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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

From ‘The Lusiads’

By Luís de Camões (c. 1524–1580)

Translation of Sir Richard Francis Burton


THE FEATS of Arms, and famed heroick Host,

from occidental Lusitanian strand,

who o’er the waters ne’er by seaman crost,

farèd beyond the Taprobane-land,

forceful in perils and in battle-post,

with more than promised force of mortal hand;

and in the regions of a distant race

rear’d a new throne so haught in Pride of Place:

And, eke, the Kings of mem’ory grand and glorious,

who hied them Holy Faith and Reign to spread,

converting, conquering, and in lands notorious,

Africk and Asia, devastation made;

nor less the Lieges who by deeds memorious

brake from the doom that binds the vulgar dead;

my song would sound o’er Earth’s extremest part

were mine the genius, mine the Poet’s art.

Cease the sage Grecian, and the man of Troy

to vaunt long voyage made in by-gone day:

Cease Alexander, Trojan cease to ’joy

the fame of vict’ories that have pass’d away:

The noble Lusian’s stouter breast sing I,

whom Mars and Neptune dared not disobey:

Cease all that antique Muse hath sung, for now

a better Brav’ry rears its bolder brow.

And you, my Tagian Nymphs, who have create

in me new purpose with new genius firing;

if ’twas my joy whilere to celebrate

your founts and stream my humble song inspiring;

Oh! lend me here a noble strain elate,

a style grandiloquent that flows untiring;

so shall Apollo for your waves ordain ye

in name and fame ne’er envy Hippokréné.

Grant me sonorous accents, fire-abounding,

now serves ne peasant’s pipe, ne rustick reed;

but blasts of trumpet, long and loud resounding,

that ’flameth heart and hue to fiery deed:

Grant me high strains to suit their Gestes astounding,

your Sons, who aided Mars in martial need;

that o’er the world he sung the glorious song,

if theme so lofty may to verse belong.

And Thou! O goodly omen’d trust, all-dear

to Lusitania’s olden liberty,

whereon assurèd esperance we rear

enforced to see our frail Christianity:

Thou, O new terror to the Moorish spear,

the fated marvel of our century,

to govern worlds of men by God so given,

that the world’s best be given to God and Heaven:

Thou young, thou tender, ever-flourishing bough,

true scion of tree by Christ belovèd more

than aught that Occident did ever know,

“Cæsarian” or “Most Christian” styled before:

Look on thy ’scutcheon, and behold it show

the present Vict’ory long past ages bore;

Arms which He gave and made thine own to be

by Him assurèd on the fatal tree:

Thou, mighty Sovran! o’er whose lofty reign

the rising Sun rains earliest smile of light;

sees it from middle firmamental plain;

And sights it sinking on the breast of Night:

Thou, whom we hope to hail the blight, the bane

of the dishonour’d Ishmaëlitish knight;

and Orient Turk, and Gentoo—misbeliever

that drinks the liquor of the Sacred River:

Incline awhile, I pray, that majesty

which in thy tender years I see thus ample,

E’en now prefiguring full maturity

that shall be shrined in Fame’s eternal temple:

Those royal eyne that beam benignity

bend on low earth: Behold a new ensample

of hero hearts with patriot pride inflamèd,

in number’d verses manifold proclaimèd.

Thou shalt see Love of Land that ne’er shall own

lust of vile lucre; soaring towards th’ Eternal:

For ’tis no light ambition to be known

th’ acclaimed herald of my nest paternal.

Hear; thou shalt see the great names greater grown

of Vavasors who hail the Lord Supernal:

So shalt thou judge which were the higher station,

King of the world or Lord of such a nation.

Hark, for with vauntings vain thou shalt not view

phantastical, fictitious, lying deed

of lieges lauded, as strange Muses do,

seeking their fond and foolish pride to feed

Thine acts so forceful are, told simply true,

all fabled, dreamy feats they far exceed;

exceeding Rodomont, and Ruggiero vain,

and Roland haply born of Poet’s brain.

For these I give thee a Nuno, fierce in fight,

who for his King and Country freely bled;

an Egas and a Fuas; fain I might

for them my lay with harp Homeric wed!

For the twelve peerless Peers again I cite

the Twelve of England by Magriço led:

Nay, more, I give thee Gama’s noble name,

who for himself claims all Æneas’ fame.

And if in change for royal Charles of France,

or rivalling Cæsar’s mem’ories thou wouldst trow,

the first Afonso see, whose conquering lance

lays highest boast of stranger glories low:

See him who left his realm th’ inheritance

fair Safety, born of wars that crusht the foe:

That other John, a knight no fear deter’d,

the fourth and fifth Afonso, and the third.

Nor shall they silent in my song remain,

they who in regions there where Dawns arise,

by Acts of Arms such glories toil’d to gain,

where thine unvanquisht flag for ever flies,

Pacheco, brave of braves; th’ Almeidas twain,

whom Tagus mourns with ever-weeping eyes;

dread Albuquerque, Castro stark and brave,

with more, the victors of the very grave.

But, singing these, of thee I may not sing,

O King sublime! such theme I fain must fear.

Take of thy reign the reins, so shall my King

create a poesy new to mortal ear:

E’en now the mighty burthen here I ring

(and speed its terrors over all the sphere!)

of sing’ular prowess, War’s own prodigies,

in Africk regions and on Orient seas.

Casteth on thee the Moor eyne cold with fright,

in whom his coming doom he views designèd:

The barb’rous Gentoo, sole to see thy sight

yields to thy yoke the neck e’en now inclinèd;

Tethys, of azure seas the sovran right,

her realm, in dowry hath to thee resignèd;

and by thy noble tender beauty won,

would bribe and buy thee to become her son.

In thee from high Olympick halls behold

themselves, thy grandsires’ sprites; far-famèd pair;

this clad in Peacetide’s angel-robe of gold,

that crimson-hued with paint of battle-glare:

By thee they hope to see their tale twice told,

their lofty mem’ries live again; and there,

when Time thy years shall end, for thee they ’sign

a seat where soareth Fame’s eternal shrine.

But, sithence ancient Time slow minutes by

ere ruled the Peoples who desire such boon;

bend on my novel rashness favouring eye,

that these my verses may become thine own:

So shalt thou see thine Argonauts o’erfly

yon salty argent, when they see it shown

thou seest their labours on the raging sea:

Learn even now invok’d of man to be.


Now, my Calliope! to teach incline

what speech great Gama for the king did frame:

Inspire immortal song, grant voice divine

unto this mortal who so loves thy name.

Thus may the God whose gift was Medicine,

to whom thou barest Orpheus, lovely Dame!

never for Daphne, Clytia, Leucothoë

due love deny thee or inconstant grow he.

Satisfy, Nymph! desires that in me teem,

to sing the merits of thy Lusians brave;

so worlds shall see and say that Tagus-stream

rolls Aganippe’s liquor. Leave, I crave,

leave flow’ry Pindus-head; e’en now I deem

Apollo bathes me in that sovran wave;

else must I hold it, that thy gentle sprite,

fears thy dear Orpheus fade through me from sight.

All stood with open ears in long array

to hear what mighty Gama mote unfold;

when, past in thoughtful mood a brief delay,

began he thus with brow high-raised and bold:—

“Thou biddest me, O King! to say my say

anent our grand genealogy of old:

Thou bidd’st me not relate an alien story;

Thou bidd’st me laud my brother Lusian’s glory.

“That one praise others’ exploits and renown

is honour’d custom which we all desire;

yet fear I ’tis unfit to praise mine own;

lest praise, like this suspect, no trust inspire;

nor may I hope to make all matters known

for Time however long were short; yet, sire!

as thou commandest all is owed to thee;

maugre my will I speak and brief will be.

“Nay, more, what most obligeth me, in fine,

is that no leasing in my tale may dwell;

for of such Feats whatever boast be mine,

when most is told, remaineth much to tell:

But that due order wait on the design,

e’en as desirest thou to learn full well,

the wide-spread Continent first I’ll briefly trace,

then the fierce bloody wars that waged my race.


“Lo! here her presence showeth noble Spain,

of Europe’s body corporal the head;

o’er whose home-rule, and glorious foreign reign,

the fatal Wheel so many a whirl hath made;

Yet ne’er her Past or force or fraud shall stain,

nor restless Fortune shall her name degrade;

no bonds her bellic offspring bind so tight

but it shall burst them with its force of sprite.

“There, facing Tingitania’s shore, she seemeth

to block and bar the Med’iterranean wave,

where the known Strait its name ennobled deemeth

by the last labour of the Theban Brave.

Big with the burthen of her tribes she teemeth,

circled by whelming waves that rage and rave;

all noble races of such valiant breast,

that each may justly boast itself the best.

“Hers the Tarragonese who, famed in war,

made aye-perturbed Parthenopé obey;

the twain Asturias, and the haught Navarre

twin Christian bulwarks on the Moslem way:

Hers the Gallego canny, and the rare

Castilian, whom his star raised high to sway

Spain as her saviour, and his seign’iory feel

Bætis, Leon, Granada, and Castile.

“See, the head-crowning coronet is she

of general Europe, Lusitania’s reign,

where endeth land and where beginneth sea,

and Phœbus sinks to rest upon the main.

Willed her the Heavens with all-just decree

by wars to mar th’ ignoble Mauritan,

to cast him from herself: nor there consent

he rule in peace the Fiery Continent.

“This is my happy land, my home, my pride;

where, if the Heav’ens but grant the pray’er I pray

for glad return and every risk defied,

there may my life-light fail and fade away.

This was the Lusitania, name applied

by Lusus or by Lysa, sons, they say,

of antient Bacchus, or his boon compeers,

eke the first dwellers of her eldest years.

“Here sprang the Shepherd, in whose name we see

forecast of virile might, of virtuous meed;

whose fame no force shall ever hold in fee,

since fame of mighty Rome ne’er did the deed.

This, by light Heaven’s volatile decree,

that antient Scyther, who devours his seed,

made puissant pow’er in many a part to claim,

assuming regal rank; and thus it came:—

“A King there was in Spain, Afonso hight,

who waged such warfare with the Saracen,

that by his ’sanguined arms, and arts, and might,

he spoiled the lands and lives of many men.

When from Hercùlean Calpè winged her flight

his fame to Caucasus Mount and Caspian glen,

many a knight, who noblesse coveteth,

comes off’ering service to such King and Death.

“And with intrinsic love inflamèd more

for the True Faith, than honours popular,

they troopèd, gath’ering from each distant shore,

leaving their dear-loved homes and lands afar.

When with high feats of force against the Moor

they proved of sing’ular worth in Holy War,

willèd Afonso that their mighty deeds

commens’urate gifts command and equal meeds.

“’Mid them Henrique, second son, men say,

of a Hungarian King, well-known and tried,

by sort won Portugal which, in his day,

ne prizèd was ne had fit cause for pride:

His strong affection stronger to display

the Spanish King decreed a princely bride,

his only child, Teresa, to the count;

And with her made him Seigneur Paramount.

“This doughty Vassal from that servile horde,

Hagar, the handmaid’s seed, great vict’ories won;

reft the broad lands adjacent with his sword

and did whatever Brav’ery bade be done;

Him, for his exploits excellent to reward,

God gave in shortest space a gallant son,

whose arm to ’noble and enfame was fain

the warlike name of Lusitania’s reign.

“Once more at home this conqu’ering Henry stood

who sacred Hierosol’yma had relievèd,

his eyes had fed on Jordan’s holy flood,

which the Dear Body of Lord God had lavèd;

when Godfrey left no foe to be subdued,

and all Judæa conquered was and savèd,

many that in his wars had done devoir

to their own lordships took the way once more.

“But when this stout and gallant Hun attainèd

Life’s fatal period, age and travail-spent,

he gave, by Death’s necessity constrainèd,

his sprite to him that had that spirit lent:

A son of tender years alone remainèd,

to whom the Sire bequeath’d his ’bodiment;

with bravest braves the youth was formed to cope,

for from such sire such son the world may hope.

“Yet old Report, I know not what its weight

(for on such antique tale no man relies),

saith that the Mother, tane in tow the State,

A second nuptial bed did not despise:

Her orphan son to disinher’ited fate

she doomed, declaring hers the dignities,

not his, with seigniory o’er all the land,

her spousal dowry by her sire’s command.

“Now Prince Afonso (who such style had tane

in pious mem’ory of his Grandsire’s name),

seeing no part and portion in his reign

all pilled and plundered by the Spouse and Dame,

by dour and doughty Mars inflamed amain,

privily plots his heritage to claim:

He weighs the causes in his own conceit

till firm Resolve its fit effect shall greet.

“Of Guimara’ens the field already flow’d

with floods of civil warfare’s bloody tide,

where she, who little of the Mother show’d,

to her own bowels love and land denied.

Fronting the child in fight the parent stood;

nor saw her depth of sin that soul of pride

against her God, against maternal love:

Her sensual passion rose all pow’r above.

“O magical Medea! O Progne dire!

if your own babes in vengeance dared ye kill

for alien crimes, and injuries of the sire,

look ye, Teresa’s deed was darker still.

Foul greed of gain, incontinent desire,

were the main causes of such bitter ill:

Scylla her agèd sire for one did slay,

for both Teresa did her son betray.

“Right soon that noble Prince clear vict’ory won

from his harsh Mother and her Fere indign;

in briefest time the land obeyed the son,

though first to fight him did the folk incline.

But reft of reason and by rage undone

he bound the Mother in the biting chain:

Eftsoons avenged her griefs the hand of God:

Such veneration is to parents ow’d.

“Lo! the superb Castilian ’gins prepare

his pow’r to ’venge Teresa’s injuries,

against the Lusian land in men so rare,

whereon ne toil ne trouble heavy lies.

Their breasts the cruel battle grandly dare,

aid the good cause angelic Potencies;

unrecking might unequal still they strive,

nay, more, their dreadful foe to flight they drive.

“Passeth no tedious time, before the great

Prince a dure Siege in Guimaraens dree’d

by passing pow’er, for to ’mend his state,

came the fell en’emy, full of grief and greed:

But when committed life to direful Fate,

Egas, the faithful guardian, he was free’d,

who had in any other way been lost,

all unpreparèd ’gainst such ’whelming host.

“But when the loyal Vassal well hath known

how weak his Monarch’s arm to front such fight,

sans order wending to the Spanish fone,

his Sovran’s homage he doth pledge and plight.

Straight from the horrid siege th’ invader flown

trusteth the word and honour of the Knight,

Egas Moniz: But now the noble breast

of the brave Youth disdaineth strange behest.

“Already came the plighted time and tide,

when the Castilian Don stood dight to see,

before his pow’er the Prince bend low his pride,

yielding the promisèd obediency.

Egas who views his knightly word belied,

while still Castile believes him true to be,

Sweet life resolveth to the winds to throw,

nor live with foulest taint of faithless vow.

“He with his children and his wife departeth

to keep his promise with a faith immense;

unshod and strippèd, while their plight imparteth

far more of pity than of vengeance:

‘If, mighty Monarch! still thy spirit smarteth

to wreak revenge on my rash confidence,’

quoth he, ‘Behold! I come with life to save

my pledge, my knightly honour’s word I gave.’

“‘I bring, thou seest here, lives innocent,

of wife, of sinless children dight to die;

if breasts of gen’erous mould and excellent

accept such weaklings’ woeful destiny.

Thou seest these hands, this tongue inconsequent:

hereon alone the fierce exper’iment try

of torments, death, and doom that pass in full

Sinis or e’en Perillus’ brazen bull.’

“As shrifted wight the hangman stands before,

in life still draining bitter draught of death,

lays throat on block, and of all hope forlore,

expects the blighting blow with bated breath:

So, in the Prince’s presence angry sore,

Egás stood firm to keep his plighted faith:

When the King, marv’elling at such wondrous truth,

feels anger melt and merge in Royal ruth.

“Oh the great Portingall fidelity

of Vassal self-devote to doom so dread!

What did the Persian more for loyalty

whose gallant hand his face and nostrils shred?

When great Darius mourned so grievously

that he a thousand times deep-sighing said,

far he prefer’d his Zóp’yrus sound again,

than lord of twenty Babylons to reign.

“But Prince Afonso now prepared his band

of happy Lusians proud to front the foes,

those haughty Moors that held the glorious land

yon side where clear delicious Tagus flows:

Now on Ourique field was pitched and plan’d

the Royal ’Campment fierce and bellicose,

facing the hostile host of Sarrasin

though there so many, here so few there bin.

“Confident, yet would he in naught confide,

save in his God that holds of Heav’en the throne;

so few baptizèd stood their King beside,

there were an hundred Moors for every one:

Judge any sober judgment, and decide

’twas deed of rashness or by brav’ery done

to fall on forces whose exceeding might

a cent’ury showèd to a single Knight.

“Order five Moorish Kings the hostile host

of whom Ismár, so called, command doth claim;

all of long Warfare large experience boast,

wherein may mortals win immortal fame:

And gallant dames the Knights they love the most

’company, like that brave and beauteous Dame,

who to beleaguered Troy such aidance gave

with woman-troops that drained Thermòdon’s wave.

“The coolth serene, and early morning’s pride,

now paled the sparkling stars about the Pole,

when Mary’s Son appearing crucified

in vision, strengthened King Afonso’s soul.

But he, adoring such appearance, cried,

fired with a phrenzied faith beyond control:

‘To th’ Infidel, O Lord! to th’ Infidel:

Not, Lord, to me who know Thy pow’er so well.’

“Such gracious marvel in such manner sent

’flamèd the Lusians’ spirits fierce and high,

towards their nat’ural King, that excellent

Prince, unto whom love-boon none could deny:

Aligned to front the foeman prepotent,

they shouted res’onant slogan to the sky,

and fierce the ’larum rose, ‘Real, real,

for high Afonso, King of Portugal!’


“Accomplishèd his act of arms victorious,

home to his Lusian realm Afonso sped,

to gain from Peace-tide triumphs great and glorious,

as those he gained in wars and battles dread;

when the sad chance, on History’s page memorious,

which can unsepulchre the sheeted dead,

befell that ill-starr’d, miserable Dame

who, foully slain, a thronèd Queen became.

“Thou, only thou, pure Love, whose cruel might

obligeth human hearts to weal and woe,

thou, only thou, didst wreak such foul despight,

as though she were some foul perfidious foe.

Thy burning thirst, fierce Love, they say aright,

may not be quencht by saddest tears that flow;

Nay, more, thy sprite of harsh tyrannick mood

would see thine altars bathed with human blood.

“He placed thee, fair Ignèz! in soft retreat,

culling the first-fruits of thy sweet young years,

in that delicious Dream, that dear Deceit,

whose long endurance Fortune hates and fears:

Hard by Mondego’s yearned-for meads thy seat,

where linger, flowing still, those lovely tears,

until each hill-born tree and shrub confest

the name of Him deep writ within thy breast.

“There, in thy Prince awoke responsive-wise,

dear thoughts of thee which soul-deep ever lay;

which brought thy beauteous form before his eyes,

whene’er those eyne of thine were far away;

Night fled in falsest, sweetest phantasies,

in fleeting, flying reveries sped the Day;

and all, in fine, he saw or cared to see

were memories of his love, his joys, his thee.

“Of many a dainty dame and damosel

The coveted nuptial couches he rejecteth;

for naught can e’er, pure Love! thy care dispel,

when one enchanting shape thy heart subjecteth.

These whims of passion to despair compel

the Sire, whose old man’s wisdom aye respecteth,

his subjects murmuring at his son’s delay

to bless the nation with a bridal day.

“To wrench Ignèz from life he doth design,

better his captured son from her to wrench;

deeming that only blood of death indign

the living lowe of such true Love can quench.

What Fury willed it that the steel so fine,

which from the mighty weight would never flinch

of the dread Moorman, should be drawn in hate

to work that hapless delicate Ladye’s fate?

“The horr’ible Hangmen hurried her before

the King, now moved to spare her innocence;

but still her cruel murther urged the more

the People, swayed by fierce and false pretence.

She with her pleadings pitiful and sore,

that told her sorrows and her care immense

for her Prince-spouse and babes, whom more to leave

than her own death the mother’s heart did grieve:

“And heav’enwards to the clear and cryst’alline skies,

raising her eyne with piteous tears bestainèd;

her eyne, because her hands with cruel ties

one of the wicked Ministers constrainèd:

And gazing on her babes in wistful guise,

whose pretty forms she loved with love unfeignèd,

whose orphan’d lot the Mother filled with dread,

until their cruel grandsire thus she said:—

“‘If the brute-creatures, which from natal day

on cruel ways by Nature’s will were bent;

or feral birds whose only thought is prey,

upon aërial rapine all intent;

if men such salvage be’ings have seen display

to little children loving sentiment,

e’en as to Ninus’ mother did befall,

and to the twain who rear’d the Roman wall:

“‘O thou, who bear’st of man the gest and breast,

(an it be manlike thus to draw the sword

on a weak girl because her love imprest

his heart, who took her heart and love in ward);

respect for these her babes preserve, at least!

since it may not her òbscure death retard:

Moved be thy pitying soul for them and me,

although my faultless fault unmoved thou see!

“‘And if thou know’est to deal in direful fight

the doom of brand and blade to Moorish host,

Know also thou to deal of life the light

to one who ne’er deserved her life be lost;

But an thou wouldst mine inno’cence thus requite,

place me for aye on sad exilèd coast,

in Scythian sleet, on seething Libyan shore,

with life-long tears to linger evermore.

“‘Place me where beasts with fiercest rage abound,—

Lyons and Tygers,—there, ah! let me find

if in their hearts of flint be pity found,

denied to me by heart of humankind.

There with intrinsic love and will so fond

for him whose love is death, there will I tend

these tender pledges whom thou see’st; and so

shall the sad mother cool her burning woe.’

“Inclin’ed to pardon her the King benign,

moved by this sad lament to melting mood;

but the rude People and Fate’s dure design

(that willed it thus) refused the pardon sued:

They draw their swords of steely temper fine,

They who proclaim as just such deed of blood:

Against a ladye, caitiff, felon wights!

how showed ye here, brute beasts or noble Knights?

“Thus on Polyxena, that beauteous maid,

last solace of her mother’s age and care,

when doom’d to die by fierce Achilles’ shade,

the cruel Pyrrhus hasted brand to bare:

But she (a patient lamb by death waylaid)

with the calm glances which serene the air,

casts on her mother, mad with grief, her eyes

and silent waits that awesome sacrifice.

“Thus dealt with fair Ignèz the murth’erous crew,

in th’ alabastrine neck that did sustain

the charms whereby could Love the love subdue

of him, who crown’d her after death his Queen;

bathing their blades; the flow’ers of snowy hue,

which often water’ed by her eyne had been,

are blood-dyed; and they burn with blinding hate,

reckless of tortures stor’d for them by Fate.

“Well mightest shorn of rays, O Sun! appear

to fiends like these on day so dark and dire;

as when Thyestes ate the meats that were

his seed, whom Atreus slew to spite their sire.

And you, O hollow Valleys! doomed to hear

her latest cry from stiffening lips expire—

her Pedro’s name,—did catch that mournful sound,

whose echoes bore it far and far around!

“E’en as Daisy sheen, that hath been shorn

in time untimely, floret fresh and fair,

and by untender hand of maiden torn

to deck the chaplet for her wreathèd hair;

gone is its odor and its colours mourn;

So pale and faded lay that Ladye there;

dried are the roses of her cheek, and fled

the white live color, with her dear life dead.

“Mondego’s daughter-Nymphs the death obscure

wept many a year, with wails of woe exceeding;

and for long mem’ry changed to fountain pure

the floods of grief their eyes were ever feeding:

The name they gave it, which doth still endure,

revived Ignèz, whose murthered love lies bleeding,

see yon fresh fountain flowing ’mid the flowers,

tears are its waters, and its name ‘Amores!’

“Time ran not long, ere Pedro saw the day

of vengeance dawn for wounds that ever bled;

who, when he took in hand the kingly sway,

eke took the murth’erers who his rage had fled:

Them a most cruel Pedro did betray;

for both, if human life the foemen dread,

made concert savage and dure pact, unjust as

Lepidus made with Anthony’ and Augustus.”