My late friend Landeg White, the first person in more than one hundred
years to have published English translations of all of Camões’s poetic work,
used to say and write that Camões was the first great European poet to
have crossed the Equator and that his experience in the East made him
discover what it meant to be himself.
When we think today about airplane travel, eating or drinking the same
things in California, Southern Africa, Portugal or Macau, trading in money
and goods, communicating through e-mails and smartphones, we don’t
usually think about where all this came from. Yet it came mainly from a
new awareness of the size and variety of the world and of human beings
that was born around Camões’s lifetime and owes very much to Portuguese
endeavours in opening the world to the world itself (mostrar novos mundos
ao mundo).
In this sense, the poetry Camões wrote, in both epic and lyric forms, is
one of the first and greatest poetry to result from an experience of world
and life beyond anything known before. Camões’s wonder and realizations,
as well as his difficulties and perplexities about what was profoundly new
and different, are an essential part of what he means to the world citizens
of today.

Prof. Hélio Alves

Date:  8 March 2019