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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.

Introductory to Portugal

The Complaint of Camoens

By Luís de Camões (c. 1524–1580)

(From The Lusiad)
Translated by William Julius Mickle

ALAS, on Tago’s hapless shores alone

The Muse is slighted, and her charms unknown;

For this no Virgil here attunes the lyre,

No Homer here awakes the hero’s fire.

On Tago’s shores are Scipios, Cæsars born,

And Alexanders Lisboa’s clime adorn,

But heaven has stamped them in a rougher mould,

Nor gave the polish to their genuine gold.

Careless and rude or to be known or know,

In vain to them the sweetest numbers flow;

Unheard, in vain their native poet sings,

And cold neglect weighs down the Muse’s wings.

Even he whose veins the blood of Gama warms,

Walks by, unconscious of the Muse’s charms:

For him no Muse shall leave her golden loom,

No palm shall blossom, and no wreath shall bloom;

Yet shall my labors and my cares be paid

By fame immortal, and by Gama’s shade:

Him shall the song of every shore proclaim,

The first of heroes, first of naval fame.

Rude and ungrateful though my country be,

This proud example shall be taught by me,

“Where’er the hero’s worth demands the skies,

To crown that worth some generous bard shall rise.”


Ye gentle Nymphs of Tago’s rosy bowers,

Ah, see what lettered patron-lords are yours!

Dull as the herds that graze their flowery dales,

To them in vain the injured Muse bewails:

No fostering care their barbarous hands bestow,

Though to the Muse their fairest fame they owe.

Ah, cold may prove the future priest of Fame

Taught by my fate: yet will I not disclaim

Your smiles, ye Muses of Mondego’s shade,

Be still my dearest joy your happy aid!

And hear my vow; nor king nor loftiest peer

Shall e’er from me the song of flattery hear;

Nor crafty tyrant, who in office reigns,

Smiles on his king, and binds the land in chains;

His king’s worst foe: nor he whose raging ire,

And raging wants, to shape his course, conspire;

True to the clamors of the blinded crowd,

Their changeful Proteus, insolent and loud;

Nor he whose honest mien secures applause,

Grave though he seem, and father of the laws,

Who, but half-patriot, niggardly denies

Each other’s merit, and withholds the prize:

Who spurns the Muse, nor feels the raptured strain

Useless by him esteemed, and idly vain:

For him, for these, no wreath my hand shall twine;

On other brows the immortal rays shall shine:

He who the path of honor ever trod,

True to his king, his country, and his God,

On his blessed head my hands shall fix the crown

Wove of the deathless laurels of renown.