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Oblique Rain

by Fernando Pessoa

translated from the Portuguese by Isabel Pinto Franco


The Great Sphinx of Egypt dreams into this paper . . .
I write—and she appears through my transparent hand
And at the corner of the paper the pyramids arise . . .

I write—am troubled to see the tip of my quill
Become King Cheops’ profile . . .
All of a sudden I stop . . .
Everything darkens . . . I fall into an abyss made of time . . .
I’m buried under the pyramids writing verses under the clear light of
    this lamp
And all Egypt crushes me from above through the lines I draw with
    the quill . . .

I hear the Sphinx laugh inside
The sound of my quill running on paper . . .
A huge hand goes through me not being able to see it,
Sweeps everything to the corner of the ceiling that stands behind me,
And on the paper where I write, between it and the quill that writes
Lies King Cheops’ cadaver, staring at me with wide open eyes,
And in between our looks crossing each other the river Nile runs
And a happiness of sailing boats wanders
In a diffuse diagonal
Between me and what I think . . .

Funerals of King Cheops in old gold and Me! . . .


Fernando Pessoa is at last emerging into the American imagination as one of the richest poets of the century. Recent publication include Richard Zenith’s fine Selected Poems (Grove Press, 1998). (1998)

Isabel Pinto Franco is a translator, interpreter, and a native of Portugal. Isabel has been living in the U.S. for four years inthe Boston area, where she presently works as a medical interpreter. She helped organize the Word of Mouth reading series.

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