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.
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
(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.
(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
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.