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Episodes: The Mummy

A poem by Fernando Pessoa
translated from the Portuguese by Gaylord E. Smith


I walked leagues of shadow
Inside in my thought.
My idleness blossomed
Backwards with not-connection,
And the lamps put me out
In the tottering alcove.

Soon everything becomes
A soft desert
Seen by my touch
On the alcove's velvets,
Not by my sight
Is there an oasis in Uncertainty
And, like a hint of light
Through there-are-no-cracks,
There comes a caravan.

Suddenly I forget
What space is like, and time
Instead of horizontal
Is vertical.

The alcove
Descends through I know not where
Until it does not find me.
A thin vapor rises
From my sensations.
I stop including myself
Within me. There is no
Here-within or there-outside.

And the desert is now
Turned upside-down.

The idea that I move
Cannot recall my name.

In my soul my body weighs me down,
I feel I am a drapery
Hanging in a Hall
Where someone lies dead.
Anything fell And tinkled in the infinite.

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In the shadow Cleopatra lies dead.
It is raining.

They decked out the ship with the wrong pennants.
It is raining still.

Why do you look at the faraway city?
Your soul is the faraway city.
It is raining cold.

And as for the mother who rocks a dead child at her breast —
We all rock a dead child at our breasts.
It rains, it rains.

The sad smile that lingers on your tired lips,
I see it in the gesture with which your fingers don't leave your rings.
Why is it raining?

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Whose is the glance
That peeks through my eyes?
When I think I see,
Who keeps seeing
While I am thinking?
Along what roads follow,
Not my sad steps,
But the reality
Of my having steps with myself?

Sometimes, in the dimness
Of my room, when I
Scarcely exist for my
Very own self in soul,
The Universe changes
Directions in me —
It is a cameo stain
Of my being conscious above
My idea of things.

If they light the candles
And there is scarcely
The vague light from outside —
I don't know what lamp
Burning where on the street —
I shall have dull cravings
Of forever having nothing more
In the Universe and in Life
Than the dark moment
That is my life now.

A tributary moment
In a river always going
To forget to be,
Mysterious space
Between deserted spaces
Void of meaning
And without being anything to anything.

And thus does the hour pass

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My worries fall
Down a staircase.
My cravings are balanced
In the midst of a vertical garden.

In the Mummy the position is absolutely precise.

Music faraway,
Music excessively faraway,
For Life to pass
And to forget to harvest the gestures.

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Why do things spread their wings so that I can pass?
I am afraid to pass among them, such motionless consciousnesses.
I am afraid to leave them behind me to take away my Mask.
But there are always things behind me.
I feel their lack of eyes stare at me, and I shudder.
Without stirring, the walls vibrate meaning to me.
The chairs speak to me without the voice to say me.
The designs on the tablecloth are alive, each one is an abyss.

Smiling with visible invisible lips
Shines the door, opening consciously
Without my hand being more than the route for it to open.
From what place are they looking at me?
What things unable to look are looking at me?
Who spies from everything?

The corners stare at me.
The smooth walls are truly smiling.

Sensation of being only my spine.

The swords.

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© 1969 Smitty (Gaylord E. Smith)