Fernando Pessoa



– The poet is a pretender

Who’s so good at his act

He even pretends the pain

Of pain he feels in fact.

– I am nothing.

I will never be anything.

I cannot wish to be anything.

Bar that, I have in me all the dreams of the world.

– Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.

– My nation is the Portuguese language.

– I’ve always rejected being understood.

To be understood is to prostitute oneself.

I prefer to be taken seriously for what I’m not, remaining humanly unknown, with naturalness and all due respect.

– I’m two, and both keep their distance — Siamese twins that aren’t attached.

– My past is everything I failed to be.

– We all have two lives: The true, the one we dreamed of in childhood And go on dreaming of as adults in a substratum of mist; the false, the one we love when we live with others, the practical, the useful, the one we end up by being put in a coffin.

– To have opinions is to sell out to yourself.

To have no opinions is to exist.

To have every opinion is to be a poet.

– I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else.

What I’m attending here is a show with another set. And the show I’m attending is myself.

– But I am not perfect in my way of putting things. Because I lack the divine simplicity of being only what I appear to be.

– In the ordinary jumble of my literary drawer, I sometimes find texts I wrote ten, fifteen, or even more years ago.

And many of the seem to me written by a stranger:

I simply do not recognize myself in them. There was a person who wrote them, and it was I. I experienced them, but it was in another life, from which I just woke up, as if from someone else’s dream.

– There are metaphors more real than the people who walk in the street.

There are images tucked away in books that live more vividly than many men and women.

There are phrases from literary works that have a positively human personality.

There are passages from my own writing that chill me with fright, so distinctly do I feel them as people, so sharply outlined do they appear against the walls of my room, at night, in shadows…

I’ve written sentences whose sound, read out loud or silently (impossible to hide their sound), can only be of something that acquired absolute exteriority and a full-fledged soul.

– To love is to tire of being alone; it is therefore a cowardice, a betrayal of ourselves. (It is exceedingly important that we not love.)

– To know nothing about yourself is to live. To know yourself badly is to think.

– Each of us is several, is many, is a profusion of selves. So that the self who disdains his surroundings is not the same as the self who suffers or takes joy in them.

In the vast colony of our being there are many species of people who think and feel in different ways.

– In my heart there’s a peaceful anguish, and my calm is made of resignation.

– Blessed are those who entrust their lives to no one.

– There are no norms. All people are exceptions to a
rule that doesn’t exist.

– I don’t know what I feel or what I want to feel. I don’t know what to think or what I am.

– I’d like to write the encomium of a new incoherence that could serve as the negative charter for the new anarchy of souls.

– Rocks in my path? I keep them all. With them I shall build my castle.

– Having waited for the urge to go, which I knew wouldn’t come.

– Let’s buy books so as not to read them; let’s go to concerts without caring to hear the music or see who’s there; let’s take long walks because we’re sick of walking; and let’s spend whole days in the country, just because it bores us.

Fernando Pessoa

(June 13, 1888, Lisbon – November 30, 1935, Lisbon),

Fernando Pessoa was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic and translator described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language.

Literature and human destiny

In praise of reading and fiction



Literature is a false representation of life that nevertheless helps us to understand life better,

to orient ourselves in the labyrinth where we are born, pass by, and die.

It compensates for the reverses and frustrations real life inflicts on us,

and because of it we can decipher, at least partially,

the hieroglyphic that existence tends to be for the great majority of human beings,

principally those of us who generate more doubts than certainties and confess our perplexity before subjects like

transcendence, individual and collective destiny,

the soul, the sense or senselessness of history, the to and fro of rational knowledge.

Mario Vargas Llosa

In praise of reading and fiction



Nobel Lecture

December 7, 2010



General permission is granted for the

publication in newspapers in any language

after December 7, 2010, 5:30 p.m. (Swedish time).

Publication in periodicals or books otherwise

than in summary requires the consent

of the Foundation.

On all publications in full or in major parts

the above underlined copyright notice

must be applied.






Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire



(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, serving as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” He was the first Irishman so honored. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929).

Yeats was born and educated in Dublin but spent his childhood in County Sligo. He studied poetry in his youth, and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and those slow paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser and Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as to the Pre-Raphaelite poets. From 1900, Yeats’ poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life. Over the years, Yeats adopted many different ideological positions, including, in the words of the critic Michael Valdez Moses, “those of [the] radical nationalist, classical liberal, reactionary
conservative and millenarian

Between friendship and solitude

Between solitude and friendship



It will never be my view that solitude is disturbed by the presence of a friend,

but that it is enriched.

If I had the choice of doing without one or the other,

I should prefer to be deprived of solitude rather than of my friend.


On the solitary life



Francesco Petrarca

(July 20, 1304 – July 19, 1374)


Francesco Petrarca, known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest Renaissance humanists. Petrarch is often called the “Father of Humanism“. In the 16th century, Pietro Bembo created the model for the modern Italian language based on Petrarch’s works, as well as those of Giovanni Boccaccio and, especially, Dante Alighieri. This would be later endorsed by the Accademia della Crusca. His sonnets were admired and imitated throughout Europe during the Renaissance and became a model for lyrical poetry. Petrarch was also known for being one of the first people to refer to the Dark Ages.



The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.

Nothing is better than simplicity—nothing can make up for excess, or for the lack of definiteness.

Leaves of Grass (Preface)

Walt Whitman