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Fernando Pessoa

1888-1935 ,  Portuguese poet & writer
Fernando PessoaHe was one of the greatest Portuguese poets and writers of the 20th century. Most of his work was published posthumously. He wrote frequently under heteronyms, alter egos with developed personalities, biographies, jobs, habits, attitudes, addresses, etc.

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I sometimes think that I enjoy suffering. But the truth is I would prefer something else.

There are no norms. All people are exceptions to a rule that doesn’t exist.

I wasn’t meant for reality, but life came and found me.

I bear the wounds of all the battles I avoided.

The inventor of the mirror poisoned the human heart.

My past is everything I failed to be.

Everything interests me, but nothing holds me.

But do we really live? To live without knowing what life is - is that living?

My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.

No intelligent idea can gain general acceptance unless some stupidity is mixed in with it.

Why is art beautiful? Because it's useless. Why is life ugly? Because it's all ends and purposes and intentions.

It's in an inland sea that the river of my life ended.

Every gesture is a revolutionary act.

What would happen to the world if we were human?

We adore perfection because we can't have it; it would disgust us if we had it. Perfect is inhuman, because human is imperfect.

If you cannot live alone, you were born a slave.

Deceiving himself well is the first quality of the statesman.

Enthusiasm is rude.

Art consists in making others feel what we feel.

Action men are the involuntary slaves of wise men.

What is art but the denial of life?

What's most worthless about dreams is that everybody has them.

To be understood is to prostitute yourself.

It's been a long time since I've been me.

To write is to forget. Literature is the pleasantest way of ignoring life.

My life is as if you've hit me with it.

There's no regret more painful than the regret of things that never were.

It is noble to be shy, illustrious not to know how to act, great not to have a gift for living.

Solitude desolates me; company oppresses me.

All beginnings are involuntary.

Myth is the nothing that is everything.

Could it think, the heart would stop beating.

It's love that is inescapable.
Sex is the merest accident.

Every man who deserves to be famous knows it is not worth the trouble.

Writing is like paying myself a formal visit

Quotes in Verse

I am nothing.
I'll never be anything.
I couldn't want to be something.
Apart from that, I have in me all the dreams in the world.

We are two abysses — a well staring at the sky.

Not pleasure, not glory, not power: freedom, only freedom.

God gave the sea the danger and the abyss,
but it was in it that He mirrored the sky.

God wills, man dreams, the work is born.

I have no ambitions nor desires
To be a poet is not my ambition,
It's simply my way of being alone.


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2017: Manolis Papathanassiou