Wednesday, January 8, 2014

the astonishing reality of things

I worked last night at the library and came across a book of poems that needed to be discarded. Before I did though, I flipped through it and copied a couple of the poems. The poet is Fernando Pessoa, who wrote The Book of Disquiet and who is known for having written his work using heteronyms.  (Something like a pseudonym, but described by Wikipedia thusly: The heteronyms possess distinct biographies, temperaments, philosophies, appearances and writing styles). His biography is fascinating.

Let's begin with one of the poems I copied from the book: A Little Larger than the Entire Universe. The translator is Richard Zenith and the heteronym Pessoa uses is Alberto Caeiro:

The astonishing reality of things
Is my discovery every day.
Each thing is what it is,
And it's hard to explain to someone how happy this makes me,
And how much this suffices me.

All it takes to be complete is to exist.

I've written quite a few poems,
I'll no doubt write many more,
And this is what every poem of mine says,
And all my poems are different,
Because each thing that exists is a different way of saying this.

Sometimes I start looking at a stone.
I don't start thinking about whether it exists.
I don't get sidetracked, calling it my sister.
I like it for being a stone,
I like it because it feels nothing,
I like it because it's not related to me in any way.

At other times I hear the wind blow,
And I feel that it was worth being born just to hear the wind blow.

I don't know what people will think when they read this,
But I feel it must be right since I think it without any effort
Or any idea of what people who hear me will think,
Because I think it without thoughts,
Because I say it the way my words say it.

I was once a materialist poet,
and it surprised me, for I didn't think
I could be called anything.
I'm not even a poet: I see.
If what I write has any value, the value isn't mine,
It belongs to my poems.
All this is absolutely independent of my will.

I'm going to be coming back to that poem all day to be reminded of the astonishing reality of things. For the happiness of that. And for the line: "I'm not even a poet: I see."

And you can see that there was a little light two days ago.....and I waded through the snow on the front lawn to catch some of it in the trees and shrubs there.

"All it takes to be complete is to exist."

Also a good reminder.

Some photos of everyday life, ahead. Existence. Scenes from a kitchen table. Rob reading, Chloe on her computer. A simple lunch of noodles and greens. 

The happiness one finds in these simple rituals, everyday dull moments. The reminder that all of this does, indeed, suffice. 


  1. Beautiful post today... poetry and your words, I will come back and linger.
    Your images filled with winter light and your home....lovely.

  2. oh my goodness...your daughter is so cute...i love her hair! (i'm thinking molly ringwald in Pretty in Pink). that was a wonderful poem - i think i may print it out so that i may look at it a few times today. i love how you make even the simplest meals look so beautiful : )

  3. Ahhhhhhh .... let me just take my time for a few more moments to breath in all this loveliness.

  4. Let me just say that I love everything about this post! And I hope you don't mind if I borrow that poem...


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