Mozambique: Sapphic Ode | Campos Oliveira

If from your eyes temptingly, lively looking,
a tender glance over my way were sent me,
you would touch my bosom and dull the pain that’s
fervently burning!

If upon your carmine and perfumed lips there’s
found a kind smile lovingly formed for me then
all the tears I sorrowing shed would soon be
over and done with!

If allowed to kiss your sweet lovely face where
always shines bright innocence smiling shyly,
then perhaps I’d feel my own soul reviving
black now and freezing!

If your love you’d finally given to me,
love for which I never would trade a scepter
happy I would be for I’d found in living
fortune celestial!

Jose Pedro da Silva Campos e Oliveira (Campos Oliveira) (1847-1911) was born in Cabaceira, Mozambique. He studied law in Goa, India and is regarded as the ‘first’ Mozambican poet of Portuguese expression from the nineteenth century. He served as the nation’s director of postal service and in 1888 published a collection of previously unknown verses by the great eighteenth century poet, Tomas Antonuo Gonzaga.


The Sapphic ode is a poetic form with a specific strophic pattern and meter named for the Greek poetess, Sappho, who wrote around 600 B.C. The pattern consists of three verses of eleven syllables or hendecasyllables, each containing five feet.

Culled from: Poets of Mozambique (2005), Translated by Frederick G. Williams.

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