Fernando Pessoa – World’s Poetry Day


Spring has come and it is the perfect day for inspiration and blossoming poems! It is the world’s poetry day and we have decided to dedicate this article to one of the most memorable Portuguese poets, who is part of Lisbon’s life and culture. His name was Fernando Pessoa.

If you go to Chiado you’ll probably notice a statue of a slim man with a mustache, wearing round glasses and a fashionable hat, sat comfortably at the esplanade of Brazileira café. Some people take photos by his side without knowing who he really is. Attention: we will give you a very important information before you take a selfie with him: His name is Fernando Pessoa, one of the best poets in Portuguese literature. That’s why you see a statue of him in one of his favorite spots where he came regularly to exchange artistic ideas with like minded creative minds. And if you pay a more careful attention, you will notice his recognizable image present in cafés, restaurants and window’s decorations as well as printed T-shirts and bags. He is definitely part of Lisbon’s life.

Imagem: Isabel Bernardo, Fora da Rota

Fernando Pessoa was born on 13th June 1888, next to the Opera house of São Carlos. He lived part of his childhood and teens in South Africa. His mother had married to a Portuguese consul in Durban and the family had to move there. He became one of the best students in Durban high school and learned how to speak and write English. His first creative works were even written in that language.

He moved to Lisbon in 1905 and he began to show his disquiet character by moving into several houses, doing different occupations, with an intense bohemian life.  He made contact with several artists who became his closest friends, such as Mário de Sá Carneiro and Almada Negreiros.

                                                                    Imagem: Reprodução voyage virtuel

But what makes his poetry so special? He created heteronyms. Who? What? Calm down… an ”heteronym” is like a different persona with his own and unique writing style, different from its creator. It is a different form of pseudomyn by adapting a complete poetic personality. The last study on Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms indicate a total of 127, created by this delirious mind.  The most popular Fernando Pessoa’s writing personas are Ricardo Reis, a doctor, Álvaro de Campos, an engineer, and Alberto Caeiro, a simple man.

Another curiosity about Pessoa is that among his many interests, he was into astrology and made an astrological chart for some of his heteronyms.

And about his personal life, he had a long-lasting platonic relation with Ofelia, to whom he dedicated many letters. He didn’t marry maybe due to his errant life moved between his fervent writing and heavy drinking. He died with 47 years old, leaving to the world one of the best works of literature. If you’re more curious to read some of his poems, you can find much of his work translated in several languages. He is probably the most translated Portuguese poet.

Now, after reading this article, you are now allowed to sit and take a selfie next to one of the best poets in Portuguese literature!

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