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Middle Age 
The beginnings of Portuguese poetry go back to the 12th to the 14th centuries, around the time when the County of Portugal separated from the medieval Kingdom of Galicia in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. It was in this region that the ancestral language of both modern Portuguese and modern Galician, known today as Galician-Portuguese, was the common language of the people. Like the troubadour culture in the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe, Galician-Portuguese poets sang the love for a woman, that often turned into personal insults, as she had hurt her lover's pride. However, this region produced a specific type of song, known as cantigas de amigo (songs of a friend). In these, the lyrical subject is always a woman (though the singer was male) talking about his friend (lover) from whom she has been separated - by war or other activities - implied by the Reconquista. They discuss the loneliness that the woman feels. But some poems also project eroticism, or confess the lover's meeting in a secret place, often through a dialogue she has with her mother or with natural elements (such can maybe be considered a custom adapted from the pagan peoples in the region). Epic poetry was also produced, as was common in Romantic medieval regions (Gesta de D. Afonso Henriques, of unknown authorship). With the Portuguese expansion south, poetry preserved some of these main characteristics - cantigas de amigo were written even by kings, like Dinis I.
But it was with the Renaissance that poets embarked on a new age of literature due to influences from Italy and the peculiar Portuguese experience of the Discoveries. Sá de Miranda (1481–1558) introduced the sonnet, which became, until today, a very common form. But his lyrical works (he also wrote plays) never abandoned traditional forms. He displays a certain antipathy to rapid changes in social structure and values. Bernardim Ribeiro (1482?–1536?) made use of bucolic poetry, singing about love fatalistically (he is more renowned, however, for his prose work Menina e Moça). In the next generation, António Ferreira (1528–1569), making a wide use of classical forms, expresses the same antipathy related to the detriment of society, but with a pedagogical purpose. This was also the time of António Gonçalves de Bandarra (1500–1566), a cobbler that learned to read despite his low social status, and who read the Bible. His songs can be considered the birth of sebastianism, a central theme of Portuguese culture (do note that he lived, however, before Sebastian I was even born). The Portuguese expansion also gave birth to epic poetry. Jerónimo Corte-Real, with his O Segundo Cerco de Diu (The Second Siege of Diu) should be mentioned, but his classic influence is not well defined. But the great poet, both of lyric and epic, is, unquestionably, Luís de Camões (1525?-1580). He talks about love, the passing of time and world's disconcert, using a fine formal dominion, expressing is duality related to a platonic view of the world, and a cepticism regarding injustice, the passing of time and the complexity of love. He wrote what is considered the most important poem of Portuguese Literature, Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads), singing the maritime voyage of Vasco da Gama form Lisbon to India. Duality between man and the divine, conscience on the importance of the Discoveries to modern world's formation, history of Portugal, notion of Portugal's social and idealogical problems, belief on Man-Kind evolution, this all is among the poem's verses (when he died Sebastian I was about to go on the fatal voyage to Africa).
After this period of national pride, the dark years of Spanish domination saw a continuation on epic production, that did not equalized Camões. Those poems may be seen as a resistance to foreign domination. Pointing some authors: Luís Brandão (Elegíaca), Rodrigues Lobo (Condestrabre), Vasco Mouzinho de Quevedo (Afonso Africano), Sá de Meneses (Malaca Conquistada), Gabriel de Castro (Ulisseia), António Macedo (Ulissipo). Such epic cycle ended with the poem Viriato Trágico, by Brás Garcia de Mascarenhas, that fought in the Restoration War. In 17th century, poets had their liberty conditioned by the Portuguese Inquisition. Among with other factors, one could see this period as a decline on Portuguese poetry, where the lack of autonomy and subjects is noted. This may well be seen as a crisis of Portuguese identity on a world were he appeared not to be adapted on. Such crisis was transferred, in the 17th century, to the Arcádia Lusitânia. This academy made the transition, trough Manuel du Bocage (1765–1805), to Romanticism.
But only with Almeida Garrett (1799–1854), with his poem Camões, we can consider Romanticism, and its following consequences, implanted in Portugal. Crises made national cultural factors "collapse": romantic nostalgia became applied to Portuguese declined condition, being the rest of Europe considered the real focus of civilization. This complex of inferiority (that did not abolish a complex of superiority) became extremely incisive with the Realistic generation, the Geração de 70. In poetry, Antero de Quental (1842–1891) was one of most remarkable Portuguese poets of the 19th century - he introduced what can be considered as philosophical poetry, which expresses sadness and horror due to a lack of sense in life (making him committing suicide). Guerra Junqueiro (1850–1923) and João de Deus (1830–1896) should also be considered in this period.
With the symbolist movement, Camilo Pessanha (1867–1926) must be pointed. His works reflects his journey to Asia. Related to impressionism, Cesário Verde (1855–1886) was ignored during his short life by literally circles.O Sentimento de um Ocidental (A Westerner's Feeling) is his masterpiece, were the poet describes a night in the streets of Lisbon with his absurda necessidade de sofrer (absurd need for suffering). This moment was brief, nevertheless, and the Modernism was about to come.
Mystical poetry had Teixeira de Pascoaes (1877–1952) as an example and Futurism saw Mário de Sá-Carneiro. Modernism was also responsible form the liberation of the complex regarding Portuguese view of themselves (at least in what concerns poetry), mainly thanks to Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935), the second great Portuguese poet. Of a dense personality, unique and complex, he wrote under many names, not pseudonyms, but what he named has heteronyms: which heteronym had his one personality, way of writing and biography. The most renowned are: Alberto Caeiro, considered the master of them all, positivist and bucolic, Ricardo Reis, pagan and epucurist (but with stoical influence), Fernando Pessoa ortonym, trapped on his interior labyrinth and tedium, Álvaro de Campos, futurist, and Bernardo Soares, that wrote Livro do Desassosego (Book of Disquiet). Fernando Pessoa Mensagem (Message) is a sebastianist poem formed trough a series of smaller ones. Portuguese cultural handicap, its interior antagonisms and unappropriated present in modern world, appear questioned and dealed according to the Portuguese feeling of existence and life. Later on, trough the 20th century, despite living under a dictatorship, Portuguese poets were able to use Pessoa's legacy to create a corpus of diverse poetic expression. Some names to be mencioned are: Miguel Torga, José Régio, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Eugénio de Andrade, Florbela Espanca and Herberto Hélder.
Late 20th century and 21th century 
During the period before Carnation Revolution which took place in 1974, many poets and singers created very prodigal lyrical works, on the so-called interventional songs, also know in English as revolutionary songs. Composers like Zeca Afonso, José Mário Branco or Sérgio Godinho represent clearly the spirit and the popular anxiety for democracy which preceded the 1974 revolution. Though, the poets which are considered the most influent on the revolutionary lyric art, are undoubtedly Ary dos Santos and Manuel Alegre. During the 21th century many prodigal Portuguese poets have already published and created several interesting and lyrically thrilling works of poetic literature. Such names may be Vasco Graça Moura (1942), Inês Lourenço (1942), Bartolomeu Valente (1943), Rogério Carrola (1947), José Emílio Nelson (1948), Ana Luísa Amaral (1956), Ana Paula Inácio (1966), Gonçalo M. Tavares (1970), Pedro Mexia (1972) or João Pimentel Ferreira (1980).