Luís de Camões

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Love is a fire that burns unseen.
Time changes, and our desires change. What we believe—even what we are—is ever-changing. The world is change, which forever takes on new qualities.

Luís Vaz de Camões (or de Camoens) (c. 1524June 10 1580) is considered the national poet of Portugal and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama, but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads), the influence of which is so profound that Portuguese is sometimes called the "language of Camões".

Quotes[edit]

Epic poetry[edit]

Os Lusíadas (1572)[edit]

Os Lusíadas ("The Lusiads")
Main article: Os Lusíadas
Canto I[edit]
  • As armas e os Barões assinalados
    Que da Ocidental praia Lusitana
    Por mares nunca de antes navegados
    Passaram ainda além da Taprobana,
    Em perigos e guerras esforçados
    Mais do que prometia a força humana,
    E entre gente remota edificaram
    Novo Reino, que tanto sublimaram.
    • Arms and the Heroes, who from Lisbon's shore,
      Through Seas where sail was never spread before,
      Beyond where Ceylon lifts her spicy breast,
      And waves her woods above the watery waste,
      With prowess more than human forced their way
      To the fair kingdoms of the rising day:
      What wars they waged, what seas, what dangers passed,
      What glorious empire crowned their toils at last.
    • Stanza 1 (as translated by William Julius Mickle, 1776)


My song shall spread where ever there are men,
If wit and art will so much guide my pen.
Cease all, whose actions ancient bards expressed:
A brighter valour rises in the West.
  • Cantando espalharei por toda parte,
    Se a tanto me ajudar o engenho e arte.
    • My song shall spread where ever there are men,
      If wit and art will so much guide my pen.
    • Stanza 2, lines 7–8 (tr. Richard Fanshawe, 1655)


  • Cesse tudo o que a Musa antiga canta,
    Que outro valor mais alto se alevanta.
    • Cease all, whose actions ancient bards expressed:
      A brighter valour rises in the West.
    • Stanza 3, lines 7–8 (tr. Richard Fanshawe). Compare:
      • Cedite Romani scriptores, cedite Grai!
        Nescioquid maius nascitur Iliade.
        • Make way, you Roman writers, make way, Greeks!
          Something greater than the Iliad is born.
        • Sextus Propertius, Elegies, II, xxxiv, 65–66


And you, fair nymphs of Tagus...
They now went sailing in the ocean vast...
  • E vós, Tágides minhas, pois criado
    Tendes em mi um novo engenho ardente,
    Se sempre em verso humilde celebrado
    Foi de mi vosso rio alegremente,
    Dai-me agora um som alto e sublimado,
    Um estilo grandíloco e corrente,
    Por que de vossas águas Febo ordene
    Que não tenham enveja às de Hipocrene.
    • And you, fair nymphs of Tagus, parent stream,
      If ever your meadows were my pastoral theme,
      O come auspicious, and the song inspire
      With all the boldness of your hero's fire:
      Deep and majestic let the numbers flow,
      And, rapt to heaven, with ardent fury glow.
    • Stanza 5 (tr. William Julius Mickle)


  • Já no largo Oceano navegavam...
    • They now went sailing in the ocean vast...
    • Stanza 19, line 1 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


The moon, full orbed, forsakes her watery cave,
And lifts her lovely head above the wave...
  • Da Lua os claros raios rutilavam...
    • The moon, full orbed, forsakes her watery cave,
      And lifts her lovely head above the wave...
    • Stanza 58 line 1 (as translated by William Julius Mickle). Compare:
      • As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night,
        Over heaven's clear azure spreads her sacred light...


  • É fraqueza entre ovelhas ser leão.
    • To be a lion among sheep, 'tis poor.
    • Stanza 68, line 8 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


Ah! where shall weary man take sanctuary,
where live his little span of life secure?
and 'scape of Heaven serene th' indignant storms
that launch their thunders at us earthen worms?
  • Ó grandes e gravíssimos perigos!
    Ó caminho de vida nunca certo!


  • Onde pode acolher-se um fraco humano,
    Onde terá segura a curta vida,
    Que não se arme, e se indigne o Céu sereno
    Contra um bicho da terra tão pequeno?
    • Ah! where shall weary man take sanctuary,
      where live his little span of life secure?
      and 'scape of Heaven serene th' indignant storms
      that launch their thunders at us earthen worms?
    • Stanza 106, lines 5–8 (tr. Richard Francis Burton)


Canto II[edit]
O miracle most clear and evident!
  • Ó milagre claríssimo e evidente!
    • O miracle most clear and evident!
    • Stanza 30, line 2 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


  • Quem poderá do mal aparelhado
    Livrar-se sem perigo sabiamente,
    Se lá de cima a Guarda soberana
    Não acudir à fraca força humana?
    • What care, what wisdom, is of suffisance
      The stroke of secret mischief to prevent,
      Unless the Sovereign Guardian from on high
      Supply the strength of frail Humanity?
    • Stanza 30, lines 5–8 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


Canto III[edit]
As crown to this wide empire, Europe's head,
Fair Lusitania smiles...
  • Eis aqui, quase cume da cabeça
    De Europa toda, o Reino Lusitano,
    Onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa.
    • Proud over the rest, with splendid wealth arrayed,
      As crown to this wide empire, Europe's head,
      Fair Lusitania smiles, the western bound,
      Whose verdant breast the rolling waves surround.
    • Stanza 20, lines 1–3 (tr. William Julius Mickle)


  • Esta é a ditosa pátria minha amada.
    • This is my happy land, my home, my pride.
    • Stanza 21, line 1 (tr. Richard Francis Burton)


A sad event and worthy of Memory,
Who draws forth men from their closed sepulchres,
Befell that piteous maid, and pitiful
Who, after she was dead was crowned queen.
  • O caso triste, e dino da memória,
    Que do sepulcro os homens desenterra,
    Aconteceu da mísera e mesquinha
    Que depois de ser morta foi Rainha.
    • A sad event and worthy of Memory,
      Who draws forth men from their (closed) sepulchres,
      Befell that piteous maid, and pitiful
      Who, after she was dead was (crowned) queen.
    • Stanza 118, lines 5–8 (tr. Ezra Pound); of Inês de Castro.


  • Tu só, tu, puro Amor...
    • Thou, only thou, pure Love...
    • Stanza 119, line 1 (tr. Richard Francis Burton)


O foul disgrace, of knighthood lasting stain,
By men of arms a helpless lady slain!
... from her cheeks the roses died away,
And pale in death the beauteous Inez lay.
  • Contra uma dama, ó peitos carniceiros,
    Feros vos amostrais, e cavaleiros?
    • O foul disgrace, of knighthood lasting stain,
      By men of arms a helpless lady slain!
    • Stanza 130, lines 7–8 (tr. William Julius Mickle); the death of Inês de Castro.


  • Assim como a bonina, que cortada
    Antes do tempo foi, cândida e bela,
    Sendo das mãos lascivas maltratada
    Da menina que a trouxe na capela,
    O cheiro traz perdido e a cor murchada:
    Tal está morta a pálida donzela,
    Secas do rosto as rosas, e perdida
    A branca e viva cor, co'a doce vida.
    • As when a rose, ere-while of bloom so gay,
      Thrown from the careless virgin's breast away,
      Lies faded on the plain, the living red,
      The snowy white, and all its fragrance fled;
      So from her cheeks the roses died away,
      And pale in death the beauteous Inez lay.
    • Stanza 134 (tr. William Julius Mickle)


  • Um fraco Rei faz fraca a forte gente.
    • A soft king makes a valiant people soft.
    • Stanza 138, line 8 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


Canto IV[edit]
  • Ó Rei subido,
    Aventurar-me a ferro, a fogo, a neve
    É tão pouco por vós, que mais me pena
    Ser esta vida cousa tão pequena.
    • O Mighty King! The perils of the sword,
      Or fire, or frost, I nothing estimate;
      But much I grieve that life must circumscribe
      The limits of my zeal.
    • Stanza 79, lines 5–8 (tr. Thomas Moore Musgrave)


  • Mas um velho d'aspeito venerando,
    Que ficava nas praias, entre a gente,
    Postos em nós os olhos, meneando
    Três vezes a cabeça, descontente,
    A voz pesada um pouco alevantando,
    Que nós no mar ouvimos claramente,
    C'um saber só de experiências feito,
    Tais palavras tirou do experto peito:

    Ó glória de mandar! Ó vã cobiça
    Desta vaidade, a quem chamamos Fama!

    O glory of commanding! O vain thirst
    Of that same empty nothing we call fame!
    • But an old man of venerable look
      (Standing upon the shore amongst the crowds)
      His eyes fixed upon us (on ship-board), shook
      His head three times, overcast with sorrow's clouds:
      And (straining his voice more, than well could brook
      His aged lungs: it rattled in our shrouds)
      Out of a science, practice did attest,
      Let fly these words from an oraculous breast:

      O glory of commanding! O vain thirst
      Of that same empty nothing we call fame!

    • Stanzas 94–95 (tr. Richard Fanshawe); the Old Man of Restelo.


Canto V[edit]
  • Não acabava, quando uma figura
    Se nos mostra no ar, robusta e válida,
    De disforme e grandíssima estatura,
    O rosto carregado, a barba esquálida,
    Os olhos encovados, e a postura
    Medonha e má, e a cor terrena e pálida,
    Cheios de terra e crespos os cabelos,
    A boca negra, os dentes amarelos.

    Tão grande era de membros, que bem posso
    Certificar-te, que este era o segundo
    De Rodes estranhíssimo Colosso,
    Que um dos sete milagres foi do mundo:
    Com um tom de voz nos fala horrendo e grosso,
    Que pareceu sair do mar profundo:
    Arrepiam-se as carnes e o cabelo
    A mi e a todos, só de ouvi-lo e vê-lo.

    I spoke, when rising through the darkened air,
    Appalled, we saw a hideous phantom glare...
    • I spoke, when rising through the darkened air,
      Appalled, we saw a hideous phantom glare
      ;
      High and enormous over the flood he towered,
      And thwart our way with sullen aspect lowered.
      An earthy paleness over his cheeks was spread,
      Erect uprose his hairs of withered red;
      Writhing to speak, his sable lips disclose,
      Sharp and disjoined, his gnashing teeth's blue rows;
      His haggard beard flowed quivering on the wind,
      Revenge and horror in his mien combined;
      His clouded front, by withering lightnings scared,
      The inward anguish of his soul declared.
      His red eyes, glowing from their dusky caves,
      Shot livid fires: far echoing over the waves
      His voice resounded, as the caverned shore
      With hollow groan repeats the tempest's roar.
      Cold gliding horrors thrilled each hero's breast,
      Our bristling hair and tottering knees confessed
      Wild dread, the while with visage ghastly wan,
      His black lips trembling, thus the fiend began...
    • Stanzas 39–40 (tr. William Julius Mickle); description of Adamastor, the "Spirit of the Cape".


How sweet is praise, and justly purchased glory,
By one's own actions, when to Heaven they soar!
  • Quão doce é o louvor e a justa glória
    Dos próprios feitos, quando são soados!
    Qualquer nobre trabalha que em memória
    Vença ou iguale os grandes já passados.
    As invejas da ilustre e alheia história
    Fazem mil vezes feitos sublimados.
    Quem valerosas obras exercita,
    Louvor alheio muito o esperta e incita.
    • How sweet is praise, and justly purchased glory,
      By one's own actions, when to Heaven they soar!
      Each nobler soul will strain, to have his story,
      Match, if not darken, all that went before.
      Envy of other's fame, not transitory,
      Screws up illustrious actions more, and more.
      Such, as contend in honorable deeds,
      The spur of high applause incites their speeds.
    • Stanza 92 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


  • Sem vergonha o não digo, que a razão
    De algum não ser por versos excelente,
    É não se ver prezado o verso e rima,
    Porque quem não sabe arte, não na estima.
    • I speak it to our shame; the cause no grand
      Poets adorn our country, is the small
      Encouragement to such: for how can he
      esteem, that understands not poetry?
    • Stanza 97, lines 5–8 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


Canto VI[edit]
... in few years (I fear) of heaven and sea, / men, will be called gods; and but men, we.
  • Vistes que, com grandíssima ousadia,
    Foram já cometer o Céu supremo;
    Vistes aquela insana fantasia
    De tentarem o mar com vela e remo;
    Vistes, e ainda vemos cada dia,
    Soberbas e insolências tais, que temo
    Que do Mar e do Céu, em poucos anos,
    Venham Deuses a ser, e nós, humanos.
    • You saw, with what unheard of insolence
      The highest heavens they did invade of yore:
      You saw, how (against reason, against sense)
      They did invade the sea with sail and oar:
      Actions so proud, so daring, so immense,
      You saw; and we see daily more, and more:
      That in few years (I fear) of heaven and sea,
      Men, will be called gods; and but men, we.
    • Stanza 29 (tr. Richard Fanshawe); council of the sea gods.


Canto VII[edit]
My pen in this, my sword in that hand hold.
  • Numa mão sempre a espada, e noutra a pena.
    • My pen in this, my sword in that hand hold.
    • Stanza 79, line 8 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


Canto VIII[edit]
  • Veja agora o juízo curioso
    Quanto no rico, assim como no pobre,
    Pode o vil interesse e sede inimiga
    Do dinheiro, que a tudo nos obriga.
    • Now let the judging reader mark what rex
      The idol gold (which all the world adoreth)
      Plays both in poor and rich: by money's thurst
      All laws and ties (divine, and human) burst.
    • Stanza 96, lines 5–8 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


Canto IX[edit]
  • Porque essas honras vãs, esse ouro puro
    Verdadeiro valor não dão à gente:
    Melhor é, merecê-los sem os ter,
    Que possuí-los sem os merecer.
    • For these vain honours, this false gold, give price
      (Unless he have it in himself) to none,
      Better deserve them, and to go without;
      Than have them undeserved
      , without doubt.
    • Stanza 93, lines 5–8 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)


Canto X[edit]
  • Vão os anos decendo, e já do Estio
    Há pouco que passar até o Outono;
    A Fortuna me faz o engenho frio,
    Do qual já não me jacto nem me abono;
    Os desgostos me vão levando ao rio
    Do negro esquecimento e eterno sono...
    • No more the summer of my life remains,
      My autumn's lengthening evenings chill my veins;
      Down the black stream of years by woes on woes
      Winged on, I hasten to the tomb's repose...
    • Stanza 9, lines 1–6 (tr. William Julius Mickle)


He who inflicts a vile and unjust harm by using the power and the force with which he is invested, does not conquer; the true victory is to have on one's side Right naked and entire.
  • Quem faz injúria vil e sem razão,
    Com forças e poder em que está posto,
    Não vence; que a vitória verdadeira
    É saber ter justiça nua e inteira.


  • Nô mais, Musa, nô mais, que a Lira tenho
    Destemperada e a voz enrouquecida,
    E não do canto, mas de ver que venho
    Cantar a gente surda e endurecida.
    O favor com que mais se acende o engenho
    Não no dá a pátria, não, que está metida
    No gosto da cobiça e na rudeza
    Dũa austera, apagada e vil tristeza.
    • Enough, my muse, thy wearied wing no more
      Must to the seat of Jove triumphant soar.
      Chilled by my nation's cold neglect, thy fires
      Glow bold no more, and all thy rage expires.
    • Stanza 145 (tr. William Julius Mickle)


Let your advisers be experienced all, / Such as have seen the world, and studied man. / For, though in science much contained be, / In special cases practice more doth see.
  • Fazei, Senhor, que nunca os admirados
    Alemães, Galos, Ítalos e Ingleses,
    Possam dizer que são pera mandados,
    Mais que pera mandar, os Portugueses.
    Tomai conselho só d'exprimentados
    Que viram largos anos, largos meses,
    Que, posto que em cientes muito cabe,
    Mais em particular o experto sabe.
    • Great Sir, let never the astonished Gall
      The English, German, and Italian,
      Have cause to say, the fainting Portugal
      Could not advance the great work he began.
      Let your advisers be experienced all,
      Such as have seen the world, and studied man.
      For, though in science much contained be,
      In special cases practice more doth see.
    • Stanza 152 (tr. Richard Fanshawe); the poet advising King Sebastian of Portugal, then eighteen years of age.


  • Nem me falta na vida honesto estudo,
    Com longa experiência misturado,
    Nem engenho, que aqui vereis presente,
    Cousas que juntas se acham raramente.
    • Right honest studies my career can show
      with long experience blent as best beseems,
      and genius here presented for thy view;—
      gifts, that conjoined appertain to few.
    • Stanza 154, lines 5–8 (tr. Richard Francis Burton)


I, then inspired, the wondering world should see
Great Ammon's warlike son revived in thee;
Revived unenvious of the Muse's flame
That over the world resounds Pelides' name.
  • Pera servir-vos, braço às armas feito,
    Pera cantar-vos, mente às Musas dada.


  • Fico que em todo o mundo de vós cante,
    De sorte que Alexandro em vós se veja,
    Sem à dita de Aquiles ter enveja.
    • I, then inspired, the wondering world should see
      Great Ammon's warlike son revived in thee;
      Revived unenvious of the Muse's flame
      That over the world resounds Pelides' name.
    • Stanza 156, line 6–8 (tr. William Julius Mickle); hear the last lines [in Portuguese]


Lyric poetry[edit]

Sonnets[edit]

Enquanto quis Fortuna que tivesse[edit]
  • Sabei que, segundo o amor tiverdes,
    Tereis o entendimento de meus versos.
    • Once you experience love, I'm persuaded
      you'll know what I'm on about in my verses.
    • As translated by Landeg White in The Collected Lyric Poems of Luis de Camoes (2016), p. 25


Eu cantarei de amor tão docemente[edit]
  • Porém, pera cantar de vosso gesto
    A composição alta e milagrosa
    Aqui falta saber, engenho e arte.
    • For to sing of your face, a composition
      in itself sublime and marvelous,
      I lack knowledge, Lady, and wit and art.
    • The Collected Lyric Poems of Luis de Camoes (2016), p. 25


Amor é fogo que arde sem se ver[edit]
Love is a fire that burns unseen...


Sete anos de pastor Jacob servia[edit]
  • Mais servira, se não fora
    Para tão longo amor tão curta a vida.
    • That more would he serve, if life
      Were not so short for love so long.
      • (tr. Norwood Andrews)


Aquela triste e leda madrugada[edit]
  • Aquela triste e leda madrugada,
    Cheia toda de mágoa e de piedade,
    Enquanto houver no mundo saudade,
    Quero que seja sempre celebrada.
    • That sad and joyful dawn,
      light full of pity and grief,
      while the world wakes in loneliness
      I'll praise it and remember it.
      • (tr. David Wevill)


Ah! minha Dinamene! Assim deixaste[edit]
Luis de Camoens and the epic of the Lusiads. (1. ed.), Henry Hersch Hart (1962), p. 327
  • Ah! minha Dinamene! Assim deixaste
    Quem não deixara nunca de querer-te!
    Ah! Ninfa minha, já não posso ver-te,
    Tão asinha esta vida desprezaste!

    Como já pera sempre te apartaste
    De quem tão longe estava de perder-te?
    Puderam estas ondas defender-te
    Que não visses quem tanto magoaste?

    Nem falar-te somente a dura Morte
    Me deixou, que tão cedo o negro manto
    Em teus olhos deitado consentiste!

    Oh mar! oh céu! oh minha escura sorte!
    Que pena sentirei que valha tanto,
    Que inda tenha por pouco viver triste?

    • Ah, Dinamene,
      Thou hast forsaken him
      Whose love for thee has never ceased,
      And no more will he behold thee on this earth!
      How early didst thou deem life of little worth!
      I found thee
      — Alas, to lose thee all too soon!
      How strong, how cruel the waves!
      Thou canst not ever know
      My longing and my grief!
      Did cold death still thy voice
      Or didst thou of thyself
      Draw the sable veil before thy lovely face?
      O sea, O sky, O fate obscure!
      To live without thee, Dinamene, avails me not.


Alma Minha Gentil, que te Partiste[edit]
  • Alma minha gentil, que te partiste
    Tão cedo desta vida descontente,
    Repousa lá no Céu eternamente,
    E viva eu cá na terra sempre triste.
    • Go, gentle spirit! now supremely blest,
      From scenes of pain and struggling virtue go:
      From thy immortal seat of heavenly rest
      Behold us lingering in a world of woe!
    • Meek spirit, who so early didst depart,
      Thou art at rest in Heaven! I linger here,
      And feed the lonely anguish of my heart;
      Thinking of all that made existence dear.
    • My gentle spirit! thou who hast departed
      So early, of this life in discontent,
      Rest thou there ever, in Heaven's firmament,
      While I live here on earth all broken-hearted.
      • tr. John James Aubertin, in Seventy Sonnets of Camoens (1881), p. 17
    • Dear gentle soul, you that departed
      this life so soon and reluctantly,
      rest in heaven eternally
      while I remain here, broken-hearted.
      • tr. Langed White, in The Collected Lyric Poems of Luis de Camoes (2016), p. 357


Transforma-se o amador na cousa amada[edit]
The lover becomes the thing he loves...
As translated by Richard Zenith.
  • Transforma-se o amador na cousa amada,
    Por virtude do muito imaginar;
    Não tenho, logo, mais que desejar,
    Pois em mim tenho a parte desejada.
    • The lover becomes the thing he loves
      By virtue of much imagining;
      Since what I long for is already in me,
      The act of longing should be enough.


Mudam-se os tempos, mudam-se as vontades[edit]
  • Mudam-se os tempos, mudam-se as vontades,
    Muda-se o ser, muda-se a confiança;
    Todo o mundo é composto de mudança,
    Tomando sempre novas qualidades.


Songs (redondilhas)[edit]

  • Perdigão perdeu a pena
    Não há mal que lhe não venha.

    Perdigão que o pensamento
    Subiu a um alto lugar,
    Perde a pena do voar,
    Ganha a pena do tormento.
    Não tem no ar nem no vento
    Asas com que se sustenha:
    Não há mal que lhe não venha.

    Quis voar a üa alta torre,
    Mas achou-se desasado;
    E, vendo-se depenado,
    De puro penado morre.
    Se a queixumes se socorre,
    Lança no fogo mais lenha:
    Não há mal que lhe não venha.

    • To this old song:
      Partridge lost his quill,
      there's no harm won't befall him.

      Partridge, whose winged fancy
      aspired to a high estate,
      lost a feather in his flight
      and won the pen of despondency.
      He finds in the breeze no buoyancy
      for his pennants to haul him:
      there's no harm won't befall him.

      He wished to soar to a high tower
      but found his plumage clipped,
      and, observing himself plucked,
      pines away in despair.
      If he cries out for succor,
      stoke the fire to forestall him:
      there's no harm won't befall him.


  • Os bons vi sempre passar
    No mundo graves tormentos;
    E para mais me espantar,
    Os maus vi sempre nadar
    Em mar de contentamentos.
    • Ever in this world saw I
      Good men suffer grave torments,
      But even more—
      Enough to terrify—
      Men who live out evil lives
      Reveling in pleasure and in content.
      • "Esparsa ao Desconcerto do Mundo", translation from Luís de Camões and the Epic of the Lusiads (1962) by Henry Hersch Hart, p. 111


Hymns (canções)[edit]

  • Nem eu delicadezas vou cantando
    Co'o gosto do louvor, mas explicando
    Puras verdades já por mim passadas.
    Oxalá foram fábulas sonhadas!
    • Nor do I sing for courtesy's sake
      with a taste for praising, but to make
      pure truths known about my former times.
      Would to God they were mere dreams.
    • "Vinde cá, meu tão certo secretário", trans. by Landeg White in The Collected Lyric Poems of Luis de Camoes (2016), p. 303


Sestina[edit]

  • Foge-me pouco a pouco a curta vida
    (se por caso é verdade que inda vivo);
    vai-se-me o breve tempo d'ante os olhos;
    choro pelo passado e quando falo,
    se me passam os dias passo e passo,
    vai-se-me, enfim, a idade e fica a pena.
    • Little by little it ebbs, this life,
      if by any chance I am still alive;
      my brief time passes before my eyes.
      I mourn the past in whatever I say;
      as each day passes, step by step
      my youth deserts me—what persists is pain.
    • "Foge-me pouco a pouco a curta vida", tr. Landeg White in The Collected Lyric Poems of Luis de Camoes (2016), p. 330


Letters[edit]

  • As derradeiras palavras que na náu disse foram as de Scipião Africano: Ingrata patria, non possidebis ossa mea!
    • The last words which I uttered on board of the vessel were those of Scipio—'Ungrateful country! thou shalt not even possess my bones'.
    • Letter written from India (1553) to a friend at Lisbon, as quoted in Poems, from the Portuguese of Luis de Camoens (1808) by Percy Smythe, pp. 16–17


Enfim acabarei a vida e verão todos que fui afeiçoado à minha Pátria...

I am ending the course of my life, but the world will bear witness how I have loved my country...

  • Quem ouviu dizer que em tão pequeno teatro como o de um pobre leito, quizesse a fortuna representar tão grandes desventuras? E eu, como se elas não bastassem, me ponho ainda da sua parte; porque procurar resistir a tantos males pareceria espécie de desavergonhamento.
    • Who has seen on so small a theatre as my poor bed, such a representation of the disappointments of fortune? And I, as if she could not herself subdue me, I have yielded and become of her party; for it were wild audacity to hope to surmount such accumulated evils.
    • Letter "written a little before his death", as quoted in The Lusiad; Or, The Discovery of India: An Epic Poem (1776) by William Julius Mickle, p. cxvi


  • Enfim acabarei a vida e verão todos que fui tão afeiçoado à minha Pátria que não só me contentei de morrer nela, mas com ela.
    • I am ending the course of my life, but the world will bear witness how I have loved my country; I have returned not only to die on her bosom, but to die with her!
    • Letter to Don Francisco de Almeyda, 1579; written after "the disaster of Alcácer-Kebir when the mad King Sebastião's mammoth invasion of Morocco ended in his death and the destruction or enslavement of all but one hundred of his army of over 20,000. [Camões] died on 10 June 1580, just before the throne passed to Philip II of Spain", as reported by Landeg White in The Lusiads (Oxford World's Classics, 2001), p. x; quoted as Camões' last words in The Yale Literary Magazine, Vol. VIII (January, 1843), No. 3, "Luis de Camoëns", p. 115.



Attributed[edit]


Quotes about Camões[edit]

See also: Quotes about Os Lusíadas
Here lies Luis de Camoens:
he excelled all the poets of his time.
He lived poor and miserable;
and he died so.
~ Gonçalo Coutinho (1569)
The most excellent Camoens.
~ Cervantes (1615)
Strange fortune that to so much wit and learning gave a life of poverty and a rich sepulcher.
~ Lope de Vega (1630)
Camoens in Portugal steered a new course... ~ Voltaire (1727)
Camoens, the greatest literary genius ever produced by Portugal; in martial courage, and spirit of honour, nothing inferior to her greatest heroes.
~ William Julius Mickle (1776)
Thus, Camoes, be my model!
~ Friedrich Schlegel (1807)
I had been reading Camoëns—that poem you remember,
Which his lady's eyes are praised in, as the sweetest ever seen.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1844)
The life of no poet is so full of vicissitude and romantic adventure as that of Camoens. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1845)
I have seen and sat in the cave at the end of the flowery, winding way, where Camoens, according to tradition, composed certain parts of his Lusiad. Ay, Camoens was a sailor once!
~ Herman Melville (1850)
The most pleasing literary labour of my life has been to translate The Lusiads of my master, Camoens.
~ Richard Francis Burton (1880)
An absolute poetical genius, the greatest in our literature.
~ José Saramago (1998)


  • Aqui jaz Luís de Camões
    Príncipe
    dos poetas do seu tempo;
    viveu pobre e miseravelmente
    e assi morreu.
    • Here lies Luis de Camoens:
      he excelled all the poets of his time.
      He lived poor and miserable;
      and he died so.
    • Inscription placed over Camões' grave by Gonçalo Coutinho, as quoted in Poems, from the Portuguese of Luis de Camoens: with Remarks on his Life and Writings; Notes, &c. &c. by Lord Viscount Strangford (1803), p. 22.


  • We look for something new in a literature unknown to us; we do not go to Lisbon to gaze into shop-windows which we can see in Paris. But the fact is that in Camões' lyrics we enter an enchanted country. They have a peculiar glow and magic which one seeks in vain elsewhere.
    • Aubrey F. G. Bell, Luis de Camões (1923), pp. 98–99.


  • His sonnets...are full of Petrarchic tenderness and grace, and moulded with classic correctness.
    • Friedrich Bouterwek, as quoted in Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries by Henry Hallam, Vol. I (1848), p. 340.


  • He might well claim to be a Portuguese Virgil.
    • Maurice Bowra, "Camoes and the Epic of Portugal", in From Virgil to Milton (1945).


  • He is a Humanist even in his contradictions, in his association of a Pagan mythology with a Christian outlook, in his conflicting feelings about war and empire, in his love of home and his desire for adventure, in his appreciation of pleasure and the demands of his heroic outlook. But he is above all a Humanist in his devotion to the classical ideal and in his conviction that this was the living force in the imaginative life of Europe in his time. ... His poem covers a wide range of experience because it was written by a man who was open to many kinds of impression and had a generous appreciation of human nature. ... His conception of manhood is fuller and more various than Virgil's. He has indeed something of Homer's pleasure in the variegated human scene and, like Homer, he knows that there can be more than one kind of noble manhood.


  • And this morning, as I sat alone within the inner chamber
    With the great saloon beyond it, lost in pleasant thought serene—
    For I had been reading Camoëns—that poem you remember,
    Which his lady's eyes are praised in, as the sweetest ever seen.


  • Camoens, with that look he had,
    Compelling India's Genius sad
    From the wave through the Lusiad,
    With murmurs of a purple ocean
    Indrawn in vibrative emotion
    Along the verse!



  • [Camoens is] the perfection of a traveller's study... A wayfarer and voyager from his youth; a soldier, somewhat turbulent withal, wounded and blamed for his wounds; ... a doughty Sword and yet doughtier Pen; a type of the chivalrous age; a patriot of the purest water, so jealous of his Country's good fame that nothing would satisfy him but to see the world bow before her perfections; a genius, the first and foremost of his day, who died in the direst poverty and distress.


  • During how many hopeless days and sleepless nights Camoens was my companion, my consoler, my friend;—on board raft and canoe; sailer and steamer; on the camel and the mule; under the tent and the jungle-tree; upon the fire-peak and the snow-peak; on the Prairie, the Campo, the Steppe, the Desert!


  • He was in sooth a genuine bard;
    His was no faint, fictitious flame.
    Like his, may love be thy reward,
    But not thy hapless fate the same.
    • Lord Byron, "Stanzas To A Lady, With The Poems Of Camoens", in The Works of Lord Byron, Including His Suppressed Poems (1827), p. 3


  • [Camões] alone, of all the lyric race, ...
    Can look a common soldier in the face:
    I find a comrade where I sought a master.
    • Roy Campbell, Talking Bronco (1946), sonnet "Luís de Camões"


  • Through fire and shipwreck, pestilence and loss,
    Led by the ignis fatuus of duty
    To a dog's death—yet of his sorrows king—
    He shouldered high his voluntary Cross,
    Wrestled his hardships into forms of beauty,
    And taught his gorgon destinies to sing.
    • Roy Campbell, Talking Bronco (1946), sonnet "Luís de Camões"


  • [Camões] is the soldier's poet par excellence.



  • SPAINE gave me noble Birth: Coimbra, Arts:
    LISBON, a high-plac't love, and Courtly parts:
    AFFRICK, a Refuge when the Court did frowne:
    WARRE, at an Eye's expence, a faire renowne:
    TRAVAYLE, experience, with noe short sight
    Of India, and the World; both which I write
    INDIA a life, which I gave there for Lost
    On Mecons waves (a wreck and Exile) tost
    To boot, this POEM, held up in one hand
    Whilst with the other I swam safe to land:
    TASSO, a sonet, and (what's greater yit)
    The honour to give Hints to such a witt.
    PHLIP a Cordiall, (the ill Fortune see!)
    To cure my Wants when those had new kill'd mee
    My Country (Nothing—yes) Immortall Prayse
    (so did I, Her) Beasts cannot browze on Bayes.


  • Tho' fiercest tribes her galling fetters drag,
    Proud Spain must strike to Lusitania's flag,
    Whose ampler folds, in conscious triumph spread,
    Wave o'er her Naval Poet's laureate head.
    Ye Nymphs of Tagus, from your golden cell,
    That caught the echo of his tuneful shell,
    Rise, and to deck your darling's shrine provide
    The richest treasures that the deep may hide:
    From every land let grateful Commerce shower
    Her tribute to the Bard who sung her power
    ;
    As those rich gales, from whence his Gama caught
    A pleasing earnest of the prize he sought,
    The balmy fragrance of the East dispense,
    So steals his Song on the delighted sense,
    Astonishing, with sweets unknown before,
    Those who ne'er tasted but of classic lore.
    Immortal Bard, thy name with Gama vies,
    Thou, like thy Hero, with propitious skies
    The sail of bold adventure hast unfurl'd,
    And in the Epic ocean found a world.
    'Twas thine to blend the eagle and the dove,
    At once the Bard of glory and of love,
    Thy thankless country heard thy varying lyre,
    To Petrarch's softness melt, and swell to Homer's fire!

    Boast and lament, ungrateful land, a Name,
    In life, in death, thy honor and thy shame.
    • William Hayley, An Essay on Painting (1781), Epistle 3, pp. 57–58, lines 259–284


  • Que cosa mas lastimosa que ver un tan grande ingenio mal logrado! yo lo bi morir en un hospital en Lisbon, sin tener una sauana con que cubrirse, despues de aver triunfado en la India oriental y de aver navigado 5500 leguas por mar: que auiso tan grande para los que de noche y de dia se cançan estudiando sin provecho como la araña en urdir tellas para cazar moscas.
    • What can be a more lamentable thing than to see so great a genius ill rewarded! I saw him die in a hospital at Lisbon, without having a winding sheet to cover him, after having triumphed in India, and sailed 5500 leagues by sea. What a great lesson for those who weary themselves day and night in studying without profit, as a spider is weaving its web to catch flies!
      • F. Josepe Judio, note written in the first edition of the Lusiad, as quoted in "Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Luis de Camoens" by John Adamson, in The Quarterly Review (April, 1822), p. 13.


  • The greatest poet of the sixteenth century, as of all others in Portuguese poetry, is he who sang of

    "the renowned men,
    Who, from the western Lusitanian shore,
    Sailing through seas man never sailed before,
    Passed beyond Taprobane,"—

    Luis de Camoens, author of the national epic, "Os Lusiadas," who lived in poverty and wretchedness, died in the Lisbon hospital, and, after death, was surnamed the Great,—a title never given before, save to popes and emperors. The life of no poet is so full of vicissitude and romantic adventure as that of Camoens. In youth, he was banished from Lisbon on account of a love affair with Catharina de Attayda, a dama do paço, or lady of honour at court; he served against the Moors as a volunteer on board the fleet in the Mediterranean, and lost his right eye by a gun-shot wound in a battle off Ceuta; he returned to Lisbon, proud and poor, but found no favour at court, and no means of a livelihood in the city; he abandoned his native land for India, indignantly exclaiming with Scipio, "Ingrata patria, non possidebis ossa mea!" Three ships of the squadron were lost in a storm, he reached Goa safely in the fourth; he fought under the king of Cochin against the king of Pimenta; he fought against the Arabian corsairs in the Red Sea;he was banished from Goa to the island of Macao, where he became administrator of the effects of deceased persons, and where he wrote the greater part of the "Lusiad"; he was shipwrecked on the coast of Camboya, saving only his life and his poem, the manuscript of which he brought ashore saturated with sea-water; he was accused of malversation in office, and thrown into prison at Goa; after an absence of sixteen years, he returned in abject poverty to Lisbon, then ravaged by the plague; he lived a few years on a wretched pension granted him by King Sebastian when the "Lusiad" was published, and on the alms which a slave he had brought with him from India collected at night in the streets of Lisbon; and finally died in the hospital, exclaiming, "Who could believe that on so small a stage as that of one poor bed Fortune would choose to represent so great a tragedy?" Thus was completed the Iliad of his woes. Fifteen years afterward, a splendid monument was erected to his memory; so that, as has been said or another, "he asked for bread, and they gave him a stone."


  • Jack [Chase,] above all things, was an ardent admirer of Camoens. Parts of The Lusiad he could recite in the original.


  • Camoens! White Jacket, Camoens! Did you ever read him? The Lusiad, I mean? It's the man-of-war epic of the world, my lad. Give me Gama for a commodore, say I—noble Gama! ... How many great men have been sailors, White Jacket! They say Homer himself was once a tar, even as his hero, Ulysses, was both a sailor and a shipwright. I'll swear Shakspeare was once a captain of the forecastle. Do you mind the first scene in The Tempest, White Jacket? And the world-finder, Christopher Columbus, was a sailor! and so was Camoens, who went to sea with Gama, else we had never had The Lusiad, White Jacket. Yes, I've sailed over the very track that Camoens sailed—round the East Cape into the Indian Ocean. I've been in Don Jose's garden, too, in Macao, and bathed my feet in the blessed dew of the walks where Camoens wandered before me. Yes, White Jacket, and I have seen and sat in the cave at the end of the flowery, winding way, where Camoens, according to tradition, composed certain parts of his Lusiad. Ay, Camoens was a sailor once!


  • For the last time, hear Camoens, boys!


  • CAMOENS
    (Before)
    Ever restless, restless, craving rest—
    The Imperfect toward Perfection pressed
    Yea, for the God demands thy best.
    The world with endless beauty teems,
    And though evokes new worlds of dreams
    Hunt then the flying herds of themes!
    And fan, still fan, thy fervid fire,
    Until thy crucibled gold shall show
    That fire can purge as well as glow.
    In ordered ardour, nobly strong,
    Flame to the height of epic song.

    (After)
    CAMOENS IN THE HOSPITAL
    What now avails the pageant verse,
    Trophies and arms with music borne?
    Base is the world; and some rehearse
    Now noblest meet ignoble scorn,
    Vain now thy ardour, vain thy fire,
    Delirium mere, unsound desire;
    Fate's knife hath ripped thy corded lyre.
    Exhausted by the exacting lay,
    Thou dost but fall a surer prey
    To wile and guile ill understood;
    While they who work them, fair in face,
    Still keep their strength in prudent place,
    And claim they worthier run life's race,
    Serving high God with useful good.

    • Herman Melville, paired sonnets published in The Works of Herman Melville (1924), p. 414


  • Luis de Camoens, the greatest literary genius ever produced by Portugal; in martial courage, and spirit of honour, nothing inferior to her greatest heroes.
    • William Julius Mickle, The Lusiad; Or, The Discovery of India: an Epic Poem (1776), Introduction, p. cxvi



  • The fiction of the apparition of the Cape of Tempests, in sublimity and awful grandeur of imagination, stands unsurpassed in human composition.


  • But for Camoens, though he has some glaring faults, he hath, doubtless, many original beauties; both of which, indeed, speak uncommon abilities. He is not correct like Virgil; but the hand of cold and sober judgment would have blotted out the novelties that surprise and delight us: these are "sublime infirmities," which will not bear the inquisition of the critic. "The epic poetry of Camoens, (says Voltaire,) is a sort of poetry unheard of before." I allow it; but not to his dishonour. The manners of the Lusiad are new and striking. And as to imagery, the apparition, hovering athwart the fleet near the Cape of Good Hope, is so grand a fiction, that it would alone set Camoens above Virgil, in point of genius. And what are the Elysian Fields to the Island of Venus!
    • Richard Polwhele, Discourses on Different Subjects, 2nd edition (1791), as quoted in The Critical Review, Vol. II (1791), pp. 369–370



  • Camoens was a master of sound and language, a man of vigour and a splendid rhetorician.
    • Ezra Pound, The Spirit of Romance (1910), p. 220.


  • Black the mountains of Timor
    Sweeping from the sea
    Watched Camoëns drift ashore,
    Rags and misery . . .
    Hidden in that hollow rod
    Slept, like heavenly flame
    Titan-stolen from a god,
    Lusitania's flame.
    • Enoch Powell, Poem VI, 'Os Lusíadas', Dancer's End, as reported in Tom Nairn: "Enoch Powell: The New Right", New Left Review I/61, May-June 1970, and quoted in The Break-up of Britain (2003) by Tom Nairn, p. 271.


  • What other lessons could I possibly receive from a Portuguese who lived in the sixteenth century, who composed the Rimas and the glories, the shipwrecks and the national disenchantments in the Lusíadas, who was an absolute poetical genius, the greatest in our literature, no matter how much sorrow this causes to Fernando Pessoa, who proclaimed himself its Super Camões? No lesson would fit me, no lesson could I learn, except the simplest, which could have been offered to me by Luís Vaz de Camões in his pure humanity, for instance the proud humility of an author who goes knocking at every door looking for someone willing to publish the book he has written, thereby suffering the scorn of the ignoramuses of blood and race, the disdainful indifference of a king and of his powerful entourage, the mockery with which the world has always received the visits of poets, visionaries and fools. At least once in life, every author has been, or will have to be, Luís de Camões...


  • The perfection [Vollendung] of Portuguese poetry is all the more apparent in the beautiful poems of the great Camões.
    • Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel, Dichtkunst (1803) [Portuguese Poetry], as quoted in Twilight Of The Literary: Figures Of Thought In The Age Of Print (2005) by Terry Cochran, p. 121.



  • Gedoemd poëet, zwerver en banneling.
    • Doomed poet, wanderer and exile.


  • Ed or quella del colto, e buon Luigi,
    Tant 'oltre stende il glorioso volo,
    Ch'i tuoi spalmati legni andar men lunge.

    Ond'a quelli, a cui s'alza il nostro polo,
    Ed a chi ferma incontra i suoi vestigi,
    Per lui del corso tuo la fama aggiunge.

    • Great as thou art, and peerless in renown,
      Yet thou to Camoens ow'st thy noblest fame;
      Farther than thou didst sail, his deathless song
      Shall bear the dazzling splendour of thy name;
      And under many a sky thy actions crown,
      While Time and Fame together glide along.
      • Torquato Tasso, Sonnet to Camoens (written in 1580), as translated by William Julius Mickle in The Lusiad; Or, The Discovery of India: An Epic Poem (1776), p. cxlviii. Note: John Black dates this sonnet to 1586 in his Life of Torquato Tasso, Vol. I (1810), p. 391.


  • Fortuna estrana que al ingenio aplico
    La vida pobre y el sepulcro rico.
    • Strange fortune that to so much wit and learning gave a life of poverty and a rich sepulcher.
    • Lope de Vega, Laurel de Apolo (1630); translation by Archie Bell in The Spell of China (1917), p. 81.


  • Camoëns, en Portugal, ouvrait une carrière toute nouvelle, et s'acquérait une réputation qui dure encore parmi ses compatriotes, qui l'appellent le Virgile portugais.
    • Camoens in Portugal steered a new course, and acquired a reputation which lasts still among his countrymen, who pay as much respect to his memory as the English to Milton.
      • Voltaire, An Essay on Epic Poetry (1727), 'Camouens'. Note: "Virgile portugais" translates as "Portuguese Virgil".


  • Camões soothed with it [the Sonnet] an exile's grief.


External links[edit]

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