There was a touching paleness on her face, Which chased her smiles, but such sweet union made Of pensive majesty and heavenly grace, As if a passing cloud had veil'd her with its shade; Then knew I how the blessed ones above Gaze on each other in their perfect bliss, For never yet was look of mortal love So pure, so tender, so serene as this. The softest glance fond woman ever sent To him she loved, would cold and rayless be Compared to this, which she divinely bent Earthward, with angel sympathy, on me, That seem'd with speechless tenderness to say, "Who takes from me my faithful friend away?"
E. (New Monthly Magazine.)
Amor, Fortuna, e la mia mente schiva.
THE CAUSES OF HIS WOE.
Love, Fortune, and my melancholy mind, Sick of the present, lingering on the past, Afflict me so, that envious thoughts I cast On those who life's dark shore have left behind. Love racks my bosom: Fortune's wintry wind Kills every comfort: my weak mind at last Is chafed and pines, so many ills and vast Expose its peace to constant strifes unkind. Nor hope I better days shall turn again; But what is left from bad to worse may pass: For ah! already life is on the wane. Not now of adamant, but frail as glass, I see my best hopes fall from me or fade, And low in dust my fond thoughts broken laid.
Love, Fortune, and my ever-faithful mind, Which loathes the present in its memoried past, So wound my spirit, that on all I cast An envied thought who rest in darkness find. My heart Love prostrates, Fortune more unkind No comfort grants, until its sorrow vast Impotent frets, then melts to tears at last: Thus I to painful warfare am consign'd. My halcyon days I hope not to return, But paint my future by a darker tint; My spring is gone—my summer well-nigh fled: Ah! wretched me! too well do I discern Each hope is now (unlike the diamond flint) A fragile mirror, with its fragments shed.
Se 'l pensier che mi strugge.
HE SEEKS IN VAIN TO MITIGATE HIS WOE.
Oh! that my cheeks were taught By the fond, wasting thought To wear such hues as could its influence speak; Then the dear, scornful fair Might all my ardour share; And where Love slumbers now he might awake! Less oft the hill and mead My wearied feet should tread; Less oft, perhaps, these eyes with tears should stream; If she, who cold as snow, With equal fire would glow— She who dissolves me, and converts to flame.
Since Love exerts his sway, And bears my sense away, I chant uncouth and inharmonious songs: Nor leaves, nor blossoms show, Nor rind, upon the bough, What is the nature that thereto belongs. Love, and those beauteous eyes, Beneath whose shade he lies, Discover all the heart can comprehend: When vented are my cares In loud complaints, and tears; These harm myself, and others those offend.
Sweet lays of sportive vein, Which help'd me to sustain Love's first assault, the only arms I bore; This flinty breast say who Shall once again subdue, That I with song may soothe me as before? Some power appears to trace Within me Laura's face, Whispers her name; and straight in verse I strive To picture her again, But the fond effort's vain: Me of my solace thus doth Fate deprive.
E'en as some babe unties Its tongue in stammering guise, Who cannot speak, yet will not silence keep: So fond words I essay; And listen'd be the lay By my fair foe, ere in the tomb I sleep! But if, of beauty vain, She treats me with disdain; Do thou, O verdant shore, attend my sighs: Let them so freely flow, That all the world may know, My sorrow thou at least didst not despise!
And well art thou aware, That never foot so fair The soil e'er press'd as that which trod thee late; My sunk soul and worn heart Now seek thee, to impart The secret griefs that on my passion wait. If on thy margent green, Or 'midst thy flowers, were seen Some traces of her footsteps lingering there. My wearied life 'twould cheer, Bitter'd with many a tear: Ah! now what means are left to soothe my care?
Where'er I bend mine eye, What sweet serenity I feel, to think here Laura shone of yore. Each plant and scented bloom I gather, seems to come From where she wander'd on the custom'd shore: Ofttimes in this retreat A fresh and fragrant seat She found; at least so fancy's vision shows: And never let truth seek Th' illusion dear to break— O spirit blest, from whom such magic flows!
To thee, my simple song, No polish doth belong; Thyself art conscious of thy little worth! Solicit not renown Throughout the busy town, But dwell within the shade that gave thee birth.
Chiare, fresche e dolci acque.
TO THE FOUNTAIN OF VAUOLUSE—CONTEMPLATIONS OF DEATH.
Ye limpid brooks, by whose clear streams My goddess laid her tender limbs! Ye gentle boughs, whose friendly shade Gave shelter to the lovely maid! Ye herbs and flowers, so sweetly press'd By her soft rising snowy breast! Ye Zephyrs mild, that breathed around The place where Love my heart did wound! Now at my summons all appear, And to my dying words give ear.
If then my destiny requires, And Heaven with my fate conspires, That Love these eyes should weeping close, Here let me find a soft repose. So Death will less my soul affright, And, free from dread, my weary spright Naked alone will dare t' essay The still unknown, though beaten way; Pleased that her mortal part will have So safe a port, so sweet a grave.
The cruel fair, for whom I burn, May one day to these shades return, And smiling with superior grace, Her lover seek around this place, And when instead of me she finds Some crumbling dust toss'd by the winds, She may feel pity in her breast, And, sighing, wish me happy rest, Drying her eyes with her soft veil, Such tears must sure with Heaven prevail.
Well I remember how the flowers Descended from these boughs in showers, Encircled in the fragrant cloud She set, nor midst such glory proud. These blossoms to her lap repair, These fall upon her flowing hair, (Like pearls enchased in gold they seem,) These on the ground, these on the stream; In giddy rounds these dancing say, Here Love and Laura only sway.
In rapturous wonder oft I said, Sure she in Paradise was made, Thence sprang that bright angelic state, Those looks, those words, that heavenly gait, That beauteous smile, that voice divine, Those graces that around her shine: Transported I beheld the fair, And sighing cried, How came I here? In heaven, amongst th' immortal blest, Here let me fix and ever rest.
Ye waters clear and fresh, to whose blight wave She all her beauties gave,— Sole of her sex in my impassion'd mind! Thou sacred branch so graced, (With sighs e'en now retraced!) On whose smooth shaft her heavenly form reclined! Herbage and flowers that bent the robe beneath, Whose graceful folds compress'd Her pure angelic breast! Ye airs serene, that breathe Where Love first taught me in her eyes his lore! Yet once more all attest, The last sad plaintive lay my woe-worn heart may pour!
If so I must my destiny fulfil, And Love to close these weeping eyes be doom'd By Heaven's mysterious will, Oh! grant that in this loved retreat, entomb'd, My poor remains may lie, And my freed soul regain its native sky! Less rude shall Death appear, If yet a hope so dear Smooth the dread passage to eternity! No shade so calm—serene, My weary spirit finds on earth below; No grave so still—so green, In which my o'ertoil'd frame may rest from mortal woe!
Yet one day, haply, she—so heavenly fair! So kind in cruelty!— With careless steps may to these haunts repair, And where her beaming eye Met mine in days so blest, A wistful glance may yet unconscious rest, And seeking me around, May mark among the stones a lowly mound, That speaks of pity to the shuddering sense! Then may she breathe a sigh, Of power to win me mercy from above! Doing Heaven violence, All-beautiful in tears of late relenting love!
Still dear to memory! when, in odorous showers, Scattering their balmy flowers, To summer airs th' o'ershadowing branches bow'd, The while, with humble state, In all the pomp of tribute sweets she sate, Wrapt in the roseate cloud! Now clustering blossoms deck her vesture's hem, Now her bright tresses gem,— (In that all-blissful day, Like burnish'd gold with orient pearls inwrought,) Some strew the turf—some on the waters float! Some, fluttering, seem to say In wanton circlets toss'd, "Here Love holds sovereign sway!"
Oft I exclaim'd, in awful tremor rapt, "Surely of heavenly birth This gracious form that visits the low earth!" So in oblivion lapp'd Was reason's power, by the celestial mien, The brow,—the accents mild— The angelic smile serene! That now all sense of sad reality O'erborne by transport wild,— "Alas! how came I here, and when?" I cry,— Deeming my spirit pass'd into the sky! E'en though the illusion cease, In these dear haunts alone my tortured heart finds peace.
If thou wert graced with numbers sweet, my song! To match thy wish to please; Leaving these rocks and trees, Thou boldly might'st go forth, and dare th' assembled throng.
Clear, fresh, and dulcet streams, Which the fair shape, who seems To me sole woman, haunted at noon-tide; Fair bough, so gently fit, (I sigh to think of it,) Which lent a pillar to her lovely side; And turf, and flowers bright-eyed, O'er which her folded gown Flow'd like an angel's down; And you, O holy air and hush'd, Where first my heart at her sweet glances gush'd; Give ear, give ear, with one consenting, To my last words, my last and my lamenting.
If 'tis my fate below, And Heaven will have it so, That Love must close these dying eyes in tears, May my poor dust be laid In middle of your shade, While my soul, naked, mounts to its own spheres. The thought would calm my fears, When taking, out of breath, The doubtful step of death; For never could my spirit find A stiller port after the stormy wind; Nor in more calm, abstracted bourne, Slip from my travail'd flesh, and from my bones outworn.
Perhaps, some future hour, To her accustom'd bower Might come the untamed, and yet the gentle she; And where she saw me first, Might turn with eyes athirst And kinder joy to look again for me; Then, oh! the charity! Seeing amidst the stones The earth that held my bones, A sigh for very love at last Might ask of Heaven to pardon me the past: And Heaven itself could not say nay, As with her gentle veil she wiped the tears away.
How well I call to mind, When from those boughs the wind Shook down upon her bosom flower on flower; And there she sat, meek-eyed, In midst of all that pride, Sprinkled and blushing through an amorous shower Some to her hair paid dower, And seem'd to dress the curls, Queenlike, with gold and pearls; Some, snowing, on her drapery stopp'd, Some on the earth, some on the water dropp'd; While others, fluttering from above, Seem'd wheeling round in pomp, and saying, "Here reigns Love."
How often then I said, Inward, and fill'd with dread, "Doubtless this creature came from Paradise!" For at her look the while, Her voice, and her sweet smile, And heavenly air, truth parted from mine eyes; So that, with long-drawn sighs, I said, as far from men, "How came I here, and when?" I had forgotten; and alas! Fancied myself in heaven, not where I was; And from that time till this, I bear Such love for the green bower, I cannot rest elsewhere.
In quella parte dov' Amor mi sprona.
HE FINDS HER IMAGE EVERYWHERE.
When Love, fond Love, commands the strain, The coyest muse must sure obey; Love bids my wounded breast complain, And whispers the melodious lay: Yet when such griefs restrain the muse's wing, How shall she dare to soar, or how attempt to sing?
Oh! could my heart express its woe, How poor, how wretched should I seem! But as the plaintive accents flow, Soft comfort spreads her golden gleam; And each gay scene, that Nature holds to view, Bids Laura's absent charms to memory bloom anew.
Though Fate's severe decrees remove Her gladsome beauties from my sight, Yet, urged by pity, friendly Love Bids fond reflection yield delight; If lavish spring with flowerets strews the mead, Her lavish beauties all to fancy are displayed!
When to this globe the solar beams Their full meridian blaze impart, It pictures Laura, that inflames With passion's fires each human heart: And when the sun completes his daily race, I see her riper age complete each growing grace.
When milder planets, warmer skies O'er winter's frozen reign prevail; When groves are tinged with vernal dyes, And violets scent the wanton gale; Those flowers, the verdure, then recall that day, In which my Laura stole this heedless heart away.
The blush of health, that crimson'd o'er Her youthful cheek; her modest mien; The gay-green garment that she wore, Have ever dear to memory been; More dear they grow as time the more inflames This tender breast o'ercome by passion's wild extremes!
The sun, whose cheering lustre warms The bosom of yon snow-clad hill, Seems a just emblem of the charms, Whose power controls my vanquish'd will; When near, they gild with joy this frozen heart, Where ceaseless winter reigns, whene'er those charms depart.
Yon sun, too, paints the locks of gold, That play around her face so fair— Her face which, oft as I behold, Prompts the soft sigh of amorous care! While Laura smiles, all-conscious of that love Which from this faithful breast no time can e'er remove.
If to the transient storm of night Succeeds a star-bespangled sky, And the clear rain-drops catch the light, Glittering on all the foliage nigh; Methinks her eyes I view, as on that day When through the envious veil they shot their magic ray.
With brightness making heaven more bright, As then they did, I see them now; I see them, when the morning light Purples the misty mountain's brow: When day declines, and darkness spreads the pole; Methinks 'tis Laura flies, and sadness wraps my soul.
In stately jars of burnish'd gold Should lilies spread their silvery pride, With fresh-blown roses that unfold Their leaves, in heaven's own crimson dyed; Then Laura's bloom I see, and sunny hair Flowing adown her neck than ivory whiter far.
The flowerets brush'd by zephyr's wing, Waving their heads in frolic play, Oft to my fond remembrance bring The happy spot, the happier day, In which, disporting with the gale, I view'd Those sweet unbraided locks, that all my heart subdued.
Oh! could I count those orbs that shine Nightly o'er yon ethereal plain, Or in some scanty vase confine Each drop that ocean's bounds contain, Then might I hope to fly from beauty's rays, Laura o'er flaming worlds can spread bright beauty's blaze.
Should I all heaven, all earth explore, I still should lovely Laura find; Laura, whose beauties I adore, Is ever present to my mind: She's seen in all that strikes these partial eyes, And her dear name still dwells in all my tender sighs.
But soft, my song,—not thine the power To paint that never-dying flame, Which gilds through life the gloomy hour, Which nurtures this love-wasted frame; For since with Laura dwells my wander'd heart, Cheer'd by that fostering flame, I brave Death's ebon dart.
Italia mia, benche 'l parlar sia indarno.
TO THE PRINCES OF ITALY, EXHORTING THEM TO SET HER FREE.
O my own Italy! though words are vain The mortal wounds to close, Unnumber'd, that thy beauteous bosom stain, Yet may it soothe my pain To sigh forth Tyber's woes, And Arno's wrongs, as on Po's sadden'd shore Sorrowing I wander, and my numbers pour. Ruler of heaven! By the all-pitying love That could thy Godhead move To dwell a lowly sojourner on earth, Turn, Lord! on this thy chosen land thine eye: See, God of Charity! From what light cause this cruel war has birth; And the hard hearts by savage discord steel'd, Thou, Father! from on high, Touch by my humble voice, that stubborn wrath may yield!
Ye, to whose sovereign hands the fates confide Of this fair land the reins,— (This land for which no pity wrings your breast)— Why does the stranger's sword her plains invest? That her green fields be dyed, Hope ye, with blood from the Barbarians' veins? Beguiled by error weak, Ye see not, though to pierce so deep ye boast, Who love, or faith, in venal bosoms seek: When throng'd your standards most, Ye are encompass'd most by hostile bands. O hideous deluge gather'd in strange lands, That rushing down amain O'erwhelms our every native lovely plain! Alas! if our own hands Have thus our weal betray'd, who shall our cause sustain?
Well did kind Nature, guardian of our state, Rear her rude Alpine heights, A lofty rampart against German hate; But blind ambition, seeking his own ill, With ever restless will, To the pure gales contagion foul invites: Within the same strait fold The gentle flocks and wolves relentless throng, Where still meek innocence must suffer wrong: And these,—oh, shame avow'd!— Are of the lawless hordes no tie can hold: Fame tells how Marius' sword Erewhile their bosoms gored,— Nor has Time's hand aught blurr'd the record proud! When they who, thirsting, stoop'd to quaff the flood, With the cool waters mix'd, drank of a comrade's blood!
Great Caesar's name I pass, who o'er our plains Pour'd forth the ensanguin'd tide, Drawn by our own good swords from out their veins; But now—nor know I what ill stars preside— Heaven holds this land in hate! To you the thanks!—whose hands control her helm!— You, whose rash feuds despoil Of all the beauteous earth the fairest realm! Are ye impell'd by judgment, crime, or fate, To oppress the desolate? From broken fortunes, and from humble toil, The hard-earn'd dole to wring, While from afar ye bring Dealers in blood, bartering their souls for hire? In truth's great cause I sing. Nor hatred nor disdain my earnest lay inspire.
Nor mark ye yet, confirm'd by proof on proof, Bavaria's perfidy, Who strikes in mockery, keeping death aloof? (Shame, worse than aught of loss, in honour's eye!) While ye, with honest rage, devoted pour Your inmost bosom's gore!— Yet give one hour to thought, And ye shall own, how little he can hold Another's glory dear, who sets his own at nought O Latin blood of old! Arise, and wrest from obloquy thy fame, Nor bow before a name Of hollow sound, whose power no laws enforce! For if barbarians rude Have higher minds subdued, Ours! ours the crime!—not such wise Nature's course.
Ah! is not this the soil my foot first press'd? And here, in cradled rest, Was I not softly hush'd?—here fondly rear'd? Ah! is not this my country?—so endear'd By every filial tie! In whose lap shrouded both my parents lie! Oh! by this tender thought, Your torpid bosoms to compassion wrought, Look on the people's grief! Who, after God, of you expect relief; And if ye but relent, Virtue shall rouse her in embattled might, Against blind fury bent, Nor long shall doubtful hang the unequal fight; For no,—the ancient flame Is not extinguish'd yet, that raised the Italian name!
Mark, sovereign Lords! how Time, with pinion strong, Swift hurries life along! E'en now, behold! Death presses on the rear. We sojourn here a day—the next, are gone! The soul disrobed—alone, Must shuddering seek the doubtful pass we fear. Oh! at the dreaded bourne, Abase the lofty brow of wrath and scorn, (Storms adverse to the eternal calm on high!) And ye, whose cruelty Has sought another's harm, by fairer deed Of heart, or hand, or intellect, aspire To win the honest meed Of just renown—the noble mind's desire! Thus sweet on earth the stay! Thus to the spirit pure, unbarr'd is Heaven's way!
My song! with courtesy, and numbers sooth, Thy daring reasons grace, For thou the mighty, in their pride of place, Must woo to gentle ruth, Whose haughty will long evil customs nurse, Ever to truth averse! Thee better fortunes wait, Among the virtuous few—the truly great! Tell them—but who shall bid my terrors cease? Peace! Peace! on thee I call! return, O heaven-born Peace!
* * * * *
See Time, that flies, and spreads his hasty wing! See Life, how swift it runs the race of years, And on its weary shoulders death appears! Now all is life and all is spring: Think on the winter and the darker day When the soul, naked and alone, Must prove the dubious step, the still unknown, Yet ever beaten way. And through this fatal vale Would you be wafted with some gentle gale? Put off that eager strife and fierce disdain, Clouds that involve our life's serene, And storms that ruffle all the scene; Your precious hours, misspent in others' pain, On nobler deeds, worthy yourselves, bestow; Whether with hand or wit you raise Some monument of peaceful praise, Some happy labour of fair love: 'Tis all of heaven that you can find below, And opens into all above.
Di pensier in pensier, di monte in monte.
DISTANCE AND SOLITUDE.
From hill to hill I roam, from thought to thought, With Love my guide; the beaten path I fly, For there in vain the tranquil life is sought: If 'mid the waste well forth a lonely rill, Or deep embosom'd a low valley lie, In its calm shade my trembling heart's still; And there, if Love so will, I smile, or weep, or fondly hope, or fear. While on my varying brow, that speaks the soul, The wild emotions roll, Now dark, now bright, as shifting skies appear; That whosoe'er has proved the lover's state Would say, He feels the flame, nor knows his future fate.
On mountains high, in forests drear and wide, I find repose, and from the throng'd resort Of man turn fearfully my eyes aside; At each lone step thoughts ever new arise Of her I love, who oft with cruel sport Will mock the pangs I bear, the tears, the sighs; Yet e'en these ills I prize, Though bitter, sweet, nor would they were removed For my heart whispers me, Love yet has power To grant a happier hour: Perchance, though self-despised, thou yet art loved: E'en then my breast a passing sigh will heave, Ah! when, or how, may I a hope so wild believe?
Where shadows of high rocking pines dark wave I stay my footsteps, and on some rude stone With thought intense her beauteous face engrave; Roused from the trance, my bosom bathed I find With tears, and cry, Ah! whither thus alone Hast thou far wander'd, and whom left behind? But as with fixed mind On this fair image I impassion'd rest, And, viewing her, forget awhile my ills, Love my rapt fancy fills; In its own error sweet the soul is blest, While all around so bright the visions glide; Oh! might the cheat endure, I ask not aught beside.
Her form portray'd within the lucid stream Will oft appear, or on the verdant lawn, Or glossy beech, or fleecy cloud, will gleam So lovely fair, that Leda's self might say, Her Helen sinks eclipsed, as at the dawn A star when cover'd by the solar ray: And, as o'er wilds I stray Where the eye nought but savage nature meets, There Fancy most her brightest tints employs; But when rude truth destroys The loved illusion of those dreamed sweets, I sit me down on the cold rugged stone, Less coid, less dead than I, and think, and weep alone.
Where the huge mountain rears his brow sublime, On which no neighbouring height its shadow flings, Led by desire intense the steep I climb; And tracing in the boundless space each woe, Whose sad remembrance my torn bosom wrings, Tears, that bespeak the heart o'erfraught, will flow: While, viewing all below, From me, I cry, what worlds of air divide The beauteous form, still absent and still near! Then, chiding soft the tear, I whisper low, haply she too has sigh'd That thou art far away: a thought so sweet Awhile my labouring soul will of its burthen cheat.
Go thou, my song, beyond that Alpine bound, Where the pure smiling heavens are most serene, There by a murmuring stream may I be found, Whose gentle airs around Waft grateful odours from the laurel green; Nought but my empty form roams here unblest, There dwells my heart with her who steals it from my breast.
Poi che 'l cammin m' e chiuso di mercede.
THOUGH FAR FROM LAURA, SOLITARY AND UNHAPPY, ENVY STILL PURSUES HIM.
Since mercy's door is closed, alas! to me, And hopeless paths my poor life separate From her in whom, I know not by what fate, The guerdon lay of all my constancy, My heart that lacks not other food, on sighs I feed: to sorrow born, I live on tears: Nor therefore mourn I: sweeter far appears My present grief than others can surmise. On thy dear portrait rests alone my view, Which nor Praxiteles nor Xeuxis drew, But a more bold and cunning pencil framed. What shore can hide me, or what distance shield, If by my cruel exile yet untamed Insatiate Envy finds me here concealed?
Io canterei d' Amor si novamente.
REPLY TO A SONNET OF JACOPO DA LENTINO.
Ways apt and new to sing of love I'd find, Forcing from her hard heart full many a sigh, And re-enkindle in her frozen mind Desires a thousand, passionate and high; O'er her fair face would see each swift change pass, See her fond eyes at length where pity reigns, As one who sorrows when too late, alas! For his own error and another's pains; See the fresh roses edging that fair snow Move with her breath, that ivory descried, Which turns to marble him who sees it near; See all, for which in this brief life below Myself I weary not but rather pride That Heaven for later times has kept me here.
S' Amor non e, che dunque e quel ch' i' sento?
THE CONTRADICTIONS OF LOVE.
If no love is, O God, what fele I so? And if love is, what thing and which is he? If love be gode, from whence cometh my woe? If it be wicke, a wonder thinketh me When every torment and adversite That cometh of him may to me savory thinke: For aye more thurst I the more that I drinke. And if that at my owne lust I brenne, From whence cometh my wailing and my pleinte? If harme agre me whereto pleine I thenne? I not nere why unwery that I feinte. O quicke deth, O surele harme so quainte, How may I see in me such quantite, But if that I consent that so it be?
If 'tis not love, what is it feel I then? If 'tis, how strange a thing, sweet powers above! If love be kind, why does it fatal prove? If cruel, why so pleasing is the pain? If 'tis my will to love, why weep, why plain? If not my will, tears cannot love remove. O living death! O rapturous pang!—why, love! If I consent not, canst thou o'er me reign? If I consent, 'tis wrongfully I mourn: Thus on a stormy sea my bark is borne By adverse winds, and with rough tempest tost; Thus unenlightened, lost in error's maze, My blind opinion ever dubious strays; I'm froze by summer, scorched by winter's frost.
Amor m' ha posto come segno a strale.
Love makes me as the target for his dart, As snow in sunshine, or as wax in flame, Or gale-driven cloud; and, Laura, on thy name I call, but thou no pity wilt impart. Thy radiant eyes first caused my bosom's smart; No time, no place can shield me from their beam; From thee (but, ah, thou treat'st it as a dream!) Proceed the torments of my suff'ring heart. Each thought's an arrow, and thy face a sun, My passion's flame: and these doth Love employ To wound my breast, to dazzle, and destroy. Thy heavenly song, thy speech with which I'm won, All thy sweet breathings of such strong controul, Form the dear gale that bears away my soul.
Me Love has placed as mark before the dart, As to the sun the snow, as wax to fire, As clouds to wind: Lady, e'en now I tire, Craving the mercy which never warms thy heart. From those bright eyes was aim'd the mortal blow, 'Gainst which nor time nor place avail'd me aught; From thee alone—nor let it strange be thought— The sun, the fire, the wind whence I am so. The darts are thoughts of thee, thy face the sun, The fire my passion; such the weapons be With which at will Love dazzles yet destroys. Thy fragrant breath and angel voice—which won My heart that from its thrall shall ne'er be free— The wind which vapour-like my frail life flies.
Pace non trovo, e non ho da far guerra.
I fynde no peace and all my warre is done, I feare and hope, I bourne and freese lyke yse; I flye above the wynde, yet cannot ryse; And nought I have, yet all the worlde I season, That looseth, nor lacketh, holdes me in pryson, And holdes me not, yet can I escape no wyse. Nor lets me leeve, nor die at my devyce, And yet of death it giveth none occasion. Without eye I see, and without tongue I playne; I desyre to perishe, yet aske I health; I love another, and yet I hate my self; I feede in sorrow and laughe in all my payne, Lykewyse pleaseth me both death and lyf, And my delight is cawser of my greif.
[Footnote S: Harrington's Nugae Antiquae.]
Warfare I cannot wage, yet know not peace; I fear, I hope, I burn, I freeze again; Mount to the skies, then bow to earth my face; Grasp the whole world, yet nothing can obtain. His prisoner Love nor frees, nor will detain; In toils he holds me not, nor will release; He slays me not, nor yet will he unchain; Nor joy allows, nor lets my sorrow cease. Sightless I see my fair; though mute, I mourn; I scorn existence, and yet court its stay; Detest myself, and for another burn; By grief I'm nurtured; and, though tearful, gay; Death I despise, and life alike I hate: Such, lady, dost thou make my wayward state!
Qual piu diversa e nova.
HE COMPARES HIMSELF TO ALL THAT IS MOST STRANGE IN CREATION.
Whate'er most wild and new Was ever found in any foreign land, If viewed and valued true, Most likens me 'neath Love's transforming hand. Whence the bright day breaks through, Alone and consortless, a bird there flies, Who voluntary dies, To live again regenerate and entire: So ever my desire, Alone, itself repairs, and on the crest Of its own lofty thoughts turns to our sun, There melts and is undone, And sinking to its first state of unrest, So burns and dies, yet still its strength resumes, And, Phoenix-like, afresh in force and beauty blooms.
Where Indian billows sweep, A wondrous stone there is, before whose strength Stout navies, weak to keep Their binding iron, sink engulf'd at length: So prove I, in this deep Of bitter grief, whom, with her own hard pride, That fair rock knew to guide Where now my life in wreck and ruin drives: Thus too the soul deprives, By theft, my heart, which once so stonelike was, It kept my senses whole, now far dispersed: For mine, O fate accurst! A rock that lifeblood and not iron draws, Whom still i' the flesh a magnet living, sweet, Drags to the fatal shore a certain doom to meet.
Neath the far Ethiop skies A beast is found, most mild and meek of air, Which seems, yet in her eyes Danger and dool and death she still does bear: Much needs he to be wise To look on hers whoever turns his mien: Although her eyes unseen, All else securely may be viewed at will But I to mine own ill Run ever in rash grief, though well I know My sufferings past and future, still my mind Its eager, deaf and blind Desire o'ermasters and unhinges so, That in her fine eyes and sweet sainted face, Fatal, angelic, pure, my cause of death I trace.
In the rich South there flows A fountain from the sun its name that wins, This marvel still that shows, Boiling at night, but chill when day begins; Cold, yet more cold it grows As the sun's mounting car we nearer see: So happens it with me (Who am, alas! of tears the source and seat), When the bright light and sweet, My only sun retires, and lone and drear My eyes are left, in night's obscurest reign, I burn, but if again The gold rays of the living sun appear, My slow blood stiffens, instantaneous, strange; Within me and without I feel the frozen change!
Another fount of fame Springs in Epirus, which, as bards have told, Kindles the lurking flame, And the live quenches, while itself is cold. My soul, that, uncontroll'd, And scathless from love's fire till now had pass'd, Carelessly left at last Near the cold fair for whom I ceaseless sigh, Was kindled instantly: Like martyrdom, ne'er known by day or night, A heart of marble had to mercy shamed. Which first her charms inflamed Her fair and frozen virtue quenched the light; That thus she crushed and kindled my heart's fire, Well know I who have felt in long and useless ire.
Beyond our earth's known brinks, In the famed Islands of the Blest, there be Two founts: of this who drinks Dies smiling: who of that to live is free. A kindred fate Heaven links To my sad life, who, smilingly, could die For like o'erflowing joy, But soon such bliss new cries of anguish stay. Love! still who guidest my way, Where, dim and dark, the shade of fame invites, Not of that fount we speak, which, full each hour, Ever with larger power O'erflows, when Taurus with the Sun unites; So are my eyes with constant sorrow wet, But in that season most when I my Lady met.
Should any ask, my Song! Or how or where I am, to such reply: Where the tall mountain throws Its shade, in the lone vale, whence Sorga flows, He roams, where never eye Save Love's, who leaves him not a step, is by, And one dear image who his peace destroys, Alone with whom to muse all else in life he flies.
Fiamma dal ciel su le tue treccie piova.
HE INVEIGHS AGAINST THE COURT OF ROME.
Vengeaunce must fall on thee, thow filthie whore Of Babilon, thow breaker of Christ's fold, That from achorns, and from the water colde, Art riche become with making many poore. Thow treason's neste that in thie harte dost holde Of cankard malice, and of myschief more Than pen can wryte, or may with tongue be tolde, Slave to delights that chastitie hath solde; For wyne and ease which settith all thie store Uppon whoredome and none other lore, In thye pallais of strompetts yonge and olde Theare walks Plentie, and Belzebub thye Lorde: Guydes thee and them, and doth thye raigne upholde: It is but late, as wryting will recorde, That poore thow weart withouten lande or goolde; Yet now hathe golde and pryde, by one accorde, In wickednesse so spreadd thie lyf abrode, That it dothe stincke before the face of God.
[Footnote T: Harrington's Nugae Antiquae.]
May fire from heaven rain down upon thy head, Thou most accurst; who simple fare casts by, Made rich and great by others' poverty; How dost thou glory in thy vile misdeed! Nest of all treachery, in which is bred Whate'er of sin now through the world doth fly; Of wine the slave, of sloth, of gluttony; With sensuality's excesses fed! Old men and harlots through thy chambers dance; Then in the midst see Belzebub advance With mirrors and provocatives obscene. Erewhile thou wert not shelter'd, nursed on down; But naked, barefoot on the straw wert thrown: Now rank to heaven ascends thy life unclean.
L' avara Babilonia ha colmo 'l sacco.
HE PREDICTS TO ROME THE ARRIVAL OF SOME GREAT PERSONAGE WHO WILL BRING HER BACK TO HER OLD VIRTUE.
Covetous Babylon of wrath divine By its worst crimes has drain'd the full cup now, And for its future Gods to whom to bow Not Pow'r nor Wisdom ta'en, but Love and Wine. Though hoping reason, I consume and pine, Yet shall her crown deck some new Soldan's brow, Who shall again build up, and we avow One faith in God, in Rome one head and shrine. Her idols shall be shatter'd, in the dust Her proud towers, enemies of Heaven, be hurl'd, Her wardens into flames and exile thrust, Fair souls and friends of virtue shall the world Possess in peace; and we shall see it made All gold, and fully its old works display'd.
Fontana di dolore, albergo d' ira.
HE ATTRIBUTES THE WICKEDNESS OF THE COURT OF ROME TO ITS GREAT WEALTH.
Spring of all woe, O den of curssed ire, Scoole of errour, temple of heresye; Thow Pope, I meane, head of hypocrasye, Thow and thie churche, unsaciat of desyre, Have all the world filled full of myserye; Well of disceate, thow dungeon full of fyre, That hydes all truthe to breed idolatrie. Thow wicked wretche, Chryste cannot be a lyer, Behold, therefore, thie judgment hastelye; Thye first founder was gentill povertie, But there against is all thow dost requyre. Thow shameless beaste wheare hast thow thie trust, In thie whoredome, or in thie riche attyre? Loe! Constantyne, that is turned into dust, Shall not retourne for to mayntaine thie lust; But now his heires, that might not sett thee higher, For thie greate pryde shall teare thye seate asonder, And scourdge thee so that all the world shall wonder.
[Footnote U: Harrington's Nugae Antiquae.]
Fountain of sorrows, centre of mad ire, Rank error's school and fane of heresy, Once Rome, now Babylon, the false and free, Whom fondly we lament and long desire. O furnace of deceits, O prison dire, Where good roots die and the ill-weed grows a tree Hell upon earth, great marvel will it be If Christ reject thee not in endless fire. Founded in humble poverty and chaste, Against thy founders lift'st thou now thy horn, Impudent harlot! Is thy hope then placed In thine adult'ries and thy wealth ill-born? Since comes no Constantine his own to claim, The vext world must endure, or end its shame.
Quanto piu desiose l' ali spando.
FAR FROM HIS FRIENDS, HE FLIES TO THEM IN THOUGHT.
The more my own fond wishes would impel My steps to you, sweet company of friends! Fortune with their free course the more contends, And elsewhere bids me roam, by snare and spell The heart, sent forth by me though it rebel, Is still with you where that fair vale extends, In whose green windings most our sea ascends, From which but yesterday I wept farewell. It took the right-hand way, the left I tried, I dragg'd by force in slavery to remain, It left at liberty with Love its guide; But patience is great comfort amid pain: Long habits mutually form'd declare That our communion must be brief and rare.
Amor che nel pensier mio vive e regna.
THE COURAGE AND TIMIDITY OF LOVE.
The long Love that in my thought I harbour, And in my heart doth keep his residence, Into my face presseth with bold pretence, And there campeth displaying his banner. She that me learns to love and to suffer, And wills that my trust, and lust's negligence Be rein'd by reason, shame, and reverence, With his hardiness takes displeasure. Wherewith Love to the heart's forest he fleeth, Leaving his enterprise with pain and cry, And there him hideth, and not appeareth. What may I do, when my master feareth, But in the field with him to live and die? For good is the life, ending faithfully.
Love, that liveth and reigneth in my thought, That built its seat within my captive breast; Clad in the arms wherein with me he fought, Oft in my face he doth his banner rest. She, that me taught to love, and suffer pain; My doubtful hope, and eke my hot desire With shamefaced cloak to shadow and restrain, Her smiling grace converteth straight to ire. And coward love then to the heart apace Taketh his flight; whereas he lurks, and plains His purpose lost, and dare not show his face. For my lord's guilt thus faultless bide I pains. Yet from my lord shall not my foot remove: Sweet is his death, that takes his end by love.
Love in my thought who ever lives and reigns, And in my heart still holds the upper place, At times come forward boldly in my face, There plants his ensign and his post maintains: She, who in love instructs us and its pains, Would fain that reason, shame, respect should chase Presumptuous hope and high desire abase, And at our daring scarce herself restrains, Love thereon to my heart retires dismay'd, Abandons his attempt, and weeps and fears, And hiding there, no more my friend appears. What can the liege whose lord is thus afraid, More than with him, till life's last gasp, to dwell? For who well loving dies at least dies well.
Come talora al caldo tempo suole.
HE LIKENS HIMSELF TO THE INSECT WHICH, FLYING INTO ONE'S EYES, MEETS ITS DEATH.
As when at times in summer's scorching heats. Lured by the light, the simple insect flies, As a charm'd thing, into the passer's eyes, Whence death the one and pain the other meets, Thus ever I, my fatal sun to greet, Rush to those eyes where so much sweetness lies That reason's guiding hand fierce Love defies, And by strong will is better judgment beat. I clearly see they value me but ill, And, for against their torture fails my strength. That I am doom'd my life to lose at length: But Love so dazzles and deludes me still, My heart their pain and not my loss laments, And blind, to its own death my soul consents.
Alia dolce ombra de le belle frondi.
HE TELLS THE STORY OF HIS LOVE, RESOLVING HENCEFORTH TO DEVOTE HIMSELF TO GOD.
Beneath the pleasant shade of beauteous leaves I ran for shelter from a cruel light, E'en here below that burnt me from high heaven, When the last snow had ceased upon the hills, And amorous airs renew'd the sweet spring time, And on the upland flourish'd herbs and boughs.
Ne'er did the world behold such graceful boughs, Nor ever wind rustled so verdant leaves, As were by me beheld in that young time: So that, though fearful of the ardent light, I sought not refuge from the shadowing hills, But of the plant accepted most in heaven.
A laurel then protected from that heaven: Whence, oft enamour'd with its lovely boughs, A roamer I have been through woods, o'er hills, But never found I other trunk, nor leaves Like these, so honour'd with supernal light, Which changed not qualities with changing time.
Wherefore each hour more firm, from time to time Following where I heard my call from heaven, And guided ever by a soft clear light, I turn'd, devoted still, to those first boughs, Or when on earth are scatter'd the sere leaves, Or when the sun restored makes green the hills.
The woods, the rocks, the fields, the floods, and hills, All that is made, are conquer'd, changed by time: And therefore ask I pardon of those leaves, If after many years, revolving heaven Sway'd me to flee from those entangling boughs, When I begun to see its better light.
So dear to me at first was the sweet light, That willingly I pass'd o'er difficult hills, But to be nearer those beloved boughs; Now shortening life, the apt place and full time Show me another path to mount to heaven, And to make fruit not merely flowers and leaves.
Other love, other leaves, and other light, Other ascent to heaven by other hills I seek—in sooth 'tis time—and other boughs.
Quand' io v' odo parlar si dolcemente.
TO ONE WHO SPOKE TO HIM OF LAURA.
Whene'er you speak of her in that soft tone Which Love himself his votaries surely taught, My ardent passion to such fire is wrought, That e'en the dead reviving warmth might own: Where'er to me she, dear or kind, was known There the bright lady is to mind now brought, In the same bearing which, to waken thought, Needed no sound but of my sighs alone. Half-turn'd I see her looking, on the breeze Her light hair flung; so true her memories roll On my fond heart of which she keeps the keys; But the surpassing bliss which floods my soul So checks my tongue, to tell how, queen-like, there, She sits as on her throne, I never dare.
Ne cosi bello il sol giammai levarsi.
THE CHARMS OF LAURA WHEN SHE FIRST MET HIS SIGHT.
Ne'er can the sun such radiance soft display, Piercing some cloud that would its light impair; Ne'er tinged some showery arch the humid air, With variegated lustre half so gay, As when, sweet-smiling my fond heart away, All-beauteous shone my captivating fair; For charms what mortal can with her compare! But truth, impartial truth! much more might say. I saw young Cupid, saw his laughing eyes With such bewitching, am'rous sweetness roll, That every human glance I since despise. Believe, dear friend! I saw the wanton boy; Bent was his bow to wound my tender soul; Yet, ah! once more I'd view the dang'rous joy.
Sun never rose so beautiful and bright When skies above most clear and cloudless show'd, Nor, after rain, the bow of heaven e'er glow'd With tints so varied, delicate, and light, As in rare beauty flash'd upon my sight, The day I first took up this am'rous load, That face whose fellow ne'er on earth abode— Even my praise to paint it seems a slight! Then saw I Love, who did her fine eyes bend So sweetly, every other face obscure Has from that hour till now appear'd to me. The boy-god and his bow, I saw them, friend, From whom life since has never been secure, Whom still I madly yearn again to see.
Pommi ove 'l sol occide i fiori e l' erba.
HIS INVINCIBLE CONSTANCY.
Place me where herb and flower the sun has dried, Or where numb winter's grasp holds sterner sway: Place me where Phoebus sheds a temperate ray, Where first he glows, where rests at eventide. Place me in lowly state, in power and pride, Where lour the skies, or where bland zephyrs play Place me where blind night rules, or lengthened day, In age mature, or in youth's boiling tide: Place me in heaven, or in the abyss profound, On lofty height, or in low vale obscure, A spirit freed, or to the body bound; Bank'd with the great, or all unknown to fame, I still the same will be! the same endure! And my trilustral sighs still breathe the same!
Place me where Phoebus burns each herb, each flower; Or where cold snows, and frost o'ercome his rays: Place me where rolls his car with temp'rate blaze; In climes that feel not, or that feel his power. Place me where fortune may look bright, or lour; Mid murky airs, or where soft zephyr plays: Place me in night, in long or short-lived days, Where age makes sad, or youth gilds ev'ry hour: Place me on mountains high, in vallies drear, In heaven, on earth, in depths unknown to-day; Whether life fosters still, or flies this clay: Place me where fame is distant, where she's near: Still will I love; nor shall those sighs yet cease, Which thrice five years have robb'd this breast of peace.
Place me where angry Titan burns the Moor, And thirsty Afric fiery monsters brings, Or where the new-born phoenix spreads her wings, And troops of wond'ring birds her flight adore: Place me by Gange, or Ind's empamper'd shore, Where smiling heavens on earth cause double springs: Place me where Neptune's quire of Syrens sings, Or where, made hoarse through cold, he leaves to roar: Me place where Fortune doth her darlings crown, A wonder or a spark in Envy's eye, Or late outrageous fates upon me frown, And pity wailing, see disaster'd me. Affection's print my mind so deep doth prove, I may forget myself, but not my love.
O d' ardente virtute ornata e calda.
HE CELEBRATES LAURA'S BEAUTY AND VIRTUE.
O mind, by ardent virtue graced and warm'd. To whom my pen so oft pours forth my heart; Mansion of noble probity, who art A tower of strength 'gainst all assault full arm'd. O rose effulgent, in whose foldings, charm'd, We view with fresh carnation snow take part! O pleasure whence my wing'd ideas start To that bless'd vision which no eye, unharm'd, Created, may approach—thy name, if rhyme Could bear to Bactra and to Thule's coast, Nile, Tanais, and Calpe should resound, And dread Olympus.—But a narrower bound Confines my flight: and thee, our native clime Between the Alps and Apennine must boast.
With glowing virtue graced, of warm heart known, Sweet Spirit! for whom so many a page I trace, Tower in high worth which foundest well thy base! Centre of honour, perfect, and alone! O blushes! on fresh snow like roses thrown, Wherein I read myself and mend apace; O pleasures! lifting me to that fair face Brightest of all on which the sun e'er shone. Oh! if so far its sound may reach, your name On my fond verse shall travel West and East, From southern Nile to Thule's utmost bound. But such full audience since I may not claim, It shall be heard in that fair land at least Which Apennine divides, which Alps and seas surround.
Quando 'l voler, che con duo sproni ardenti.
HER LOOKS BOTH COMFORT AND CHECK HIM.
When, with two ardent spurs and a hard rein, Passion, my daily life who rules and leads, From time to time the usual law exceeds That calm, at least in part, my spirits may gain, It findeth her who, on my forehead plain, The dread and daring of my deep heart reads, And seeth Love, to punish its misdeeds, Lighten her piercing eyes with worse disdain. Wherefore—as one who fears the impending blow Of angry Jove—it back in haste retires, For great fears ever master great desires; But the cold fire and shrinking hopes which so Lodge in my heart, transparent as a glass, O'er her sweet face at times make gleams of grace to pass.
Non Tesin, Po, Varo, Arno, Adige e Tebro.
HE EXTOLS THE LAUREL AND ITS FAVOURITE STREAM.
Not all the streams that water the bright earth, Not all the trees to which its breast gives birth, Can cooling drop or healing balm impart To slack the fire which scorches my sad heart, As one fair brook which ever weeps with me, Or, which I praise and sing, as one dear tree. This only help I find amid Love's strife; Wherefore it me behoves to live my life In arms, which else from me too rapid goes. Thus on fresh shore the lovely laurel grows; Who planted it, his high and graceful thought 'Neath its sweet shade, to Sorga's murmurs, wrote.
Nor Arne, nor Mincius, nor stately Tiber, Sebethus, nor the flood into whose streams He fell who burnt the world with borrow'd beams; Gold-rolling Tagus, Munda, famous Iber, Sorgue, Rhone, Loire, Garron, nor proud-bank'd Seine, Peneus, Phasis, Xanthus, humble Ladon, Nor she whose nymphs excel her who loved Adon, Fair Tamesis, nor Ister large, nor Rhine, Euphrates, Tigris, Indus, Hermus, Gange, Pearly Hydaspes, serpent-like Meander,— The gulf bereft sweet Hero her Leander— Nile, that far, far his hidden head doth range, Have ever had so rare a cause of praise As Ora, where this northern Phoenix stays.
Di tempo in tempo mi si fa men dura.
THOUGH SHE BE LESS SEVERE, HE IS STILL NOT CONTENTED AND TRANQUIL AT HEART.
From time to time more clemency for me In that sweet smile and angel form I trace; Seem too her lovely face And lustrous eyes at length more kind to be. Yet, if thus honour'd, wherefore do my sighs In doubt and sorrow flow, Signs that too truly show My anguish'd desperate life to common eyes? Haply if, where she is, my glance I bend, This harass'd heart to cheer, Methinks that Love I hear Pleading my cause, and see him succour lend. Not therefore at an end the strife I deem, Nor in sure rest my heart at last esteem; For Love most burns within When Hope most pricks us on the way to win.
From time to time less cruelty I trace In her sweet smile and form divinely fair; Less clouded doth appear The heaven of her fine eyes and lovely face. What then at last avail to me those sighs, Which from my sorrows flow, And in my semblance show The life of anguish and despair I lead? If towards her perchance I bend mine eyes, Some solace to bestow Upon my bosom's woe, Methinks Love takes my part, and lends me aid: Yet still I cannot find the conflict stay'd, Nor tranquil is my heart in every state: For, ah! my passion's heat More strongly glows within as my fond hopes increase.
Che fai, alma? che pensi? avrem mai pace?
DIALOGUE OF THE POET WITH HIS HEART.
P. What actions fire thee, and what musings fill? Soul! is it peace, or truce, or war eterne? H. Our lot I know not, but, as I discern, Her bright eyes favour not our cherish'd ill. P. What profit, with those eyes if she at will Makes us in summer freeze, in winter burn? H. From him, not her those orbs their movement learn. P. What's he to us, she sees it and is still. H. Sometimes, though mute the tongue, the heart laments Fondly, and, though the face be calm and bright, Bleeds inly, where no eye beholds its grief. P. Nathless the mind not thus itself contents, Breaking the stagnant woes which there unite, For misery in fine hopes finds no relief.
P. What act, what dream, absorbs thee, O my soul? Say, must we peace, a truce, or warfare hail? H. Our fate I know not; but her eyes unveil The grief our woe doth in her heart enrol. P. But that is vain, since by her eyes' control With nature I no sympathy inhale. H. Yet guiltless she, for Love doth there prevail. P. No balm to me, since she will not condole. H. When man is mute, how oft the spirit grieves, In clamorous woe! how oft the sparkling eye Belies the inward tear, where none can gaze! P. Yet restless still, the grief the mind conceives Is not dispell'd, but stagnant seems to lie. The wretched hope not, though hope aid might raise.
Nom d' atra e tempestosa onda marina.
HE IS LED BY LOVE TO REASON.
No wearied mariner to port e'er fled From the dark billow, when some tempest's nigh, As from tumultuous gloomy thoughts I fly— Thoughts by the force of goading passion bred: Nor wrathful glance of heaven so surely sped Destruction to man's sight, as does that eye Within whose bright black orb Love's Deity Sharpens each dart, and tips with gold its head. Enthroned in radiance there he sits, not blind, Quiver'd, and naked, or by shame just veil'd, A live, not fabled boy, with changeful wing; Thence unto me he lends instruction kind, And arts of verse from meaner bards conceal'd, Thus am I taught whate'er of love I write or sing.
Ne'er from the black and tempest-troubled brine The weary mariner fair haven sought, As shelter I from the dark restless thought Whereto hot wishes spur me and incline: Nor mortal vision ever light divine Dazzled, as mine, in their rare splendour caught Those matchless orbs, with pride and passion fraught, Where Love aye haunts his darts to gild and fine. Him, blind no more, but quiver'd, there I view, Naked, except so far as shame conceals, A winged boy—no fable—quick and true. What few perceive he thence to me reveals; So read I clearly in her eyes' dear light Whate'er of love I speak, whate'er I write.
Questa umil fera, un cor di tigre o d' orsa.
HE PRAYS HER EITHER TO WELCOME OR DISMISS HIM AT ONCE.
Fiercer than tiger, savager than bear, In human guise an angel form appears, Who between fear and hope, from smiles to tears So tortures me that doubt becomes despair. Ere long if she nor welcomes me, nor frees, But, as her wont, between the two retains, By the sweet poison circling through my veins, My life, O Love! will soon be on its lees. No longer can my virtue, worn and frail With such severe vicissitudes, contend, At once which burn and freeze, make red and pale: By flight it hopes at length its grief to end, As one who, hourly failing, feels death nigh: Powerless he is indeed who cannot even die!
Ite, caldi sospiri, al freddo core.
HE IMPLORES MERCY OR DEATH.
Go, my warm sighs, go to that frozen breast, Burst the firm ice, that charity denies; And, if a mortal prayer can reach the skies, Let death or pity give my sorrows rest! Go, softest thoughts! Be all you know express'd Of that unnoticed by her lovely eyes, Though fate and cruelty against me rise, Error at least and hope shall be repress'd. Tell her, though fully you can never tell, That, while her days calm and serenely flow, In darkness and anxiety I dwell; Love guides your flight, my thoughts securely go, Fortune may change, and all may yet be well; If my sun's aspect not deceives my woe.
Go, burning sighs, to her cold bosom go, Its circling ice which hinders pity rend, And if to mortal prayer Heaven e'er attend, Let death or mercy finish soon my woe. Go forth, fond thoughts, and to our lady show The love to which her bright looks never bend, If still her harshness, or my star offend, We shall at least our hopeless error know. Go, in some chosen moment, gently say, Our state disquieted and dark has been, Even as hers pacific and serene. Go, safe at last, for Love escorts your way: From my sun's face if right the skies I guess Well may my cruel fortune now be less.
Le stelle e 'l cielo e gli elementi a prova.
LAURA'S UNPARALLELED BEAUTY AND VIRTUE.
The stars, the elements, and Heaven have made With blended powers a work beyond compare; All their consenting influence, all their care, To frame one perfect creature lent their aid. Whence Nature views her loveliness display'd With sun-like radiance sublimely fair: Nor mortal eye can the pure splendour bear: Love, sweetness, in unmeasured grace array'd. The very air illumed by her sweet beams Breathes purest excellence; and such delight That all expression far beneath it gleams. No base desire lives in that heavenly light, Honour alone and virtue!—fancy's dreams Never saw passion rise refined by rays so bright.
The stars, the heaven, the elements, I ween, Put forth their every art and utmost care In that bright light, as fairest Nature fair, Whose like on earth the sun has nowhere seen; So noble, elegant, unique her mien, Scarce mortal glance to rest on it may dare, Love so much softness and such graces rare Showers from those dazzling and resistless een. The atmosphere, pervaded and made pure By their sweet rays, kindles with goodness so, Thought cannot equal it nor language show. Here no ill wish, no base desires endure, But honour, virtue. Here, if ever yet, Has lust his death from supreme beauty met.
Non fur mai Giove e Cesare si mossi.
LAURA IN TEARS.
High Jove to thunder ne'er was so intent, So resolute great Caesar ne'er to strike, That pity had not quench'd the ire of both, And from their hands the accustom'd weapons shook. Madonna wept: my Lord decreed that I Should see her then, and there her sorrows hear; So joy, desire should fill me to the brim, Thrilling my very marrow and my bones. Love show'd to me, nay, sculptured on my heart, That sweet and sparkling tear, and those soft words Wrote with a diamond on its inmost core, Where with his constant and ingenious keys He still returneth often, to draw thence True tears of mine and long and heavy sighs.
I' vidi in terra angelici costumi.
THE EFFECTS OF HER GRIEF.
On earth reveal'd the beauties of the skies, Angelic features, it was mine to hail; Features, which wake my mingled joy and wail, While all besides like dreams or shadows flies. And fill'd with tears I saw those two bright eyes, Which oft have turn'd the sun with envy pale; And from those lips I heard—oh! such a tale, As might awake brute Nature's sympathies! Wit, pity, excellence, and grief, and love With blended plaint so sweet a concert made, As ne'er was given to mortal ear to prove: And heaven itself such mute attention paid, That not a breath disturb'd the listening grove— Even aether's wildest gales the tuneful charm obey'd.
Yes, I beheld on earth angelic grace, And charms divine which mortals rarely see, Such as both glad and pain the memory; Vain, light, unreal is all else I trace: Tears I saw shower'd from those fine eyes apace, Of which the sun ofttimes might envious be; Accents I heard sigh'd forth so movingly, As to stay floods, or mountains to displace. Love and good sense, firmness, with pity join'd And wailful grief, a sweeter concert made Than ever yet was pour'd on human ear: And heaven unto the music so inclined, That not a leaf was seen to stir the shade; Such melody had fraught the winds, the atmosphere.
Quel sempre acerbo ed onorato giorno.
HE RECALLS HER AS HE SAW HER WHEN IN TEARS.
That ever-painful, ever-honour'd day So left her living image on my heart Beyond or lover's wit or poet's art, That oft to it will doting memory stray. A gentle pity softening her bright mien, Her sorrow there so sweet and sad was heard, Doubt in the gazer's bosom almost stirr'd Goddess or mortal, which made heaven serene. Fine gold her hair, her face as sunlit snow, Her brows and lashes jet, twin stars her eyne, Whence the young archer oft took fatal aim; Each loving lip—whence, utterance sweet and low Her pent grief found—a rose which rare pearls line, Her tears of crystal and her sighs of flame.
That ever-honour'd, yet too bitter day, Her image hath so graven in my breast, That only memory can return it dress'd In living charms, no genius could portray: Her air such graceful sadness did display, Her plaintive, soft laments my ear so bless'd, I ask'd if mortal, or a heavenly guest, Did thus the threatening clouds in smiles array. Her locks were gold, her cheeks were breathing snow, Her brows with ebon arch'd—bright stars her eyes, Wherein Love nestled, thence his dart to aim: Her teeth were pearls—the rose's softest glow Dwelt on that mouth, whence woke to speech grief's sighs Her tears were crystal—and her breath was flame.
Ove ch' i' posi gli occhi lassi o giri.
HER IMAGE IS EVER IN HIS HEART.
Where'er I rest or turn my weary eyes, To ease the longings which allure them still, Love pictures my bright lady at his will, That ever my desire may verdant rise. Deep pity she with graceful grief applies— Warm feelings ever gentle bosoms fill— While captived equally my fond ears thrill With her sweet accents and seraphic sighs. Love and fair Truth were both allied to tell The charms I saw were in the world alone, That 'neath the stars their like was never known. Nor ever words so dear and tender fell On listening ear: nor tears so pure and bright From such fine eyes e'er sparkled in the light.
In qual parte del cielo, in quale idea.
HE EXTOLS THE BEAUTY AND VIRTUE OF LAURA.
Say from what part of heaven 'twas Nature drew, From what idea, that so perfect mould To form such features, bidding us behold, In charms below, what she above could do? What fountain-nymph, what dryad-maid e'er threw Upon the wind such tresses of pure gold? What heart such numerous virtues can unfold? Although the chiefest all my fond hopes slew. He for celestial charms may look in vain, Who has not seen my fair one's radiant eyes, And felt their glances pleasingly beguile. How Love can heal his wounds, then wound again, He only knows, who knows how sweet her sighs, How sweet her converse, and how sweet her smile.
In what celestial sphere—what realm of thought, Dwelt the bright model from which Nature drew That fair and beauteous face, in which we view Her utmost power, on earth, divinely wrought? What sylvan queen—what nymph by fountain sought, Upon the breeze such golden tresses threw? When did such virtues one sole breast imbue? Though with my death her chief perfection's fraught. For heavenly beauty he in vain inquires, Who ne'er beheld her eyes' celestial stain, Where'er she turns around their brilliant fires: He knows not how Love wounds, and heals again, Who knows not how she sweetly smiles, respires The sweetest sighs, and speaks in sweetest strain!
Amor ed io si pien di maraviglia.
HER EVERY ACTION IS DIVINE.
As one who sees a thing incredible, In mutual marvel Love and I combine, Confessing, when she speaks or smiles divine, None but herself can be her parallel. Where the fine arches of that fair brow swell So sparkle forth those twin true stars of mine, Than whom no safer brighter beacons shine His course to guide who'd wisely love and well. What miracle is this, when, as a flower, She sits on the rich grass, or to her breast, Snow-white and soft, some fresh green shrub is press'd And oh! how sweet, in some fair April hour, To see her pass, alone, in pure thought there, Weaving fresh garlands in her own bright hair.
O passi sparsi, o pensier vaghi e pronti.
EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE OF HIS PASSION IS A TORMENT TO HIM.
O scatter'd steps! O vague and busy thoughts! O firm-set memory! O fierce desire! O passion powerful! O failing heart! O eyes of mine, not eyes, but fountains now! O leaf, which honourest illustrious brows, Sole sign of double valour, and best crown! O painful life, O error oft and sweet! That make me search the lone plains and hard hills. O beauteous face! where Love together placed The spurs and curb, to strive with which is vain, They prick and turn me so at his sole will. O gentle amorous souls, if such there be! And you, O naked spirits of mere dust, Tarry and see how great my suffering is!
Lieti flori e felici, e ben nate erbe.
HE ENVIES EVERY SPOT THAT SHE FREQUENTS.
Gay, joyous blooms, and herbage glad with showers, O'er which my pensive fair is wont to stray! Thou plain, that listest her melodious lay, As her fair feet imprint thy waste of flowers! Ye shrubs so trim; ye green, unfolding bowers; Ye violets clad in amorous, pale array; Thou shadowy grove, gilded by beauty's ray, Whose top made proud majestically towers! O pleasant country! O translucent stream, Bathing her lovely face, her eyes so clear, And catching of their living light the beam! I envy ye her actions chaste and dear: No rock shall stud thy waters, but shall learn Henceforth with passion strong as mine to burn.
O bright and happy flowers and herbage blest, On which my lady treads!—O favour'd plain, That hears her accents sweet, and can retain The traces by her fairy steps impress'd!— Pure shrubs, with tender verdure newly dress'd,— Pale amorous violets,—leafy woods, whose reign Thy sun's bright rays transpierce, and thus sustain Your lofty stature, and umbrageous crest;— O thou, fair country, and thou, crystal stream, Which bathes her countenance and sparkling eyes, Stealing fresh lustre from their living beam; How do I envy thee these precious ties! Thy rocky shores will soon be taught to gleam With the same flame that burns in all my sighs.
Amor, che vedi ogni pensiero aperto.
HE CARES NOT FOR SUFFERINGS, SO THAT HE DISPLEASE NOT LAURA.
Love, thou who seest each secret thought display'd, And the sad steps I take, with thee sole guide; This throbbing breast, to thee thrown open wide, To others' prying barr'd, thine eyes pervade. Thou know'st what efforts, following thee, I made, While still from height to height thy pinions glide; Nor deign'st one pitying look to turn aside On him who, fainting, treads a trackless glade. I mark from far the mildly-beaming ray To which thou goad'st me through the devious maze; Alas! I want thy wings, to speed my way— Henceforth, a distant homager, I'll gaze, Content by silent longings to decay, So that my sighs for her in her no anger raise.
O Love, that seest my heart without disguise, And those hard toils from thee which I sustain, Look to my inmost thought; behold the pain To thee unveil'd, hid from all other eyes. Thou know'st for thee this breast what suffering tries; Me still from day to day o'er hill and plain Thou chasest; heedless still, while I complain As to my wearied steps new thorns arise. True, I discern far off the cheering light To which, through trackless wilds, thou urgest me: But wings like thine to bear me to delight I want:—Yet from these pangs I would not flee, Finding this only favour in her sight, That not displeased my love and death she see.
Or che 'l ciel e la terra e 'l vento tace.
NIGHT BRINGS PEACE TO ALL SAVE HIM.
O'er earth and sky her lone watch silence keeps, And bird and beast in stirless slumber lie, Her starry chariot Night conducts on high, And in its bed the waveless ocean sleeps. I wake, muse, burn, and weep; of all my pain The one sweet cause appears before me still; War is my lot, which grief and anger fill, And thinking but of her some rest I gain. Thus from one bright and living fountain flows The bitter and the sweet on which I feed; One hand alone can harm me or can heal: And thus my martyrdom no limit knows, A thousand deaths and lives each day I feel, So distant are the paths to peace which lead.
'Tis now the hour when midnight silence reigns O'er earth and sea, and whispering Zephyr dies Within his rocky cell; and Morpheus chains Each beast that roams the wood, and bird that wings the skies. More blest those rangers of the earth and air, Whom night awhile relieves from toil and pain; Condemn'd to tears and sighs, and wasting care. To me the circling sun descends in vain! Ah me! that mingling miseries and joys, Too near allied, from one sad fountain flow! The magic hand that comforts and annoys Can hope, and fell despair, and life, and death bestow! Too great the bliss to find in death relief: Fate has not yet fill'd up the measure of my grief.
Come 'l candido pie per l' erba fresca.
HER WALK, LOOKS, WORDS, AND AIR.
As o'er the fresh grass her fair form its sweet And graceful passage makes at evening hours, Seems as around the newly-wakening flowers Found virtue issue from her delicate feet. Love, which in true hearts only has his seat, Nor elsewhere deigns to prove his certain powers, So warm a pleasure from her bright eyes showers, No other bliss I ask, no better meat. And with her soft look and light step agree Her mild and modest, never eager air, And sweetest words in constant union rare. From these four sparks—nor only these we see— Springs the great fire wherein I live and burn, Which makes me from the sun as night-birds turn.
S' io fossi stato fermo alla spelunca.
TO ONE WHO DESIRED LATIN VERSE OF HIM.
Still had I sojourn'd in that Delphic cave Where young Apollo prophet first became, Verona, Mantua were not sole in fame, But Florence, too, her poet now might have: But since the waters of that spring no more Enrich my land, needs must that I pursue Some other planet, and, with sickle new, Reap from my field of sticks and thorns its store. Dried is the olive: elsewhere turn'd the stream Whose source from famed Parnassus was derived. Whereby of yore it throve in best esteem. Me fortune thus, or fault perchance, deprived Of all good fruit—unless eternal Jove Shower on my head some favour from above.
Quando Amor i begli occhi a terra inchina.
If Love her beauteous eyes to earth incline, And all her soul concentring in a sigh, Then breathe it in her voice of melody, Floating clear, soft, angelical, divine; My heart, forth-stolen so gently, I resign, And, all my hopes and wishes changed, I cry,— "Oh, may my last breath pass thus blissfully, If Heaven so sweet a death for me design!" But the rapt sense, by such enchantment bound, And the strong will, thus listening to possess Heaven's joys on earth, my spirit's flight delay. And thus I live; and thus drawn out and wound Is my life's thread, in dreamy blessedness, By this sole syren from the realms of day.
Her bright and love-lit eyes on earth she bends— Concentres her rich breath in one full sigh— A brief pause—a fond hush—her voice on high, Clear, soft, angelical, divine, ascends. Such rapine sweet through all my heart extends, New thoughts and wishes so within me vie, Perforce I say,—"Thus be it mine to die, If Heaven to me so fair a doom intends!" But, ah! those sounds whose sweetness laps my sense, The strong desire of more that in me yearns, Restrain my spirit in its parting hence. Thus at her will I live; thus winds and turns The yarn of life which to my lot is given, Earth's single siren, sent to us from heaven.
Amor mi manda quel dolce pensero.
LIFE WILL FAIL HIM BEFORE HOPE.
Love to my mind recalling that sweet thought, The ancient confidant our lives between, Well comforts me, and says I ne'er have been So near as now to what I hoped and sought. I, who at times with dangerous falsehood fraught, At times with partial truth, his words have seen, Live in suspense, still missing the just mean, 'Twixt yea and nay a constant battle fought. Meanwhile the years pass on: and I behold In my true glass the adverse time draw near Her promise and my hope which limits here. So let it be: alone I grow not old; Changes not e'en with age my loving troth; My fear is this—the short life left us both.
Pien d' un vago pensier, che me desvia.
HIS TONGUE IS TIED BY EXCESS OF PASSION.
Such vain thought as wonted to mislead me In desert hope, by well-assured moan, Makes me from company to live alone, In following her whom reason bids me flee. She fleeth as fast by gentle cruelty; And after her my heart would fain be gone, But armed sighs my way do stop anon, 'Twixt hope and dread locking my liberty; Yet as I guess, under disdainful brow One beam of ruth is in her cloudy look: Which comforteth the mind, that erst for fear shook: And therewithal bolded I seek the way how To utter the smart I suffer within; But such it is, I not how to begin.
Full of a tender thought, which severs me From all my kind, a lonely musing thing, From my breast's solitude I sometimes spring, Still seeking her whom most I ought to flee; And see her pass though soft, so adverse she, That my soul spreads for flight a trembling wing: Of armed sighs such legions does she bring, The fair antagonist of Love and me. Yet from beneath that dark disdainful brow, Or much I err, one beam of pity flows, Soothing with partial warmth my heart's distress: Again my bosom feels its wonted glow! But when my simple hope I would disclose, My o'er-fraught faltering tongue the crowded thoughts oppress.
Piu volte gia dal bel sembiante umano.
LOVE UNMANS HIS RESOLUTION.
Oft as her angel face compassion wore, With tears whose eloquence scarce fails to move, With bland and courteous speech, I boldly strove To soothe my foe, and in meek guise implore: But soon her eyes inspire vain hopes no more; For all my fortune, all my fate in love, My life, my death, the good, the ills I prove, To her are trusted by one sovereign power. Hence 'tis, whene'er my lips would silence break, Scarce can I hear the accents which I vent, By passion render'd spiritless and weak. Ah! now I find that fondness to excess Fetters the tongue, and overpowers intent: Faint is the flame that language can express!
Oft have I meant my passion to declare, When fancy read compliance in her eyes; And oft with courteous speech, with love-lorn sighs, Have wish'd to soften my obdurate fair: But let that face one look of anger wear, The intention fades; for all that fate supplies, Or good, or ill, all, all that I can prize, My life, my death, Love trusts to her dear care. E'en I can scarcely hear my amorous moan, So much my voice by passion is confined; So faint, so timid are my accents grown! Ah! now the force of love I plainly see; What can the tongue, or what the impassion'd mind? He that could speak his love, ne'er loved like me.
Giunto m' ha Amor fra belle e crude braccia.
HE CANNOT END HER CRUELTY, NOR SHE HIS HOPE.
Me Love has left in fair cold arms to lie, Which kill me wrongfully: if I complain, My martyrdom is doubled, worse my pain: Better in silence love, and loving die! For she the frozen Rhine with burning eye Can melt at will, the hard rock break in twain, So equal to her beauty her disdain That others' pleasure wakes her angry sigh. A breathing moving marble all the rest, Of very adamant is made her heart, So hard, to move it baffles all my art. Despite her lowering brow and haughty breast, One thing she cannot, my fond heart deter From tender hopes and passionate sighs for her.
O Invidia, nemica di virtute.
ENVY MAY DISTURB, BUT CANNOT DESTROY HIS HOPE.
O deadly Envy, virtue's constant foe, With good and lovely eager to contest! Stealthily, by what way, in that fair breast Hast entrance found? by what arts changed it so? Thence by the roots my weal hast thou uptorn, Too blest in love hast shown me to that fair Who welcomed once my chaste and humble prayer, But seems to treat me now with hate and scorn. But though you may by acts severe and ill Sigh at my good and smile at my distress, You cannot change for me a single thought. Not though a thousand times each day she kill Can I or hope in her or love her less. For though she scare, Love confidence has taught.
Mirando 'l sol de' begli occhi sereno.
THE SWEETS AND BITTERS OF LOVE.
Marking of those bright eyes the sun serene Where reigneth Love, who mine obscures and grieves, My hopeless heart the weary spirit leaves Once more to gain its paradise terrene; Then, finding full of bitter-sweet the scene, And in the world how vast the web it weaves. A secret sigh for baffled love it heaves, Whose spurs so sharp, whose curb so hard have been. By these two contrary and mix'd extremes, With frozen or with fiery wishes fraught, To stand 'tween misery and bliss she seems: Seldom in glad and oft in gloomy thought, But mostly contrite for its bold emprize, For of like seed like fruit must ever rise!
Fera stella (se 'l cielo ha forza in noi).
TO PINE FOR HER IS BETTER THAN TO ENJOY HAPPINESS WITH ANY OTHER.
Ill-omen'd was that star's malignant gleam That ruled my hapless birth; and dim the morn That darted on my infant eyes the beam; And harsh the wail, that told a man was born; And hard the sterile earth, which first was worn Beneath my infant feet; but harder far, And harsher still, the tyrant maid, whose scorn, In league with savage Love, inflamed the war Of all my passions.—Love himself more tame, With pity soothes my ills; while that cold heart, Insensible to the devouring flame Which wastes my vitals, triumphs in my smart. One thought is comfort—that her scorn to bear, Excels e'er prosperous love, with other earthly fair.
An evil star usher'd my natal morn (If heaven have o'er us power, as some have said), Hard was the cradle where I lay when born, And hard the earth where first my young feet play'd; Cruel the lady who, with eyes of scorn And fatal bow, whose mark I still was made, Dealt me the wound, O Love, which since I mourn Whose cure thou only, with those arms, canst aid. But, ah! to thee my torments pleasure bring: She, too, severer would have wished the blow, A spear-head thrust, and not an arrow-sting. One comfort rests—better to suffer so For her, than others to enjoy: and I, Sworn on thy golden dart, on this for death rely.
Quando mi vene innanzi il tempo e 'l loco.
RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY LOVE.
The time and scene where I a slave became When I remember, and the knot so dear Which Love's own hand so firmly fasten'd here, Which made my bitter sweet, my grief a game; My heart, with fuel stored, is, as a flame Of those soft sighs familiar to mine ear, So lit within, its very sufferings cheer; On these I live, and other aid disclaim. That sun, alone which beameth for my sight, With his strong rays my ruin'd bosom burns Now in the eve of life as in its prime, And from afar so gives me warmth and light, Fresh and entire, at every hour, returns On memory the knot, the scene, the time.
Per mezzo i boschi inospiti e selvaggi.
EVER THINKING ON HER, HE PASSES FEARLESS AND SAFE THROUGH THE FOREST OF ARDENNES.
Through woods inhospitable, wild, I rove, Where armed travellers bend their fearful way; Nor danger dread, save from that sun of love, Bright sun! which darts a soul-enflaming ray. Of her I sing, all-thoughtless as I stray, Whose sweet idea strong as heaven's shall prove: And oft methinks these pines, these beeches, move Like nymphs; 'mid which fond fancy sees her play I seem to hear her, when the whispering gale Steals through some thick-wove branch, when sings a bird, When purls the stream along yon verdant vale. How grateful might this darksome wood appear, Where horror reigns, where scarce a sound is heard; But, ah! 'tis far from all my heart holds dear.
Amid the wild wood's lone and difficult ways, Where travel at great risk e'en men in arms, I pass secure—for only me alarms That sun, which darts of living love the rays— Singing fond thoughts in simple lays to her Whom time and space so little hide from me; E'en here her form, nor hers alone, I see, But maids and matrons in each beech and fir: Methinks I hear her when the bird's soft moan, The sighing leaves I hear, or through the dell Where its bright lapse some murmuring rill pursues. Rarely of shadowing wood the silence lone, The solitary horror pleased so well, Except that of my sun too much I lose.
Mille piagge in un giorno e mille rivi.
TO BE NEAR HER RECOMPENSES HIM FOR ALL THE PERILS OF THE WAY.
Love, who his votary wings in heart and feet, To the third heaven that lightly he may soar, In one short day has many a stream and shore Given to me, in famed Ardennes, to meet. Unarm'd and single to have pass'd is sweet Where war in earnest strikes, nor tells before— A helmless, sail-less ship 'mid ocean's roar— My breast with dark and fearful thoughts replete; But reach'd my dangerous journey's far extreme, Remembering whence I came, and with whose wings, From too great courage conscious terror springs. But this fair country and beloved stream With smiling welcome reassures my heart, Where dwells its sole light ready to depart.
Amor mi sprona in un tempo ed affrena.
HE HEARS THE VOICE OF REASON, BUT CANNOT OBEY.
Love in one instant spurs me and restrains, Assures and frightens, freezes me and burns, Smiles now and scowls, now summons me and spurns, In hope now holds me, plunges now in pains: Now high, now low, my weary heart he hurls, Until fond passion loses quite the path, And highest pleasure seems to stir but wrath— My harass'd mind on such strange errors feeds! A friendly thought there points the proper track, Not of such grief as from the full eye breaks, To go where soon it hopes to be at ease, But, as if greater power thence turn'd it back, Despite itself, another way it takes, And to its own slow death and mine agrees.
Geri, quando talor meco s' adira.
HE APPEASES HER BY HUMILITY, AND EXHORTS A FRIEND TO DO LIKEWISE.
When my sweet foe, so haughty oft and high, Moved my brief ire no more my sight can thole, One comfort is vouchsafed me lest I die, Through whose sole strength survives my harass'd soul; Where'er her eyes—all light which would deny To my sad life—in scorn or anger roll, Mine with such true humility reply, Soon their meek glances all her rage control, Were it not so, methinks I less could brook To gaze on hers than on Medusa's mien, Which turn'd to marble all who met her look. My friend, act thus with thine, for closed I ween All other aid, and nothing flight avails Against the wings on which our master sails.
Po, ben puo' tu portartene la scorza.
TO THE RIVER PO, ON QUITTING LAURA.
Thou Po to distant realms this frame mayst bear, On thy all-powerful, thy impetuous tide; But the free spirit that within doth bide Nor for thy might, nor any might doth care: Not varying here its course, nor shifting there, Upon the favouring gale it joys to glide; Plying its wings toward the laurel's pride, In spite of sails or oars, of sea or air. Monarch of floods, magnificent and strong, That meet'st the sun as he leads on the day, But in the west dost quit a fairer light; Thy curved course this body wafts along; My spirit on Love's pinions speeds its way, And to its darling home directs its flight!
Po, thou upon thy strong and rapid tide, This frame corporeal mayst onward bear: But a free spirit is concealed there, Which nor thy power nor any power can guide. That spirit, light on breeze auspicious buoy'd, With course unvarying backward cleaves the air— Nor wave, nor wind, nor sail, nor oar its care— And plies its wings, and seeks the laurel's pride. 'Tis thine, proud king of rivers, eastward borne To meet the sun, as he leads on the day; And from a brighter west 'tis thine to turn: Thy horned flood these passive limbs obey— But, uncontrolled, to its sweet sojourn On Love's untiring plumes my spirit speeds its way.
Amor fra l' orbe una leggiadra rete.
HE COMPARES HIMSELF TO A BIRD CAUGHT IN A NET.
Love 'mid the grass beneath a laurel green— The plant divine which long my flame has fed, Whose shade for me less bright than sad is seen— A cunning net of gold and pearls had spread: Its bait the seed he sows and reaps, I ween Bitter and sweet, which I desire, yet dread: Gentle and soft his call, as ne'er has been Since first on Adam's eyes the day was shed: And the bright light which disenthrones the sun Was flashing round, and in her hand, more fair Than snow or ivory, was the master rope. So fell I in the snare; their slave so won Her speech angelical and winning air, Pleasure, and fond desire, and sanguine hope.
Amor che 'ncende 'l cor d' ardente zelo.
LOVE AND JEALOUSY.
'Tis Love's caprice to freeze the bosom now With bolts of ice, with shafts of flame now burn; And which his lighter pang, I scarce discern— Or hope or fear, or whelming fire or snow. In heat I shiver, and in cold I glow, Now thrill'd with love, with jealousy now torn: As if her thin robe by a rival worn, Or veil, had screen'd him from my vengeful blow But more 'tis mine to burn by night, by day; And how I love the death by which I die, Nor thought can grasp, nor tongue of bard can sing: Not so my freezing fire—impartially She shines to all; and who would speed his way To that high beam, in vain expands his fluttering wing.
Love with hot zeal now burns the heart within, Now holds it fetter'd with a frozen fear, Leaving it doubtful to our judgment here If hope or dread, if flame or frost, shall win. In June I shiver, burn December in, Full of desires, from jealousy ne'er clear; E'en as a lady who her loving fee Hides 'neath a little veil of texture thin. Of the two ills the first is all mine own, By day, by night to burn; how sweet that pain Dwells not in thought, nor ever poet sings: Not so the other, my fair flame, is shown, She levels all: who hopes the crest to gain Of that proud light expands in vain his wings.
Se 'l dolce sguardo di costei m' ancide.
HE IS CONTINUALLY IN FEAR OF DISPLEASING HER.
If thus the dear glance of my lady slay, On her sweet sprightly speech if dangers wait, If o'er me Love usurp a power so great, Oft as she speaks, or when her sun-smiles play; Alas! what were it if she put away, Or for my fault, or by my luckless fate, Her eyes from pity, and to death's full hate, Which now she keeps aloof, should then betray. Thus if at heart with terror I am cold, When o'er her fair face doubtful shadows spring, The feeling has its source in sufferings old. Woman by nature is a fickle thing, And female hearts—time makes the proverb sure— Can never long one state of love endure.
If the soft glance, the speech, both kind and wise, Of that beloved one can wound me so, And if, whene'er she lets her accents flow, Or even smiles, Love gains such victories; Alas! what should I do, were those dear eyes, Which now secure my life through weal and woe, From fault of mine, or evil fortune, slow To shed on me their light in pity's guise? And if my trembling spirit groweth cold Whene'er I see change to her aspect spring, This fear is only born of trials old; (Woman by nature is a fickle thing,) And hence I know her heart hath power to hold But a brief space Love's sweet imagining!
Amor, Natura, e la bell' alma umile.
DURING A SERIOUS ILLNESS OF LAURA.
Love, Nature, Laura's gentle self combines, She where each lofty virtue dwells and reigns, Against my peace: To pierce with mortal pains Love toils—such ever are his stern designs. Nature by bonds so slight to earth confines Her slender form, a breath may break its chains; And she, so much her heart the world disdains, Longer to tread life's wearying round repines. Hence still in her sweet frame we view decay All that to earth can joy and radiance lend, Or serve as mirror to this laggard age; And Death's dread purpose should not Pity stay, Too well I see where all those hopes must end, With which I fondly soothed my lingering pilgrimage.
Love, Nature, and that gentle soul as bright, Where every lofty virtue dwells and reigns, Are sworn against my peace. As wont, Love strains His every power that I may perish quite. Nature her delicate form by bonds so slight Holds in existence, that no help sustains; She is so modest that she now disdains Longer to brook this vile life's painful fight. Thus fades and fails the spirit day by day, Which on those dear and lovely limbs should wait, Our mirror of true grace which wont to give: And soon, if Mercy turn not Death away, Alas! too well I see in what sad state Are those vain hopes wherein I loved to live.
Questa Fenice dell' aurata piuma.
HE COMPARES HER TO THE PHOENIX.
This wondrous Phoenix with the golden plumes Forms without art so rare a ring to deck That beautiful and soft and snowy neck, That every heart it melts, and mine consumes: Forms, too, a natural diadem which lights The air around, whence Love with silent steel Draws liquid subtle fire, which still I feel Fierce burning me though sharpest winter bites; Border'd with azure, a rich purple vest, Sprinkled with roses, veils her shoulders fair: Rare garment hers, as grace unique, alone! Fame, in the opulent and odorous breast Of Arab mountains, buries her sole lair, Who in our heaven so high a pitch has flown.
Se Virgilio ed Omero avessin visto.
THE MOST FAMOUS POETS OF ANTIQUITY WOULD HAVE SUNG HER ONLY, HAD THEY SEEN HER.
Had tuneful Maro seen, and Homer old, The living sun which here mine eyes behold, The best powers they had join'd of either lyre, Sweetness and strength, that fame she might acquire; Unsung had been, with vex'd AEneas, then Achilles and Ulysses, godlike men, And for nigh sixty years who ruled so well The world; and who before AEgysthus fell; Nay, that old flower of virtues and of arms, As this new flower of chastity and charms, A rival star, had scarce such radiance flung. In rugged verse him honour'd Ennius sung, I her in mine. Grant, Heaven! on my poor lays She frown not, nor disdain my humble praise.
Giunto Alessandro alla famosa tomba.
HE FEARS THAT HE IS INCAPABLE OF WORTHILY CELEBRATING HER.
The son of Philip, when he saw the tomb Of fierce Achilles, with a sigh, thus said: "O happy, whose achievements erst found room From that illustrious trumpet to be spread O'er earth for ever!"—But, beyond the gloom Of deep Oblivion shall that loveliest maid, Whose like to view seems not of earthly doom, By my imperfect accents be convey'd? Her of the Homeric, the Orphean Lyre, Most worthy, or that shepherd, Mantua's pride, To be the theme of their immortal lays; Her stars and unpropitious fate denied This palm:—and me bade to such height aspire, Who, haply, dim her glories by my praise.
When Alexander at the famous tomb Of fierce Achilles stood, the ambitious sigh Burst from his bosom—"Fortunate! on whom Th' eternal bard shower'd honours bright and high." But, ah! for so to each is fix'd his doom, This pure fair dove, whose like by mortal eye Was never seen, what poor and scanty room For her great praise can my weak verse supply? Whom, worthiest Homer's line and Orpheus' song, Or his whom reverent Mantua still admires— Sole and sufficient she to wake such lyres! An adverse star, a fate here only wrong, Entrusts to one who worships her dear name, Yet haply injures by his praise her fame.
Almo Sol, quella fronde ch' io sola amo.
TO THE SUN, WHOSE SETTING HID LAURA'S DWELLING FROM HIS VIEW.
O blessed Sun! that sole sweet leaf I love, First loved by thee, in its fair seat, alone, Bloometh without a peer, since from above To Adam first our shining ill was shown. Pause we to look on her! Although to stay Thy course I pray thee, yet thy beams retire; Their shades the mountains fling, and parting day Parts me from all I most on earth desire. The shadows from yon gentle heights that fall, Where sparkles my sweet fire, where brightly grew That stately laurel from a sucker small, Increasing, as I speak, hide from my view The beauteous landscape and the blessed scene, Where dwells my true heart with its only queen.
Passa la nave mia colma d' oblio.
UNDER THE FIGURE OF A TEMPEST-TOSSED VESSEL, HE DESCRIBES HIS OWN SAD STATE.
My bark, deep laden with oblivion, rides O'er boisterous waves, through winter's midnight gloom, 'Twixt Scylla and Charybdis, while, in room Of pilot, Love, mine enemy, presides; At every oar a guilty fancy bides, Holding at nought the tempest and the tomb; A moist eternal wind the sails consume, Of sighs, of hopes, and of desire besides. A shower of tears, a fog of chill disdain Bathes and relaxes the o'er-wearied cords, With error and with ignorance entwined; My two loved lights their wonted aid restrain; Reason or Art, storm-quell'd, no help affords, Nor hope remains the wish'd-for port to find.
My lethe-freighted bark with reckless prore Cleaves the rough sea 'neath wintry midnight skies, My old foe at the helm our compass eyes, With Scylla and Charybdis on each shore, A prompt and daring thought at every oar, Which equally the storm and death defies, While a perpetual humid wind of sighs, Of hopes, and of desires, its light sail tore. Bathe and relax its worn and weary shrouds (Which ignorance with error intertwines), Torrents of tears, of scorn and anger clouds; Hidden the twin dear lights which were my signs; Reason and Art amid the waves lie dead, And hope of gaining port is almost fled.
Una candida cerva sopra l' erba.
THE VISION OF THE FAWN.
Beneath a laurel, two fair streams between, At early sunrise of the opening year, A milk-white fawn upon the meadow green, Of gold its either horn, I saw appear; So mild, yet so majestic, was its mien, I left, to follow, all my labours here, As miners after treasure, in the keen Desire of new, forget the old to fear. "Let none impede"—so, round its fair neck, run The words in diamond and topaz writ— "My lord to give me liberty sees fit." And now the sun his noontide height had won When I, with weary though unsated view, Fell in the stream—and so my vision flew.
A form I saw with secret awe, nor ken I what it warns; Pure as the snow, a gentle doe it seem'd, with silver horns: Erect she stood, close by a wood, between two running streams; And brightly shone the morning sun upon that land of dreams! The pictured hind fancy design'd glowing with love and hope; Graceful she stepp'd, but distant kept, like the timid antelope; Playful, yet coy, with secret joy her image fill'd my soul; And o'er the sense soft influence of sweet oblivion stole. Gold I beheld and emerald on the collar that she wore; Words, too—but theirs were characters of legendary lore. "Caesar's decree hath made me free; and through his solemn charge, Untouch'd by men o'er hill and glen I wander here at large." The sun had now, with radiant brow, climb'd his meridian throne, Yet still mine eye untiringly gazed on that lovely one. A voice was heard—quick disappear'd my dream—the spell was broken. Then came distress: to the consciousness of life I had awoken.