As a biographer, I can’t look at anything without wondering about the people behind it. While some might stare at something created hundreds of years ago and see the total picture (no pun intended), just like when I interview clients, I can’t help but delve into the details.
Who laid that tile? Who sanded that stone? Who wrote that poem? Who painted that portrait? What was their life like? Were they young and strong, or older while having to work hard to feed a family?
Portugal is a lovely country, but aside from the food and wine and art of tile underneath our feet, we discovered the music of fado and Saudade and Lisbon’s prolific poet, Fernando Pessoa. Saudade is a kind of melancholy yearning for something that is absent, a feeling that is well represented in Lisbon’s art and poetry, particularly that of Pessoa.
‘The best way to travel is to feel’ Pessoa wrote, ‘so feel everything in every possible way.’ And so it is that we have traveled a long way to admire this sculpture of Pessoa by Lagoa Henriques.
One fact about Fernando Pessoa is that he created more than 70 heteronyms, which is akin to a pen name but is “an author writing out of his own personality”, according to the Poetry Society of America. Just imagine trying to keep track of 70 different writers, personalities, histories, and writing styles!
Another interesting find in Lisbon was the oldest bookstore in the WORLD, the Livraria Bertrand. For a word nerd like me, walking through this place was sheer heaven: books + poetry + history!