Monday, June 13, 2011

Schools : Let's celebrate Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa| Norberto Nunes

Today, June 13 Google celebrates with a Doodle  the 123rd Anniversary of Fernando Pessoa, the Portuguese great writer of XXth Century and one of Portugal’s most beloved poets.

The doodle references the iconic portrait by José Sobral de Almada Negreiros.

Google doodle 123rd Anniversary Fernando Pessoa
doodler: Sophia Foster-Dimino

Fernando Pessoa was born in Lisbon on June 13th 1888. Following the death of his father in 1893, his mother remarried Commander João Miguel Rosa in 1895, who was the Consul of Portugal in Durban, Natal, where Fernando Pessoa was raised. 

At thirteen Pessoa returned to Portugal for a year-long visit, and returned there permanently in 1905. He studied briefly at the University of Lisbon, and began to publish criticism, prose, and poetry soon thereafter while working as a commercial translator. 

He was awarded the Queen Victoria prize for English at the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1903, for his achievement in an exam at the age of 15.

Profession: The most correct designation would be “translator”, the most exact would be “foreign commercial correspondent” His poetry and writing were not his profession but his vocation."

Writing obsessively in French, English, and Portuguese, Fernando Pessoa left a prodigious body of work, much of it under "heteronyms" fully fleshed alter egos with startlingly different styles and points of view.

During his life, most of Pessoa’s considerable creative output appeared only in journals, and he published just three collections of poetry in English—Antinous (1918), Sonnets (1918), and English Poems (1921) - and one collection in Portuguese, Mensagem(1933).

“He was a thin man, tenuous and frail, of medium stature, 1,73 m tall, slightly curved back. His chest was not well built; in fact it was quite sunken, despite the Swedish gymnastics he was practicing. He had long legs, not very muscular and his hands were slender and inexpressive. His awkward stride and fast pace, although irregular, denounced him at a distance.

He usually wore dark suits, grey, blue or black, at times short. He also wore a hat, normally wrinkled, and slightly tilted to the right. 

“His face was long and dry. Behind his small round glasses, of misty thick lenses, small brown eyes were hidden. His stare, when fixed on someone, was observant and sometimes even mysterious. He had a small mouth and thin lips, which were almost always shut. He had an “American” moustache which conferred him a special charm." (...)


We feel honored to know that there are some schools all over the world that teach Portuguese Literature (Universities) and Portuguese as second language (Elementary and High Junior Schools).

Some months ago, I suggested in my post Languages matter different activities for teaching the poetry of Fernando Pessoa

Casa Fernando Pessoa, Lisbon

"With today's technology every corner of the world is linked together. The  new generations are globalized."

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Message for "International Mother Day 2011"

Teaching the poetry by Fernando Pessoa is easier now. Just link on the website Casa Fernando Pessoa and your students will find different resources online, in Portuguese and English about Pessoa

At the moment Casa Fernando Pessoa has an important bibliographic resource   online containing some of the works which belonged to the personal collection of the poet, read and notes by Pessoa himself.

Due the importance and rarity of these works, they are normally inaccessible to the general public. 

But now, acccording to criteria of conservation and preservation, these literary writings can be consulted on digital format

The Library of Casa Fernando Pessoa, an open space for reading and studying, has three basic sections:

  • Fernando Pessoa’s personal library (with around 1 200 books), acquired from the poet’s family (here);

  • The active and passive Pessoan library, containing virtually everything written by and about Pessoa; 

  • Portuguese and foreign poetry collection

Special arrangements can be made for those researching into Fernando Pessoa’s work.

The Library is a member of Lyriklineand Europeana.

Fernando Pessoa Illustration, with crow (Lisbon symbol)
The Learning Programme of Casa Fernando Pessoa has as main objective to promote the knowledge of author’s life and work. Daily, it works with schools and other educational institutions, developing programs, workshops and visits for different age groups and focusing on multiple perspectives of Pessoa’s life and work. 

The first Saturday of every month is dedicated to children and their families.

Fernando Pessoa has an unknown side of his poetry! He wrote poems for children. We can't miss to let students learn about children's poetry by Pessoa and teach those in our school curriculum. They are beautiful!

"Less than a quart of all languages in the world are used in education and in cyber space."

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Message for "International Mother Day 2011"

Here two different poems of Fernando Pessoa that children should read in Portuguese language:

As Fadas

Do seu longínquo reino cor-de-rosa, 
Voando pela noite silenciosa,
 A fada das crianças vem luzindo. 
Papoulas a coroam, e, cobrindo 
Seu corpo todo, a tornam misteriosa.
À criança que dorme chega leve, 
E, pondo-lhe na fronte a mão de neve, 
Os seus cabelos de ouro acaricia – 
E sonhos lindos, como ninguém teve, 
A sentir a criança principia. 

Em coisas vivas, e um cortejo formam: 
Cavalos e soldados e bonecas, 
Ursos e pretos, que vêm, vão e tornam, 
E palhaços que tocam em rabecas...
E há figuras pequenas e engraçadas... 
Que brincam e dão saltos e passadas... 
Mas vem o dia, e, leve e graciosa, 
Pé ante pé, volta a melhor das fadas 
Ao seu longínquo reino cor-de-rosa.

Fernando Pessoa, Poesias Inéditas

Cristina Sampaio cartoon


Ai que prazer
Não cumprir um dever,
Ter um livro para ler
E não o fazer!
Ler é maçada,
Estudar é nada.
O sol doira
Sem literatura.

O rio corre, bem ou mal,
Sem edição original.
E a brisa, essa,
De tão naturalmente matinal,
Como tem tempo não tem pressa...

Livros são papéis pintados com tinta.
Estudar é uma coisa em que está indistinta
A distinção entre nada e coisa nenhuma.

Quanto é melhor, quando há bruma,
Esperar por D. Sebastião,
Quer venha ou não!

Grande é a poesia, a bondade e as danças...
Mas o melhor do mundo são as crianças,
Flores, música, o luar, e o sol, que peca
Só quando, em vez de criar, seca.

O mais do que isto
É Jesus Cristo,
Que não sabia nada de finanças
Nem consta que tivesse biblioteca... 

Fernando Pessoa, Liberdade

You have a great number of activities for school on my website Kidzlearn Lugares&Aprendizagens (Portuguese language).

"Multilingualism opens fabulous opportunities for the dialogue that is necessary to understanding and cooperation."

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Message for "International Mother Day 2011"

Education activities:

  • Portuguese as second language in primary and elementary schools;
  • Portuguese as foreign language in High Junior School;
  • Portuguese Literature studies in foreign Universities.

In fact Pessoa’s work was a kind of open-sesame, insofar as it alerted the rest of the world to the rich literature being produced in a small country situated on southwestern Europe’s fringe - Portugal.


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Licença Creative Commons
Google doodle celebrates Fernando Pessoa by G-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

UNESCO Director-General's message

Kidzlearn Lugares&Aprendizagens 

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