A Little Luís Vaz de Camões Sampler
Graffiti in ceramic tile, by Júlio Pomar.
Photo by Paulo Cintra and Laura Castro Caldas.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is a little sampler of poems by Luís Vaz de Camões, Portugal’s celebrated poet. Excerpts are from ‘Luís de Camões, selected sonnets’, edited and translated from the original Portuguese by William Baer, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2005-being the first significant English translation of Camões’s sonnets in more than one hundred years. ‘Camões is considered Portugal’s and the Portuguese language’s greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Milton, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and Dante. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads). His collection of poetry The Parnasum of Luís de Camões was lost during his life. The influence of his masterpiece Os Lusíadas is so profound that Portuguese is sometimes called the “language of Camões” ‘. (Wikipedia).
A little introduction
‘The most important writer in Portuguese history and one of the preeminent European poets of the early modern era, Luís de Camões (1524–80) has been ranked as a sonneteer on par with Petrarch, Dante, and Shakespeare. Championed by such influential English poets as William Blake and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and admired in America by Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Herman Melville, Camões was renowned for his intensely personal sonnets and equally intense adventurous life. He was banished for dueling and brawling at court, lost an eye fighting the Moors in North Africa, was shipwrecked off the coast of India, jailed in Goa, and exiled in Mozambique. Throughout these personal trials, he advanced poetry beyond the Petrarchan model of love won and lost to write of personal despair, history, politics, war, religion, and the natural beauty of Portugal’. (from the book’s cover).
Orpheus gently sings his love-sick passion
for Eurydice, his wife, who’s trapped in hell,
and with his harp and voice, he weaves a spell
that conjures up such pity and compassion
that the Wheel of Ixion stops. So long
as Orpheus continues to sing, the tortured souls
in hell forget their pain—since he consoles
them all, sensing their pain, with his lovely song.
His music is so affecting and serene
that he’s rewarded in that dreadful place
by the infernal kings of hell, who then
command his wife’s return to earth, unseen—
but Orpheus turns, impatient to see her face,
and, desperately, they lose each other again.
Orfeu enamorado que tañía
por la perdida ninfa, que buscaba,
en el Orco implacable donde estaba,
con la arpa y con la voz la enternecía.
La rueda de Ixión no se movia,
ningún atormentado se quejaba,
las penas de los otros ablandaba,
y todas las de todos él sentía.
El son pudo obligar de tal manera,
que, en dulce galardón de lo cantado,
los infernales reyes, condolidos,
le mandaron volver su compañera,
y volvióla á perder el desdichado,
con que fueron entrambos los perdidos.
Give back your whiteness to the Easter flowers,
and your blushes to the crimson rose;
Give back to the sun the luminous light that glows
from your ravishing eyes and overpowers
our hearts. Give back your songs to the Sirens, who
filled your voice with irresistible harmony;
Give back your charms to the Graces, who now agree
they’re much less elegant than you.
Give back to beautiful Venus your loveliness,
to Minerva your wisdom, talents, and refined
arts, and give back your purity to the chaste and true
Diana. Divest yourself of all you now possess,
all these gifts, and all that’s left behind
is cruelty . . . the very essence of you.
Tornai essa brancura à alva açucena,
e essa purpúrea cor às puras rosas;
tornai ao sol as chamas luminosas
dessa vista que a roubos vos condena.
Tornai à suavíssima sirena
dessa voz as cadências deleitosas;
tornai a graça às Graças, que queixosas
estão de a ter por vós menos serena.
Tornai à bela Vénus a beleza;
a Minerva o saber, o engenho e a arte;
e a pureza à castíssima Diana.
Despojai-vos de toda essa grandeza
de dões; e ficareis em toda a arte
convosco só, que é só ser inumana.
In the woods, where the nymphs pass their hours,
Sybil, the loveliest nymph, decides one day
to climb a shady tree, making her way
into the branches to pluck its yellow flowers.
Then Cupid, planning his usual siesta, deep
within the lovely shaded woods, comes by
and hangs his famous bow and arrow high
within those branches before he falls to sleep.
So Sybil, seizing the opportunity, spies
the weapons of the sleeping god, then flees
with his bow and arrow, racing in a blaze
of speed, carrying the love-darts in her eyes.
So shepherds, run! She kills everyone she sees!
Except me—who lives for nothing but her deadly gaze.
Num bosque que das Ninfas se habitava,
Sílvia, Ninfa linda, andava um dia;
subida n˜ua árvore sombria,
as amarelas flores apanhava.
Cupido, que ali sempre costumava
a vir passar a sesta à sombra fria,
num ramo o arco e setas que trazia,
antes que adormecesse, pendurava.
A Ninfa, como idóneo tempo vira
para tamanha empresa, não dilata,
mas com as armas foge ao Moço esquivo.
As setas traz nos olhos, com que tira.
Ó pastores! fugi, que a todos mata,
senão a mim, que de matar-me vivo.
You’re the perfect beauty. So please explain,
my Love, your lovely, golden, flowing hair?
Where could you find a gold so brilliant and rare?
Within some secret mine or hidden vein?
And how did your eyes capture the solar light?
Did you seize Apollo’s flaming majesty
with sacred wisdom and godlike subtlety?
Or with Medean enchantments in the night?
From which hidden shells did you choose those rare
and precious Oriental pearls that grace
your smile whenever you laugh? But wait,
since you’re perfectly formed, my Love, beware:
shun all fountains, never look at your face,
remember Narcissus, remember his fate.
Dizei, Senhora, da Beleza ideia:
para fazerdes esse áureo crino,
onde fostes buscar esse ouro fino?
De que escondida mina ou de que veia?
Dos vossos olhos essa luz febeia,
esse respeito, de um império dino?
Se o alcançastes com saber divino,
se com encantamentos de Medeia?
De que escondidas conchas escolhestes
as perlas preciosas orientais
que, falando, mostrais no doce riso?
Pois vos formastes tal como quisestes,
vigiai-vos de vós, não vos vejais;
fugi das fontes: lembre-vos Narciso.
When Phoebus flamed the mountains with his strong
and bright and brilliant lights from heaven, the great
and chaste Diana, never idle, went straight
to the deepest woods and hunted all day long.
But frivolous Venus—descending to earth to play,
to tantalize hopeless Anchises—spied
Diana hunting through the countryside,
and called to her sister goddess in a mocking way:
“You wander these woods with your snares every year,
catching nothing but little creatures, while I,
with my nets, entrap the human heart.” But then,
the huntress replied: “It’s better to hunt for deer,
than to have your husband catch you as you lie
within your treacherous infidelities once again.”
Enquanto Febo os montes acendia
do Céu com luminosa claridade,
por evitar do ócio a castidade,
na caça o tempo Délia dispendia.
Vénus, que então de furto descendia,
por cativar de Anquises a vontade,
vendo Diana em tanta honestidade,
quase zombando dela, lhe dizia:
«Tu vás com tuas redes na espessura
os fugitivos cervos enredando;
mas as minhas enredam o sentido».
«Milhor é—respondia a deusa pura—
nas redes leves cervos ir tomando
que tomar-te a ti nelas teu marido».
The dawn rises lovely but ill-fated
and full of grief. For as long as heartbreaks prey
upon our tragic world, this dawning day
should be forever famous and celebrated.
Only this dawn, as her lovely lights smother
the dark, will actually see, down by the sea,
that separation that no lover can bear to see:
the parting of one love from another.
Only this dawn will see, rising above
the world, our tears flowing with burning desire,
mingling together in a river of farewell.
Only this dawn will hear these sad words of love
which will chill even the unquenchable fire
and bring relief to all the damned in hell.
Aquela triste leda madrugada,
cheia toda de mágoa e de piedade,
enquanto houver no mundo saüdade
quero que seja sempre celebrada.
Ela só, quando amena e marchetada
saía, dando ao mundo claridade,
viu apartar-se de üa outra vontade,
que nunca poderá ver-se apartada.
Ela só viu as lágrimas em fio
que, de uns e de outros olhos derivadas,
se acrescentaram em grande e largo rio.
Ela viu as palavras magoadas
que puderam tornar o fogo frio,
e dar descanso às almas condenadas.
Time changes, and our desires change. What we
believe—even what we are—is everchanging.
The world is change, which forever
takes on new qualities. And constantly,
we see the new and the novel overturning
the past, unexpectedly, while we retain
from evil, nothing but its terrible pain,
from good (if there’s been any), only the yearning.
Time covers the ground with her cloak of green
where, once, there was freezing snow—and rearranges
my sweetest songs to sad laments. Yet even more
astonishing is yet another unseen
change within all these endless changes:
that for me, nothing ever changes anymore.
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.
Continuamente vemos novidades,
diferentes em tudo da esperança;
do mal ficam as mágoas na lembrança,
e do bem—se algum houve—, as saüdades.
O tempo cobre o chão de verde manto,
que já coberto foi de neve fria,
e enfim converte em choro o doce canto.
E, afora este mudar-se cada dia,
outra mudança faz de mór espanto:
que não se muda já como soía.