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

Portugal: Santarem

Elegy Written in Banishment at Santarem

By Luís de Camões (c. 1524–1580)

Translated by Mrs. Cockle

TO rugged Pontus, when from cloudless skies,

Sulmonian Ovid, banished, weeping turned;

His household gods, wife, children,—all the ties

Of sacred love in parting grief he mourned.

With eye averted, on his country cast

No lingering look, but still in sadder strain

Gave his keen feelings, as he wandering passed,

To rivers, mountains, and the cheerless plain.

He marked where Nature in her glowing pride

O’er earth, o’er air, and all the star-gemmed sky,

Bade Order’s laws around their course preside,

And owned the universal harmony.

The fishes, sportive in the crystal wave,

By instinct guided in their liquid way;

The beasts, proceeding for their mountain cave,

Confess alike her great, her secret sway.

Saw murmuring streamlets from their glittering source

Pursue their path in tributary pride;

Saw them, obedient to their destined course,

Steal in soft splendor to the sparkling tide.

Himself he saw amidst the exile’s woe,

The unequalled woe that cannot find relief,

While o’er his verse soft tears of sorrow flow;

His Muse alone companion of his grief.

Thus Fancy paints me, thus like him forlorn,

Condemned the hapless exile’s fate to prove;

In life-consuming pain thus doomed to mourn

The loss of all I prized,—of her I love.

Yet proudly turning in remembered bliss

To joys by memory graven on the heart,

I see how transient earthly happiness,

How weak is glory and how vain her art.

Reflection paints me guiltless though opprest,

Increasing thus the sources of my woe;

The pang unmerited that rends the breast

But bids a tear of keener sorrow flow.

If justly punished, then the enduring mind

A chastened comfort from the cause receives,

And reason may a consolation find

Which undeserved affliction never gives.

What time the smiling morn brings on the day,

And wasting dewdrops vanish from the plain,

What time the nightingale her weeping lay

In sadness pours, and tunes the lovelorn strain,

Midst broken slumbers and delusion’s power

With tenfold force my sorrows all arise;

Steal from repose the transitory hour,

When others find a respite from their sighs.

No mental joys the discontented prove,

When waking sense recalls the hour of care;

Slow o’er some hill with laboring steps I rove,

And give my tortured bosom to despair.

Alas! not here my straining eye surveys

The hallowed spot from whence my sorrows flow;

Here naught in kind compassion meets my gaze,

But mountain heights, where flowers nor herbage grow.

Since my sad exile, to my cheerless view

The fields no more are green, the flowerets fair;

Ah! late I marked their rich luxuriant hue,

But Nature sheds no more gay blossoms there.

On golden Tagus’ undulating stream,

Skim the light barks by gentlest wishes sped;

Trace their still way midst many a rosy gleam

That steals in blushes o’er its trembling bed.

I see them, gay in passing beauty, glide,

Some with fixed sails to woo the tardy gale;

Whilst others with their oars that stream divide,

To which I weeping tell the exile’s tale.

Stay, wandering waves; ye fugitives, ah, stay!

Or if without me ye unpitying go,

At least my tears, my sighs, my vows convey,

Those faithful emblems of my cherished woe.

Go then, pursue in calm translucent grace

Your unrestrained, though not unenvied way,

Till I like you regain that hallowed place,

And hail the dawn of joy’s returning day.

But ah! not soon shall that protracted hour,

To bless the exile in his anguish, come;

Life may fulfil its transitory power,

Ere happier destiny revoke my doom.