The Four Songs That Follow Now

from Fernando Pessoa’s The Keeper of Sheep

IX. I’m a keeper of sheep

I’m a keeper of sheep.
The sheep are my thoughts
And my thoughts are all sensations.
I think with my hands and feet
And with my nose and mouth.

To think a flower is to see it and smell it
And to eat a fruit is to taste its meaning.

That’s why on a hot day
When I ache from enjoying it so much,
And stretch out on the grass,
Closing my warm eyes,
I feel my whole body lying full length in reality,
I know the truth and I’m happy.

XIII. Lightly, lightly, ever so lightly

Lightly, lightly, ever so lightly,
A wind passes ever so lightly,
And dies away, ever so lightly.
And I know not what I think
Nor do I try to know.

XXXV. The moonlight behind the tall branches

The moonlight behind the tall branches
The poets all say is more
Than the moonlight behind the tall branches

But for me, who do not know what I think, —
What the moonlight behind the tall branches
Is, beyond its being
The moonlight behind the tall branches
Is its not being more
Than the moonlight behind the tall branches.

XLIX. I go indoors, and shut the window

I go indoors, and shut the window.
They bring the lamp and say good night.
And my voice, content, says good night.
Oh, that my life were like this always:
The day full of sun, or gentle with rain,
Or in fury raging as if the World would end,
A soft afternoon with clusters of people going by,
Looked at with interest from the window,
The last friendly gaze turned to the repose of the trees,
And then, the window closed, the lamp lit,
Without reading a word, without thinking a thought or sleeping,
Feeling life flow through me like a river in its bed,
And there, outside, a vast silence like a god asleep.

—translated by Edwin Honig & Susan M. Brown

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