Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Oceanica: Vol. XXXI. 1876–79.

Miscellaneous: Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean

By Luís de Camões (c. 1524–1580)

(From The Lusiad)
Translated by W. J. Mickle

BEHIND them now the Cape of Praso bends,

Another ocean to their view extends,

Where black-topped islands, to their longing eyes,

Laved by the gentle waves, in prospect rise.

But Gama (captain of the venturous band,

Of bold emprize, and born for high command,

Whose martial fires, with prudence close allied,

Insured the smiles of Fortune on his side)

Bears off those shores which waste and wild appeared,

And eastward still for happier climates steered:

When gathering round, and blackening o’er the tide,

A fleet of small canoes the pilot spied;

Hoisting their sails of palm-tree leaves, inwove

With curious art, a swarming crowd they move:

Long were their boats, and sharp to bound along

Through the dashed waters, broad their oars and strong:

The bending rowers on their features bore

The swarthy marks of Phaeton’s fall of yore:

When flaming lightnings scorched the banks of Po,

And nations blackened in the dread o’erthrow.

Their garb, discovered as approaching nigh,

Was cotton striped with many a gaudy dye:

’T was one whole piece beneath one arm confined,

The rest hung loose and fluttered on the wind;

All, but one breast, above the loins was bare,

And swelling turbans bound their jetty hair:

Their arms were bearded darts and falchions broad,

And warlike music sounded as they rowed.

With joy the sailors saw the boats draw near,

With joy beheld the human face appear:

What nations these, their wondering thoughts explore,

What rites they follow, and what God adore!

And now with hands and kerchiefs waved in air

The barbarous race their friendly mind declare.

Glad were the crew, and weened that happy day

Should end their dangers and their toils repay.

The lofty masts the nimble youths ascend,

The ropes they haul, and o’er the yard-arms bend;

And now their bowsprits pointing to the shore,

(A safe, mooned bay), with slackened sails they bore:

With cheerful shouts they furl the gathered sail

That less and less flaps quivering on the gale;

The prows, their speed stopped, o’er the surges nod,

The falling anchors dash the foaming flood;

When, sudden as they stopped, the swarthy race,

With smiles of friendly welcome on each face,

The ship’s high sides swift by the cordage climb:

Illustrious Gama, with an air sublime,

Softened by mild humanity, receives,

And to their chief the hand of friendship gives,

Bids spread the board, and, instant as he said,

Along the deck the festive board is spread:

The sparkling wine in crystal goblets glows,

And round and round with cheerful welcome flows.