to the poem: The
escutcheons in the Portuguese coat of arms bear five dots each.
These are called "quinas". Their origin and meaning are
doubtful but in time they came to be accepted as representing the
five wounds inflicted to the Christ. The field of the escutcheons
can, thus, symbolically represent the spiritual nature of the Portuguese
nation and although Pessoa did not himself believe in the deity
of the Christ, he acknowledged elsewhere in his writings the devotion
of the people to Jesus and the fact that the history of Portugal
and Christianity are inseparably entangled.
In this poem
Pessoa comes back to a favorite theme: those who are happy in a
material way have no impact on the world; History is made by those
who, like himself, recognize the primacy of the spirit and are willing
to sacrifice everything to a vision. That was, in particular, God's
message through his definition of Christ.
of the Escutcheons
Gods sell when they give.
Glory is bought with misfortune.
Alas for the fortunate, for they are
Let it be sufficient for whom there is sufficiency
The sufficient to suffice him!
Life is short, the soul is vast:
Possession is delay.
'T was with misfortune and lowliness
God the Christ defined:
He set him against Nature
as Son consecrated him.