Luis de Camões (or Camoens)

(1524 or 1525-1580)

Read a biography from The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Read some sonnets in Portuguese.

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An Adieu to Tagus

Waters of gentle Tagus, calmly flowing
Through these green fields ye freshen as ye flow,
On flocks and herds, plants, flowers, all things that grow,
On shepherds and on nymphs delight bestowing;
I know not, ah! sweet streams, despair of knowing
When I shall come again; for as I go,
And ponder why, ye fill me with such woe,
That in my heart a deep distrust is growing.
The Fates have e'en decreed this sad adieu,
Aiming to change my joys into despair,
This sad adieu that weighs upon my years:
Of them complaining, yearning after you,
With sighs I shall invade some distant air,
And trouble other waters with my tears.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

On the Death of King Sebastian

His generous visage gashed with heathen blade,
His Royal brow with dust and blood all wan,
Came to the mournful boat of Acheron
The great Sebastian, past into a shade.
The cruel boatman, seeing that undismayed
The King perforce would cross, pronounced his ban,
Vowing that never o'er that stream was man
Ferried, whose funeral rites were still unpaid.
The valorous King, whose anger knew no bounds,
Replied, Oh! false old man, and dost not know
Others by force of gold have passed before?
What! of a king all bathed in blood of Moor
Darest thou to claim that he a tomb shall show?
Claim it of him who comes with fewer wounds.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

To a Fillet, Given Him in Jest, from Her Hair, by a Lady with Whom He Was in Love

Sweet, delicate fillet, who art left behind,
In pledge the joy I merit to redeem,
If, only seeing thee, half lost I seem,
What with the locks round which thou erst didst wind?
Those golden tresses where thou wast entwined,
That hold the sunbeam's glow in light esteem,
I know not if to mock my prayerful dream,
Or if to bind me thou didst them unbind.
Sweet fillet, in my hands I see thee lie,
And that my grief some solace I may show,
As one who hath no other, thee I take:
And if my wish thou dost not satisfy,
Still, in the rule of love, I'll bid her know,
Sometimes we keep the part for the whole's sake.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.


Within a wood nymphs were inhabiting,
Sibella, lovely nymph, was wandering free;
And climbing up into a shady tree,
The yellow blossoms there was gathering.
Cupid, who thither ever turned his wing,
Cool in his shady mid-day sleep to be,
Would on a branch, e'er sleeping, pendent see
The bows and arrows he was wont to bring.
The nymph, who now the moment fitting saw
For so great enterprise, in nought delays,
But flies the scorner with the arms she ta'en.
She bears the arrows in her eyes, to draw.
Oh! shepherds fly, for every one she slays,
Save me alone, who live by being slain.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

Se a ninguem tratais com desamor

If thou indifference wilt display to none,
Rather towards every one endearing art,
If thou towards every one dost show a heart,
That fullest love and gentleness doth own,
Henceforth towards me be thy disfavour shown;
In odious scorn or coldness stand apart;
There shall I come to think, beneath the smart,
Thou showest favour unto me alone.
For if to all so tender thou wilt prove,
'Tis clear the only favoured one is he
Towards whom thine eye doth with displeasure move.
Scarcely, indeed, can I be loved by thee,
If in thy heart thou hast another love,
For Love is one, nor can divided be.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

Corydon and Tityrus

Beneath a green and lofty oak reclined,
Corydon o'er the scale his finger threw
In ivy's shade, whose clinging tendrils grew
Among the trees, and round the branches twined.
Of Amaryllis, nymph for whom he pined,
He sang the loves, love's moving power he knew;
The birds among the branches listening flew,
And lower down did stream of crystal wind.
To him comes Tityrus, who idly roved,
Driving his meagre cattle o'er the plain;
Tityrus was friend of Corydon best loved.
He tells him all his torment and his pain;
By other's speech the embittered is not moved.
Nor grief makes sorrowful the heart that's fain.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

The Fisher Ionio Calls on the Waves to Restore to Him His Drowned Love

All hushed the heaven and earth, and wind the same,
The waves all spreading o'er the sandy plain,
While sleep doth in the sea the fish enchain,
Nocturnal silence brooding as a dream;--
Prostrate with love, Ionio, fisher, came
Where the breeze moved the waters of the main;
Weeping, the well-loved name he called in vain,
That can no more be called but as a name;
Oh! waves, or ere love slay me, thus he cried,
Restore to me my nymph who, ah! so soon,
Ye taught my soul was subject to the grave.
No one replies; from far beats ocean's tide;
All softly moves the grove; and the wind's moan
Bears off the voice that to the wind he gave.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

The Shepherdess Nise

Aurora with her new-born crystal ray
Arose the enamelled world again to dress,
When Nise, fair and gentle shepherdess,
Departed whence her only true life lay.
The light of eyes that darkened those of day
She raised, while flowing anxious tears oppress,
Of self, fate, time, all wearied to distress,
And gazing heavenward thus did pensive say:
Rise, tranquil sun, once more all pure and shining,
Clear purple morn with new-born light be clad,
And see sad souls with you their grief resigning;
But my poor soul, while others all are glad,
Ye know ye ne'er shall see but as repining,
Nor any other shepherdess so sad.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

Audaces Fortuna Juvat

Never did love his boldness hurtful find;
Fortune hath ever favours for the bold;
For cowardice, that shivers in the cold,
Hangs like a stone on freedom of the mind.
Who dares the Firmament sublime ascend,
Meets there a star, whereby his course is told;
The good mere fancy in its range doth hold
Illusive is, soon scattered by the wind.
A path for fortune should be opened free;
To none, without himself, will greatness fall;
Chance moving only in first steps appears.
To dare is valour, madness 'twill not be;
He to whom fortune shows thee, loses all,
If, coward like, he doth not scorn his fears.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

On Seeing Catharina de Athaide in Church and Losing His Heart

The souls of all were sad in solemn prayer,
Owning the mercy of their Lord Divine,
While in His holy presence so benign,
The tribute that was due they offered there:
My heart till then was free from every care,
Till then my fate had traced an equal line,
When lo! some eyes, too high and pure for mine,
Assaulted all my reason, unaware.
The novel vision struck me wholly blind;
From strangeness sprang the magic charm displayed
By that soft presence, all angelical.
And can I no alleviation find?
Oh! why in births hath Human Nature made
Difference so great, and we her children all!

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

On the Death of Donna Catharina de Athaide

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;
In that Ethereal Seat, where thou didst rise,
If memory of this life so far consent,
Forget not thou my ardent love unspent,
Which thou didst read so perfect in mine eyes.
And if, perchance, aught worthy there appears
In my great cureless anguish for thy death,
Oh! pray to God who closed so soon thy years,
That He will also close my sorrowing breath,
And swiftly call me hence thy form to see,
As swiftly he deprived these eyes of thee.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

"The eyes where love in chastest fire would glow"

The eyes where love in chastest fire would glow,
Joying to be consumed amidst their light,
The face whereon with wondrous lustre bright
The purple rose was blushing o'er the snow;
The hair whereof the sun would envious grow,
It made his own less golden to the sight;
The well-formed body and the hand so white,
All to cold earth reduced lies here below!
In tender age, a beauty all entire,
E'en like a blossom gathered ere its time,
Lies withered in the hand of heartless death:
How doth not Love for pity's sake expire?
Ah! not for her who flies to life sublime,
But for himself whom night extinguisheth.

Translated by J. J. Aubertin.

Beholding Her

When I behold you, Lady! when my eyes
Dwell on the deep enjoyment of your sight,
I give my spirit to that one delight,
And earth appears to me a Paradise.
And when I hear you speak, and see you smile,
Full satisfied, absorb'd, my centr'd mind
Deems all the world's vain hopes and joys the while
As empty as the unsubstantial wind.
Lady! I feel your charms, yet dare not raise
To that high theme the unequal song of praise,--
A power for that to language was not given;
Nor marvel I, when I those beauties view,
Lady! that He, whose power created you,
Could form the stars and yonder glorious heaven.

Translated by Robert Southey.

His Insufficiency of Praise

So sweet the lyre, so musical the strain,
By which my suit, Belovëd! is expressed,
That, hearing them, no such indifferent breast
But welcomes Love and his delicious pain,
And opes to his innumerable train
Of sweet persuasions, lovely mysteries,
Brief angers, gentle reconcilements, sighs
And ardour unabash'd by proud disdain.
Yet, when I strive to sing what beauty dwells
Upon thy brow, so oft in scorn array'd,
My song upon the unworthy lips expires.
It must be loftier verse than mine that tells
Of loveliness like thine. My Muse, dismay'd,
Folds her weak wing and silently retires.

Translated by Richard Garnett.

(Texts from Sonnets of Europe.)

Thanks to Jimmy Katz for steering me to de Camões resources.