If there is one outstanding representative of Portuguese literature and poetry, it is Fernando Pessoa.
Born in Lisbon in 1888, Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa was an enigmatic and discreet character who, during his time, produced important works of journalism and literature in prose and verse.
- Are you interested in reading: “100 sentences from famous books and writers”
The best phrases and reflections of Fernando Pessoa
Through his works, which are still studied and analyzed today, Pessoa considered himself a journalist by profession but a writer by vocation.
In today’s article we are going to know 30 of his best reflections and phrases taken from his books and poems .
1. All love letters are ridiculous. They wouldn’t be love letters if they weren’t ridiculous.
Love stories often embrace the incomprehensible.
2. I must choose what I detest: either the dream, which my intelligence hates, or the action, which my sensibility repels; or the action for which I was not born, or the dream for which no one has been born. It turns out that since I detest both, I don’t choose either, but since I have to dream or act sometimes, I mix one with the other.
The constant struggle between reason and emotion, embodied in this famous quote by Fernando Pessoa.
3. If after I die they want to write my biography, there is nothing simpler. It has only two dates, that of my birth and that of my death. Between them, every day is mine.
A philosophy of life based on discretion.
4. Whoever lives like me does not die: it ends, it withers, it fades away. The place where he was is still there without him, the street where he walked is still there without him being seen, the house he inhabited is inhabited by not him.
One of Pessoa’s most remembered and studied phrases.
5. I was born at a time when most young people had stopped believing in God for the same reason that their elders had believed in Him.
A reflection on the beliefs and the generational change that took place in Portugal at the beginning of the 20th century.
6. Beauty is Greek. But the awareness that it is Greek is modern.
The Greeks themselves were unaware that they were creating a model of beauty that would transcend their historical era.
7. To have been in a shipwreck or in a battle is a beautiful and glorious thing; the worst thing is that you had to be there to be there.
A sentence to reflect on wars.
8. Being a poet is not an ambition of mine, it’s my way of being alone.
A way of being, according to the great Fernando Pessoa.
9. Not knowing about yourself; that’s living. To know badly about oneself; that is to think.
As in many of his writings, Pessoa recognizes that unconsciousness is an elemental part of happiness.
10. Art is the expression of oneself struggling to be absolute.
Transcending times and fashions, that’s what art is.
11. We’re avatars of past stupidity.
A curious and very personal way of understanding culture.
12. It is my duty to shut myself up in the house of my spirit, and to work as much as I can and in every way I can for the progress of civilization and the widening of the conscience of humanity.
A way of expressing their involvement in the world of letters.
13. The delight of hate cannot be compared to the delight of being hated.
Awakening envy is one of the great pleasures of life, according to this phrase of Pessoa.
14. Thought is still the best way to escape from thought.
A paradox: only by thinking can we run away from thoughts.
15. I’m not conscious, I’m conscious.
When we are aware we are vigilant of our actions.
16. God is God’s best joke.
One sentence to be freely interpreted.
17. Man is a selfishness mitigated by an indolence.
Self-centeredness, a uniquely human characteristic.
18. Everything that man exposes or expresses is a note in the margin of a totally extinguished text. More or less, by the sense of the note, we extract the sense that was to be that of the text; but one doubt always remains, and the possible senses are many.
On the different ways of understanding reality.
19. The only attitude worthy of a superior man is to persist tenaciously in an activity that is recognized as useless, the habit of a discipline that is known to be sterile, and the fixed use of norms of philosophical and metaphysical thought whose importance is felt to be null and void.
Persistence is the key to the great findings and achievements.
20. If we think, it is enough for us that the universe is incomprehensible; to want to understand it is to be less than men, because to be a man is to know that one does not understand.
A reflection on knowledge.
21. Love is a deadly sign of immortality
Through love we express this double condition.
22. Zero is the greatest metaphor. Infinity is the greatest analogy. Existence is the greatest symbol.
In this sentence, Pessoa mixes mathematical concepts with language concepts.
23. Those who have never been oppressed do not feel freedom.
We are only able to perceive this feeling when we have been deprived of it.
24. We never love anyone: we only love the idea we have of someone. What we love is our own concept, that is, ourselves.
Love, according to Pessoa, is after all a self-referential perception.
26. If, after I die, they want to write my biography, there is nothing simpler. It has only two dates – that of my birth and that of my death. In between, every day is mine.
Nothing is left but the experience he had himself.
27. First be free; then ask for freedom.
Only a person with a free thought is able to claim freedom for himself and his fellow men.
28. Decay is the total loss of unconsciousness; for unconsciousness is the foundation of life.
When we are fully aware we become puppets sculpted by the commercial society.
29. I write these lines, really badly written, not to say this, nor to say anything, but to occupy my attention in something.
One form of therapy, according to Pessoa, is to write down your thoughts.
30. With such a lack of people with whom to coexist, as there are today, what can a man of sensitivity do but invent his friends, or at least his companions in spirit?
A sad reflection on loneliness, in the eyes of the great Fernando Pessoa.