From a Notebook that Never Was

by Fernando Pesoa
from the POETRY FOUNDATION

I always acted on the inside . . . I never touched life . . . Whenever I began to trace an action, I finished it in my dreams, heroically . . . A sword weighs more than the idea of a sword . . . I commanded large armies, won great battles, savored huge defeats—all inside me . . . I enjoyed strolling alone through green parks and down wide corridors, issuing commands to the trees and challenges to the hanging portraits . . . In the wide and dusky corridor that’s at the back of the palace I often strolled with my fiancée . . . I never had a real fiancée . . . I never knew how to love . . . I only knew how to dream of loving . . . If I liked to wear ladies’ rings on my fingers, it’s because I sometimes supposed that my hands belonged to a princess and that I, at least in the motions of my hands, was the woman I loved . . . One day I was found dressed up as a queen . . . I was dreaming I was my royal wife . . . I liked to see my face reflected, for I could dream it was someone else’s face—namely that of my beloved, since the reflection I saw denoted feminine features . . . How often my lips touched my lips in a mirror! . . . How often I clasped one of my hands with the other, or fondled my hair with my hand I’d become strange to, as if it were her hand touching me. It isn’t me who’s telling you this . . . Who’s speaking is what’s left of me.

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