anthology is a must read, but also reread. These poems create the experience of acting and impersonating life. They reveal what is human in us.
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I love Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet is one of my favourite books, especially because it has no fixed order to the sections.
I love Pessoa as Pessoa.
I love Pessoa as Ricardo Reis (read Saramago s wonderful book about him).
I love Pessoa as Alvaro de Campos (Newtons Binomial Theory)
I dont know Alberto Caeiro, but I want to.
He takes a while to get into, maybe.... but its worth it.
Edward Davis
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love the wiring, research and translation of Richard Zenith. Pessoa's work is phenomenal as well, but really enjoyed Zenith's writing style... Looking forward tomore of his translations of Pessoa's work from Portugese.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: toreadagain
One of my very favorite poets now! What a poet Wowww.
This book does not include "Salutation to Walt Whitman" and that is the only thing I regret.
Bob Hooker
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge
Lovely little book of string poems by his principle alter egos and himself.
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
If there were only more stars to offer.
Apr 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my least favorite translation of Pessoa's works.
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Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa was a poet and writer.

It is sometimes said that the four greatest Portuguese poets of modern times are Fernando Pessoa. The statement is possible since Pessoa, whose name means ‘person’ in Portuguese, had three alter egos who wrote in styles completely different from his own. In fact Pessoa wrote under dozens of names, but Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de
More about Fernando Pessoa...
“Be what I think? But I think of being so many things!” 73 likes
“Ah, the freshness in the face of leaving a task undone!
To be remiss is to be positively out in the country!
What a refuge it is to be completely unreliable!
I can breathe easier now that the appointments are behind me.
I missed them all, through deliberate negligence,
Having waited for the urge to go, which I knew wouldn’t come.
I’m free, and against organized, clothed society.
I’m naked and plunge into the water of my imagination.
It’s too late to be at either of the two meetings where I should have been at the same time,
Deliberately at the same time...
No matter, I’ll stay here dreaming verses and smiling in italics.
This spectator aspect of life is so amusing!
I can’t even light the next cigarette... If it’s an action,
It can wait for me, along with the others, in the nonmeeting called life.”
More quotes…