Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
It’s profoundly problematic that every time I’m confronted with the notion that I’m not immortal, I desperately want to die. Who was that Victorian author who said Germans were incapable of happiness because their culture taught them to think too much? That must make me an honorary German.
Moving along… have you ever read Fernando Pessoa? Utterly magnificent. Here’s a good translation followed by the original in Portuguese.
I don’t know how many souls I have.
I’ve changed at every moment.
I always feel like a stranger.
I’ve never seen or found myself.
From so much being, I only have soul.
A man who has soul has no calm.
A man who sees is just what he sees.
A man who feels is not who he is.
Attentive to what I am and see,
I become them and stop being I.
Each of my dreams and each desire
Belongs to whoever had it, not me.
I am my own landscape,
I watch myself journey –
Various, mobile, and alone.
Here where I am I can’t feel myself.
That’s why I read, as a stranger,
My being as if it were pages.
Not knowing what will come
And forgetting what has passed,
I note in the margin of my reading
What I thought I felt.
Rereading, I wonder: “Was that me?”
(Only) The Creator knows, because he created it all.
Não sei quantas almas tenho.
Cada momento mudei.
Continuamente me estranho.
Nunca me vi nem achei.
De tanto ser, só tenho alma.
Quem tem alma não tem calma.
Quem vê é só o que vê.
Quem sente não é quem é.
Atento ao que sou e vejo,
Torno-me eles e não eu.
Cada meu sonho ou desejo,
É do que nasce, e não meu.
Sou minha própria paisagem,
Assisto à minha passagem,
Diverso, móbil e só.
Não sei sentir-me onde estou.
Por isso, alheio, vou lendo
Como páginas, meu ser.
O que segue não prevendo,
O que passou a esquecer.
Noto à margem do que li
O que julguei que senti.
Releio e digo, «Fui eu?»
Deus sabe, porque o escreveu.