Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why call water my sister if water isn't my sister? PESSOA v ST. FRANCIS

Don't get carried away, St. Francis. Pessoa has some words for you.

Today someone read me St. Francis of Assisi.
I listened and couldn’t believe my ears.
How could a man who was so fond of things
Never have looked at them or understood what they were?

Why call water my sister if water isn’t my sister?
To feel it better?
I feel it better by drinking it than by calling it something –
Sister, or mother, or daughter.
Water is beautiful because it’s water.
If I call it my sister,
I can see, even as I call it that, that it’s not my sister
And that it’s best to call it water, since that’s what it is,
Or, better yet, not to call it anything
But to drink it, to feel it on my wrists, and to look at it,
Without any names.

Translation: 2006, Richard Zenith
From: A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected PoemsPublisher: Penguin, New York, 2006, 0-14-303955-5

Photo from: Rivanna Writer Blogspot


  1. I should add that this poem is by Pessoa in his Alberto Caeiro persona.

  2. Sarah, at the behest of a mutual friend, and because I have a hard time knowing that there are people in the world, especially writers, that are angry with me (though I'll accept it and carry on), I want to try one last time to make contact and peace. I won't try to contact you again, but if you'd like to respond, I'm at dpcoffey at gmail dot com.

    All best.

  3. Hi Dan Coffey. When I unfriended you on Facebook you sent me messages loaded with swearing -- venemous. THAT's why I'm not interested in a friendship with you. Whoever this "mutual" friend is, well, if they are asking I will now post this on FB. The initial incident was probably trivial on both sides. But your reaction in several messages was not trivial -- it was vicious. Don't respond to this. And don't think you can unleash that on me or any woman or man. If I have ignored you over and over it means stay away. You have a great sense of martyrdom -- you even, what was it in one of your messages -- made me a tape or whatever of a poet and jazz musician. And yet I choose not to have you in my life! And please tell this "mutual friend" to speak up to me or go away--but not to spew invective like you did.