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Alberto Caeiro (Fernando Pessoa)

ISSUE:  Spring 1996

To see the fields and the river
It isn’t enough to open the window.
To see the trees and the flowers
It isn’t enough not to be blind.

It is also necessary to have no philosophy.
With philosophy there are no trees, just ideas.
There is only each one of us, like a cave.
There is only a shut window, and the whole world outside,
And a dream of what could be seen if the window were opened,
Which is never what is seen when the window is opened.


Dirty unknown child playing outside my door,
I don’t ask you if you bring me a message from symbols.
You amuse me because I’ve never seen you before,
And if you could be clean you’d of course be another child,
One who wouldn’t even come around.
Play in the dirt, play!
I appreciate your presence with just my eyes.
To see a thing always for the first time is better than to know it,
Because to know is like never having seen for the first time,
And to never have seen for the first time is to have only heard.

This child is dirty in a way that’s different from other dirty children.
Go on, play! Picking up a stone that fits in your hand,
You know that it fits in your hand.
What philosophy can arrive at a greater certainty?
None. And none can come play outside my door.

4 December 1919


I lie down on the grass
And forget all that I was taught.
What I was taught never made me any warmer or cooler.
What I was told exists never changed the shape of a thing.
What I was made to see never affected my eyes.
What was pointed out to me was never there: only what was there
    was there.

The Universe is not an idea of mine;
My idea of the Universe is an idea of mine.
Night doesn’t fall before my eyes;
My idea of night falls before my eyes.
Apart from my thinking and my having thoughts
The night concretely falls,
And the stars’ shimmering exists like a weighable thing.


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