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Part II

Vol. 55 no. 3: Winter 2021–22

Portuguese Readings of William Blake: Fernando Pessoa, a National Poet, and Três Tristes Tigres, a Pop-Rock Band

  • Alcinda Pinheiro de Sousa
  • Cláudia Franco Souza
  • João Carlos Callixto
18 January 2022
18 Jan. 2022


In a post published 1 April 2020 on his personal blog, John McGowan declared that “[a] student learns how to ‘do’ close reading by immersion in various examples of the practice, not by learning a set of rules or ‘a’ method.” In the present case, we are indeed bringing to the fore two radically different, although both inspired and inspiring, examples of readings of William Blake’s poetry and poetic principles, one by Fernando Pessoa and the other by Três Tristes Tigres (Three Sad Tigers). Pessoa (1888–​1935) is the modernist writer now acclaimed, in both elite and popular cultural circles, as Portugal’s twentieth-century national poet; aware of Blake since at least 1903–​04, he openly acknowledged his influence c. 1915: “In my intellectual ancestry I find Blake and Walt Whitman.” Três Tristes Tigres is a Portuguese pop-rock band from the 1990s, currently comprising the singer Ana Deus, the guitar player Alexandre Soares, and the poet Regina Guimarães; almost twenty years after their first albums (1993–​98), the group released Mínima Luz (Minimum Light, 2020), which includes the track “Tigre,” the first musical adaptation of a poem by Blake to be sung in a Portuguese translation.