The writing of Fernando Pessoa reveals a mind shaken by intense inner suffering. In these poems he adopted four separate personae: Alberto Caeiro, Alvaro de Campos, Ricardo Reis and himself, using them to express 'great swarms of thought and feeling'. While each personae has its own poetic identity, together they convey a sense of ambivalence and consolidate a striving for completeness. Dramatic, lyrical, Christian, pagan, old and modern, Pessoa's poets and poetry contribute to the 'mysterious importance of existence'.
Fernando Pessoa was born in Lisbon in 1888 and was brought up in Durban, South Africa. In 1905 he returned to Lisbon where he matriculated at the University, and continued to read and write in English. He published in 1918 35 Sonnets and in 1922 the three parts of his English Poems, all composed many years before. The rest of his life passed uneventfully in Lisbon. The only book published in his lifetime was Mensagem, a collection of poems on patriotic themes which won a consolation prize in a national competition. Pessoa also wrote under three pseudonyms, Alberto Caeiro, Alvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis, whose biographies he invented.