Monday with Pessoa: Who Are You, Reading Me?

I am like the sun shining on a cold day. You will not see me or feel me for I have already died. And if I have properly discovered the truth of consciousness then you only experience me through your experience of your self, as if you were a boat sailing on the river of my words not aware of the illusion that the river is but the trace of life gone by, and forgetting that the purpose of a boat is not to sail but to reach port. And what port might that be via the route of my poetry? You read for your own reasons, and I will never know them. You are more than abstract, to me, like a secondary set of eyes behind my own, trying at every moment to transpose your vision over mine, and even if I should want to attain it, nature has constructed me such that I never could. Like a blind Narcissus, I stare at you staring at me, a reality always out of phase with itself, if by reality we mean consciousness, and I do, for what other reality is there? I write for you, the consciousness regarding me. And when you are gone I write for the one who comes after, for as long as the trace of these words remains. I have known people to tattoo the words of favorite writers on their flesh. So palpable have the words become they’ve taken on an existence independent of the double set of eyes that animated them. Those eyes: in the first instance dust and the second divided by rival loyalties, exigencies and unique demands, fading like narcissi. And only momentary consciousness, like a flashlight in darkness shining on a script, is real.

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7 Responses to Monday with Pessoa: Who Are You, Reading Me?

  1. janehewey says:

    i appreciate the introduction to Fernando Pessoa and his use of heteronyms and orthonyms. Interesting and complex. In your piece of writing, truth of consciousness and narcissus give a complex depth, while speaking in the first person reveals certain authenticity. so nicely done. Thank you.

  2. hedgewitch says:

    I always find your prose poetry such an ace example of a form I’m not good at myself, and seldom enjoy when others write–but yours is extremely magnetic, and here the image of the boat on the river couldn’t be more forceful or apt. In a sense we are all staring into the other staring into us in a crazy-quilt hall of mirrors, here in this chancy but often life-affecting communication of poetry–perhaps we’re more fortunate in that we write in an electronic, instantized media, where we do come to see at least some of ‘those .eyes’ before our own are dust.

    • I agree; despite what the naysayers say about blogging, its great advantage is finding like-minds, and that’s just a normal human need. It’s amazing being able to share poems and have them read and commented on from people all around the world. If I ever take that for granted, it’s time to quit.

      Thanks for the compliment on my prose poetry. I write far more of it than I share, not so much because I struggle with it more, but that I’m less often pleased with it than with my verse poems.

  3. Susan Scheid says:

    You capture the fraught, yet necessary, relationship between the poet and reader so well, in line after line, like these: “You read for your own reasons, and I will never know them. You are more than abstract, to me, like a secondary set of eyes behind my own, trying at every moment to transpose your vision over mine . . .”. “A reality always out of phase with itself.” Exactly.

    • The funny thing is, I’m not sure how much of this I agree with (it’s too new). I was just trying to speak from Pessoa’s point of view, as I currently understand it. I’m still in the middle of ‘The Book of Disquiet’.

  4. angela says:

    It is a brilliant piece of work, Mark… the boat/sailing analogy is …well, I wish I had written that for it is stirs the muse. Ironically, today a snippet of a poem came to mind about being a river to follow — you always inspire, thank you ~

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