to the poem: King
Sebastian dreamt of crushing the Muslim of North Africa and, having
thus gained an access to the borders of the Turkish Empire, unite
the Christian kingdoms in a crusade aimed at eradicating the Islamic
faith. He is said to have hoped to establish a Portuguese supremacy
among the Christian nations that would make of Portugal the source
of the Fifth Empire.
In 1578 he
made the first move of his grand scheme of conquest by passing into
Africa to battle the Moroccans but his army was defeated in El-Ksar-el-Kebir,
where he probably died. This poem is dedicated to him as a martyr
(one of the "quinas" in the coat of arms), and to his
dream of the Fifth Empire which in Pessoa's fruitful mind persists
in the idealized form of an Empire of the Spirit that will one day
be brought forth by a Portuguese which is indistinctly referred
to elsewhere in Mensagem as The Hidden One, The
Yearned-for, or King Sebastian.
King of Portugal
yes, mad, because I wanted greatness
Such as Fate does not grant.
I could not live up to my certainties;
Thus, where the sandy expanse is,
I left who I was, not who I am.
My madness, let others take it up
Along with all that went with it.
Without madness what is man
But a healthy beast,
Postponed corpse that begets?