Recently, a friend sent me a poem by Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), who today enjoys a cult-like following. Although, like many great artists, this following emerged after his passing so he never actually got to enjoy it.
Perhaps Pessoa inspires such a cult-like following because he himself was intrigued by the occult and even claimed to have had experiences as a medium.
What’s more, he created over fifty fully-functional pseudonyms, each with an individual style and psychological baggage, to express his seemingly infinite views as a writer. According to Pessoa, these literary personas could not even be considered pseudonyms, but rather heteronyms, as they were just as real as himself.
Below is Pessoa’s dark poem about what it is to be a poet:
The poet is a man who feignsAnd feigns so thoroughly, at lastHe manages to feign as painThe pain he really feels,
And those who read what once he wroteFeel clearly, in the pain they read,Neither of the pains he felt,Only a pain they cannot sense.
And thus, around its jolting trackThere runs, to keep our reason busy,The circling clockwork train of oursThat men agree to call a heart.