Precisa ter instalado o JavaAplet
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Precisa ter instalado o JavaAplet
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History of Portuguese Literature Origins of Portuguese Literature The Portuguese Language Oral Literature Fiction Lyricism
Travel Literature Cantigas de amigo Historiography Doctrinal Prose



Camões. Portrait by Fernão Gomes. National Archives/Torre do Tombo

Lisbon at the beginning of the 16th century. Duarte Galvão, Crónica d'el Rei Dom Afonso Henriques, c. 1520

Considered to be the poet of the Portuguese nationality, so eloquently expressed through the modern epic poem Os Lusíadas, 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 epic poem.

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