The great and small but on the same time huge and tiny Fernando Pessoa decided – maybe on one of those lonely nights he used to pass either at quiet restaurant lofts or at his apartment at the Baixa district in Lisbon – to write the poem literally translated as “The Portuguese sea”.
With complete knowledge of the history of the place it happened to be born and finally passed most of his life but also fully aware of his purpose, dedicated this poem to all who were ”sacrificed” to make their soul take a leap but also for those who figuratively choose to cross the Atlantic in their lives.
In short, in this poem, we find the story of Portugal but also everyone’s struggle in general as well as the internal struggle with their soul.
And this way he starts to liken the saltiness of the ocean with tears that were poured into it.
Both from mothers who wept for their children lost in it or from anxiety for the homecoming or not of their children.
Also from those who out of a dream were praying when the time will come to take the same path as the big men of their time. Children who lived with the dream of travelling, discovering new lands or maybe life itself which is most likely what all this is all about?
Also from young women who remained unmarried, apparently from the oath given to their loved ones that will await them, but they never returned.
Whether because they fell in love with the sea, either because the sea fell in love with them and kept them eternally embracing them on its bottom. Or maybe because in the exotic places they discovered that love is just a fallacy. A female usually fallacy like the sea. Anyone who is aware of the sea power and the woman power is able to recognize the danger. But the sea is seductress and it is a tough job to stay untouched. It requires great boldness and courage to go against the impulses of the sea and a woman.
And all this…to make the sea ours, to say that we conquered it!
The poet (although he was not only a poet – on the contrary I think that Pessoa if he could be able to talk with me today I’m sure he would agree to my view that we do not need adjectives – one who has the knowledge of the world, is well aware that a personality can not be described or defined by adjectives – these are only words to facilitate understanding in a dialogue between people) wonders if it was worth this fight to win, having so many tears to be spilled.
But immediately clarifies his position by saying that when the soul is not small, anything worth the pain.
In short, he criticizes the faint hearted people and anything being done that doesn’t follow a big idea or dream which comes from the soul. But anything being done to make our soul leap is worthwhile. His answer tells us that as it seems, the struggle for the conquest of the seas was made by certain magnanimity. To enable people to go one step ahead, to evolve. To see the larger picture of this world and the many hidden truths within it.
Going forward, he says that anyone who wants to go beyond the Cape has to go through the path of pain and anguish, in other terms go through intense mental or physical suffering.
There is no other way. Conformity never led anyone beyond the already acquired. Conformity in the best case scenario will just preserve and usually destroys. If you want to bring your soul – and what it carries with it – a step ahead you ought to risk, you ought to go out in search of your Ithaca as Constantinos Cavafy once said. You might spill tears, there will be moments of despair and severe pain. But this is life and that’s its essence. To get out alive from this adventure. If you do it, you will get great rewards. If not don’t worry, the ones you met on the road will remember you and will recognize you for your zeal. They might even resurrect you somehow one day.
And closing the poem, all the above is cited in the last verses.
The Creator (God for Pessoa), he says, assigned the sea with danger and abyss, but it exactly in this is that the sky is reflected!