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To a garden luxuriously verdant
Luís Vaz de Camões


To a garden luxuriously verdant
and enamelled with countless flowers,
there came one day the two goddesses
of Love, and of dense forests and Hunting.

Then Diana plucked a perfect rose
and Venus the best of the red lilies,
but exceeding by far all the other flowers
in beauty and grace were the violas.

They asked Cupid, who was standing near,
which of the blooms, in his opinion,
was sweetest, purest and most lovely?

The youngster answered with a grin:
— all three are gorgeous, but I much prefer
viola-tion to mere rose and lily.

This poem is in the public domain.


Luís Vaz de Camões (1524 - 1580) was a Portuguese poet whose penchant for romance and derring-do puts him right up there with Errol Flynn. An only child born to an aristocratic family and blessed with good looks, charm, education, and incessant joie de vivre, Luiz lacked one thing: restraint. Banished from Lisbon as a young man for a variety of infractions, he lost an eye in one early skirmish and went on to endure a lifelong maelstrom of royal favor, royal wrath, duels, debt, shipwrecks, imprisonment, love affairs and international intrigue--writing poetry all the while. Ultimately, he returned to Lisbon, where his poetry so pleased the king that Luiz was awarded a royal pension for the remainder of his life.

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