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“The World Is Change”

Luis de Camõens (1524-1580)

Luis de Camõens (1524-1580)

Once again I owe a debt of gratitude to Laudator Temporis Acti, certainly one of my favorite websites of late. It seems that no one pays much attention to Portuguese literature any more, or to Luis Vaz de Camõens, who, as author of the Lusiads, is considered perhaps her greatest poet. Below is his sonnet LVII entitled “Omnia Mutantur” (“Everything Changes”). First, here is the English translation by William Baer:

Time changes, and our desires change. What we
believe—even what we are—is ever-
changing. The world is change, which forever
takes on new qualities. And constantly,
we see the new and the novel overturning
the past, unexpectedly, while we retain
from evil, nothing but its terrible pain,
from good (if there’s been any), only the yearning.
Time covers the ground with her cloak of green
where, once, there was freezing snow—and rearranges
my sweetest songs to sad laments. Yet even more
astonishing is yet another unseen
change within all these endless changes:
that for me, nothing ever changes anymore.

And now, for all you Portuguese and Brazilians out there, here it is in the original Portuguese:

Mudam-se os tempos, mudam-se as vontades,
muda-se o ser, muda-se a confiança;
todo o mundo he composto de mudança,
tomando sempre novas qualidades.
Continuamente vemos novidades,
differentes em tudo da esperança;
do mal ficam as mágoas na lembrança,
e do bem (se algum houve) as saüdades.
O tempo cobre o chão de verde manto,
que já coberto foi de neve fria,
e em mi converte em choro o doce canto.
E, afora este mudar-se cada dia,
outra mudança faz de mor espanto:
que não se muda já como soía.

I cannot pretend to understand the Portuguese, but I dearly love to hear the language spoken. It is always music to my ears.