Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Portugal: Tagus (Tejo), the River


By William Lisle Bowles (1762–1850)

(From The Spirit of Discovery by Sea)

WHAT lofty meed awaits

The triumph of his victor conch, that swells

Its music on the yellow Tagus’ side,

As when Arion, with his glittering harp

And golden hair, scarce sullied from the main,

Bids all the high rocks listen to his voice

Again! Alas, I see an aged form,

An old man worn by penury, his hair

Blown white upon his haggard cheek, his hand

Emaciated, yet the strings with thrilling touch

Soliciting; but the vain crowds pass by:

His very countrymen, whose fame his song

Has raised to heaven, in stately apathy

Wrapped up, and nursed in pride’s fastidious lap,

Regard not. As he plays, a sable man

Looks up, but fears to speak, and when the song

Has ceased, kisses his master’s feeble hand.

Is that cold wasted hand, that haggard look,

Thine, Camoens? O, shame upon the world!

And is there none, none to sustain thee found,

But he, himself unfriended, who so far

Has followed, severed from his native isles,

To scenes of gorgeous cities, o’er the sea,

Thee and thy broken fortunes!
God of worlds!

O, whilst I hail the triumph and high boast

Of social life, let me not wrong the sense

Of kindness, planted in the human heart

By man’s great Maker, therefore I record

Antonio’s faithful, gentle, generous love

To his heart-broken master, that might teach,

High as it bears itself, a polished world

More charity.