Fernando Pessoa

The Keeper of Sheep (Excepts)

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I never kept sheep,
But it is as I did watch over them.
My soul is like a shepherd,
Knows the wind and the sun,
And goes hand in hand with the Seasons
To follow and to listen.
All peace of Nature without people
Comes to sit by my side.
But I remain sad like a sunset
As our imagining shows it,
When a chill falls at the side of the valley
And you feel night has come in
Like a butterfly through a window.

But my sadness is calm
Because it is natural and right
And is what there should be in the soul
When it is thinking it exists
And the hands are picking flowers without noticing
which.

At a jangle of sheep-bells
Beyond the bend of the road,
My thoughts are contented.
Only, I am sorry I know they are contented,
Because, if I did not know it,
Instead of being contented and sad,
They would be cheerful and contented.
To think is uncomfortable like walking in the rain
When the wind is rising and it looks like raining more.

I have no ambitions or wants.
To be a poet is not ambition of mine.
It is way of staying alone.




There is ample metaphysics in not thinking at all.

What do I think about the world?
How should I know what I think about the world?
If I were ill I would think about it.

What idea have I about things?
What opinion do I have on causes and effects?
What meditations have I had upon God and the soul
And upon the creation of the World?
I don't know. For me, to think about that is to shut
me eyes.
And not think. It is to draw the curtains
Of my window (but it has no curtains).

The mystery of things? How should I know I know what
mystery is?
The only mystery is there being somebody who might
think about mystery.
A man who stands in the sun and shuts his eyes
Begins not to know what the sun is
And to think many things full of heat.

But he opens his eyes and sees the sun,
And now he cannot think of anything,
Because the light of the sun is worth more than the
thoughts
Of all the philosophers and all the poets.
The light of the sun does not know what it is doing
And so does stray and is common and good.

Metaphysics? What metaphysics do those trees have?
That of being green and having crowns and branches
And that of giving fruit at their hours, - which is not
what makes us think,
Us, who don't know to be aware of them.
But what better metaphysics than theirs,
Which is not knowing why they live
And not knowing they don't know?




One wildly clear day,
The kind when you wish you had done a pile of work
Not to have to do any that day,
I caught sight, like a road ahead among trees,
Of what may be the Great Secret,
That Great Mystery the false poets speak of.

I saw that in no Nature,
That Nature does not exist,
That there are mountains, valleys, plains,
That there are trees, flowers, grasses,
That there are steams and stones,
But that there's not a whole to which this belongs,
That any real and true connection
Is a disease of our ideas.
Nature is parts without a whole.
This perhaps is that mystery they speak of.

This was what without thought or even a pause
I realised must be the truth
Which all set out to find and do not find
And I alone, because I did not try to find it, found.

I take myself indoors and shut the window.
They bring the lamp and give me goodnight,
And my contented voice gives them goodnight.
O that my life may always be this:
The day full of sun, or soft with rain,
Or stormy as if the word were coming to an end,
The evening soft and the groups of people passing
Watched with interest from the window,
The last friendly look given the calm of the trees,
And then, the window shut, the lamp lit,
Not reading anything, nor thinking of anything, not sleeping,
To feel life flowing over me like a stream over its bed,
And out there a great silence like a god asleep.

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Fernando Pessoa