Bullwinkle’s Corner: When Spring Comes

Welcome to a new occasional feature of my blog, named after a segment of my favorite moose-related classic TV series:

The poetic performance I embedded above is funny enough on its own, and might be the topic of a future post. But the point today is just this: I like moose, and I like poetry.

Bullwinkle the moose and Rocket J. Squirrel read a book titled "Weather and What to Do about It"

Sometimes I find a poem that deeply speaks to me in some sense, and the purpose of this new Bullwinkle’s Corner series is to share them with you. You’ll find that quite a few of them are in foreign languages, because I love the sound of other languages. And today, with tools like Google Translate, it’s easier than ever to know what the words mean.

The first in the series is a particularly powerful one, from Portuguese poet Alberto Caiero – who didn’t actually exist, because he was one of several pen names used by famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935). (Thus Caiero might be eligible for one of my Except They Weren’t posts, an author simply using a pen name is not that exciting.)

Here is the poem: the original words in Portuguese are on the left, my English translation is on the right.

Quando vier a Primavera

Alberto Caiero
(Heterónimo de Fernando Pessoa)

Quando vier a Primavera,
Se eu já estiver morto,
As flores florirão da mesma maneira
E as árvores não serão menos verdes que na Primavera passada.
A realidade não precisa de mim.

Sinto uma alegria enorme
Ao pensar que a minha morte não tem importância nenhuma

Se soubesse que amanhã morria
E a Primavera era depois de amanhã,
Morreria contente, porque ela era depois de amanhã.
Se esse é o seu tempo, quando havia ela de vir senão no seu tempo?
Gosto que tudo seja real e que tudo esteja certo;
E gosto porque assim seria, mesmo que eu não gostasse.
Por isso, se morrer agora, morro contente,
Porque tudo é real e tudo está certo.

Podem rezar latim sobre o meu caixão, se quiserem.
Se quiserem, podem dançar e cantar à roda dele.
Não tenho preferências para quando já não puder ter preferências.
O que for, quando for, é que será o que é.

When spring

Alberto Caiero
(Pen name of Fernando Pessoa)

When spring comes,
If by then I have died,
The flowers will bloom the same way
and the trees will be no less green
than they were last spring.
Reality does not need me.

I feel a tremendous joy
at the thought that my death has no significance at all.

If I knew I would die tomorrow
And the next day it would be spring,
I would die content, since it would be spring the next day.
If it was time for spring, when else would spring come?
I enjoy the fact that all is real
and all is right;
and I enjoy the fact that it would be so
even if I did not enjoy it.
For this reason, if I died now,
I would die happy,
because all is real and all is right.

Let them say Latin prayers over my
coffin, if they wish.
If they wish, let them dance and sing
around it.
I have no preferences, when I have
no more preferences to have.
Whatever will be, whenever it will be,
it will be what it is.

I love this poem. I find it strangely comforting, because it reminds me that the world will go on without me when I’m gone, and that the world will be OK. All I can do is to do the best I can while I’m here.

One thought on “Bullwinkle’s Corner: When Spring Comes

Leave a Reply