Pale weeping women, and a friendless crowd Of tender years, infirm and desolate Age, Which hates itself and its superfluous days, With each blest order to religion vow'd, Whom works of love through lives of want engage, To thee for help their hands and voices raise; While our poor panic-stricken land displays The thousand wounds which now so mar her frame, That e'en from foes compassion they command; Or more if Christendom thy care may claim. Lo! God's own house on fire, while not a hand Moves to subdue the flame: —Heal thou these wounds, this feverish tumult end, And on the holy work Heaven's blessing shall descend!
Often against our marble Column high Wolf, Lion, Bear, proud Eagle, and base Snake Even to their own injury insult shower; Lifts against thee and theirs her mournful cry, The noble Dame who calls thee here to break Away the evil weeds which will not flower. A thousand years and more! and gallant men There fix'd her seat in beauty and in power; The breed of patriot hearts has fail'd since then! And, in their stead, upstart and haughty now, A race, which ne'er to her in reverence bends, Her husband, father thou! Like care from thee and counsel she attends, As o'er his other works the Sire of all extends.
'Tis seldom e'en that with our fairest scheme Some adverse fortune will not mix, and mar With instant ill ambition's noblest dreams; But thou, once ta'en thy path, so walk that I May pardon her past faults, great as they are, If now at least she give herself the lie. For never, in all memory, as to thee, To mortal man so sure and straight the way Of everlasting honour open lay, For thine the power and will, if right I see, To lift our empire to its old proud state. Let this thy glory be! They succour'd her when young, and strong, and great, He, in her weak old age, warded the stroke of Fate. Forth on thy way! my Song, and, where the bold Tarpeian lifts his brow, shouldst thou behold, Of others' weal more thoughtful than his own, The chief, by general Italy revered, Tell him from me, to whom he is but known As one to Virtue and by Fame endear'd, Till stamp'd upon his heart the sad truth be, That, day by day to thee, With suppliant attitude and streaming eyes, For justice and relief our seven-hill'd city cries.
Perche al viso d' Amor portava insegna.
A LOVE JOURNEY—DANGER IN THE PATH—HE TURNS BACK.
Bright in whose face Love's conquering ensign stream'd, A foreign fair so won me, young and vain, That of her sex all others worthless seem'd: Her as I follow'd o'er the verdant plain, I heard a loud voice speaking from afar, "How lost in these lone woods his footsteps are!" Then paused I, and, beneath the tall beech shade, All wrapt in thought, around me well survey'd, Till, seeing how much danger block'd my way, Homeward I turn'd me though at noon of day.
Quel foco, ch' io pensai che fosse spento.
HE THOUGHT HIMSELF FREE, BUT FINDS THAT HE IS MORE THAN EVER ENTHRALLED BY LOVE.
That fire for ever which I thought at rest, Quench'd in the chill blood of my ripen'd years, Awakes new flames and torment in my breast. Its sparks were never all, from what I see, Extinct, but merely slumbering, smoulder'd o'er; Haply this second error worse may be, For, by the tears, which I, in torrents, pour, Grief, through these eyes, distill'd from my heart's core, Which holds within itself the spark and bait, Remains not as it was, but grows more great. What fire, save mine, had not been quench'd and kill'd Beneath the flood these sad eyes ceaseless shed? Struggling 'mid opposites—so Love has will'd— Now here, now there, my vain life must be led, For in so many ways his snares are spread, When most I hope him from my heart expell'd Then most of her fair face its slave I'm held.
Se col cieco desir che 'l cor distrugge.
Either that blind desire, which life destroys Counting the hours, deceives my misery, Or, even while yet I speak, the moment flies, Promised at once to pity and to me. Alas! what baneful shade o'erhangs and dries The seed so near its full maturity? 'Twixt me and hope what brazen walls arise? From murderous wolves not even my fold is free. Ah, woe is me! Too clearly now I find That felon Love, to aggravate my pain, Mine easy heart hath thus to hope inclined; And now the maxim sage I call to mind, That mortal bliss must doubtful still remain Till death from earthly bonds the soul unbind.
Counting the hours, lest I myself mislead By blind desire wherewith my heart is torn, E'en while I speak away the moments speed, To me and pity which alike were sworn. What shade so cruel as to blight the seed Whence the wish'd fruitage should so soon be born? What beast within my fold has leap'd to feed? What wall is built between the hand and corn? Alas! I know not, but, if right I guess, Love to such joyful hope has only led To plunge my weary life in worse distress; And I remember now what once I read, Until the moment of his full release Man's bliss begins not, nor his troubles cease.
Mie venture al venir son tarde e pigre.
FEW ARE THE SWEETS, BUT MANY THE BITTERS OF LOVE.
Ever my hap is slack and slow in coming, Desire increasing, ay my hope uncertain With doubtful love, that but increaseth pain; For, tiger-like, so swift it is in parting. Alas! the snow black shall it be and scalding, The sea waterless, and fish upon the mountain, The Thames shall back return into his fountain, And where he rose the sun shall take [his] lodging, Ere I in this find peace or quietness; Or that Love, or my Lady, right wisely, Leave to conspire against me wrongfully. And if I have, after such bitterness, One drop of sweet, my mouth is out of taste, That all my trust and travail is but waste.
Late to arrive my fortunes are and slow— Hopes are unsure, desires ascend and swell, Suspense, expectancy in me rebel— But swifter to depart than tigers go. Tepid and dark shall be the cold pure snow, The ocean dry, its fish on mountains dwell, The sun set in the East, by that old well Alike whence Tigris and Euphrates flow, Ere in this strife I peace or truce shall find, Ere Love or Laura practise kinder ways, Sworn friends, against me wrongfully combined. After such bitters, if some sweet allays, Balk'd by long fasts my palate spurns the fare, Sole grace from them that falleth to my share.
La guancia che fu gia piangendo stanca.
TO HIS FRIEND AGAPITO, WITH A PRESENT.
Thy weary cheek that channell'd sorrow shows, My much loved lord, upon the one repose; More careful of thyself against Love be, Tyrant who smiles his votaries wan to see; And with the other close the left-hand path Too easy entrance where his message hath; In sun and storm thyself the same display, Because time faileth for the lengthen'd way. And, with the third, drink of the precious herb Which purges every thought that would disturb, Sweet in the end though sour at first in taste: But me enshrine where your best joys are placed, So that I fear not the grim bark of Styx, If with such prayer of mine pride do not mix.
Perche quel che mi trasse ad amar prima.
HE WILL ALWAYS LOVE HER, THOUGH DENIED THE SIGHT OF HER.
Though cruelty denies my view Those charms which led me first to love; To passion yet will I be true, Nor shall my will rebellious prove. Amid the curls of golden hair That wave those beauteous temples round, Cupid spread craftily the snare With which my captive heart he bound: And from those eyes he caught the ray Which thaw'd the ice that fenced my breast, Chasing all other thoughts away, With brightness suddenly imprest. But now that hair of sunny gleam, Ah me! is ravish'd from my sight; Those beauteous eyes withdraw their beam, And change to sadness past delight. A glorious death by all is prized; Tis death alone shall break my chain: Oh! be Love's timid wail despised. Lovers should nobly suffer pain.
Though barr'd from all which led me first to love By coldness or caprice, Not yet from its firm bent can passion cease! The snare was set amid those threads of gold, To which Love bound me fast; And from those bright eyes melted the long cold Within my heart that pass'd; So sweet the spell their sudden splendour cast, Its single memory still Deprives my soul of every other will. But now, alas! from me of that fine hair Is ravish'd the dear sight; The lost light of those twin stars, chaste as fair, Saddens me in her flight; But, since a glorious death wins honour bright, By death, and not through grief, Love from such chain shall give at last relief.
L' arbor gentil che forte amai molt' anni.
IMPRECATION AGAINST THE LAUREL.
The graceful tree I loved so long and well, Ere its fair boughs in scorn my flame declined, Beneath its shade encouraged my poor mind To bud and bloom, and 'mid its sorrow swell. But now, my heart secure from such a spell, Alas, from friendly it has grown unkind! My thoughts entirely to one end confined, Their painful sufferings how I still may tell. What should he say, the sighing slave of love, To whom my later rhymes gave hope of bliss, Who for that laurel has lost all—but this? May poet never pluck thee more, nor Jove Exempt; but may the sun still hold in hate On each green leaf till blight and blackness wait.
Benedetto sia 'l giorno e 'l mese e l' anno.
HE BLESSES ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS PASSION.
Blest be the day, and blest the month, the year, The spring, the hour, the very moment blest, The lovely scene, the spot, where first oppress'd I sunk, of two bright eyes the prisoner: And blest the first soft pang, to me most dear, Which thrill'd my heart, when Love became its guest; And blest the bow, the shafts which pierced my breast, And even the wounds, which bosom'd thence I bear. Blest too the strains which, pour'd through glade and grove, Have made the woodlands echo with her name; The sighs, the tears, the languishment, the love: And blest those sonnets, sources of my fame; And blest that thought—Oh! never to remove! Which turns to her alone, from her alone which came.
Blest be the year, the month, the hour, the day, The season and the time, and point of space, And blest the beauteous country and the place Where first of two bright eyes I felt the sway: Blest the sweet pain of which I was the prey, When newly doom'd Love's sovereign law to embrace, And blest the bow and shaft to which I trace, The wound that to my inmost heart found way: Blest be the ceaseless accents of my tongue, Unwearied breathing my loved lady's name: Blest my fond wishes, sighs, and tears, and pains: Blest be the lays in which her praise I sung, That on all sides acquired to her fair fame, And blest my thoughts! for o'er them all she reigns.
Padre del ciel, dopo i perduti giorni.
CONSCIOUS OF HIS FOLLY, HE PRAYS GOD TO TURN HIM TO A BETTER LIFE.
Father of heaven! after the days misspent, After the nights of wild tumultuous thought, In that fierce passion's strong entanglement, One, for my peace too lovely fair, had wrought; Vouchsafe that, by thy grace, my spirit bent On nobler aims, to holier ways be brought; That so my foe, spreading with dark intent His mortal snares, be foil'd, and held at nought. E'en now th' eleventh year its course fulfils, That I have bow'd me to the tyranny Relentless most to fealty most tried. Have mercy, Lord! on my unworthy ills: Fix all my thoughts in contemplation high; How on the cross this day a Saviour died.
Father of heaven! despite my days all lost, Despite my nights in doting folly spent With that fierce passion which my bosom rent At sight of her, too lovely for my cost; Vouchsafe at length that, by thy grace, I turn To wiser life, and enterprise more fair, So that my cruel foe, in vain his snare Set for my soul, may his defeat discern. Already, Lord, the eleventh year circling wanes Since first beneath his tyrant yoke I fell Who still is fiercest where we least rebel: Pity my undeserved and lingering pains, To holier thoughts my wandering sense restore, How on this day his cross thy Son our Saviour bore.
Volgendo gli occhi al mio novo colore.
HER KIND SALUTE SAVED HIM FROM DEATH.
Late as those eyes on my sunk cheek inclined, Whose paleness to the world seems of the grave, Compassion moved you to that greeting kind, Whose soft smile to my worn heart spirit gave. The poor frail life which yet to me is left Was of your beauteous eyes the liberal gift, And of that voice angelical and mild; My present state derived from them I see; As the rod quickens the slow sullen child, So waken'd they the sleeping soul in me. Thus, Lady, of my true heart both the keys You hold in hand, and yet your captive please: Ready to sail wherever winds may blow, By me most prized whate'er to you I owe.
Se voi poteste per turbati segni.
HE ENTREATS LAURA NOT TO HATE THE HEART FROM WHICH SHE CAN NEVER BE ABSENT.
If, but by angry and disdainful sign, By the averted head and downcast sight, By readiness beyond thy sex for flight, Deaf to all pure and worthy prayers of mine, Thou canst, by these or other arts of thine, 'Scape from my breast—where Love on slip so slight Grafts every day new boughs—of such despite A fitting cause I then might well divine: For gentle plant in arid soil to be Seems little suited: so it better were, And this e'en nature dictates, thence to stir. But since thy destiny prohibits thee Elsewhere to dwell, be this at least thy care Not always to sojourn in hatred there.
Lasso, che mal accorto fui da prima.
HE PRAYS LOVE TO KINDLE ALSO IN HER THE FLAME BY WHICH HE IS UNCEASINGLY TORMENTED.
Alas! this heart by me was little known In those first days when Love its depths explored, Where by degrees he made himself the lord Of my whole life, and claim'd it as his own: I did not think that, through his power alone, A heart time-steel'd, and so with valour stored, Such proof of failing firmness could afford, And fell by wrong self-confidence o'erthrown. Henceforward all defence too late will come, Save this, to prove, enough or little, here If to these mortal prayers Love lend his ear. Not now my prayer—nor can such e'er have room— That with more mercy he consume my heart, But in the fire that she may bear her part.
L' aere gravato, e l' importuna nebbia.
HE COMPARES LAURA TO WINTER, AND FORESEES THAT SHE WILL ALWAYS BE THE SAME.
The overcharged air, the impending cloud, Compress'd together by impetuous winds, Must presently discharge themselves in rain; Already as of crystal are the streams, And, for the fine grass late that clothed the vales, Is nothing now but the hoar frost and ice.
And I, within my heart, more cold than ice, Of heavy thoughts have such a hovering cloud, As sometimes rears itself in these our vales, Lowly, and landlock'd against amorous winds, Environ'd everywhere with stagnant streams, When falls from soft'ning heaven the smaller rain.
Lasts but a brief while every heavy rain; And summer melts away the snows and ice, When proudly roll th' accumulated streams: Nor ever hid the heavens so thick a cloud, Which, overtaken by the furious winds, Fled not from the first hills and quiet vales.
But ah! what profit me the flowering vales? Alike I mourn in sunshine and in rain, Suffering the same in warm and wintry winds; For only then my lady shall want ice At heart, and on her brow th' accustom'd cloud, When dry shall be the seas, the lakes, and streams.
While to the sea descend the mountain streams, As long as wild beasts love umbrageous vales, O'er those bright eyes shall hang th' unfriendly cloud My own that moistens with continual rain; And in that lovely breast be harden'd ice Which forces still from mine so dolorous winds.
Yet well ought I to pardon all the winds But for the love of one, that 'mid two streams Shut me among bright verdure and pure ice; So that I pictured then in thousand vales The shade wherein I was, which heat or rain Esteemeth not, nor sound of broken cloud.
But fled not ever cloud before the winds, As I that day: nor ever streams with rain Nor ice, when April's sun opens the vales.
Del mar Tirreno alla sinistra riva.
Upon the left shore of the Tyrrhene sea, Where, broken by the winds, the waves complain, Sudden I saw that honour'd green again, Written for whom so many a page must be: Love, ever in my soul his flame who fed, Drew me with memories of those tresses fair; Whence, in a rivulet, which silent there Through long grass stole, I fell, as one struck dead. Lone as I was, 'mid hills of oak and fir, I felt ashamed; to heart of gentle mould Blushes suffice: nor needs it other spur. 'Tis well at least, breaking bad customs old, To change from eyes to feet: from these so wet By those if milder April should be met.
L' aspetto sacro della terra vostra.
THE VIEW OF ROME PROMPTS HIM TO TEAR HIMSELF FROM LAURA, BUT LOVE WILL NOT ALLOW HIM.
The solemn aspect of this sacred shore Wakes for the misspent past my bitter sighs; 'Pause, wretched man! and turn,' as conscience cries, Pointing the heavenward way where I should soar. But soon another thought gets mastery o'er The first, that so to palter were unwise; E'en now the time, if memory err not, flies, When we should wait our lady-love before. I, for his aim then well I apprehend, Within me freeze, as one who, sudden, hears News unexpected which his soul offend. Returns my first thought then, that disappears; Nor know I which shall conquer, but till now Within me they contend, nor hope of rest allow!
Ben sapev' io che natural consiglio.
FLEEING FROM LOVE, HE FALLS INTO THE HANDS OF HIS MINISTERS.
Full well I know that natural wisdom nought, Love, 'gainst thy power, in any age prevail'd, For snares oft set, fond oaths that ever fail'd, Sore proofs of thy sharp talons long had taught; But lately, and in me it wonder wrought— With care this new experience be detail'd— 'Tween Tuscany and Elba as I sail'd On the salt sea, it first my notice caught. I fled from thy broad hands, and, by the way, An unknown wanderer, 'neath the violence Of winds, and waves, and skies, I helpless lay, When, lo! thy ministers, I knew not whence, Who quickly made me by fresh stings to feel Ill who resists his fate, or would conceal.
Lasso me, ch i' non so in qual parte pieghi.
HE WOULD CONSOLE HIMSELF WITH SONG, BUT IS CONSTRAINED TO WEEP.
Me wretched! for I know not whither tend The hopes which have so long my heart betray'd: If none there be who will compassion lend, Wherefore to Heaven these often prayers for aid? But if, belike, not yet denied to me That, ere my own life end, These sad notes mute shall be, Let not my Lord conceive the wish too free, Yet once, amid sweet flowers, to touch the string, "Reason and right it is that love I sing."
Reason indeed there were at last that I Should sing, since I have sigh'd so long and late, But that for me 'tis vain such art to try, Brief pleasures balancing with sorrows great; Could I, by some sweet verse, but cause to shine Glad wonder and new joy Within those eyes divine, Bliss o'er all other lovers then were mine! But more, if frankly fondly I could say, "My lady asks, I therefore wake the lay."
Delicious, dangerous thoughts! that, to begin A theme so high, have gently led me thus, You know I ne'er can hope to pass within Our lady's heart, so strongly steel'd from us; She will not deign to look on thing so low, Nor may our language win Aught of her care: since Heaven ordains it so, And vainly to oppose must irksome grow, Even as I my heart to stone would turn, "So in my verse would I be rude and stern."
What do I say? where am I?—My own heart And its misplaced desires alone deceive! Though my view travel utmost heaven athwart No planet there condemns me thus to grieve: Why, if the body's veil obscure my sight, Blame to the stars impart. Or other things as bright? Within me reigns my tyrant, day and night, Since, for his triumph, me a captive took "Her lovely face, and lustrous eyes' dear look."
While all things else in Nature's boundless reign Came good from the Eternal Master's mould, I look for such desert in me in vain: Me the light wounds that I around behold; To the true splendour if I turn at last, My eye would shrink in pain, Whose own fault o'er it cast Such film, and not the fatal day long past, When first her angel beauty met my view, "In the sweet season when my life was new."
Perche la vita e breve.
IN PRAISE OF LAURA'S EYES: THE DIFFICULTY OF HIS THEME.
Since human life is frail, And genius trembles at the lofty theme, I little confidence in either place; But let my tender wail There, where it ought, deserved attention claim, That wail which e'en in silence we may trace. O beauteous eyes, where Love doth nestling stay! To you I turn my insufficient lay, Unapt to flow; but passion's goad I feel: And he of you who sings Such courteous habit by the strain is taught, That, borne on amorous wings, He soars above the reach of vulgar thought: Exalted thus, I venture to reveal What long my cautious heart has labour'd to conceal.
Yes, well do I perceive To you how wrongful is my scanty praise; Yet the strong impulse cannot be withstood, That urges, since I view'd What fancy to the sight before ne'er gave, What ne'er before graced mine, or higher lays. Bright authors of my sadly-pleasing state, That you alone conceive me well I know, When to your fierce beams I become as snow! Your elegant disdain Haply then kindles at my worthless strain. Did not this dread create Some mitigation of my bosom's heat, Death would be bliss: for greater joy 'twould give With them to suffer death, without them than to live.
If not consumed quite, I the weak object of a flame so strong: 'Tis not that safety springs from native might, But that some fear restrains, Which chills the current circling through my veins; Strengthening this heart, that it may suffer long. O hills, O vales, O forests, floods, and fields, Ye who have witness'd how my sad life flows, Oft have ye heard me call on death for aid. Ah, state surcharged with woes! To stay destroys, and flight no succour yields. But had not higher dread Withheld, some sudden effort I had made To end my sorrows and protracted pains, Of which the beauteous cause insensible remains.
Why lead me, grief, astray From my first theme to chant a different lay? Let me proceed where pleasure may invite. 'Tis not of you I 'plain, O eyes, beyond compare serenely bright; Nor yet of him who binds me in his chain. Ye clearly can behold the hues that Love Scatters ofttime on my dejected face; And fancy may his inward workings trace There where, whole nights and days, He rules with power derived from your bright rays: What rapture would ye prove, If you, dear lights, upon yourselves could gaze! But, frequent as you bend your beams on me, What influence you possess you in another see.
Oh! if to you were known That beauty which I sing, immense, divine. As unto him on whom its glories shine! The heart had then o'erflown With joy unbounded, such as is denied Unto that nature which its acts doth guide. How happy is the soul for you that sighs, Celestial lights! which lend a charm to life, And make me bless what else I should not prize! Ah! why, so seldom why Afford what ne'er can cause satiety? More often to your sight Why not bring Love, who holds me constant strife? And why so soon of joys despoil me quite, Which ever and anon my tranced soul delight?
Yes, 'debted to your grace, Frequent I feel throughout my inmost soul Unwonted floods of sweetest rapture roll; Relieving so the mind, That all oppressive thoughts are left behind, And of a thousand only one has place; For which alone this life is dear to me. Oh! might the blessing of duration prove, Not equall'd then could my condition be! But this would, haply, move In others envy, in myself vain pride. That pain should be allied To pleasure is, alas! decreed above; Then, stifling all the ardour of desire, Homeward I turn my thoughts, and in myself retire.
So sweetly shines reveal'd The amorous thought within your soul which dwells, That other joys it from my heart expels: Hence I aspire to frame Lays whereon Hope may build a deathless name, When in the tomb my dust shall lie conceal'd. At your approach anguish and sorrow fly; These, as your beams retire, again draw nigh; Yet outward acts their influence ne'er betray, For doting memory Dwells on the past, and chases them away. Whatever, then, of worth My genius ripens owes to you its birth. To you all honour and all praise is due— Myself a barren soil, and cultured but by you.
Thy strains, O song! appease me not, but fire, Chanting a theme that wings my wild desire: Trust me, thou shalt ere long a sister-song acquire.
Since mortal life is frail, And my mind shrinks from lofty themes deterr'd, But small the trust which I in either feel: Yet hope I that my wail, Which vainly I in silence would conceal, Shall, where I wish, where most it ought, be heard. Beautiful eyes! wherein Love makes his nest, To you my song its feeble descant turns, Slow of itself, but now by passion spurr'd; Who sings of you is blest, And from his theme such courteous habit learns That, borne on wings of love, Proudly he soars each viler thought above; Encouraged thus, what long my harass'd heart Has kept conceal'd, I venture to impart.
Yet do I know full well How much my praise must wrongful prove to you, But how the great desire can I oppose, Which ever in me grows, Since what surpasses thought 'twas mine to view, Though that nor others' wit nor mine can tell? Eyes! guilty authors of my cherish'd pain, That you alone can judge me, well I know, When from your burning beams I melt like snow, Haply your sweet disdain Offence in my unworthiness may see; Ah! were there not such fear, To calm the heat with which I kindle near, 'Twere bliss to die: for better far to me Were death with them than life without could be.
If yet not wasted quite— So frail a thing before so fierce a flame— 'Tis not from my own strength that safety came, But that some fear gives might, Freezing the warm blood coursing through its veins, To my poor heart better to bear the strife. O valleys, hills, O forests, floods, and plains, Witnesses of my melancholy life! For death how often have ye heard me pray! Ah, miserable fate! Where flight avails not, though 'tis death to stay; But, if a dread more great Restrain'd me not, despair would find a way, Speedy and short, my lingering pains to close, —Hers then the crime who still no mercy shows.
Why thus astray, O grief, Lead me to speak what I would leave unsaid? Leave me, where pleasure me impels, to tread: Not now my song complains Of you, sweet eyes, serene beyond belief, Nor yet of him who binds me in such chains: Right well may you observe the varying hues Which o'er my visage oft the tyrant strews, And thence may guess what war within he makes, Where night and day he reigns, Strong in the power which from your light he takes: Blessed ye were as bright, Save that from you is barr'd your own dear sight: Yet often as to me those orbs you turn, What they to others are you well may learn.
If, as to us who gaze Were known to you the charms incredible And heavenly, of which I sing the praise, No measured joy would swell Your heart, and haply, therefore, 'tis denied Unto the power which doth their motions guide. Happy the soul for you which breathes the sigh, Best lights of heaven! for whom I grateful bless This life, which has for me no other joy. Alas! so seldom why Give me what I can ne'er too much possess? Why not more often see The ceaseless havoc which love makes of me? And why that bliss so quickly from me steal, From time to time which my rapt senses feel?
Yes, thanks, great thanks to you! From time to time I feel through all my soul A sweetness so unusual and new, That every marring care And gloomy vision thence begins to roll, So that, from all, one only thought is there. That—that alone consoles me life to bear: And could but this my joy endure awhile, Nought earthly could, methinks, then match my state. Yet such great honour might Envy in others, pride in me excite: Thus still it seems the fate Of man, that tears should chase his transient smile: And, checking thus my burning wishes, I Back to myself return, to muse and sigh.
The amorous anxious thought, Which reigns within you, flashes so on me, That from my heart it draws all other joy; Whence works and words so wrought Find scope and issue, that I hope to be Immortal made, although all flesh must die. At your approach ennui and anguish fly; With your departure they return again: But memory, on the past which doting dwells, Denies them entrance then, So that no outward act their influence tells; Thus, if in me is nurst Any good fruit, from you the seed came first: To you, if such appear, the praise is due, Barren myself till fertilized by you.
Thy strains appease me not, O song! But rather fire me still that theme to sing Where centre all my thoughts—therefore, ere long, A sister ode to join thee will I bring.
Gentil mia donna, i' veggio.
IN PRAISE OF LAURA'S EYES: THEY LEAD HIM TO CONTEMPLATE THE PATH OF LIFE.
Lady, in your bright eyes Soft glancing round, I mark a holy light, Pointing the arduous way that heavenward lies; And to my practised sight, From thence, where Love enthroned, asserts his might, Visibly, palpably, the soul beams forth. This is the beacon guides to deeds of worth, And urges me to seek the glorious goal; This bids me leave behind the vulgar throng, Nor can the human tongue Tell how those orbs divine o'er all my soul Exert their sweet control, Both when hoar winter's frosts around are flung, And when the year puts on his youth again, Jocund, as when this bosom first knew pain.
Oh! if in that high sphere, From whence the Eternal Ruler of the stars In this excelling work declared his might, All be as fair and bright, Loose me from forth my darksome prison here, That to so glorious life the passage bars; Then, in the wonted tumult of my breast, I hail boon Nature, and the genial day That gave me being, and a fate so blest, And her who bade hope beam Upon my soul; for till then burthensome Was life itself become: But now, elate with touch of self-esteem, High thoughts and sweet within that heart arise, Of which the warders are those beauteous eyes.
No joy so exquisite Did Love or fickle Fortune ere devise, In partial mood, for favour'd votaries, But I would barter it For one dear glance of those angelic eyes, Whence springs my peace as from its living root. O vivid lustre! of power absolute O'er all my being—source of that delight, By which consumed I sink, a willing prey. As fades each lesser ray Before your splendour more intense and bright, So to my raptured heart, When your surpassing sweetness you impart, No other thought of feeling may remain Where you, with Love himself, despotic reign.
All sweet emotions e'er By happy lovers felt in every clime, Together all, may not with mine compare, When, as from time to time, I catch from that dark radiance rich and deep A ray in which, disporting, Love is seen; And I believe that from my cradled sleep, By Heaven provided this resource hath been, 'Gainst adverse fortune, and my nature frail. Wrong'd am I by that veil, And the fair hand which oft the light eclipse, That all my bliss hath wrought; And whence the passion struggling on my lips, Both day and night, to vent the breast o'erfraught, Still varying as I read her varying thought.
For that (with pain I find) Not Nature's poor endowments may alone Render me worthy of a look so kind, I strive to raise my mind To match with the exalted hopes I own, And fires, though all engrossing, pure as mine. If prone to good, averse to all things base, Contemner of what worldlings covet most, I may become by long self-discipline. Haply this humble boast May win me in her fair esteem a place; For sure the end and aim Of all my tears, my sorrowing heart's sole claim, Were the soft trembling of relenting eyes, The generous lover's last, best, dearest prize.
My lay, thy sister-song is gone before. And now another in my teeming brain Prepares itself: whence I resume the strain.
Poiche per mio destino.
IN PRAISE OF LAURA'S EYES: IN THEM HE FINDS EVERY GOOD, AND HE CAN NEVER CEASE TO PRAISE THEM.
Since then by destiny I am compell'd to sing the strong desire, Which here condemns me ceaselessly to sigh, May Love, whose quenchless fire Excites me, be my guide and point the way, And in the sweet task modulate my lay: But gently be it, lest th' o'erpowering theme Inflame and sting me, lest my fond heart may Dissolve in too much softness, which I deem, From its sad state, may be: For in me—hence my terror and distress! Not now as erst I see Judgment to keep my mind's great passion less: Nay, rather from mine own thoughts melt I so, As melts before the summer sun the snow.
At first I fondly thought Communing with mine ardent flame to win Some brief repose, some time of truce within: This was the hope which brought Me courage what I suffer'd to explain, Now, now it leaves me martyr to my pain: But still, continuing mine amorous song, Must I the lofty enterprise maintain; So powerful is the wish that in me glows, That Reason, which so long Restrain'd it, now no longer can oppose. Then teach me, Love, to sing In such frank guise, that ever if the ear Of my sweet foe should chance the notes to hear, Pity, I ask no more, may in her spring.
If, as in other times, When kindled to true virtue was mankind, The genius, energy of man could find Entrance in divers climes, Mountains and seas o'erpassing, seeking there Honour, and culling oft its garland fair, Mine were such wish, not mine such need would be. From shore to shore my weary course to trace, Since God, and Love, and Nature deign for me Each virtue and each grace In those dear eyes where I rejoice to place. In life to them must I Turn as to founts whence peace and safety swell: And e'en were death, which else I fear not, nigh, Their sight alone would teach me to be well.
As, vex'd by the fierce wind, The weary sailor lifts at night his gaze To the twin lights which still our pole displays, So, in the storms unkind Of Love which I sustain, in those bright eyes My guiding light and only solace lies: But e'en in this far more is due to theft, Which, taught by Love, from time to time, I make Of secret glances than their gracious gift: Yet that, though rare and slight, Makes me from them perpetual model take; Since first they blest my sight Nothing of good without them have I tried, Placing them over me to guard and guide, Because mine own worth held itself but light.
Never the full effect Can I imagine, and describe it less Which o'er my heart those soft eyes still possess! As worthless I reject And mean all other joys that life confers, E'en as all other beauties yield to hers. A tranquil peace, alloy'd by no distress, Such as in heaven eternally abides, Moves from their lovely and bewitching smile. So could I gaze, the while Love, at his sweet will, governs them and guides, —E'en though the sun were nigh, Resting above us on his onward wheel— On her, intensely with undazzled eye, Nor of myself nor others think or feel.
Ah! that I should desire Things that can never in this world be won, Living on wishes hopeless to acquire. Yet, were the knot undone, Wherewith my weak tongue Love is wont to bind, Checking its speech, when her sweet face puts on All its great charms, then would I courage find, Words on that point so apt and new to use, As should make weep whoe'er might hear the tale. But the old wounds I bear, Stamp'd on my tortured heart, such power refuse; Then grow I weak and pale, And my blood hides itself I know not where; Nor as I was remain I: hence I know Love dooms my death and this the fatal blow.
Farewell, my song! already do I see Heavily in my hand the tired pen move From its long dear discourse with her I love; Not so my thoughts from communing with me.
Io son gia stanco di pensar siccome.
HE WONDERS AT HIS LONG ENDURANCE OF SUCH TOIL AND SUFFERING.
I weary me alway with questions keen How, why my thoughts ne'er turn from you away, Wherefore in life they still prefer to stay, When they might flee this sad and painful scene, And how of the fine hair, the lovely mien, Of the bright eyes which all my feelings sway, Calling on your dear name by night and day, My tongue ne'er silent in their praise has been, And how my feet not tender are, nor tired, Pursuing still with many a useless pace Of your fair footsteps the elastic trace; And whence the ink, the paper whence acquired, Fill'd with your memories: if in this I err, Not art's defect but Love's own fault it were.
I begli occhi, ond' i' fui percosso in guisa.
HE IS NEVER WEARY OF PRAISING THE EYES OF LAURA.
The bright eyes which so struck my fenceless side That they alone which harm'd can heal the smart Beyond or power of herbs or magic art, Or stone which oceans from our shores divide, The chance of other love have so denied That one sweet thought alone contents my heart, From following which if ne'er my tongue depart, Pity the guided though you blame the guide. These are the bright eyes which, in every land But most in its own shrine, my heart, adored, Have spread the triumphs of my conquering lord; These are the same bright eyes which ever stand Burning within me, e'en as vestal fires, In singing which my fancy never tires.
Not all the spells of the magician's art, Not potent herbs, nor travel o'er the main, But those sweet eyes alone can soothe my pain, And they which struck the blow must heal the smart; Those eyes from meaner love have kept my heart, Content one single image to retain, And censure but the medium wild and vain, If ill my words their honey'd sense impart; These are those beauteous eyes which never fail To prove Love's conquest, wheresoe'er they shine, Although my breast hath oftenest felt their fire; These are those beauteous eyes which still assail And penetrate my soul with sparks divine, So that of singing them I cannot tire.
Amor con sue promesse lusingando.
LOVE CHAINS ARE STILL DEAR TO HIM.
By promise fair and artful flattery Me Love contrived in prison old to snare, And gave the keys to her my foe in care, Who in self-exile dooms me still to lie. Alas! his wiles I knew not until I Was in their power, so sharp yet sweet to bear, (Man scarce will credit it although I swear) That I regain my freedom with a sigh, And, as true suffering captives ever do, Carry of my sore chains the greater part, And on my brow and eyes so writ my heart That when she witnesseth my cheek's wan hue A sigh shall own: if right I read his face, Between him and his tomb but small the space!
Per mirar Policleto a prova fiso.
ON THE PORTRAIT OF LAURA PAINTED BY SIMON MEMMI.
Had Policletus seen her, or the rest Who, in past time, won honour in this art, A thousand years had but the meaner part Shown of the beauty which o'ercame my breast. But Simon sure, in Paradise the blest, Whence came this noble lady of my heart, Saw her, and took this wond'rous counterpart Which should on earth her lovely face attest. The work, indeed, was one, in heaven alone To be conceived, not wrought by fellow-men, Over whose souls the body's veil is thrown: 'Twas done of grace: and fail'd his pencil when To earth he turn'd our cold and heat to bear, And felt that his own eyes but mortal were.
Had Polycletus in proud rivalry On her his model gazed a thousand years, Not half the beauty to my soul appears, In fatal conquest, e'er could he descry. But, Simon, thou wast then in heaven's blest sky, Ere she, my fair one, left her native spheres, To trace a loveliness this world reveres Was thus thy task, from heaven's reality. Yes—thine the portrait heaven alone could wake, This clime, nor earth, such beauty could conceive, Where droops the spirit 'neath its earthly shrine: The soul's reflected grace was thine to take, Which not on earth thy painting could achieve, Where mortal limits all the powers confine.
Quando giunse a Simon l' alto concetto.
HE DESIRES ONLY THAT MEMMI HAD BEEN ABLE TO IMPART SPEECH TO HIS PORTRAIT OF LAURA.
When, at my word, the high thought fired his mind, Within that master-hand which placed the pen, Had but the painter, in his fair work, then Language and intellect to beauty join'd, Less 'neath its care my spirit since had pined, Which worthless held what still pleased other men; And yet so mild she seems that my fond ken Of peace sees promise in that aspect kind. When further communing I hold with her Benignantly she smiles, as if she heard And well could answer to mine every word: But far o'er mine thy pride and pleasure were, Bright, warm and young, Pygmalion, to have press'd Thine image long and oft, while mine not once has blest.
When Simon at my wish the proud design Conceived, which in his hand the pencil placed, Had he, while loveliness his picture graced, But added speech and mind to charms divine; What sighs he then had spared this breast of mine: That bliss had given to higher bliss distaste: For, when such meekness in her look was traced, 'Twould seem she soon to kindness might incline. But, urging converse with the portray'd fair, Methinks she deigns attention to my prayer, Though wanting to reply the power of voice. What praise thyself, Pygmalion, hast thou gain'd; Forming that image, whence thou hast obtain'd A thousand times what, once obtain'd, would me rejoice.
Se al principio risponde il fine e 'l mezzo.
IF HIS PASSION STILL INCREASE, HE MUST SOON DIE.
If, of this fourteenth year wherein I sigh, The end and middle with its opening vie, Nor air nor shade can give me now release, I feel mine ardent passion so increase: For Love, with whom my thought no medium knows, Beneath whose yoke I never find repose, So rules me through these eyes, on mine own ill Too often turn'd, but half remains to kill. Thus, day by day, I feel me sink apace, And yet so secretly none else may trace, Save she whose glances my fond bosom tear. Scarcely till now this load of life I bear Nor know how long with me will be her stay, For death draws near, and hastens life away.
Chi e fermato di menar sua vita.
HE PRAYS GOD TO GUIDE HIS FRAIL BARK TO A SAFE PORT.
Who is resolved to venture his vain life On the deceitful wave and 'mid the rocks, Alone, unfearing death, in little bark, Can never be far distant from his end: Therefore betimes he should return to port While to the helm yet answers his true sail.
The gentle breezes to which helm and sail I trusted, entering on this amorous life, And hoping soon to make some better port, Have led me since amid a thousand rocks, And the sure causes of my mournful end Are not alone without, but in my bark.
Long cabin'd and confined in this blind bark, I wander'd, looking never at the sail, Which, prematurely, bore me to my end; Till He was pleased who brought me into life So far to call me back from those sharp rocks, That, distantly, at last was seen my port.
As lights at midnight seen in any port, Sometimes from the main sea by passing bark, Save when their ray is lost 'mid storms or rocks; So I too from above the swollen sail Saw the sure colours of that other life, And could not help but sigh to reach my end.
Not that I yet am certain of that end, For wishing with the dawn to be in port, Is a long voyage for so short a life: And then I fear to find me in frail bark, Beyond my wishes full its every sail With the strong wind which drove me on those rocks.
Escape I living from these doubtful rocks, Or if my exile have but a fair end, How happy shall I be to furl my sail, And my last anchor cast in some sure port; But, ah! I burn, and, as some blazing bark, So hard to me to leave my wonted life.
Lord of my end and master of my life, Before I lose my bark amid the rocks, Direct to a good port its harass'd sail!
Io son si stanco sotto 'l fascio antico.
HE CONFESSES HIS ERRORS, AND THROWS HIMSELF ON THE MERCY OF GOD.
Evil by custom, as by nature frail, I am so wearied with the long disgrace, That much I dread my fainting in the race Should let th' original enemy prevail. Once an Eternal Friend, that heard my cries, Came to my rescue, glorious in his might, Arm'd with all-conquering love, then took his flight, That I in vain pursued Him with my eyes. But his dear words, yet sounding, sweetly say, "O ye that faint with travel, see the way! Hopeless of other refuge, come to me." What grace, what kindness, or what destiny Will give me wings, as the fair-feather'd dove, To raise me hence and seek my rest above?
So weary am I 'neath the constant thrall Of mine own vile heart, and the false world's taint, That much I fear while on the way to faint, And in the hands of my worst foe to fall. Well came, ineffably, supremely kind, A friend to free me from the guilty bond, But too soon upward flew my sight beyond, So that in vain I strive his track to find; But still his words stamp'd on my heart remain, All ye who labour, lo! the way in me; Come unto me, nor let the world detain! Oh! that to me, by grace divine, were given Wings like a dove, then I away would flee, And be at rest, up, up from earth to heaven!
Io non fu' d' amar voi lassato unquanco.
UNLESS LAURA RELENT, HE IS RESOLVED TO ABANDON HER.
Yet was I never of your love aggrieved, Nor never shall while that my life doth last: But of hating myself, that date is past; And tears continual sore have me wearied: I will not yet in my grave be buried; Nor on my tomb your name have fixed fast, As cruel cause, that did the spirit soon haste From the unhappy bones, by great sighs stirr'd. Then if a heart of amorous faith and will Content your mind withouten doing grief; Please it you so to this to do relief: If otherwise you seek for to fulfil Your wrath, you err, and shall not as you ween; And you yourself the cause thereof have been.
Weary I never was, nor can be e'er, Lady, while life shall last, of loving you, But brought, alas! myself in hate to view, Perpetual tears have bred a blank despair: I wish a tomb, whose marble fine and fair, When this tired spirit and frail flesh are two, May show your name, to which my death is due, If e'en our names at last one stone may share; Wherefore, if full of faith and love, a heart Can, of worst torture short, suffice your hate, Mercy at length may visit e'en my smart. If otherwise your wrath itself would sate, It is deceived: and none will credit show; To Love and to myself my thanks for this I owe.
Se bianche non son prima ambe le tempie.
THOUGH NOT SECURE AGAINST THE WILES OF LOVE, HE FEELS STRENGTH ENOUGH TO RESIST THEM.
Till silver'd o'er by age my temples grow, Where Time by slow degrees now plants his grey, Safe shall I never be, in danger's way While Love still points and plies his fatal bow I fear no more his tortures and his tricks, That he will keep me further to ensnare Nor ope my heart, that, from without, he there His poisonous and ruthless shafts may fix. No tears can now find issue from mine eyes, But the way there so well they know to win, That nothing now the pass to them denies. Though the fierce ray rekindle me within, It burns not all: her cruel and severe Form may disturb, not break my slumbers here.
Occhi, piangete; accompagnate il core.
DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE POET AND HIS EYES.
Playne ye, myne eyes, accompanye my harte, For, by your fault, lo, here is death at hand! Ye brought hym first into this bitter band, And of his harme as yett ye felt no part; But now ye shall: Lo! here beginnes your smart. Wett shall you be, ye shall it not withstand With weepinge teares that shall make dymm your sight, And mystic clowdes shall hang still in your light. Blame but yourselves that kyndlyd have this brand, With suche desyre to strayne that past your might; But, since by you the hart hath caught his harme, His flamed heat shall sometyme make you warme.
P. Weep, wretched eyes, accompany the heart Which only from your weakness death sustains. E. Weep? evermore we weep; with keener pains For others' error than our own we smart. P. Love, entering first through you an easy part, Took up his seat, where now supreme he reigns. E. We oped to him the way, but Hope the veins First fired of him now stricken by death's dart. P. The lots, as seems to you, scarce equal fall 'Tween heart and eyes, for you, at first sight, were Enamour'd of your common ill and shame. E. This is the thought which grieves us most of all; For perfect judgments are on earth so rare That one man's fault is oft another's blame.
Io amai sempre, ed amo forte ancora.
HE LOVES, AND WILL ALWAYS LOVE, THE SPOT AND THE HOUR IN WHICH HE FIRST BECAME ENAMOURED OF LAURA.
I always loved, I love sincerely yet, And to love more from day to day shall learn, The charming spot where oft in grief I turn When Love's severities my bosom fret: My mind to love the time and hour is set Which taught it each low care aside to spurn; She too, of loveliest face, for whom I burn Bids me her fair life love and sin forget. Who ever thought to see in friendship join'd, On all sides with my suffering heart to cope, The gentle enemies I love so well? Love now is paramount my heart to bind, And, save that with desire increases hope, Dead should I lie alive where I would dwell.
Io avro sempre in odio la fenestra.
BETTER IS IT TO DIE HAPPY THAN TO LIVE IN PAIN.
Always in hate the window shall I bear, Whence Love has shot on me his shafts at will, Because not one of them sufficed to kill: For death is good when life is bright and fair, But in this earthly jail its term to outwear Is cause to me, alas! of infinite ill; And mine is worse because immortal still, Since from the heart the spirit may not tear. Wretched! ere this who surely ought'st to know By long experience, from his onward course None can stay Time by flattery or by force. Oft and again have I address'd it so: Mourner, away! he parteth not too soon Who leaves behind him far his life's calm June.
Si tosto come avvien che l' arco scocchi.
HE CALLS THE EYES OF LAURA FOES, BECAUSE THEY KEEP HIM IN LIFE ONLY TO TORMENT HIM.
Instantly a good archer draws his bow Small skill it needs, e'en from afar, to see Which shaft, less fortunate, despised may be, Which to its destined sign will certain go: Lady, e'en thus of your bright eyes the blow, You surely felt pass straight and deep in me, Searching my life, whence—such is fate's decree— Eternal tears my stricken heart overflow; And well I know e'en then your pity said: Fond wretch! to misery whom passion leads, Be this the point at once to strike him dead. But seeing now how sorrow sorrow breeds, All that my cruel foes against me plot, For my worse pain, and for my death is not.
Poi che mia speme e lunga a venir troppo.
HE COUNSELS LOVERS TO FLEE, RATHER THAN BE CONSUMED BY THE FLAMES OF LOVE.
Since my hope's fruit yet faileth to arrive, And short the space vouchsafed me to survive, Betimes of this aware I fain would be, Swifter than light or wind from Love to flee: And I do flee him, weak albeit and lame O' my left side, where passion racked my frame. Though now secure yet bear I on my face Of the amorous encounter signal trace. Wherefore I counsel each this way who comes, Turn hence your footsteps, and, if Love consumes, Think not in present pain his worst is done; For, though I live, of thousand scapes not one! 'Gainst Love my enemy was strong indeed— Lo! from his wounds e'en she is doom'd to bleed.
Fuggendo la prigione ov' Amor m' ebbe.
HE LONGS TO RETURN TO THE CAPTIVITY OF LOVE.
Fleeing the prison which had long detain'd, Where Love dealt with me as to him seem'd well, Ladies, the time were long indeed to tell, How much my heart its new-found freedom pain'd. I felt within I could not, so bereaved, Live e'en a day: and, midway, on my eyes That traitor rose in so complete disguise, A wiser than myself had been deceived: Whence oft I've said, deep sighing for the past, Alas! the yoke and chains of old to me Were sweeter far than thus released to be. Me wretched! but to learn mine ill at last; With what sore trial must I now forget Errors that round my path myself have set.
Erano i capei d' oro all' aura sparsi.
HE PAINTS THE BEAUTIES OF LAURA, PROTESTING HIS UNALTERABLE LOVE.
Loose to the breeze her golden tresses flow'd Wildly in thousand mazy ringlets blown, And from her eyes unconquer'd glances shone, Those glances now so sparingly bestow'd. And true or false, meseem'd some signs she show'd As o'er her cheek soft pity's hue was thrown; I, whose whole breast with love's soft food was sown, What wonder if at once my bosom glow'd? Graceful she moved, with more than mortal mien, In form an angel: and her accents won Upon the ear with more than human sound. A spirit heavenly pure, a living sun, Was what I saw; and if no more 'twere seen, T' unbend the bow will never heal the wound.
ANON., OX., 1795.
Her golden tresses on the wind she threw, Which twisted them in many a beauteous braid; In her fine eyes the burning glances play'd, With lovely light, which now they seldom show: Ah! then it seem'd her face wore pity's hue, Yet haply fancy my fond sense betray'd; Nor strange that I, in whose warm heart was laid Love's fuel, suddenly enkindled grew! Not like a mortal's did her step appear, Angelic was her form; her voice, methought, Pour'd more than human accents on the ear. A living sun was what my vision caught, A spirit pure; and though not such still found, Unbending of the bow ne'er heals the wound.
Her golden tresses to the gale were streaming, That in a thousand knots did them entwine, And the sweet rays which now so rarely shine From her enchanting eyes, were brightly beaming, And—was it fancy?—o'er that dear face gleaming Methought I saw Compassion's tint divine; What marvel that this ardent heart of mine Blazed swiftly forth, impatient of Love's dreaming? There was nought mortal in her stately tread But grace angelic, and her speech awoke Than human voices a far loftier sound, A spirit of heaven,—a living sun she broke Upon my sight;—what if these charms be fled?— The slackening of the bow heals not the wound.
La bella donna che cotanto amavi.
TO HIS BROTHER GERARDO, ON THE DEATH OF A LADY TO WHOM HE WAS ATTACHED.
The beauteous lady thou didst love so well Too soon hath from our regions wing'd her flight, To find, I ween, a home 'mid realms of light; So much in virtue did she here excel Thy heart's twin key of joy and woe can dwell No more with her—then re-assume thy might, Pursue her by the path most swift and right, Nor let aught earthly stay thee by its spell. Thus from thy heaviest burthen being freed, Each other thou canst easier dispel, And an unfreighted pilgrim seek thy sky; Too well, thou seest, how much the soul hath need, (Ere yet it tempt the shadowy vale) to quell Each earthly hope, since all that lives must die.
The lovely lady who was long so dear To thee, now suddenly is from us gone, And, for this hope is sure, to heaven is flown, So mild and angel-like her life was here! Now from her thraldom since thy heart is clear, Whose either key she, living, held alone, Follow where she the safe short way has shown, Nor let aught earthly longer interfere. Thus disencumber'd from the heavier weight, The lesser may aside be easier laid, And the freed pilgrim win the crystal gate; So teaching us, since all things that are made Hasten to death, how light must be his soul Who treads the perilous pass, unscathed and whole!
Piangete, donne, e con voi pianga Amore.
ON THE DEATH OF CINO DA PISTOIA.
Weep, beauteous damsels, and let Cupid weep, Of every region weep, ye lover train; He, who so skilfully attuned his strain To your fond cause, is sunk in death's cold sleep! Such limits let not my affliction keep, As may the solace of soft tears restrain; And, to relieve my bosom of its pain, Be all my sighs tumultuous, utter'd deep! Let song itself, and votaries of verse, Breathe mournful accents o'er our Cino's bier, Who late is gone to number with the blest! Oh! weep, Pistoia, weep your sons perverse; Its choicest habitant has fled our sphere, And heaven may glory in its welcome guest!
Ye damsels, pour your tears! weep with you. Love! Weep, all ye lovers, through the peopled sphere! Since he is dead who, while he linger'd here, With all his might to do you honour strove. For me, this tyrant grief my prayers shall move Not to contest the comfort of a tear, Nor check those sighs, that to my heart are dear, Since ease from them alone it hopes to prove. Ye verses, weep!—ye rhymes, your woes renew! For Cino, master of the love-fraught lay, E'en now is from our fond embraces torn! Pistoia, weep, and all your thankless crew! Your sweetest inmate now is reft away— But, heaven, rejoice, and hail your son new-born!
Piu volte Amor m' avea gia detto: scrivi.
HE WRITES WHAT LOVE BIDS HIM.
White—to my heart Love oftentimes had said— Write what thou seest in letters large of gold, That livid are my votaries to behold, And in a moment made alive and dead. Once in thy heart my sovran influence spread A public precedent to lovers told; Though other duties drew thee from my fold, I soon reclaim'd thee as thy footsteps fled. And if the bright eyes which I show'd thee first, If the fair face where most I loved to stay, Thy young heart's icy hardness when I burst, Restore to me the bow which all obey, Then may thy cheek, which now so smooth appears, Be channell'd with my daily drink of tears.
Quando giugne per gli occhi al cor profondo.
HE DESCRIBES THE STATE OF TWO LOVERS, AND RETURNS IN THOUGHT TO HIS OWN SUFFERINGS.
When reaches through the eyes the conscious heart Its imaged fate, all other thoughts depart; The powers which from the soul their functions take A dead weight on the frame its limbs then make. From the first miracle a second springs, At times the banish'd faculty that brings, So fleeing from itself, to some new seat, Which feeds revenge and makes e'en exile sweet. Thus in both faces the pale tints were rife, Because the strength which gave the glow of life On neither side was where it wont to dwell— I on that day these things remember'd well, Of that fond couple when each varying mien Told me in like estate what long myself had been.
Cosi potess' io ben chiuder in versi.
HE COMPLAINS THAT TO HIM ALONE IS FAITH HURTFUL.
Could I, in melting verse, my thoughts but throw, As in my heart their living load I bear, No soul so cruel in the world was e'er That would not at the tale with pity glow. But ye, blest eyes, which dealt me the sore blow, 'Gainst which nor helm nor shield avail'd to spare Within, without, behold me poor and bare, Though never in laments is breathed my woe. But since on me your bright glance ever shines, E'en as a sunbeam through transparent glass, Suffice then the desire without the lines. Faith Peter bless'd and Mary, but, alas! It proves an enemy to me alone, Whose spirit save by you to none is known.
Io son dell' aspectar omai si vinto.
HAVING ONCE SURRENDERED HIMSELF, HE IS COMPELLED EVER TO ENDURE THE PANGS OF LOVE.
Weary with expectation's endless round, And overcome in this long war of sighs, I hold desires in hate and hopes despise, And every tie wherewith my breast is bound; But the bright face which in my heart profound Is stamp'd, and seen where'er I turn mine eyes, Compels me where, against my will, arise The same sharp pains that first my ruin crown'd. Then was my error when the old way quite Of liberty was bann'd and barr'd to me: He follows ill who pleases but his sight: To its own harm my soul ran wild and free, Now doom'd at others' will to wait and wend; Because that once it ventured to offend.
Ahi bella liberta, come tu m' hai.
HE DEPLORES HIS LOST LIBERTY AND THE UNHAPPINESS OF HIS PRESENT STATE.
Alas! fair Liberty, thus left by thee, Well hast thou taught my discontented heart To mourn the peace it felt, ere yet Love's dart Dealt me the wound which heal'd can never be; Mine eyes so charm'd with their own weakness grow That my dull mind of reason spurns the chain; All worldly occupation they disdain, Ah! that I should myself have train'd them so. Naught, save of her who is my death, mine ear Consents to learn; and from my tongue there flows No accent save the name to me so dear; Love to no other chase my spirit spurs, No other path my feet pursue; nor knows My hand to write in other praise but hers.
Alas, sweet Liberty! in speeding hence, Too well didst thou reveal unto my heart Its careless joy, ere Love ensheathed his dart, Of whose dread wound I ne'er can lose the sense My eyes, enamour'd of their grief intense, Did in that hour from Reason's bridle start, Thus used to woe, they have no wish to part; Each other mortal work is an offence. No other theme will now my soul content Than she who plants my death, with whose blest name I make the air resound in echoes sweet: Love spurs me to her as his only bent, My hand can trace nought other but her fame, No other spot attracts my willing feet.
Orso, al vostro destrier si puo ben porre.
HE SYMPATHISES WITH HIS FRIEND ORSO AT HIS INABILITY TO ATTEND A TOURNAMENT.
Orso, a curb upon thy gallant horse Well may we place to turn him from his course, But who thy heart may bind against its will Which honour courts and shuns dishonour still? Sigh not! for nought its praise away can take, Though Fate this journey hinder you to make. For, as already voiced by general fame, Now is it there, and none before it came. Amid the camp, upon the day design'd, Enough itself beneath those arms to find Which youth, love, valour, and near blood concern, Crying aloud: With noble fire I burn, As my good lord unwillingly at home, Who pines and languishes in vain to come.
Poi che voi ed io piu volte abbiam provato.
TO A FRIEND, COUNSELLING HIM TO ABANDON EARTHLY PLEASURES.
Still has it been our bitter lot to prove How hope, or e'er it reach fruition, flies! Up then to that high good, which never dies, Lift we the heart—to heaven's pure bliss above. On earth, as in a tempting mead, we rove, Where coil'd 'mid flowers the traitor serpent lies; And, if some casual glimpse delight our eyes, 'Tis but to grieve the soul enthrall'd by Love. Oh! then, as thou wouldst wish ere life's last day To taste the sweets of calm unbroken rest, Tread firm the narrow, shun the beaten way— Ah! to thy friend too well may be address'd: "Thou show'st a path, thyself most apt to stray, Which late thy truant feet, fond youth, have never press'd."
Friend, as we both in confidence complain To see our ill-placed hopes return in vain, Let that chief good which must for ever please Exalt our thought and fix our happiness. This world as some gay flowery field is spread, Which hides a serpent in its painted bed, And most it wounds when most it charms our eyes, At once the tempter and the paradise. And would you, then, sweet peace of mind restore, And in fair calm expect your parting hour, Leave the mad train, and court the happy few. Well may it be replied, "O friend, you show Others the path, from which so often you Have stray'd, and now stray farther than before."
Quella fenestra, ove l' un sol si vede.
RECOLLECTIONS OF LOVE.
That window where my sun is often seen Refulgent, and the world's at morning's hours; And that, where Boreas blows, when winter lowers, And the short days reveal a clouded scene; That bench of stone where, with a pensive mien, My Laura sits, forgetting beauty's powers; Haunts where her shadow strikes the walls or flowers, And her feet press the paths or herbage green: The place where Love assail'd me with success; And spring, the fatal time that, first observed, Revives the keen remembrance every year; With looks and words, that o'er me have preserved A power no length of time can render less, Call to my eyes the sadly-soothing tear.
That window where my sun is ever seen, Dazzling and bright, and Nature's at the none; And that where still, when Boreas rude has blown In the short days, the air thrills cold and keen: The stone where, at high noon, her seat has been, Pensive and parleying with herself alone: Haunts where her bright form has its shadow thrown, Or trod her fairy foot the carpet green: The cruel spot where first Love spoil'd my rest, And the new season which, from year to year, Opes, on this day, the old wound in my breast: The seraph face, the sweet words, chaste and dear, Which in my suffering heart are deep impress'd, All melt my fond eyes to the frequent tear.
Lasso! ben so che dolorose prede.
THOUGH FOR FOURTEEN YEARS HE HAS STRUGGLED UNSUCCESSFULLY, HE STILL HOPES TO CONQUER HIS PASSION.
Alas! well know I what sad havoc makes Death of our kind, how Fate no mortal spares! How soon the world whom once it loved forsakes, How short the faith it to the friendless bears! Much languishment, I see, small mercy wakes; For the last day though now my heart prepares, Love not a whit my cruel prison breaks, And still my cheek grief's wonted tribute wears. I mark the days, the moments, and the hours Bear the full years along, nor find deceit, Bow'd 'neath a greater force than magic spell. For fourteen years have fought with varying powers Desire and Reason: and the best shall beat; If mortal spirits here can good foretell.
Alas! I know death makes us all his prey, Nor aught of mercy shows to destined man; How swift the world completes its circling span, And faithless Time soon speeds him on his way. My heart repeats the blast of earth's last day, Yet for its grief no recompense can scan, Love holds me still beneath its cruel ban, And still my eyes their usual tribute pay. My watchful senses mark how on their wing The circling years transport their fleeter kin, And still I bow enslaved as by a spell: For fourteen years did reason proudly fling Defiance at my tameless will, to win A triumph blest, if Man can good foretell.
Cesare, poi che 'l traditor d' Egitto.
THE COUNTENANCE DOES NOT ALWAYS TRULY INDICATE THE HEART.
When Egypt's traitor Pompey's honour'd head To Caesar sent; then, records so relate, To shroud a gladness manifestly great, Some feigned tears the specious monarch shed: And, when misfortune her dark mantle spread O'er Hannibal, and his afflicted state, He laugh'd 'midst those who wept their adverse fate, That rank despite to wreak defeat had bred. Thus doth the mind oft variously conceal Its several passions by a different veil; Now with a countenance that's sad, now gay: So mirth and song if sometimes I employ, 'Tis but to hide those sorrows that annoy, 'Tis but to chase my amorous cares away.
Caesar, when Egypt's cringing traitor brought The gory gift of Pompey's honour'd head, Check'd the full gladness of his instant thought, And specious tears of well-feign'd pity shed: And Hannibal, when adverse Fortune wrought On his afflicted empire evils dread, 'Mid shamed and sorrowing friends, by laughter, sought To ease the anger at his heart that fed. Thus, as the mind its every feeling hides, Beneath an aspect contrary, the mien, Bright'ning with hope or charged with gloom, is seen. Thus ever if I sing, or smile betides, The outward joy serves only to conceal The inner ail and anguish that I feel.
Vinse Annibal, e non seppe usar poi.
TO STEFANO COLONNA, COUNSELLING HIM TO FOLLOW UP HIS VICTORY OVER THE ORSINI.
Hannibal conquer'd oft, but never knew The fruits and gain of victory to get, Wherefore, dear lord, be wise, take care that yet A like misfortune happen not to you. Still in their lair the cubs and she-bear,[Q] who Rough pasturage and sour in May have met, With mad rage gnash their teeth and talons whet, And vengeance of past loss on us pursue: While this new grief disheartens and appalls, Replace not in its sheath your honour'd sword, But, boldly following where your fortune calls, E'en to its goal be glory's path explored, Which fame and honour to the world may give That e'en for centuries after death will live.
[Footnote Q: Orsa. A play on the word Orsim.]
L' aspettata virtu che 'n voi fioriva.
TO PAUDOLFO MALATESTA, LORD OF RIMINI.
Sweet virtue's blossom had its promise shed Within thy breast (when Love became thy foe); Fair as the flower, now its fruit doth glow, And not by visions hath my hope been fed. To hail thee thus, I by my heart am led, That by my pen thy name renown should know; No marble can the lasting fame bestow Like that by poets' characters is spread. Dost think Marcellus' or proud Caesar's name, Or Africanus, Paulus—still resound, That sculptors proud have effigied their deed? No, Pandolph, frail the statuary's fame, For immortality alone is found Within the records of a poet's meed.
The flower, in youth which virtue's promise bore, When Love in your pure heart first sought to dwell, Now beareth fruit that flower which matches well, And my long hopes are richly come ashore, Prompting my spirit some glad verse to pour Where to due honour your high name may swell, For what can finest marble truly tell Of living mortal than the form he wore? Think you great Caesar's or Marcellus' name, That Paulus, Africanus to our days, By anvil or by hammer ever came? No! frail the sculptor's power for lasting praise: Our study, my Pandolfo, only can Give immortality of fame to man.
Mai non vo' piu cantar, com' io soleva.
Never more shall I sing, as I have sung: For still she heeded not; and I was scorn'd: So e'en in loveliest spots is trouble found. Unceasingly to sigh is no relief. Already on the Alp snow gathers round: Already day is near; and I awake. An affable and modest air is sweet; And in a lovely lady that she be Noble and dignified, not proud and cold, Well pleases it to find. Love o'er his empire rules without a sword. He who has miss'd his way let him turn back: Who has no home the heath must be his bed: Who lost or has not gold, Will sate his thirst at the clear crystal spring.
I trusted in Saint Peter, not so now; Let him who can my meaning understand. A harsh rule is a heavy weight to bear. I melt but where I must, and stand alone. I think of him who falling died in Po; Already thence the thrush has pass'd the brook Come, see if I say sooth! No more for me. A rock amid the waters is no joke, Nor birdlime on the twig. Enough my grief When a superfluous pride In a fair lady many virtues hides. There is who answereth without a call; There is who, though entreated, fails and flies: There is who melts 'neath ice: There is who day and night desires his death.
Love who loves you, is an old proverb now. Well know I what I say. But let it pass; 'Tis meet, at their own cost, that men should learn. A modest lady wearies her best friend. Good figs are little known. To me it seems Wise to eschew things hazardous and high; In any country one may be at ease. Infinite hope below kills hope above; And I at times e'en thus have been the talk. My brief life that remains There is who'll spurn not if to Him devote. I place my trust in Him who rules the world, And who his followers shelters in the wood, That with his pitying crook Me will He guide with his own flock to feed.
Haply not every one who reads discerns; Some set the snare at times who take no spoil; Who strains too much may break the bow in twain. Let not the law be lame when suitors watch. To be at ease we many a mile descend. To-day's great marvel is to-morrow's scorn. A veil'd and virgin loveliness is best. Blessed the key which pass'd within my heart, And, quickening my dull spirit, set it free From its old heavy chain, And from my bosom banish'd many a sigh. Where most I suffer'd once she suffers now; Her equal sorrows mitigate my grief; Thanks, then, to Love that I Feel it no more, though he is still the same!
In silence words that wary are and wise; The voice which drives from me all other care; And the dark prison which that fair light hides: As midnight on our hills the violets; And the wild beasts within the walls who dwell; The kind demeanour and the dear reserve; And from two founts one stream which flow'd in peace Where I desire, collected where I would. Love and sore jealousy have seized my heart, And the fair face whose guides Conduct me by a plainer, shorter way To my one hope, where all my torments end. O treasured bliss, and all from thee which flows Of peace, of war, or truce, Never abandon me while life is left!
At my past loss I weep by turns and smile, Because my faith is fix'd in what I hear. The present I enjoy and better wait; Silent, I count the years, yet crave their end, And in a lovely bough I nestle so That e'en her stern repulse I thank and praise, Which has at length o'ercome my firm desire, And inly shown me, I had been the talk, And pointed at by hand: all this it quench'd. So much am I urged on, Needs must I own, thou wert not bold enough. Who pierced me in my side she heals the wound, For whom in heart more than in ink I write; Who quickens me or kills, And in one instant freezes me or fires.
[Footnote R: This, the only known version, is included simply from a wish to represent the original completely, the poem being almost untranslateable into English verse. Italian critics are much divided as to its object. One of the most eminent (Bembo) considers it to be nothing more than an unconnected string of proverbs.]
Nova angeletta sovra l' ale accorta.
HE ALLEGORICALLY DESCRIBES THE ORIGIN OF HIS PASSION.
From heaven an angel upon radiant wings, New lighted on that shore so fresh and fair, To which, so doom'd, my faithful footstep clings: Alone and friendless, when she found me there, Of gold and silk a finely-woven net, Where lay my path, 'mid seeming flowers she set: Thus was I caught, and, for such sweet light shone From out her eyes, I soon forgot to moan.
Non veggio ove scampar mi possa omai.
AFTER FIFTEEN YEARS HER EYES ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN AT FIRST.
No hope of respite, of escape no way, Her bright eyes wage such constant havoc here; Alas! excess of tyranny, I fear, My doting heart, which ne'er has truce, will slay: Fain would I flee, but ah! their amorous ray, Which day and night on memory rises clear, Shines with such power, in this the fifteenth year, They dazzle more than in love's early day. So wide and far their images are spread That wheresoe'er I turn I alway see Her, or some sister-light on hers that fed. Springs such a wood from one fair laurel tree, That my old foe, with admirable skill, Amid its boughs misleads me at his will.
Avventuroso piu d' altro terreno.
HE APOSTROPHIZES THE SPOT WHERE LAURA FIRST SALUTED HIM.
Ah, happiest spot of earth! in this sweet place Love first beheld my condescending fair Retard her steps, to smile with courteous grace On me, and smiling glad the ambient air. The deep-cut image, wrought with skilful care, Time shall from hardest adamant efface, Ere from my mind that smile it shall erase, Dear to my soul! which memory planted there. Oft as I view thee, heart-enchanting soil! With amorous awe I'll seek—delightful toil! Where yet some traces of her footsteps lie. And if fond Love still warms her generous breast, Whene'er you see her, gentle friend! request The tender tribute of a tear—a sigh.
Most fortunate and fair of spots terrene! Where Love I saw her forward footstep stay, And turn on me her bright eyes' heavenly ray, Which round them make the atmosphere serene. A solid form of adamant, I ween, Would sooner shrink in lapse of time away, Than from my mind that sweet salute decay, Dear to my heart, in memory ever green. And oft as I return to view this spot, In its fair scenes I'll fondly stoop to seek Where yet the traces of her light foot lie. But if in valorous heart Love sleepeth not, Whene'er you meet her, friend, for me bespeak Some passing tears, perchance one pitying sigh.
Lasso! quante fiate Amor m' assale.
WHEN LOVE DISTURBS HIM, HE CALMS HIMSELF BY THINKING OF THE EYES AND WORDS OF LAURA.
Alas! how ceaselessly is urged Love's claim, By day, by night, a thousand times I turn Where best I may behold the dear lights burn Which have immortalized my bosom's flame. Thus grow I calm, and to such state am brought, At noon, at break of day, at vesper-bell, I find them in my mind so tranquil dwell, I neither think nor care beside for aught. The balmy air, which, from her angel mien, Moves ever with her winning words and wise, Makes wheresoe'er she breathes a sweet serene As 'twere a gentle spirit from the skies, Still in these scenes some comfort brings to me, Nor elsewhere breathes my harass'd heart so free.
Perseguendomi Amor al luogo usato.
HE IS BEWILDERED AT THE UNEXPECTED ARRIVAL OF LAURA.
As Love his arts in haunts familiar tried, Watchful as one expecting war is found, Who all foresees and guards the passes round, I in the armour of old thoughts relied: Turning, I saw a shadow at my side Cast by the sun, whose outline on the ground I knew for hers, who—be my judgment sound— Deserves in bliss immortal to abide. I whisper'd to my heart, Nay, wherefore fear? But scarcely did the thought arise within Than the bright rays in which I burn were here. As thunders with the lightning-flash begin, So was I struck at once both blind and mute, By her dear dazzling eyes and sweet salute.
La donna che 'l mio cor nel viso porta.
HER KIND AND GENTLE SALUTATION THRILLS HIS HEART WITH PLEASURE.
She, in her face who doth my gone heart wear, As lone I sate 'mid love-thoughts dear and true, Appear'd before me: to show honour due, I rose, with pallid brow and reverent air. Soon as of such my state she was aware, She turn'd on me with look so soft and new As, in Jove's greatest fury, might subdue His rage, and from his hand the thunders tear. I started: on her further way she pass'd Graceful, and speaking words I could not brook, Nor of her lustrous eyes the loving look. When on that dear salute my thoughts are cast, So rich and varied do my pleasures flow, No pain I feel, nor evil fear below.
Sennuccio, i' vo' che sappi in qual maniera.
HE RELATES TO HIS FRIEND SENNUCCIO HIS UNHAPPINESS, AND THE VARIED MOOD OF LAURA.
To thee, Sennuccio, fain would I declare, To sadden life, what wrongs, what woes I find: Still glow my wonted flames; and, though resign'd To Laura's fickle will, no change I bear. All humble now, then haughty is my fair; Now meek, then proud; now pitying, then unkind: Softness and tenderness now sway her mind; Then do her looks disdain and anger wear. Here would she sweetly sing, there sit awhile, Here bend her step, and there her step retard; Here her bright eyes my easy heart ensnared; There would she speak fond words, here lovely smile; There frown contempt;—such wayward cares I prove By night, by day; so wills our tyrant Love!
Alas, Sennuccio! would thy mind could frame What now I suffer! what my life's drear reign; Consumed beneath my heart's continued pain, At will she guides me—yet am I the same. Now humble—then doth pride her soul inflame; Now harsh—then gentle; cruel—kind again; Now all reserve—then borne on frolic's vein; Disdain alternates with a milder claim. Here once she sat, and there so sweetly sang; Here turn'd to look on me, and lingering stood; There first her beauteous eyes my spirit stole: And here she smiled, and there her accents rang, Her speaking face here told another mood. Thus Love, our sovereign, holds me in control.
Qui dove mezzo son, Sennuccio mio.
THE MERE SIGHT OF VAUCLUSE MAKES HIM FORGET ALL THE PERILS OF HIS JOURNEY.
Friend, on this spot, I life but half endure (Would I were wholly here and you content), Where from the storm and wind my course I bent, Which suddenly had left the skies obscure. Fain would I tell—for here I feel me sure— Why lightnings now no fear to me present; And why unmitigated, much less spent, E'en as before my fierce desires allure. Soon as I reach'd these realms of love, and saw Where, sweet and pure, to life my Laura came, Who calms the air, at rest the thunder lays; Love in my soul, where she alone gives law, Quench'd the cold fear and kindled the fast flame; What were it then on her bright eyes to gaze!
Dell' empia Babilonia, ond' e fuggita.
LEAVING ROME, HE DESIRES ONLY PEACE WITH LAURA AND PROSPERITY TO COLONNA.
Yes, out of impious Babylon I'm flown, Whence flown all shame, whence banish'd is all good, That nurse of error, and of guilt th' abode, To lengthen out a life which else were gone: There as Love prompts, while wandering alone, I now a garland weave, and now an ode; With him I commune, and in pensive mood Hope better times; this only checks my moan. Nor for the throng, nor fortune do I care, Nor for myself, nor sublunary things, No ardour outwardly, or inly springs: I ask two persons only: let my fair For me a kind and tender heart maintain; And be my friend secure in his high post again.
From impious Babylon, where all shame is dead, And every good is banish'd to far climes, Nurse of rank errors, centre of worst crimes, Haply to lengthen life, I too am fled: Alone, at last alone, and here, as led At Love's sweet will, I posies weave or rhymes, Self-parleying, and still on better times Wrapt in fond thoughts whence only hope is fed. Cares for the world or fortune I have none, Nor much for self, nor any common theme: Nor feel I in me, nor without, great heat. Two friends alone I ask, and that the one More merciful and meek to me may seem, The other well as erst, and firm of feet.
In mezzo di duo amanti onesta altera.
LAURA TURNING TO SALUTE HIM, THE SUN, THROUGH JEALOUSY, WITHDREW BEHIND A CLOUD.
'Tween two fond lovers I a lady spied, Virtuous but haughty, and with her that lord, By gods above and men below adored— The sun on this, myself upon that side— Soon as she found herself the sphere denied Of her bright friend, on my fond eyes she pour'd A flood of life and joy, which hope restored Less cold to me will be her future pride. Suddenly changed itself to cordial mirth The jealous fear to which at his first sight So high a rival in my heart gave birth; As suddenly his sad and rueful plight From further scrutiny a small cloud veil'd, So much it ruffled him that then he fail'd.
Pien di quella ineffabile dolcezza.
WHEREVER HE IS, HE SEES ONLY LAURA.
O'erflowing with the sweets ineffable, Which from that lovely face my fond eyes drew, What time they seal'd, for very rapture, grew. On meaner beauty never more to dwell, Whom most I love I left: my mind so well Its part, to muse on her, is train'd to do, None else it sees; what is not hers to view, As of old wont, with loathing I repel. In a low valley shut from all around, Sole consolation of my heart-deep sighs, Pensive and slow, with Love I walk alone: Not ladies here, but rocks and founts are found, And of that day blest images arise, Which my thought shapes where'er I turn mine eyes.
Se 'l sasso ond' e piu chiusa questa valle.
COULD HE BUT SEE THE HOUSE OF LAURA, HIS SIGHS MIGHT REACH HER MORE QUICKLY.
If, which our valley bars, this wall of stone, From which its present name we closely trace, Were by disdainful nature rased, and thrown Its back to Babel and to Rome its face; Then had my sighs a better pathway known To where their hope is yet in life and grace: They now go singly, yet my voice all own; And, where I send, not one but finds its place. There too, as I perceive, such welcome sweet They ever find, that none returns again, But still delightedly with her remain. My grief is from the eyes, each morn to meet— Not the fair scenes my soul so long'd to see— Toil for my weary limbs and tears for me.
Rimansi addietro il sestodecim' anno.
THOUGH HE IS UNHAPPY, HIS LOVE REMAINS EVER UNCHANGED.
My sixteenth year of sighs its course has run, I stand alone, already on the brow Where Age descends: and yet it seems as now My time of trial only were begun. 'Tis sweet to love, and good to be undone; Though life be hard, more days may Heaven allow Misfortune to outlive: else Death may bow The bright head low my loving praise that won. Here am I now who fain would be elsewhere; More would I wish and yet no more I would; I could no more and yet did all I could: And new tears born of old desires declare That still I am as I was wont to be, And that a thousand changes change not me.
Una donna piu bella assai che 'l sole.
GLORY AND VIRTUE.
A lady, lovelier, brighter than the sun, Like him superior o'er all time and space, Of rare resistless grace, Me to her train in early life had won: She, from that hour, in act, and word and thought, —For still the world thus covets what is rare— In many ways though brought Before my search, was still the same coy fair: For her alone my plans, from what they were, Grew changed, since nearer subject to her eyes; Her love alone could spur My young ambition to each hard emprize: So, if in long-wish'd port I e'er arrive, I hope, for aye through her, When others deem me dead, in honour to survive.
Full of first hope, burning with youthful love, She, at her will, as plainly now appears, Has led me many years, But for one end, my nature best to prove: Oft showing me her shadow, veil, and dress, But never her sweet face, till I, who right Knew not her power to bless, All my green youth for these, contented quite, So spent, that still the memory is delight: Since onward yet some glimpse of her is seen, I now may own, of late, Such as till then she ne'er for me had been, She shows herself, shooting through all my heart An icy cold so great That save in her dear arms it ne'er can thence depart.
Not that in this cold fear I all did shrink, For still my heart was to such boldness strung That to her feet I clung, As if more rapture from her eyes to drink: And she—for now the veil was ta'en away Which barr'd my sight—thus spoke me, "Friend, you see How fair I am, and may Ask, for your years, whatever fittest be." "Lady," I said, "so long my love on thee Has fix'd, that now I feel myself on fire, What, in this state, to shun, and what desire." She, thereon, with a voice so wond'rous sweet And earnest look replied, By turns with hope and fear it made my quick heart beat:—
"Rarely has man, in this full crowd below, E'en partial knowledge of my worth possess'd Who felt not in his breast At least awhile some spark of spirit glow: But soon my foe, each germ of good abhorr'd, Quenches that light, and every virtue dies, While reigns some other lord Who promises a calmer life shall rise: Love, of your mind, to him that naked lies, So shows the great desire with which you burn, That safely I divine It yet shall win for you an honour'd urn; Already one of my few friends you are, And now shall see in sign A lady who shall make your fond eyes happier far."
"It may not, cannot be," I thus began; —When she, "Turn hither, and in yon calm nook Upon the lady look So seldom seen, so little sought of man!" I turn'd, and o'er my brow the mantling shame, Within me as I felt that new fire swell, Of conscious treason came. She softly smiled, "I understand you well; E'en as the sun's more powerful rays dispel And drive the meaner stars of heaven from sight, So I less fair appear, Dwindling and darken'd now in her more light; But not for this I bar you from my train, As one in jealous fear— One birth, the elder she, produced us, sisters twain."
Meanwhile the cold and heavy chain was burst Of silence, which a sense of shame had flung Around my powerless tongue, When I was conscious of her notice first: And thus I spoke, "If what I hear be true, Bless'd be the sire, and bless'd the natal day Which graced our world with you! Blest the long years pass'd in your search away! From the right path if e'er I went astray, It grieves me more than, haply, I can show: But of your state, if I Deserve more knowledge, more I long to know." She paused, then, answering pensively, so bent On me her eloquent eye, That to my inmost heart her looks and language went:—
"As seem'd to our Eternal Father best, We two were made immortal at our birth: To man so small our worth Better on us that death, like yours, should rest. Though once beloved and lovely, young and bright, So slighted are we now, my sister sweet Already plumes for flight Her wings to bear her to her own old seat; Myself am but a shadow thin and fleet; Thus have I told you, in brief words, whate'er You sought of us to find: And now farewell! before I mount in air This favour take, nor fear that I forget." Whereat she took and twined A wreath of laurel green, and round my temples set.
My song! should any deem thy strain obscure, Say, that I care not, and, ere long to hear, In certain words and clear, Truth's welcome message, that my hope is sure; For this alone, unless I widely err Of him who set me on the task, I came, That others I might stir To honourable acts of high and holy aim.
Or vedi, Amor, che giovinetta donna.
A PRAYER TO LOVE THAT HE WILL TAKE VENGEANCE ON THE SCORNFUL PRIDE OF LAURA.
Now, Love, at length behold a youthful fair, Who spurns thy rule, and, mocking all my care, 'Mid two such foes, is safe and fancy free. Thou art well arm'd, 'mid flowers and verdure she, In simplest robe and natural tresses found, Against thee haughty still and harsh to me; I am thy thrall: but, if thy bow be sound, If yet one shaft be thine, in pity, take Vengeance upon her for our common sake.
Quelle pietose rime, in ch' io m' accorsi.
TO ANTONIO OF FERRARA, WHO, IN A POEM, HAD LAMENTED PETRARCH'S SUPPOSED DEATH.
Those pious lines wherein are finely met Proofs of high genius and a spirit kind, Had so much influence on my grateful mind That instantly in hand my pen I set To tell you that death's final blow—which yet Shall me and every mortal surely find— I have not felt, though I, too, nearly join'd The confines of his realm without regret; But I turn'd back again because I read Writ o'er the threshold that the time to me Of life predestinate not all was fled, Though its last day and hour I could not see. Then once more let your sad heart comfort know, And love the living worth which dead it honour'd so.
Dicesett' anni ha gia rivolto il cielo.
E'EN IN OUR ASHES LIVE OUR WONTED FIRES.
The seventeenth summer now, alas! is gone, And still with ardour unconsumed I glow; Yet find, whene'er myself I seek to know, Amidst the fire a frosty chill come on. Truly 'tis said, 'Ere Habit quits her throne, Years bleach the hair.' The senses feel life's snow, But not less hot the tides of passion flow: Such is our earthly nature's malison! Oh! come the happy day, when doom'd to smart No more, from flames and lingering sorrows free, Calm I may note how fast youth's minutes flew! Ah! will it e'er be mine the hour to see, When with delight, nor duty nor my heart Can blame, these eyes once more that angel face may view?
For seventeen summers heaven has o'er me roll'd Since first I burn'd, nor e'er found respite thence, But when to weigh our state my thoughts commence I feel amidst the flames a frosty cold. We change the form, not nature, is an old And truthful proverb: thus, to dull the sense Makes not the human feelings less intense; The dark shades of our painful veil still hold. Alas! alas! will e'er that day appear When, my life's flight beholding, I may find Issue from endless fire and lingering pain,— The day which, crowning all my wishes here, Of that fair face the angel air and kind Shall to my longing eyes restore again?
Quel vago impallidir che 'l dolce riso.
That witching paleness, which with cloud of love Veil'd her sweet smile, majestically bright, So thrill'd my heart, that from the bosom's night Midway to meet it on her face it strove. Then learnt I how, 'mid realms of joy above, The blest behold the blest: in such pure light I scann'd her tender thought, to others' sight Viewless!—but my fond glances would not rove. Each angel grace, each lowly courtesy, E'er traced in dame by Love's soft power inspired, Would seem but foils to those which prompt my lay: Upon the ground was cast her gentle eye, And still methought, though silent, she inquired, "What bears my faithful friend so soon, so far away?"