The 5 Best Fernando Pessoa Quotes

The 5 Best Fernando Pessoa Quotes

Last update: 09 July, 2018

Fernando Pessoa was a Portuguese writer and poet. He was born in 1888 and died in 1935. Although he also worked in newspapers, advertising, and business, his greatest success was as a writer. Pessoa left the world some great literary treasures, and today we’ll remember some of his best quotes.

If there’s one thing that characterizes Pessoa’s writing, it’s the power of suggestion. He leaves his readers plenty of room for interpretation. Pessoa invites his readers to reflect with his reliance on subjective themes and use (or maybe abuse) of heteronomy. It might be his peculiar style that attracts the attention of so many researchers.

Today, we’ll get to know a little bit more about Fernando Pessoa through this quotes. They help us get closer to the vision he had of the world, relationships, and other aspects of life. Without further ado, here they are!

1. “I’m so isolated I can feel the distance between me and my suit.”

This quote allows us to reflect on our own existence. Sometimes we’re so focused on the outside things that we forget what’s most important: ourselves. The distance between us and our presence means that sometimes we don’t know who we are.

Do we always show our true selves in front of other people? What are we giving up in order to please others? What do we hide so that we can improve our image? Do we censor ourselves for fear of disapproval from others? All of these actions lead us to be isolated from our deepest selves. This, in turn, means that we’re separated from our essence. That’s right. We set aside our essence as if it were less important than what others see in us.

There’s nothing worse than feeling isolated from other people. Though, now that I think about it, there is something worse. Feeling isolated from yourself.

a girl tied to a bird

2.  “Put all you are into the smallest thing you do.”

With this quote, Fernando Pessoa invites us to give the best of ourselves. Sometimes we don’t give things our all because we think that what we’re doing isn’t important. However, our disposition, not the object in and of itself, tends to define the importance of something. So, if we can learn to stop living our lives on autopilot, we will realize that even small actions can improve our well-being.

If we keep this attitude in mind and make it a part of our daily lives, we can reap the benefits. It’s a very positive and enriching habit to cultivate. Remember that usually, the hardest things are what give us the most satisfaction. After all, thanks to our efforts, we can grow and face challenges that remind us what we are capable of.

So don’t ever diminish the things you do, as insignificant as they may seem. Even actions that seem so trivial at first can teach you lessons and open doors. The small steps are the most important ones. Whether your path is long or short, the journey is made up of all those little steps.

3. “Travel is the traveler. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.”

This third quote from Fernando Pessoa opens the door to a new perspective on the world around us. Because, every time we see, judge, or criticize something outside of ourselves, we’re seeing part of ourselves in that something. 

We can’t judge someone who is being critical without becoming like them. It’s like that oft-quoted and wise proverb:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

It’s true that we usually notice other’s flaws before acknowledging our own. However, what we see is who we are. Why do people react differently when faced with the same obstacle? Why do some people feel like victims and others don’t? Because it’s all about who we choose to be, and what we choose to project to the world.

Fernando Pessoa

4. “Don’t do today what you can also not do tomorrow.”

Procrastination isn’t good at all. We tend to leave things for tomorrow as if we had all the time in the world to waste. Thus the saying “don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today.” However, there’s another saying that teaches something similar, but from another perspective. This is the fourth quote from Fernando Pessoa.

Pessoa invites us to question what we are doing. Is it worth it? Does it take you closer to our dreams, or further away? Is it a waste of time? We shouldn’t do things just for the sake of doing them. We have to think about our goals and dreams and make meaningful use of our time. After all, it’s running out, second by second.

We spend a lot of time feeling bad. We’re unhappy, stuck in our comfort zone… In spite of those bad feelings, we don’t change our routines. We have to analyze them and question them. If we are doing something that we don’t want to do, and we have the option to stop doing it tomorrow, then go for it! Time is valuable. Make the most of it.


5. “Things have no meaning: they have existence. Things are the only hidden meaning of things.”

This last Fernando Pessoa quote invites us to reflect on the human tendency to label things. We do this because it makes us feel more secure. If something doesn’t have a label, it’s like it doesn’t exist. Existence in and of itself seems to not make any sense.

If we analyze the way we communicate, this Pessoa quote makes all this really clear. In our vocabulary, the word “thing” is comfortable. We use it for everything. But, what does it really mean? This lack of meaning is actually the heart of its existence: its lack of personality.

“Zero is the greatest metaphor. The infinite the greatest analogy. The existence the greatest symbol.”

-Fernando Pessoa-

All these Fernando Pessoa quotes give us a different viewpoint, a different lens with which to view the world. They help us see what is around us with new eyes. The brilliance of Pessoa’s thinking and his way with words shines through in his writing. His legacy as an author is the depth of his writing and the way it lends itself to interpretation and analysis.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.