|History of Portuguese Literature||Origins of Portuguese Literature||The Portuguese Language||Oral Literature||Fiction||Lyricism|
|Travel Literature||Cantigas de amigo||Historiography||Doctrinal Prose|
Considered to be the poet of
the Portuguese nationality, so eloquently expressed through the modern epic poem
Luís Vaz de Camões clearly had a life that was full of trials and tribulations,
even though very little is actually known about it. He studied in Coimbra, was
at Ceuta and fought in India, losing an eye in the meantime, and, after his
return to Lisbon, began to frequent the Royal Palace, although he lived in great
difficulties, from a very meagre pension granted by the king, and did not see
his great merits recognised during his lifetime.
O Gigante Adamastor (The Giant Adamastor). Picture inserted in Os Lusíadas, Lisbon, Marujo Editora, 1985
Born in 1525, he died in 1580, after which his reputation as a great poet
was firmly established and permanently continued to increase, especially after
the loss of national independence, a feeling that had been intensified by his
He also worked within the theatre, but he was noted more than anything
else for his lyrical poetry (Rimas), using a great variety of different
genres: sonnets, songs, eclogues, roundels, etc…
He was the great poet of Portuguese mannerism, following on in a direct
line from the classical tradition in the Renaissance manner, although he was
sensitive to the possibility of gaining knowledge through experience that his
epoch and travels provided him with.
His work was enriched by his sensitivity to both feelings and knowledge,
being marked by an imitation of the authors of classical antiquity. Yet, it was
also permeable to the contemporary influences of an existence that was
undergoing a process of mutation. This is why his work revealed an enormous
complexity, in which what stands out most is the acute sensitivity with which he
feels tensions and how these in turn lend a simultaneously literary and
experiential sharpness to his lyricism.
Let Love search for new arts, a new talent
to kill me, and new indifference;
for it cannot take away my hopes,
for it will have difficulty in taking from me what I do not have.
See with what hopes I maintain myself
See how dangerous my safety is!
For I do not fear contrasts or changes,
sailing on the rough sea, my vessel lost.
But, although there cannot be any grief
where there is no hope, Love hides
from me an evil that kills and cannot be seen.
For there are days that have placed in my soul
an I know not what, that is born I know not where,
appears I know not how and hurts I know not why.
© Instituto Camões, 2001