I feel that I am being born each momentInto the eternal newness of the World . . .
For Alberto Caeiro, the world is not a place of mystery or of meaning, but is simply itself, to be absorbed with all one's senses. He was one of the heteronyms, the alter-egos, of the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935). Pessoa's prose writings have moved me, and I wrote a blog post, Memory: Constructing a Life, inspired by one of his sentences. But I was unaware of his poetry until a Facebook friend, Martyn Ravensdale, introduced me to his long poem "The Keeper of Sheep", lyrical and revelatory; I feel that it's close to being a guide to appreciating life. Pessoa wrote his poetry in the guise of several different characters; he described the appearance of Alberto Caeiro in him as "In me there appeared my Master." Caeiro wrote of meeting Jesus Christ come down to earth as an innocent small child
And enjoying our common secretWhich is knowing through and throughThere is no mystery in the worldAnd that all things are worth our while.
The doings of mankind, the commerce and wars and kings make him smile
Because he knows it all lacks that truthA flower has in bloomWhich moves with the light of the sunChanging mountains and valleysAnd making eyes ache at whitewashed walls.
Caeiro argues against intellect and for pure sensation:
I'm a keeper of sheep.As he argues against anthropomorphizing nature:
The sheep are my thoughts
And my thoughts are all sensations.
I think with my eyes and ears
And with my hands and feet
And with my nose and mouth.
To think a flower is to see it and smell it
And to eat a fruit is to taste its meaning.
To talk about the soul of flower, stones, and rivers,Being that I am now over 60 years old, perhaps with two thirds of my life done (much of my family is long-lived), I occasionally wonder what it means, this being a human on earth. There are many possible answers, but lines from another poem by Pessoa's Alberto Caeiro gives one that feels true and deep and full of grace:
Is to talk about yourself, about your delusions.
Thank God stones are just stones,
And rivers nothing but rivers,
And flowers just flowers.
The startling reality of things
Is my discovery every single day
Every thing is what it is,
And it's hard to explain to anyone how much this delights me
And suffices me.
. . . . . . .
Occasionally I hear the wind blow,
And I find that just hearing the wind blow makes it worth
having been born.