Reading Aloud (#25): Fernando Pessoa’s “On a terribly clear day…” (as Alberto Caeiro)

XLVII. “On a terribly clear day…”

On a terribly clear day,
A day that made you wish you’d worked very hard
So you’d not work at all that day,
I caught a glimpse, like a road through the trees,
Of what might after all be the Big Secret,
That Great Mystery crooked poets talk about.

I saw that there is no Nature,
That Nature does not exist,
That there are mountains, valleys, plains,
That there are trees, flowers, grasses,
That there are rivers and stones,
But that there’s no one great All these things belong to,
That any really authentic unity
Is a sickness of all our ideas.

Nature is simply parts, nothing whole.
Maybe this is the mystery they talk about.

And this, without stopping, without thinking,
Is just what I hit on as being the truth
That everyone goes around looking for in vain,
And that only I, because I wasn’t looking for it, found.

– Fernando Pessoa, as Alberto Caeiro, from Keeper of the Sheep (1914)
translated by Honig and Brown, Poems of Fernando Pessoa (1998)

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