to the poem: Ulysses,
the mythic hero of the Odyssey, is said to have sailed into the
Atlantic and landed where Lisbon is today. And from his name derived
the name of the town he then founded (Lisbon was once called Ulixbona).
So, although Ulysses never existed except as a myth, Fernando Pessoa
reasons that he is one of the pillars of the Portuguese nation (one
of the castles in its coat of arms) and in this poem he muses on
the importance of myths.
In the opening
part of the poem he refers the myths of solar gods who die at sunset
only to reincarnate at dawn in the Sun itself. The poem closes with
the thought that, compared to the everlasting quality of myths,
life in its fragility is indeed of little value... This thought
calls to memory that Pessoa once said of himself "I want to
be a maker of myths".
is the nought that means all.
The very sun that opens up the sky
Is a bright and silent myth-
The dead embodiment of God
Alive and naked.
This one who called here at port,
Found existence in not being.
Without being he sufficed us.
Because he did not come, he came about
And created us.
And so does legend flow
Across the threshold of reality
And enriching it, runs forth.
Down below, life, half
Of nothing, dies away.