PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Monthly Carcanet Books
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Helene Cixous We Defy Augury Carola Luther From ‘Letter to Rasool’ Sarah Rothenberg Ashberyana Jena Schmidt The Many-Faced Lola Ridge Helen Tookey Almost Drowning

This review is taken from PN Review 55, Volume 13 Number 5, May - June 1987.

PESSOA'S 'MASTER' Fernando Pessoa, The Keeper of Sheep, translated by Edwin Honig and Susan M. Brown (The Sheep Meadow Press, Riverdale-on-Hudson, N.Y.), $9.50 pb.

This first complete translation of The Keeper of Sheep is a most welcome addition to the available stock of English versions of Fernando Pessoa. It seems apt that it should be the poems which Pessoa gave to 'Alberto Caeiro' that have been honoured in this way, since it was to all intents and purposes by writing as Caeiro that Pessoa generated his other principal 'heteronyms' and even the work - ultimus inter pares, as it were - to which he was to grant his own name. Yet, as Honig and Brown remind us, the appearance of the figure Pessoa called 'my master', on what he thought of as 'the triumphant day of my life' - 8 March 1914 - was in fact more gradual than his excitement, then and thereafter, permitted him to acknowledge, as manuscript discoveries have since shown. The insouciance with which Caeiro offers his 'non-philosophy', the pellucid clarity of his language, indeed his very fluency - qualities much clearer now that we have access to the complete Keeper of Sheep - ought perhaps to have put us on our guard earlier, and encouraged us to treat Pessoa's account with something of the scepticism found in almost every one of the forty-nine (which could never, one feels, properly have been fifty) poems in the sequence.
 
As early as 1910, aged twenty-two, Pessoa had jotted down a note (in the English he had learnt at school in Durban) which prefigures Caeiro's ecstatic surrender of himself ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image