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When my fantasies, and these extreme

regrets, shut my eyes in sleep, I discover,

before me, the risin spirit of my lover,

who was, even in life, always a dream.

Then across some desert, where I can barely see

the endlessly distant horizons, I pursue

my love without success. She fades from view,

by some unseen force, and glides away from me.

I cry out, “Spirit, don’t run away again!”

But her eyes meet mine, sad and soft and deep,

as if to say, “No. This can never be!”

She starts to leave. I scream: “Dina . . . ,” but then,

before I finish her name, I wake from sleep,

as even this breef delusion escapes from me.

—Luís de Camões (1524/25-1580)

Translated from the Portugese by William Baer


for Dom Henrique de Menses

His formidable strength of will conforms

to his noble intellect; his ideals confirm

themselves in action, always bold and firm

even in life’s tumultuous winds and storms:

unmoved by greed or vulgar riches; the most

remarkable exemplar of the truly

dignified state; and the scourge of all those unruly,

bloodthirsty peoples on the Malabar Coast.

Handsome in form and face, and pure before

the entire world, and chaste; an excellence

of noble attributes which seldom occur

in nature. All these virtues and many more,

worthy of Homer’s highest eloquence,

are laid to rest beneath this sepulcher.

—Luís de Camões (1524/25-1580)

Translated from the Porgugese by William Baer


The flaming sun rises high, to the peak

of its ascent in the sky. The goat herds shrink

away from their sweltering fields to drink

the cool refreshing waters from the creek.

The birds, burning in the schorching clare,

find shelter beneath the leaves, within the shade,

but, still, their lovely songs begin to fade,

and only the chirps of crickets fill the air.

As Liso searches for the nymph, although

he always fails, no matter how he tries,

and with a thousand sighs, bemoans his lot:

“Why do you leave the one who loves you so,

for one who loves you not?” young Liso cries,

and Echo answers softly: “ . . . loves you not.”

—Luís de Camões (1524/25-1580)

Translated from the Portugese by William Baer

Ruy Dias

In this world I managed to survive

a few short years, full of misery,

before the lights of day were taken from me,

much too soon, by the age of twenty-five.

Across vast seas in distant lands, I tried

to find some remedy for life. But when

the Fates say no, despite your efforts, again

and again, you end up defeated and unsatisfied.

Raised in Portugal, in the fertile lands

of Alemquer, I die a refugee,

dead from the foreign air and its foul decay,

food for the hungry fish in a brutish sea,

that crashes against these wild Abyssinian sands,

so unlike Alemquer, and so far away

—Luís de Camões (1524/25-1580)

Translated from the Portugese by William Baer

Image by Joshchamas licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.