Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Fernando Pessoa

Today someone read me St. Francis of Assisi.

Today someone read me St. Francis of Assisi.
I listened and couldn’t believe my ears.
How could a man who was so fond of things
Never have looked at them or understood what they were?

Why call water my sister if water isn’t my sister?
To feel it better?
I feel it better by drinking it than by calling it something –
Sister, or mother, or daughter.
Water is beautiful because it’s water.
If I call it my sister,
I can see, even as I call it that, that it’s not my sister
And that it’s best to call it water, since that’s what it is,
Or, better yet, not to call it anything
But to drink it, to feel it on my wrists, and to look at it,
Without any names.

Today someone read me St. Francis of Assisi.

Leram-me hoje S. Francisco de Assis.
Leram-me e pasmei.
Como é que um homem que gostava tanto das cousas
Nunca olhava para elas, não sabia o que elas eram?

Para que hei-de chamar minha irmã à água, se ela não é minha
irmã?
Para a sentir melhor?
Sinto-a melhor bebendo-a do que chamando-lhe qualquer cousa –
Irmã, ou mãe, ou filha.
A água é a água e é bela por isso.
Se eu lhe chamar minha irmã,
Ao chamar-lhe minha irmã, vejo que o não é
E que se ela é a água o melhor é chamar-lhe água;
Ou, melhor ainda, não lhe chamar cousa nenhuma,
Mas bebê-la, senti-la nos pulsos, olhar para ela
E tudo isto sem nome nenhum.
Close

Today someone read me St. Francis of Assisi.

Today someone read me St. Francis of Assisi.
I listened and couldn’t believe my ears.
How could a man who was so fond of things
Never have looked at them or understood what they were?

Why call water my sister if water isn’t my sister?
To feel it better?
I feel it better by drinking it than by calling it something –
Sister, or mother, or daughter.
Water is beautiful because it’s water.
If I call it my sister,
I can see, even as I call it that, that it’s not my sister
And that it’s best to call it water, since that’s what it is,
Or, better yet, not to call it anything
But to drink it, to feel it on my wrists, and to look at it,
Without any names.

Today someone read me St. Francis of Assisi.

Today someone read me St. Francis of Assisi.
I listened and couldn’t believe my ears.
How could a man who was so fond of things
Never have looked at them or understood what they were?

Why call water my sister if water isn’t my sister?
To feel it better?
I feel it better by drinking it than by calling it something –
Sister, or mother, or daughter.
Water is beautiful because it’s water.
If I call it my sister,
I can see, even as I call it that, that it’s not my sister
And that it’s best to call it water, since that’s what it is,
Or, better yet, not to call it anything
But to drink it, to feel it on my wrists, and to look at it,
Without any names.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère