The program ends. Yesterday, I forgot my notebook and pen for the first time. I teared-up reading a Pessoa poem aloud to the last workshop(see below). The heat and humidity broke into a sweet rain, opening a completely different scent, feel and view of Lisbon. Like cracking an egg, or maybe like throwing wide a window. The sky was lead and the city stood out against it as if seen for the first time. Even the tourists looked like momentary divinity. I try now to think of a way to not write a last Lisbon entry, and in spite of driving to Sevilla this afternoon, I think I have figured out how. . . so no final adeus Lisboa for now.
In the afternoon while it rained, Kim Addonizio brought it home with poetry and the blues harp mourning like a train, followed by a reading by bestselling young novelist and former heavy metal guitar player(he still enjoys the band Moonspell) José Luís Peixoto. José, it turns out, is also a poet, his first love. Here’s one he read.
when it was time to set the table, we were five:
my father, my mother, my sisters
and me. then my older sister
got married. then, my younger sister
got married. then, my father died. today,
when it’s time to set the table, we are five,
except for my older sister who is
in her own home, except for my younger
sister, who is in her own home, except for my
father, except for my widowed mother. each one
of them is an empty space at the table where
I eat alone. but they’ll always be here.
when it’s time to set the table, we’ll always be five.
as long as one of us is alive, we’ll
always be five.
-José Luís Peixoto
Fernando Pessoa is everywhere in Lisbon, his birthplace, and his boyhood home still sits only steps away from where I've been staying. As in the photo above, his presence seems to linger in the cobblestone streets and shade Portugal’s identity and its writers. What can I say here about him that will do justice to this enigmatic poet, creator of the heteronym, master of the mask and alterego? Last night I heard a lecture by our foremost Pessoa scholar and translator, the poet Richard Zenith, who is currently at work on Pessoa’s biography, but instead of a borrowed insight or anecdote I’ll offer a poem of Pessoa's that goes a long way toward creating a sense of this country and my unexpected feeling toward it.
Others are bound to have
What we are bound to lose.
Others are apt to find
What in our discoveries
Was found, or not found,
In accord with Destiny.
But what they cannot have
Is the Magic of the Faraway
Which makes it history.
For this reason their glory
Is tempered brilliance, given
By a borrowed light.
-Fernando Pessoa – Himself
from A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe
Edited and Translated by Richard Zenith
And I am getting ready to Columbus of by car into Spain, then on to some wine adventures with my husband, Frank, that I will continue to post about. I have another fadista here, Vitorino, singling Fado Pessoa. Wishing you the Magic of the Faraway~ sally.