By Pessoa, Fernando; Lisboa, Eugénio; Taylor, Len Clive
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Extra info for A centenary Pessoa
Most of his descendants do not share these illusions. Some see machines as marvellous toys. I think of Valéry Larbaud and of Barnabooth, who resembles Álvaro de Campos in more ways than one. Larbaud’s attitude to the machine is epicurean; the attitude of the Futurists was visionary. They see it as the destroyer of false humanism and, of course, of natural man. They do not set out to humanize the machine but to construct a new human species similar to it. Mayakovsky would be one exception and even he… The ‘Triumphal Ode’ is not epicurean, romantic or triumphal: it is a song of rage and defeat.
Like the master in one of his hermetic sonnets, Pessoa ‘knows and is silent’. Anglomaniac, myopic, courteous, evasive, dressed darkly, reticent and agreeable, cosmopolitan who preaches nationalism, solemn investigator of futile things, humorist who never smiles but chills our blood, inventor of other poets and destroyer of himself, author of paradoxes clear as water and, as water, dizzying; to pretend is to know yourself, mysterious man who does not cultivate mystery, mysterious as the mid-day moon, taciturn phantom of the Portuguese mid-day, who is Pessoa?
None of this is unusual. The astonishing thing is the appearance of the group, well ahead of its time and its society. What was being written in Spain and Latin America in those years? The following period is one of relative obscurity. Pessoa publishes two booklets of English poetry, 35 Sonnets and Antinous, which The Times and the Glasgow Herald review very courteously but without enthusiasm. In 1922 appears Pessoa’s first contribution to Contemporanea, a new literary magazine: ‘The Anarchist Banker’.