Saturday, December 17, 2005

The rising of the wind

The landscapes of the enigmatic Portuguese poet Alberto Caeiro (1889-1915) are non-specific. He talks of the sun, wind and rain, of flowers and stars, the flight of birds, a pebble in a brook. Several critics have noted the Zen quality of Caeiro’s poetry, the desire to live at ease in the world without imposing ideas on nature. Many of his poems caution against the pathetic fallacy: he enjoys a stone simply for being a stone and thanks God that flowers are merely flowers. In poem 31 of his collection The Keeper of Flocks, he acknowledges that he might say that a flower “smiles” but explains that such expressions are directed at those who cannot understand nature’s real language, which is no language. Octavio Paz described him as “a man reconciled to nature”, someone free of the “ghosts and cobwebs of culture.” Caeiro wrote that his poems were natural “like the rising of the wind.”

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