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Untitled -- Fernando Pessoa

Guest poem sent in by Steve Ornish
(Poem #1104) Untitled
 What grieves me is not
 What lies within the heart,
 But those things of beauty
 Which never can be . . .

 They are the shapeless shapes
 Which pass, though sorrow
 Cannot know them
 Nor love dream them.

 They are as though sadness
 Were a tree and, one by one,
 Its leaves were to fall
 Half outlined in the mist.
-- Fernando Pessoa
When Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet, died in 1935 his work was little
known, even in Portugal.   Over the last few decades, his fame has spread
and his poetry translated into many languages.

For me, this poem speaks to the grief--not from an actual loss (i.e., "not
what lies within the heart)--but from the unrealized experiences that occur
in relationships throughout one's life   "those things of beauty which can
never be."   The paradox is that we are mostly unconscious of these  missed
opportunities:  "the shapeless shapes which pass"  which cannot be known
through sorrow, love, or dreams.

-Steven A. Ornish, MD

Biography and some links:
  [broken link]

40 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Raymond Gibson said...

I've been searching tirelessly for the source of your
translation, but cannot find it. Suffice it to say
that it's not in Honig's, Zenith's, nor Griffin's
translations, and while Butler and Greene both offer
versions of it - they do not match. Please, who is
the translator of the version in this entry?


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Anonymous said...

According to the translation of Pessoa's poem in this blog, the title would be: 'What grieves me is not' . The translation in this blog is beautiful. Thank you to the author of the 'Wondering Minstrels' Blog: it's a wonderful initiative.
The original version (Portuguese) is in a book called 'Cancioneiro' , and its title is: 'O que me dói não é'. I have read painful translations of Pessoa; as he plays with words and images, English natives have huge difficulty in translating. The original poem is below:
O que me dói não é
O que há no coração
Mas essas coisas lindas
Que nunca existirão...

São as formas sem forma
Que passam sem que a dor
As possa conhecer
Ou as sonhar o amor.

São como se a tristeza
Fosse árvore e, uma a uma,
Caíssem suas folhas
Entre o vestígio e a bruma.
Fernando Pessoa, in "Cancioneiro",

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