BETA

CAMOËNS ;

A DRAMATIC SKETCH. IN ONE ACT.

In resuming our notices of the German drama, we shall, on this occasion,
vary from our usual plan, by exhibiting entire a short dramatic sketch by a
modern poet, instead of extracts from plays of greater length and higher pre-
tensions. The name of the young author, Frederick Halm, is as yet little
known in this country, though the high poetry contained both in his Griselidis
and his later tragedy of the Adept, entitle him, we think, to a distinguished
place among the living dramatists of Germany. In knowledge of stage effect,
or ingenious development of plot, he is no doubt still deficient enough ; and a
certain anxiety to embody in each of his plays some philosophical idea, gives
to them, in their general construction, a colder and more artificial character
than is consistent with the reality and lifelike movement which is essential to
dramatic interest. But the poetical enthusiasm and eloquence of individual
scenes, place him far above the level of ordinary playwrights. In this dra-
matic sketch, which we have selected for translation, there is of course no plot,
no minute display of character ; it is simply a representation of the contrast.
between the poetical and the prosaic temperament in Camoëns and Quevedo ;
the love of poetry for its own sake, and the love of gain ; —a cheering picture
of that inward consciousness of having lived and laboured for eternity, which
enables the true poet to rise superior to circumstances, and, amidst poverty,
sickness, and desolation, to preserve his self-respect, and his confidence in his
vocation unimpaired.”

The Dramatis Personæ are,

Don Luis de Camoëns.
Don Jose Quevedo Castel Branco, a rich merchant.
Perez, his son.
The Governor of the Great Hospital in Lisbon.

Scene I.

A small room in the Great Hospital at Lisbon—the walls merely plastered :
the plaster here and there decayed and falling off. In the portion of the
stage, to the right of the spectators, a table covered with paper and books,
and a few chairs ; to the left, a wretched couch, on which Camoëns is asleep ;
a sword leans against the bed ; above his head, hangs a lute covered with
dust : in the background, immediately opposite to the spectators, is the en-
trance.
The door opens, and Don Joseph Quevedo and the Master of the Hospi-
tal
appear on the threshold ; the latter with a bunch of keys at his girdle,
and a book under his arm.
Quevedo.
Three stairs already : must we mount for ever ?1
H. Master.
No, Señor ; we are at the spot.2
Quev.
Thank God ! —3
The perspiration trickles from my forehead,4
My breath is gone entirely : so ! ’ tis here !5
H. M.
(opening the book which he held beneath his arm, and
showing it to
Quevedo.)
See, Señor ! here it stands enregister’d,6
Don Luis de Camoëns, Number Five.”7
We are at Number Five. There’s no mistake !8
Quev.
Indeed !  And you yourself know not the man9
More nearly ?10
H. M.
No, good Señor.11
Quev.
Not by name ?12
Nor by repute ?13
H. M.
We go by numbers only :14
Here’s no repute and no respect of persons.15
Don Luis de Camoëns, Number Five,”16
And nothing else—so stands it in the entry.17
Quev.
Quite right. You are a man that keeps his books18
In order. Here it is then ! By St Jago !19
A gloomy chamber—bars before the windows,20
The bedding wretched—and the plaster bare !21
H. M.
We used to keep our madmen here confined :22
But this man longed so sadly for repose23
And solitude—the room just then stood empty,24
And, as he wish’d it, why we brought him here.25
Quev.
The madman’s room !  ’Twas well. You are a man26
After my own heart. Would you could cram them all,27
These versemakers, at once into a madhouse !28
But, hush ! is that the man that slumbers there29
On yonder couch ?30
H. M.
Señor, it is. He sleeps.31
I will awake him.32
Quev.
Nay, for heaven’s sake, do not :33
I’ll wait beside him till he himself awake.34
H. M.
Then fare-you-well, and may your purpose prosper.35
Quev.
Thanks, friend.—And take this trifle for your trouble.36
[Exit the Master of the Hospital.

Scene II.

Quevedo places himself in a chair near the table, keeping his eye upon Camoëns.
So here am I, and wearied to the death ;37
A little rest, methinks, will do me good.38
Heaven knows I should not now be sitting here,39
Did not some evil spirit drive this son40
Of mine to scorn his father’s trade, and sit41
Hammering out poems, hunting after rhymes,42
And counting feet, and dreaming of his laurels !43
Ah, woe is me ! my only son and heir44
Dreaming of laurels. Gold he cares not for,45
T’ increase his goods, or emulate his father—46
He must attain Camoëns’ high renown—47
There lies the man, the model he admires ;48
There lies he covered over with his laurels—49
And in an hospital !  There lies he wasted,50
Shorn of an eye, all bleach’d and famine smitten—51
The mighty man that sang the Lusiad,52
That fought by Ceuta’s walls and by Oran,53
Lies in the madman’s chamber : his possessions,54
A rusty sword, a mouldering lute, alone !55
What has his life been ? weariness and woe !56
Don Luis de Camoéns, Number Five,”57
And nothing else—so stands it in the entry—58
While I, poor I—whom once he scorn’d and scoff’d at,59
Weighing out raisins, telling oranges,60
But turning maravedis to crusados—61
I am a wealthy, well-condition’d man :62
Three houses I can call my own : for me63
Four galleys, richly fraught, career the sea !64
His search was all for glory—mine for gold !65
Could Perez only see him now, he must66
Choose as I chose : and so he shall by Heaven !67
Therefore I come. See him he shall—shall hear68
From his own mouth how he has dreamt away69
His life in blindness, madness, and delusion.70
But, hush ! —he moans in sleep—his eyes are opening.71
Cam.
(awakens.)
So, then, ’ twas but another broken slumber,72
That sternly wakens me anew to suffer,73
And not that long last sleep that endeth all :74
Death’s shadow only, and not Death himself.75
Ha ! who stirs there ?  A man—a man beside me !76
Who are you, and what marvel brings you here ?77
You must mistake, good friend.78
Quev.
(rising and approaching.)
Not so, good Señor,79
You are the man I sought, and I have found you.80
Cam.
Indeed !  I scarce remember who I am.81
You come, no doubt, to buy some marriage ditty ?82
No ? —Then, perhaps, you want a serenade ?83
Look through those papers on the table there :84
Choose from them as you will—what suits your purpose.85
You’ll find there poems of all sorts ; and at86
The cheapest rate—but two reals a-piece.87
Quev.
You do mistake—88
Cam.
( Who has raised himself from his couch, and with the
assistance of his sword has supported himself till he has
reached a chair, sits down
.)
What—you would have me write89
New verses upon your account ? Good sir,90
I pray you pardon me : I am exhausted,91
I scarce can raise my body from my bed ;92
My strength is gone, my very thoughts are failing.93
So please you, sir, let yonder heap content you.94
Quev.
I came not here to order verses of you,95
Don Luis. Look on me—look long and closely—96
You recognise me ?97
Cam.
Sir, I do not.98
Quev.
Ah !99
You surely must remember me ?100
Cam.
No, Señor.101
Quev.
You were at school with me at Calvas.102
Cam.
I !103
Quev.
Even so, at Calvas. There we quarrell’d often,104
And many a beating you bestow’d upon me.105
Bethink you. Recollect. Nay, you must know me.106
Joseph Quevedo Castel Branco is107
My name—your gossip Marquitas’ son.108
Cam.
Joseph Quevedo !109
Quev.
Ay ! The same, Don Luis—110
The same Quevedo whom you have so often—111
Cam.
(interrupting him with a gloomy and frowning air.)
Well then—what seek you here, Joseph Quevedo ?112
Quev.
I came to see how things were going with you !113
You look indifferent ill, methinks ; much wasted :114
I on the other hand grow corpulent.115
So wags the world. Let him who stands take heed116
Lest he should fall. Fortune is round.117
Cam.
Ay, true ;118
Fortune is round.119
Quev.
Here in an hospital120
You lie, oppress’d by want, bow’d down by sickness :121
You have grown old in looks, your hair is gray—122
You are poorer by an eye—123
Cam.
(With a movement of impatience.)
Joseph Quevedo !124
Why do you count the furrows on my brow,125
And tell the scanty hairs upon my temples ?126
Quev.
I meant no harm, good friend : I only meant127
That times are changed, and we are changed with them.128
You are no more the tall and graceful stripling,129
The ladies’ favourite, the nobles’ pride—130
No longer that Camoëns which you were.131
Cam.
It is most true. But say my strength is broken,132
Say that my life has been an idle dream—133
You at the least were never made my keeper,134
And no Quevedo shall be judge o’er me.135
Quev.
(Aside.)
St Jago ! Fool ! were’t not for Perez’ sake136
I’d teach that pride to bend !137
(Aloud.)
Your speech is rough :138
I had expected a less stern reception,139
A milder greeting. But I see you are ill :140
Were it not so, you would have bid me weleome—141
Would have recall’d the memory of old days,142
Your father’s mansion, and the times of youth—143
Our dances on the turf—the ancient lime-tree144
We used to climb, where you were always highest—145
Or how we play’d the huntsman and the deer,146
The one before, the rest behind, with shouts147
Following like hounds—you recollect ?148
Cam.
Well ! well !149
Quev.
And how in autumn we at times would break150
Into the garden, pilfering fruit, and how151
The surly gardener came and storm’d and scolded.152
Cam.
(with a faint smile.)
Ay, ay ! I know : we were wild youths of old !153
Quev.
And the steep summit of the little hill154
Storm’d by one youthful squadron, and defended155
Heroically by another : —swellings156
Large as hen’s eggs on every arm.157
Cam.
(Pointing to his breast.)
This scar158
Dates from that time.159
Quev.
O mercy ! more’s the pity.160
Then, too, we ventured more than legs and arms :161
The river’s tempting waters once allured us—162
We ventured not at first, but you——163
Cam.
(with emotion.)
Yes, I !164
I was the first : you stood and hesitated—165
I threw myself exulting in, and struggled166
With the wild waves until my arm subdued them—167
Till on their subject-backs far out I rode,168
Far from the shore, where ye were calling loud169
In fear. O fair, O fresh, O joyful time !170
(After a pause.)
Come here !  Reach me thy hand. You know our
natures
171
Stood ever out in hostile opposition.172
You seem’d to me—and yet perhaps you are not173
What you appear’d—Come here—You were of yore174
My playmate. You have tasted joy beside me ;175
And now, on the dark evening of my life,176
You bring the glittering morning back anew.177
Ah me ! I am so much alone, that were you178
My deadly enemy, I must embrace you.179
Quev.
(after a pause, drying his eyes.)
How fared it with you, then, since last we met ?180
You know I never saw you since my father181
Removed me, ere I thought of it, from Calvas,182
And brought me to Figuera. After that 183
No more of play—the day of labour came.184
Cam.
My fortune led me early to Coimbra,185
The sanctuary of knowledge and of art.186
The strains of Homer and the Mantuan’s lay,187
These sounded in mine ear. With conquering power188
The charm of beauty seized upon my soul :189
What formless in me lay assumed a form ;190
The dull grew clear, the dead awoke to life,191
Dim longings for the future stirr’d within me,192
And blissful auguries flash’d across my breast.193
Quev.
Study, my friend, was never my department ;194
My college was a merchant’s counting-house.195
Yet he knew something—he had learn’d to calculate !196
Cam.
But years roll’d on, and the restraint of schools,197
The gloomy lecture-rooms grew all too narrow.198
I follow’d tremblingly my spirit’s prompting.199
I came to Lisbon ; saw its courtly splendour ;200
Beheld the monarch glittering like the sun,201
And all the stars of empire sparkling round him—202
While I stood dazzled in the distance, deeming203
The whole a dream, and dared not, venture nigh.204
Quev.
Just such were my sensations, when I first205
Beheld the crowded mart and wide exchange.206
Cam.
Then I beheld her, and a cloud o’ercast207
The glittering throne, the courtly pomp and splendour ;208
And as God’s breath into the weltering chaos209
Infused the germ of life, the blessed light,210
So shot her spring-like glance, into my soul,211
And from its depths another Eden sprang.212
O she was fair ! so shrinks the budding rose213
Before the breath of air, the kiss of light,214
And blushes at its bloom, and blooms the fairer :215
And what the rose conceals within its bosom,216
She too, a fairer rose, conceal’d within—217
For her pure soul was as a drop of dew.218
Quev.
I felt like you !  The merchant’s only child,219
A pretty gentle maiden touch’d my heart :220
Her father had enough, and she, was free ;221
And I was saving—not unhandsome neither——222
Camoens.
We loved. Our love was like a chord of music,223
Such as the wind that sweeps a lute draws forth,224
Meeting a passive echo from another :225
It was a vision such as blessed spirits226
Dream on in heaven, their earthly days recalling.227
It was a gleam such as the lightning darts,228
That flashes, dazzles, and dissolves in darkness.229
Quev.
I, for my, part, obtain’d the father’s favour—230
He gave consent ; and I, much envied, led231
The handsome merchant’s daughter to the altar.232
Cam.
O happy he, who wins the meed of love ;233
Alas ! I won it not ; for we were parted.234
She wither’d in a convent’s dreary walls,235
And died too soon the flowery death of longing.236
But me the stream of life swept forth : the cry237
Of war rang through the land : a knightly death238
Inviting lay before me. Forth I fared.239
I saw Morocco, fought at Ceuta’s storm,240
And left an eye behind—but not my life.241
Quev.
No happier lot was mine. My dear wife died ;242
And long it was—for I was drown’d in grief—243
Ere her succession could afford me comfort.244
Cam.
I, too, found comfort. As I lay within245
The gloomy lazaret—thick bandages246
Wrapp’d round a countenance that shunn’d the day,247
And night alike around me and within—248
Something came o’er me—how shall I express it ?249
That, like the breath of heaven, came streaming down250
Clear as the fire, yet mild as evening’s gleam ;251
A sense within, and yet without me too ; —252
And nearer yet and nearer still it drew :253
It seized on me—it bore me up on high,254
Till consciousness forsook me. When I woke255
I felt no more alone—no more forsaken.256
My earliest lay lay bathed in tears before me,257
And all grew bright amidst my night of blindness.258
Raised on the wings of song, my spirit found259
Comfort with God. I sang, and I forgot.260
Quev.
I found my comfort, as I said, in money ;261
I laid it out on wares, lent it on pledge ;262
Embark’d in many a bustling trade and venture,263
And, minding trifles, I grew rich at last.264
But whether did life’s current float you, friend ?265
Cam.
I shunn’d the land that held her dear remains—266
The land that had disown’d me and forgotten—267
And sought the distant shores of India.268
There, ’ midst the eternal spring of that bright zone,269
Flow’d forth the lay of Portugal’s renown,270
And found an echo on the banks of Tagus.271
Once more through Europe Vasco’s name was heard ;272
And the far distant Thule’s gloomy shores273
Rang with the Lusiad’s victorious lay.274
Quev.
And did it bring you much ? They tell us here——275
Cam.
(in strong agitation.)
It brought me persecution, envy,
hate ; —
276
The lips that praised the sires, it seem’d, must keep277
Silence, nor hint at their descendants’ fall.278
They could not bear that my too faithful verse279
Had painted them as dwarfs beside the giant ; —280
And so the beings whom I loved disown’d me—281
The land my strain had glorified betray’d me,282
And mine own Portugal rejected me.283
(After a pause.)
—I am a man, and loathe all weak complaints ;284
But this last wound struck through my heart too deeply ;285
It will not heal ; its pang is everlasting—286
As sharp and glowing now as at the hour287
When Portugal first spurn’d her poet from her.288
Quev.
Be calm. Forget the past. Whose speculations289
Fail not at times ?  We all commit mistakes ;290
But what fails now succeeds another time.291
Cam.
Even so for me once more the sun of fortune292
Uprose, and spread around a golden dawn.293
His father’s throne the great Sebastian mounted ;294
The youthful hero’s eagle glance descended295
Into the night and darkness of my prison ;296
The chains that fetter’d me fell off ; his beck297
Invited me to life and light again.298
Spring bloom’d anew within my wither’d breast.299
Then came the fatal day of Alcazar ;300
And our king fell, the victim of his courage.301
Ill omen’d day, that gave his orphan’d land—302
His Portugal—into the Spaniard’s hands.303
O wherefore was I doom’d to overlive it !304
Quev.
An evil day indeed ; and worse have follow’d.305
For you, at least, they brought but little good.306
Cam.
The sun was set that cheer’d my day, and now307
The dark and cheerless eve came closing in.308
So praised, so honour’d once, and now forsaken,—309
Once rich, now poor—desert repaid with want.310
Such is the course of the world ! —311
One friend alone remain’d—he was a slave.312
Oft had I call’d him in my wrath, black dog ;313
But now, when fortune’s current had run dry,314
It was his daily earnings that sustain’d me ;315
’Twas he that nursed me, sat beside my bed,316
And spoke to me with thousand words of kindness.317
He begg’d for me when his own strength gave way,318
And died for me at last—the poor black creature.319
God saw, and will reward him !  Rest in peace,320
Thou last of those that loved me upon earth !321
O vain is fortune : life an empty knell ;322
Who rests within the grave alone sleeps well !323
Quev.
(aside.)
Methinks the time is come to speak my purpose.324
(Aloud,)
Ah ! my poor friend, ill has it fared with thee.—325
Now listen to my errand—grant my prayer.326
Forsake this hospital: become my inmate. 327
My house is furnish’d well for many guests,328
And I am rich. Camoëns, come to me !329
Sleep off with me the weary toil of life,330
And share with me my superfluity.331
Camoëns, dost thou hear me ?332
Cam.
(hesitating.)
I—thy guest ! —333
Thou mean’st it well, Quevedo. I believe334
Thou mean’st it well. I thank thee for thy kindness.335
But here I am contented. Leave me here ;336
Why should I cross thy threshold but to be337
A burden unto thee, as to myself ?338
Quev.
The friend a burden to the friend ! Oh, no !339
Nay, let me tell thee candidly, thy counsel340
And thy assistance may be useful to me.341
Cam.
My aid ? My counsel ? How can I assist thee ?342
Quev.
Friend, hear my narrative, and then decide.343
I have a son, my hope and pride ; he grew344
To blooming youth beside me : I beheld him345
In fancy adding to his father’s stores,346
And building up the fabric I had founded ;347
But suddenly, as if by madness seized,348
Did he forsake the peaceful path of trade :349
Despising gold, he revels among parchments,350
And lives and moves in Art and Poesy !351
Cam.
Madness ! Sheer madness !352
Quev.
So I told him—but353
He hears no warning, no advice ; he thinks354
The Muses’ service must be paradise.355
Camoens.
So dream they all ; and yet ’ tis but a dream !356
Quev.
In vain I have besieged him with entreaties—357
My words were wasted : this it is that grieves me.358
His madness seems incurable ; and yet359
Could he but see how thou has been rewarded—360
See thee, the model he admires—and here—361
Perhaps——362
Cam.
He shall behold me. Send him hither :363
He shall be cured of his insane delusion—364
My fate shall be a solemn warning to him.365
Quev.
Thou wilt advise him : —thou wilt warn him then ?366
Cam.
That will I : send him hither.367
Quev.
He is close368
At hand, and will be here anon : I trust369
He will bring Camoëns back a welcome guest370
Unto his father’s mansion. Promise me :371
Say thou wilt come ?372
Cam.
It may be so. Farewell.373
Quev.
Farewell, good friend. ( Aside.) So that succeeded well.374

Scene III.

Cam.
(after a pause.)
I am exhausted. Frost and fever chase375
Each other through me. Twilight dims my eye.376
Is not this death that doth announce his coming,377
Ere from my lips he kiss the breath away ?378
Catharine is dead. Hassan gone. I stand379
Forlorn upon the margin of the grave.380
The simple citizen, in peaceful toil,381
Contented to add day to day, and walk382
With modest step the path his fathers trode—383
He, when the wing of Death is waved above him,384
Expires amidst the circle of his own,385
In his wife’s arms, whom he had loved on earth ;386
Amidst the children whom she bore to him ;387
By all around beloved—by all lamented ;388
And, when the latest breath of life departs,389
Love’s gentle hand is near to close his eye.390
But I—O madness that hath blinded me—391
I lived alone through life—alone I die !392
Methought I bore a treasure, when the storm393
On China’s shores our quivering vessel caught,394
And crack’d its haughty masts like wither’d reeds,395
And dash’d its hull against the rocks—a treasure396
Which high above the waves my hand upheld.397
I let the tempest sweep my stores away,398
And bore my Lusiad smiling to the land.399
Unhappy strain, first offspring of my soul ;400
Unhappy wreath, that bound the poet’s brow !401
For you I bade defiance to my fate—402
For you renounced the peaceful joys of life—403
Through you, by sad experience, I have learn’d404
There is no real bliss,—except to dwell405
In reconcilement with reality,406
And live unenvied and unenvying !407
(After a pause.)
I freeze ! a shudder runs through all my bones.408
Camoëns dies. Who, at this latest hour,409
Stands by him to refresh or to console ?410
The past is night—the future, too, is night—411
The spirit broken—strength and faith declining—412
The wreaths of glory withering in the dust.413
What has my life been ?  Madness and delusion.414
And now the vision which allured me on415
Fades into vapour ; and a voice proclaims416
The fruit of dreaming life must be a dream !417
[ Sinks back exhausted in the arm-chair.

Scene IV.

Camoëns. Perez Queveno
(entering hastily.)
Perez.
’Twas here, they said—’twas here that I should find him—418
And here he is. ’Tis he indeed. So floated419
His form in dreams before me—bolder only—420
His eye resplendent with a brighter fire,421
And proudly eminent that sunken head.422
No matter : It is he. If age have bent him,423
His visage bears the stamp of his high strain.424
Angels have kiss’d that mouth !425
(Advancing towards Camoëns.)
Don Luis, I salute thee.426
Cam.
Speak, who art thou ?427
Perez.
Quevedo’s son, and Perez is my name.428
Cam.
Quevedo’s son !429
Perez.
Yes, gentle sir, I am.430
My father sends me hither to conduct you431
Where friendship offers a more fitting shelter.432
Come I too soon ?433
Cam.
Had you been one hour later,434
You had come too late. Come nearer. Look on me.435
Death’s angel stands already by my side.436
My time is wellnigh run. But you shall hear437
A dying man’s last counsel, and preserve it438
Deep in your youthful breast.439
Perez.
It cannot be !440
Dying ! —Camoëns dying ! —say not so !441
Cam.
The time is precious. Listen to me, boy.442
Thou wouldst devote thee to the Muses’ service,443
Thy father said : —spoke he the truth ?444
Perez.
He did.445
Cam.
Pause ere you choose : the choice is one for life.446
You are young ; your soul, a stranger yet to earth,447
Is drawn by natural longings to the skies.448
And because poesy is dear to thee,449
It springs, as doth thy soul itself from heaven.450
But love ensures not strength ; intelligence451
Is not creation ; search, discovery—452
Perez.
I know well to receive is not to give !453
Cam.
Then since it is so, search into thy heart !454
Whate’er incites thee—be it vanity ; —455
The child’s propensity to imitation ; —456
The fever’d action of too youthful blood ; —457
The irritation of excited nerves—458
Be not deceived. The player’s art, the speaker’s459
May be acquired ; but nature doth accomplish460
The poet’s soul. His greatness is inborn.461
It comes from heaven, even as it heavenward tends.462
Perez.
(After a short pause.)
I know not what I am ; but how I have463
Become the thing I am, I can unfold.464
A quiet boy—books my delight—I grew465
Up dreaming—the soul’s eye turn’d inwardly,—466
I wander’d blindly on through life. To me467
The calm of moonlight was companionship ;468
The solitudes spoke to me ; the loud voice469
Of busy day died on my ear ; my heart470
Turn’d with aversion from my father’s calling.471
I felt a longing, but it had no name—472
When all at once the Lusiad’s strain was heard,473
And from my spirit’s budding green, broke forth474
The silently matured and shrinking flower.475
No more of doubt : —No room for choice. I read476
In my soul’s depth these words of fire engraven : —477
Him shalt thou follow ! ” Every pulse re-echo’d,478
Him shalt thou follow ! ” Blindly I obey’d.479
Then tell me, am I—am I—not.a poet ?480
Cam.
By Heaven, thine eye doth flash as if thou wert !481
Perchance—Yet were it true—O yet return—482
Return unto the path which thou hast quitted.483
Fate means thee well. Follow thy calling. Trust484
To him who speaks from sad-experience,485
Far from the poet’s path dwells happiness.486
Perez.
Let me deserve, and I can bear to want it.487
Cam.
The phantom of renown perhaps allures thee ;488
Thou would’st adorn thy brow with laurels, set489
Upon thy haughty head a starry crown ;490
But garlands wither, stars become extinct :491
Will fame compensate for life thrown away ?492
What is’t to him who slumbers in the grave,493
That on his monument is graven, not494
That he lived happily, but that he lived !495
Perez.
I’ve seen the laurel bind unworthy brows,496
I’ve seen the garland of desert stript leafless,497
Young as I am. It is not glory lures me :498
My thoughts, my longings, are for higher things.499
Cam.
Higher than riches, happiness, renown ?500
What seck’st thou ? What dost covet more ?501
Perez.
Long years502
I’ve borne the feeling in my breast conceal’d ;503
To thee, th’ initiated, I may confess504
The high and lofty wish that lives within me.505
Not happiness—not laurels ; but to be506
An instrument to elevate the world—507
The dawn that heralds the victorious sun ; —508
In every breast that radiant fire to kindle,509
That burns so starry clear within mine own ;510
Amidst the din of factions to impart511
Strength to the cause of right, to truth a voice.512
This surely is no dream, no fantasy ;513
And this my mission is, my destiny.514
Cam.
O youthful hope ! on seraph wings upborne,515
How little reck’st thou of the course of the world !516
Thou would’st uplift men’s looks to heaven, would’st kindle517
Their inspiration ?  Who can kindle ice,518
Or pierce with harmonies the deaf-born ear ?519
Perez.
Thou, thou hast done it. O believe my words !520
For never did I feel as at this hour:—521
Believe me ; God himself speaks from my lips—522
Thou hast inspired them ; thy heroic strain,523
Even as its magic overmaster’d me,524
Has roused, inflamed, and animated thousands.525
In thousand hearts the thought of thee lives on ;526
And though thine earthly part must disappear,527
Thou hast lived ; —and thou wilt live for after ages ;528
For the true poet’s work can never die.529
Cam.
(with agitation.)
His eye is flashing, and his cheek is flush’d.530
Prophetic are his words. I feel my heart531
Heave with triumphant consciousness of joy.532
Has Heaven directed this kind youth to me ?533
(After a pause—relapsing into melancholy, and addressing Perez.)
Thy glance glides onward to the distant future.534
But look upon the present. Look on me—535
On me, the poet of the Lusiad536
The prey of want, the sport of persecution,537
Expiring in an hospital. Even so—538
The world rewards the poet’s inspiration.539
Then shun my path, O shun the poet’s meed !540
Perez.
I shun it ! No. If poverty and scorn541
Be virtue’s meed, then suffering is an honour ;542
The crown of thorns becomes a laurel wreath ;543
And death, even in an hospital, is glory.544
Let me be like Camoëns ; let me rouse545
My nation from its sleep—exalt my age,546
An end like his will have no terrors for me,547
Had I but lived—had I but wrought like him !548
Cam.
(rousing himself.)
By the grave’s breath which dims mine eye
already ;
549
By all a poet’s checker’d joys and griefs ;550
By all the holy visions that have haunted,551
The dreams of victory that heaved his breast,552
Thou wilt be such. So wilt thou live—so labour.553
Not selfishness, not vanity impels thee,554
But God himself hath call’d thee to the task.555
Thine aim is towards the highest ; and I feel556
Thou wilt attain it, for thy heart is pure !557
Perez.
Attain it, say’st thou ?  I too long—Eternal heaven !558
O speak the truth !  Say—shall I be a poet ?559
Cam.
Thou art one.560
Trust thyself. Think of this hour561
When destiny deals hardly with thy life,562
And poverty stands lowering in thy way.563
Think that the words thy lips have breathed dispersed564
The clouds before Camoëns’ eye ; that dying,565
And by the gloomy night of doubt surrounded,566
He felt his spirit by thy spirit roused,567
And in thy youthful fire revived his own.568
Think of this hour ; think of the trembling hand569
That consecrated thee to poesy,570
And keep thy course. Life calls thee to the struggle.571
Move on to thy meridian, rising sun,572
For that of Camoëns drops into the grave.573
Perez.
Thou canst not perish ; for thy lay survives thee,574
And immortality invests thy name.575
Cam.
It doth : I feel its consecrating power.576
I was a poet, and I was so wholly.577
Why do I chide my sufferings ?  They were blessings :578
God did implant them in my breast to teach me579
The poet’s heart must bleed before it ripens.580
My auguries have been verified : my life581
Has not like chaff been scatter’d to the wind ;582
Nor dies it with this span of time,—consoled,583
I can approach the eternal throne, and feel584
The crop is rising which my strains have sown.585
My dreams are crown’d with immortality.586
Perez.
What means that look—what means that flashing eye ?587
Cam.
Leave me alone. My spirit plumes her wings588
And leaves behind earth’s dark and cloudy sea.589
She bears me upwards.590
[He raises himself up, supported by Perez. While he
speaks, a cloud descends upon the stage, amidst
distant music. It separates, and displays a female
figure, bearing in one hand a laurel wreath, in the
other, the colours of Portugal, which she waves
above Camoëns
.
——Sphere-like music sounds,
And soft spiritual air comes breathing by me ;591
Light shines about me—light ineffable ;592
Heaven opens, and angelic hosts descend ;593
My eye beholds my long-lost Catharine’s face—594
She comes to wreath the garland round my brow—595
She waves the flag of Portugal above me.596
Triumph my country, thine avenger wakes ;597
Thou’lt burst again the Spaniard’s yoke, and bend598
In loyal homage to thy rightful kings.599
Long has the night been, but one hour of waking600
Shall come ; and in thy strength thou shalt arise,601
Strong in endurance, strong in unity—602
Bright in the sunshine of prosperity.603
[The vision disappears behind the closing clouds.]
Ah ! movest thou to thy home, sweet form ?  O take-me—604
Take me with thee !  I hear the songs of bliss ;605
The fetters fall off from me—light—more light.606
[He sinks back lifeless on the couch ; his countenance,
which is turned towards Perez, placid and tranquil
.