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Selected Poems

The only freedom the gods grant us

Is this: to submit

Of our own free will to their sovereignty.

We should do just that,

Since only in the illusion of freedom

Does freedom exist.

It is what the gods, subject

To eternal fate, do

To maintain their calm and unwavering

Ancient conviction

That their life is divine and free.

Imitating the gods,

Who are no freer on Olympus than we are,

Let’s build our lives

Like those who build castles of sand

To delight their eyes,

And the gods will know how to thank us

For being so like them.

Ricardo Reis


Fernando Pessoa, A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe. Selected Poems, Edited and Translated by Richard Zenith, London: Penguin Books, p. 93

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