vezes discute-se a importância das virgulas. Note-se, a título
de exemplo, que os primeiros versos nos dão Afonso de Albuquerque
de pé e que os seus olhos cansados de ver a injustiça
descem sobre os países conquistados. Note-se que o significado
seria formalmente diferente se a virgula fosse mudada: "De
pé sobre os paises conquistados, desce os olhos cansados..."!
to the poem: In
1509 Albuquerque took charge of the Portuguese interests in India.
By then it was evident that peaceful trade was not possible without
a military hegemony over the trade routes and the new governor established
it with characteristic zeal by taking Goa, Malacca and Ormuz (the
three "empires" mentioned in the poem) and organizing
an administrative system that would be the mainstay of the Portuguese
Empire in Asia. But his success in the East was his downfall in
Lisbon: ill-advised by envious cortisans, king Manuel I thought
that his governor had grown too ambitious and was following his
own policies rather than his written orders. He fell in disfavour
(whence the verse about how his success weighed on him more than
his rule on the conquered countries) and was replaced but died before
returning to Portugal.
This was, to
me, the hardest translation in Mensagem because what were
relatively simple ideas in Portuguese proved unmanageable without
changing the text. The last verse, in particular, could not be properly
rendered and the English version is by no means level with the Portuguese
meaning. In this poem Pessoa shows his superlative craftsmanship
of the language.
upright, towards the conquered countries
lowers his weary eyes
seeing the world, the injustice and fate.
thinks not of life or death
powerful that he wants not all
he may, because wanting so much
weighed him down more than
heavy step had the submissive world.
From the ground, three empires Fate picks for him.
raised them as if he made little of it.