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Fernando Pessoa – Initiation

‘Initiation well’. Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra-Portugal. Picture by Afton Halloran


Another sharing for the day from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, a poem from Fernando Pessoa, ‘Initiation’, here excerpted from : ‘Fernando Pessoa, a little larger than the entire universe, selected poems’. English Translation by Richard Zenith. Penguin Books, 2006. Page 317.



‘You aren’t asleep under the cypress trees,
For in this world there is no sleep.


Your body is the shadow of the clothes
That conceal your deeper self.

When night, which is death, arrives,
The shadow ends without having been.
And you go, unaware, into that night
As the mere outline of yourself.

But at the Inn of Wonderment,
The Angels take away your cape;
You continue with no cape on your shoulders
And little else to cover you.

Then the Highway Archangels
Strip you and leave you naked,
Without any clothes, with nothing:
You have just your body, which is you.

Finally, deep within the cave,
The Gods strip you even more.
Your body, or outer soul, ceases,
But you see that they are your equals.


The shadow of your clothes remains
Among us in the realm of Destiny.

You are not dead amid cypress trees.


Neophyte, there is no death.’


Original Portuguese


Não dormes sob os ciprestes,

Pois não há sono no mundo.


O corpo é a sombra das vestes

Que encobrem teu ser profundo.

Vem a noite, que é a morte

E a sombra acabou sem ser.

Vais na noite só recorte,

Igual a ti sem querer.

Mas na Estalagem do Assombro

Tiram-te os Anjos a capa.

Segues sem capa no ombro,

Com o pouco que te tapa.

Então Arcanjos da Estrada

Despem-te e deixam-te nu.

Não tens vestes, não tens nada:

Tens só teu corpo, que és tu.

Por fim, na funda caverna,

Os Deuses despem-te mais.

Teu corpo cessa, alma externa,

Mas vês que são teus iguais.


A sombra das tuas vestes

Ficou entre nós na Sorte.

Não estás morto, entre ciprestes.


Neófito, não há morte.

1ª publ. in Presença , nº 35. Coimbra: Mai. 1932.


Portuguese text source:
Fernando Pessoa –  Initiation

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