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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: Tagus (Tejo), the River

The Last Song of Camoens

By William Lisle Bowles (1762–1850)

THE MORNING shone on Tagus’ rocky side,

And airs of summer swelled the yellow tide,

When, rising from his melancholy bed,

And faint, and feebly by Antonio led,

Poor Camoens, subdued by want and woe,

Along the winding margin wandered slow.

His harp, that once could each warm feeling move

Of patriot glory or of tenderest love,

His sole and sable friend (while a faint tone

Rose from the wires) placed by a mossy stone.

How beautiful the sun ascending shines

From ridge to ridge, along the purple vines!

How pure the azure of the opening skies!

How resonant the nearer rock replies

To call of early mariners! and hark!

The distant whistle from yon parting bark,

That down the channel as serene she strays,

Her gray sail mingles with the morning haze,

Bound to explore, o’er ocean’s stormy reign,

New lands that lurk amid the lonely main!

A transient fervor touched the old man’s breast;

He raised his eyes, so long by care depressed,

And while they shone with momentary fire,

Ardent he struck the long-forgotten lyre.

From Tagus’ yellow-sanded shore,

O’er the billows, as they roar,

O’er the blue sea, waste and wide,

Our bark threw back the burning tide,

By northern breezes cheer’ly borne,

On to the kingdoms of the morn.

Blanco, whose cold shadow vast

Chills the western wave, is past!

Huge Bojador, frowning high,

Thy dismal terrors we defy!

But who may violate the sleep

And silence of the sultry deep;

Where, beneath the intenser sun,

Hot showers descend, red lightnings run;

Whilst all the pale expanse beneath

Lies burning wide, without a breath;

And at midday from the mast,

No shadow on the deck is cast!

Night by night, still seen the same,

Strange lights along the cordage flame,

Perhaps the spirits of the good,

That wander this forsaken flood,

Sing to the seas, as slow we float,

A solemn and a holy note!