As far as I can see, this poem defies translation for a very simple reason: the word “fingidor” which, in Portuguese means something akin to “one who feigns or forges; a pretender; a forger.”

On the surface it seems clear enough, especially since all the apparent definitions and translations agree on the duplicity of the poet. However, if you look at the root word. “fingir” and its etymology in Latin “fingere,” a different idea begins to emerge.



    1. mold, form, shape
    1. create, invent
    1. produce
    1. imagine
    1. compose
  1. devise, contrive

Sure, the poet may be a pretender and a forger… but “to forge” also means “to create, to mold, to shape, imagine, compose…” In the context of Pessoa’s Autopsicografia, all these denotations and connotations of fingidor come to bear on how we understand the text and how we elect to interpret the poem’s meaning.

So in the translation below, I have made some choices taking this polysemy into account, hoping that you might also experience the mind-bending simplicity of Autopsicografia.

O poeta é um fingidor.
Finge tão completamente
Que chega a fingir que é dor
A dor que deveras sente.
The poet is a forger.
He forges so thoroughly that
he manages to forge that it is pain
that pain which he truly feels.
E os que lêem o que escreve,
Na dor lida sentem bem,
Não as suas que ele teve,
Mas só a que eles não têm.
And those who read what he writes,
in the pain that they read feel good,
not his that he experienced,
but only that which they do not experience.
E assim nas calhas de roda
Gira, a entreter a razão,
Esse comboio de corda
Que se chama coração.
And thus, along the wheel rails
spins, to entertain reason,
this looping train
that we call the heart.

I have dared to post this poem along with my woefully inadequate translation for the simple reason that that I realized it manages to not only verbalize, but also demonstrate a realization I had a few weeks ago about the nature of what poets do.

“Poetry, whatever its form – be it verbal, musical, visual (art or sculpture) – is the objective representation of our subjective experience of the world.” The poet puts into words, or visual representations, or musical compositions that which we experience within ourselves but are only able to express in rudimentary ways through laughter, tears, fleeting gestures.


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