Color Luís Vaz de Camões with a Halcyon

Poet Luís Vaz de Camões

According to my friend Rui Afonso: XVI century… self exiled in military in North Africa due to an unrequited love. Lost his eye but lived to write the Epic poem that tells the story of the Portuguese Discoveries.

Poems don’t translate well, but here is a poem of his in Portuguese (Don’t speak Portuguese? Learn it!):

As Alcióneas aves triste canto
Junto da costa brava levantaram,
Lembrando-se do seu passado pranto,
Que as furiosas águas lhe causaram.
Os delfins namorados entretanto
Lá nas covas marítimas entraram,
Fugindo à tempestade e ventos duros,
Que nem no fundo os deixa estar seguros.

“Os Lusiadas” – Canto VI, Stanza 77
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Shoshanah Marohn
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3 Comments

  1. It’s worth learning Portuguese just to find out what “passado pranto” means. It’s a phrase that could easily become more popular than its English equivalent.

  2. Past mourning. I cheated and used google translate. It would take a long while to learn Portuguese for this geezer. So North Africa is the place to go when your heart is broken? I could see that. Even with one eye.

  3. Portugal has a strange and interesting history, wherein they sort of lost North Africa. It might still be a good place to go, though.

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