Siccome eterna vita e veder Dio.
ALL HIS HAPPINESS IS IN GAZING UPON HER.
As life eternal is with God to be, No void left craving, there of all possess'd, So, lady mine, to be with you makes blest, This brief frail span of mortal life to me. So fair as now ne'er yet was mine to see— If truth from eyes to heart be well express'd— Lovely and blessed spirit of my breast, Which levels all high hopes and wishes free. Nor would I more demand if less of haste She show'd to part; for if, as legends tell And credence find, are some who live by smell, On water some, or fire who touch and taste, All, things which neither strength nor sweetness give, Why should not I upon your dear sight live?
Stiamo, Amor, a veder la gloria nostra.
TO LOVE, ON LAURA WALKING ABROAD.
Here stand we, Love, our glory to behold— How, passing Nature, lovely, high, and rare! Behold! what showers of sweetness falling there! What floods of light by heaven to earth unroll'd! How shine her robes, in purple, pearls, and gold, So richly wrought, with skill beyond compare! How glance her feet!—her beaming eyes how fair Through the dark cloister which these hills enfold! The verdant turf, and flowers of thousand hues Beneath yon oak's old canopy of state, Spring round her feet to pay their amorous duty. The heavens, in joyful reverence, cannot choose But light up all their fires, to celebrate Her praise, whose presence charms their awful beauty.
Here tarry, Love, our glory to behold; Nought in creation so sublime we trace; Ah! see what sweetness showers upon that face, Heaven's brightness to this earth those eyes unfold! See, with what magic art, pearls, purple, gold, That form transcendant, unexampled, grace: Beneath the shadowing hills observe her pace, Her glance replete with elegance untold! The verdant turf, and flowers of every hue, Clustering beneath yon aged holm-oak's gloom, For the sweet pressure of her fair feet sue; The orbs of fire that stud yon beauteous sky, Cheer'd by her presence and her smiles, assume Superior lustre and serenity.
Pasco la mente d' un si nobil cibo.
TO SEE AND HEAR HER IS HIS GREATEST BLISS.
I feed my fancy on such noble food, That Jove I envy not his godlike meal; I see her—joy invades me like a flood, And lethe of all other bliss I feel; I hear her—instantly that music rare Bids from my captive heart the fond sigh flow; Borne by the hand of Love I know not where, A double pleasure in one draught I know. Even in heaven that dear voice pleaseth well, So winning are its words, its sound so sweet, None can conceive, save who had heard, their spell; Thus, in the same small space, visibly, meet All charms of eye and ear wherewith our race Art, Genius, Nature, Heaven have join'd to grace.
Such noble aliment sustains my soul, That Jove I envy not his godlike food; I gaze on her—and feel each other good Engulph'd in that blest draught at Lethe's bowl: Her every word I in my heart enrol, That on its grief it still may constant brood; Prostrate by Love—my doom not understood From that one form, I feel a twin control. My spirit drinks the music of her voice, Whose speaking harmony (to heaven so dear) They only feel who in its tone partake: Again within her face my eyes rejoice, For in its gentle lineaments appear What Genius, Nature, Art, and Heaven can wake.
L' aura gentil che rasserena i poggi.
JOURNEYING TO VISIT LAURA, HE FEELS RENEWED ARDOUR AS HE APPROACHES.
The gale, that o'er yon hills flings softer blue, And wakes to life each bud that gems the glade, I know; its breathings such impression made, Wafting me fame, but wafting sorrow too: My wearied soul to soothe, I bid adieu To those dear Tuscan haunts I first survey'd; And, to dispel the gloom around me spread, I seek this day my cheering sun to view, Whose sweet attraction is so strong, so great, That Love again compels me to its light; Then he so dazzles me, that vain were flight. Not arms to brave, 'tis wings to 'scape, my fate I ask; but by those beams I'm doom'd to die, When distant which consume, and which enflame when nigh.
The gentle air, which brightens each green hill, Wakening the flowers that paint this bowery glade, I recognise it by its soft breath still, My sorrow and renown which long has made: Again where erst my sick heart shelter sought, From my dear native Tuscan air I flee: That light may cheer my dark and troubled thought, I seek my sun, and hope to-day to see. That sun so great and genial sweetness brings, That Love compels me to his beams again, Which then so dazzle me that flight is vain: I ask for my escape not arms, but wings: Heaven by this light condemns me sure to die, Which from afar consumes, and burns when nigh.
Di di in di vo cangiando il viso e 'l pelo.
HIS WOUNDS CAN BE HEALED ONLY BY PITY OR DEATH.
I alter day by day in hair and mien, Yet shun not the old dangerous baits and dear, Nor sever from the laurel, limed and green, Which nor the scorching sun, nor fierce cold sear. Dry shall the sea, the sky be starless seen, Ere I shall cease to covet and to fear Her lovely shadow, and—which ill I screen— To like, yet loathe, the deep wound cherish'd here: For never hope I respite from my pain, From bones and nerves and flesh till I am free, Unless mine enemy some pity deign, Till things impossible accomplish'd be, None but herself or death the blow can heal Which Love from her bright eyes has left my heart to feel.
L' aura serena che fra verdi fronde.
THE GENTLE BREEZE (L' AURA) RECALLS TO HIM THE TIME WHEN HE FIRST SAW HER.
The gentle gale, that plays my face around, Murmuring sweet mischief through the verdant grove, To fond remembrance brings the time, when Love First gave his deep, although delightful wound; Gave me to view that beauteous face, ne'er found Veil'd, as disdain or jealousy might move; To view her locks that shone bright gold above, Then loose, but now with pearls and jewels bound: Those locks she sweetly scatter'd to the wind, And then coil'd up again so gracefully, That but to think on it still thrills the sense. These Time has in more sober braids confined; And bound my heart with such a powerful tie, That death alone can disengage it thence.
The balmy airs that from yon leafy spray My fever'd brow with playful murmurs greet, Recall to my fond heart the fatal day When Love his first wound dealt, so deep yet sweet, And gave me the fair face—in scorn away Since turn'd, or hid by jealousy—to meet; The locks, which pearls and gems now oft array, Whose shining tints with finest gold compete, So sweetly on the wind were then display'd, Or gather'd in with such a graceful art, Their very thought with passion thrills my mind. Time since has twined them in more sober braid, And with a snare so powerful bound my heart, Death from its fetters only can unbind.
L' aura celeste che 'n quel verde Lauro.
HER HAIR AND EYES.
The heavenly airs from yon green laurel roll'd, Where Love to Phoebus whilom dealt his stroke, Where on my neck was placed so sweet a yoke, That freedom thence I hope not to behold, O'er me prevail, as o'er that Arab old Medusa, when she changed him to an oak; Nor ever can the fairy knot be broke Whose light outshines the sun, not merely gold; I mean of those bright locks the curled snare Which folds and fastens with so sweet a grace My soul, whose humbleness defends alone. Her mere shade freezes with a cold despair My heart, and tinges with pale fear my face; And oh! her eyes have power to make me stone.
L' aura soave ch' al sol spiega e vibra.
HIS HEART LIES TANGLED IN HER HAIR.
The pleasant gale, that to the sun unplaits And spreads the gold Love's fingers weave, and braid O'er her fine eyes, and all around her head, Fetters my heart, the wishful sigh creates: No nerve but thrills, no artery but beats, Approaching my fair arbiter with dread, Who in her doubtful scale hath ofttimes weigh'd Whether or death or life on me awaits; Beholding, too, those eyes their fires display, And on those shoulders shine such wreaths of hair, Whose witching tangles my poor heart ensnare. But how this magic's wrought I cannot say; For twofold radiance doth my reason blind, And sweetness to excess palls and o'erpowers my mind.
The soft gale to the sun which shakes and spreads The gold which Love's own hand has spun and wrought. There, with her bright eyes and those fairy threads, Binds my poor heart and sifts each idle thought. My veins of blood, my bones of marrow fail, Thrills all my frame when I, to hear or gaze, Draw near to her, who oft, in balance frail, My life and death together holds and weighs, And see those love-fires shine wherein I burn, And, as its snow each sweetest shoulder heaves, Flash the fair tresses right and left by turn; Verse fails to paint what fancy scarce conceives. From two such lights is intellect distress'd, And by such sweetness weary and oppress'd.
O bella man, che mi distringi 'l core.
THE STOLEN GLOVE.
O beauteous hand! that dost my heart subdue, And in a little space my life confine; Hand where their skill and utmost efforts join Nature and Heaven, their plastic powers to show! Sweet fingers, seeming pearls of orient hue, To my wounds only cruel, fingers fine! Love, who towards me kindness doth design, For once permits ye naked to our view. Thou glove most dear, most elegant and white, Encasing ivory tinted with the rose; More precious covering ne'er met mortal sight. Would I such portion of thy veil had gain'd! O fleeting gifts which fortune's hand bestows! 'Tis justice to restore what theft alone obtain'd.
O beauteous hand! which robb'st me of my heart, And holdest all my life in little space; Hand! which their utmost effort and best art Nature and Heaven alike have join'd to grace; O sister pearls of orient hue, ye fine And fairy fingers! to my wounds alone Cruel and cold, does Love awhile incline In my behalf, that naked ye are shown? O glove! most snowy, delicate, and dear, Which spotless ivory and fresh roses set, Where can on earth a sweeter spoil be met, Unless her fair veil thus reward us here? Inconstancy of human things! the theft Late won and dearly prized too soon from me is reft!
Non pur quell' una bella ignuda mano.
HE RETURNS THE GLOVE, BEWAILING THE EFFECT OF HER BEAUTY.
Not of one dear hand only I complain, Which hides it, to my loss, again from view, But its fair fellow and her soft arms too Are prompt my meek and passive heart to pain. Love spreads a thousand toils, nor one in vain, Amid the many charms, bright, pure, and new, That so her high and heavenly part endue, No style can equal it, no mind attain. That starry forehead and those tranquil eyes, The fair angelic mouth, where pearl and rose Contrast each other, whence rich music flows, These fill the gazer with a fond surprise, The fine head, the bright tresses which defied The sun to match them in his noonday pride.
Mia ventura ed Amor m' avean si adorno.
HE REGRETS HAVING RETURNED HER GLOVE.
Me Love and Fortune then supremely bless'd! Her glove which gold and silken broidery bore! I seem'd to reach of utmost bliss the crest, Musing within myself on her who wore. Ne'er on that day I think, of days the best, Which made me rich, then beggar'd as before, But rage and sorrow fill mine aching breast. With slighted love and self-shame boiling o'er; That on my precious prize in time of need I kept not hold, nor made a firmer stand 'Gainst what at best was merely angel force, That my feet were not wings their flight to speed, And so at last take vengeance on the hand, Make my poor eyes of tears the too oft source.
D' un bel, chiaro, polito e vivo ghiaccio.
THOUGH RACKED BY AGONY, HE DOES NOT COMPLAIN OF HER.
The flames that ever on my bosom prey From living ice or cold fair marble pour, And so exhaust my veins and waste my core, Almost insensibly I melt away. Death, his stern arm already rear'd to slay, As thunders angry heaven or lions roar, Pursues my life that vainly flies before, While I with terror shake, and mute obey. And yet, were Love and Pity friends, they might A double column for my succour throw Between my worn soul and the mortal blow: It may not be; such feelings in the sight Of my loved foe and mistress never stir; The fault is in my fortune, not in her.
Lasso, ch' i' ardo, ed altri non mel crede!
POSTERITY WILL ACCORD TO HIM THE PITY WHICH LAURA REFUSES.
Alas, with ardour past belief I glow! None doubt this truth, except one only fair, Who all excels, for whom alone I care; She plainly sees, yet disbelieves my woe. O rich in charms, but poor in faith! canst thou Look in these eyes, nor read my whole heart there? Were I not fated by my baleful star, For me from pity's fount might favour flow. My flame, of which thou tak'st so little heed, And thy high praises pour'd through all my song, O'er many a breast may future influence spread: These, my sweet fair, so warns prophetic thought, Closed thy bright eye, and mute thy poet's tongue, E'en after death shall still with sparks be fraught.
Alas! I burn, yet credence fail to gain All others credit it save only she All others who excels, alone for me; She seems to doubt it still, yet sees it plain Infinite beauty, little faith and slow, Perceive ye not my whole heart in mine eyes? Well might I hope, save for my hostile skies, From mercy's fount some pitying balm to flow. Yet this my flame which scarcely moves your care, And your warm praises sung in these fond rhymes, May thousands yet inflame in after times; These I foresee in fancy, my sweet fair, Though your bright eyes be closed and cold my breath, Shall lighten other loves and live in death.
Anima, che diverse cose tante.
HE REJOICES AT BEING ON EARTH WITH HER, AS HE IS THEREBY ENABLED BETTER TO IMITATE HER VIRTUES.
Soul! with such various faculties endued To think, write, speak, to read, to see, to hear; My doting eyes! and thou, my faithful ear! Where drinks my heart her counsels wise and good; Your fortune smiles; if after or before, The path were won so badly follow'd yet, Ye had not then her bright eyes' lustre met, Nor traced her light feet earth's green carpet o'er. Now with so clear a light, so sure a sign, 'Twere shame to err or halt on the brief way Which makes thee worthy of a home divine. That better course, my weary will, essay! To pierce the cloud of her sweet scorn be thine, Pursuing her pure steps and heavenly ray.
Dolci ire, dolci sdegni e dolci paci.
HE CONSOLES HIMSELF WITH THE THOUGHT THAT HE WILL BE ENVIED BY POSTERITY.
Sweet scorn, sweet anger, and sweet misery, Forgiveness sweet, sweet burden, and sweet ill; Sweet accents that mine ear so sweetly thrill, That sweetly bland, now sweetly fierce can be. Mourn not, my soul, but suffer silently; And those embitter'd sweets thy cup that fill With the sweet honour blend of loving still Her whom I told: "Thou only pleasest me." Hereafter, moved with envy, some may say: "For that high-boasted beauty of his day Enough the bard has borne!" then heave a sigh. Others: "Oh! why, most hostile Fortune, why Could not these eyes that lovely form survey? Why was she early born, or wherefore late was I?"
Sweet anger, sweet disdain, and peace as sweet, Sweet ill, sweet pain, sweet burthen that I bear, Sweet speech as sweetly heard; sweet speech, my fair! That now enflames my soul, now cools its heat. Patient, my soul! endure the wrongs you meet; And all th' embitter'd sweets you're doomed to share Blend with that sweetest bliss, the maid to greet In these soft words, "Thou only art my care!" Haply some youth shall sighing envious say, "Enough has borne the bard so fond, so true, For that bright beauty, brightest of his day!" While others cry, "Sad eyes! how hard your fate, Why could I ne'er this matchless beauty view? Why was she born so soon, or I so late?"
S' il dissi mai, ch' i' venga in odio a quella.
HE VEHEMENTLY REBUTS THE CHARGE OF LOVING ANOTHER.
Perdie! I said it not, Nor never thought to do: As well as I, ye wot I have no power thereto. And if I did, the lot That first did me enchain May never slake the knot, But strait it to my pain.
And if I did, each thing That may do harm or woe, Continually may wring My heart, where so I go! Report may always ring Of shame on me for aye, If in my heart did spring The words that you do say.
And if I did, each star That is in heaven above, May frown on me, to mar The hope I have in love! And if I did, such war As they brought unto Troy, Bring all my life afar From all his lust and joy!
And if I did so say, The beauty that me bound Increase from day to day, More cruel to my wound! With all the moan that may To plaint may turn my song; My life may soon decay, Without redress, by wrong!
If I be clear from thought, Why do you then complain? Then is this thing but sought To turn my heart to pain. Then this that you have wrought, You must it now redress; Of right, therefore, you ought Such rigour to repress.
And as I have deserved, So grant me now my hire; You know I never swerved, You never found me liar. For Rachel have I served, For Leah cared I never; And her I have reserved Within my heart for ever.
If I said so, may I be hated by Her on whose love I live, without which I should die— If I said so, my days be sad and short, May my false soul some vile dominion court. If I said so, may every star to me Be hostile; round me grow Pale fear and jealousy; And she, my foe, As cruel still and cold as fair she aye must be.
If I said so, may Love upon my heart Expend his golden shafts, on her the leaden dart; Be heaven and earth, and God and man my foe, And she still more severe if I said so: If I said so, may he whose blind lights lead Me straightway to my grave, Trample yet worse his slave, Nor she behave Gentle and kind to me in look, or word, or deed.
If I said so, then through my brief life may All that is hateful block my worthless weary way: If I said so, may the proud frost in thee Grow prouder as more fierce the fire in me: If I said so, no more then may the warm Sun or bright moon be view'd, Nor maid, nor matron's form, But one dread storm Such as proud Pharaoh saw when Israel he pursued.
If I said so, despite each contrite sigh, Let courtesy for me and kindly feeling die: If I said so, that voice to anger swell, Which was so sweet when first her slave I fell: If I said so, I should offend whom I, E'en from my earliest breath Until my day of death, Would gladly take, Alone in cloister'd cell my single saint to make.
But if I said not so, may she who first, In life's green youth, my heart to hope so sweetly nursed, Deign yet once more my weary bark to guide With native kindness o'er the troublous tide; And graceful, grateful, as her wont before, When, for I could no more, My all, myself I gave, To be her slave, Forget not the deep faith with which I still adore.
I did not, could not, never would say so, For all that gold can give, cities or courts bestow: Let truth, then, take her old proud seat on high, And low on earth let baffled falsehood lie. Thou know'st me, Love! if aught my state within Belief or care may win, Tell her that I would call Him blest o'er all Who, doom'd like me to pine, dies ere his strife begin.
Rachel I sought, not Leah, to secure, Nor could I this vain life with other fair endure, And, should from earth Heaven summon her again, Myself would gladly die For her, or with her, when Elijah's fiery car her pure soul wafts on high.
Ben mi credea passar mio tempo omai.
HE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT SEEING HER, BUT WOULD NOT DIE THAT HE MAY STILL LOVE HER.
As pass'd the years which I have left behind, To pass my future years I fondly thought, Amid old studies, with desires the same; But, from my lady since I fail to find The accustom'd aid, the work himself has wrought Let Love regard my tempter who became; Yet scarce I feel the shame That, at my age, he makes me thus a thief Of that bewitching light For which my life is steep'd in cureless grief; In youth I better might Have ta'en the part which now I needs must take, For less dishonour boyish errors make.
Those sweet eyes whence alone my life had health Were ever of their high and heavenly charms So kind to me when first my thrall begun, That, as a man whom not his proper wealth, But some extern yet secret succour arms, I lived, with them at ease, offending none: Me now their glances shun As one injurious and importunate, Who, poor and hungry, did Myself the very act, in better state Which I, in others, chid. From mercy thus if envy bar me, be My amorous thirst and helplessness my plea.
In divers ways how often have I tried If, reft of these, aught mortal could retain E'en for a single day in life my frame: But, ah! my soul, which has no rest beside, Speeds back to those angelic lights again; And I, though but of wax, turn to their flame, Planting my mind's best aim Where less the watch o'er what I love is sure: As birds i' th' wild wood green, Where less they fear, will sooner take the lure, So on her lovely mien, Now one and now another look I turn, Wherewith at once I nourish me and burn.
Strange sustenance! upon my death I feed, And live in flames, a salamander rare! And yet no marvel, as from love it flows. A blithe lamb 'mid the harass'd fleecy breed. Whilom I lay, whom now to worst despair Fortune and Love, as is their wont, expose. Winter with cold and snows, With violets and roses spring is rife, And thus if I obtain Some few poor aliments of else weak life, Who can of theft complain? So rich a fair should be content with this, Though others live on hers, if nought she miss.
Who knows not what I am and still have been, From the first day I saw those beauteous eyes, Which alter'd of my life the natural mood? Traverse all lands, explore each sea between, Who can acquire all human qualities? There some on odours live by Ind's vast flood; Here light and fire are food My frail and famish'd spirit to appease! Love! more or nought bestow; With lordly state low thrift but ill agrees; Thou hast thy darts and bow, Take with thy hands my not unwilling breath, Life were well closed with honourable death.
Pent flames are strongest, and, if left to swell, Not long by any means can rest unknown, This own I, Love, and at your hands was taught. When I thus silent burn'd, you knew it well; Now e'en to me my cries are weary grown, Annoy to far and near so long that wrought. O false world! O vain thought! O my hard fate! where now to follow thee? Ah! from what meteor light Sprung in my heart the constant hope which she, Who, armour'd with your might, Drags me to death, binds o'er it as a chain? Yours is the fault, though mine the loss and pain.
Thus bear I of true love the pains along, Asking forgiveness of another's debt, And for mine own; whose eyes should rather shun That too great light, and to the siren's song My ears be closed: though scarce can I regret That so sweet poison should my heart o'errun. Yet would that all were done, That who the first wound gave my last would deal; For, if I right divine, It were best mercy soon my fate to seal; Since not a chance is mine That he may treat me better than before, 'Tis well to die if death shut sorrow's door.
My song! with fearless feet The field I keep, for death in flight were shame. Myself I needs must blame For these laments; tears, sighs, and death to meet, Such fate for her is sweet. Own, slave of Love, whose eyes these rhymes may catch, Earth has no good that with my grief can match.
Rapido fiume che d' alpestra vena.
JOURNEYING ALONG THE RHONE TO AVIGNON, PETRARCH BIDS THE RIVER KISS LAURA'S HAND, AS IT WILL ARRIVE AT HER DWELLING BEFORE HIM.
Impetuous flood, that from the Alps' rude head, Eating around thee, dost thy name obtain;[V] Anxious like me both night and day to gain Where thee pure nature, and me love doth lead; Pour on: thy course nor sleep nor toils impede; Yet, ere thou pay'st thy tribute to the main, Oh, tarry where most verdant looks the plain, Where most serenity the skies doth spread! There beams my radiant sun of cheering ray, Which deck thy left banks, and gems o'er with flowers; E'en now, vain thought! perhaps she chides my stay: Kiss then her feet, her hand so beauteous fair; In place of language let thy kiss declare Strong is my will, though feeble are my powers.
O rapid flood! which from thy mountain bed Gnawest thy shores, whence (in my tongue) thy name;[V] Thou art my partner, night and day the same, Where I by love, thou art by nature led: Precede me now; no weariness doth shed Its spell o'er thee, no sleep thy course can tame; Yet ere the ocean waves thy tribute claim, Pause, where the herb and air seem brighter fed. There beams our sun of life, whose genial ray With brighter verdure thy left shore adorns; Perchance (vain hope!) e'en now my stay she mourns. Kiss then her foot, her lovely hand, and may Thy kiss to her in place of language speak, The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
[Footnote V: Deriving it from rodere, to gnaw.]
I' dolci colli ov' io lasciai me stesso.
HE LEAVES VAUCLUSE, BUT HIS SPIRIT REMAINS THERE WITH LAURA.
The loved hills where I left myself behind, Whence ever 'twas so hard my steps to tear, Before me rise; at each remove I bear The dear load to my lot by Love consign'd. Often I wonder inly in my mind, That still the fair yoke holds me, which despair Would vainly break, that yet I breathe this air; Though long the chain, its links but closer bind. And as a stag, sore struck by hunter's dart, Whose poison'd iron rankles in his breast, Flies and more grieves the more the chase is press'd, So I, with Love's keen arrow in my heart, Endure at once my death and my delight, Rack'd with long grief, and weary with vain flight.
Those gentle hills which hold my spirit still (For though I fly, my heart there must remain), Are e'er before me, whilst my burthen's pain, By love bestow'd, I bear with patient will. I marvel oft that I can yet fulfil That yoke's sweet duties, which my soul enchain, I seek release, but find the effort vain; The more I fly, the nearer seems my ill. So, like the stag, who, wounded by the dart, Its poison'd iron rankling in his side, Flies swifter at each quickening anguish'd throb,— I feel the fatal arrow at my heart; Yet with its poison, joy awakes its tide; My flight exhausts me—grief my life doth rob!
Non dall' Ispano Ibero all' Indo Idaspe.
HIS WOES ARE UNEXAMPLED.
From Spanish Ebro to Hydaspes old, Exploring ocean in its every nook, From the Red Sea to the cold Caspian shore, In earth, in heaven one only Phoenix dwells. What fortunate, or what disastrous bird Omen'd my fate? which Parca winds my yarn, That I alone find Pity deaf as asp, And wretched live who happy hoped to be? Let me not speak of her, but him her guide, Who all her heart with love and sweetness fills— Gifts which, from him o'erflowing, follow her, Who, that my sweets may sour and cruel be, Dissembleth, careth not, or will not see That silver'd, ere my time, these temples are.
Voglia mi sprona; Amor mi guida e scorge.
HE DESCRIBES HIS STATE, SPECIFYING THE DATE OF HIS ATTACHMENT.
Passion impels me, Love escorts and leads, Pleasure attracts me, habits old enchain, Hope with its flatteries comforts me again, And, at my harass'd heart, with fond touch pleads. Poor wretch! it trusts her still, and little heeds The blind and faithless leader of our train; Reason is dead, the senses only reign: One fond desire another still succeeds. Virtue and honour, beauty, courtesy, With winning words and many a graceful way, My heart entangled in that laurel sweet. In thirteen hundred seven and twenty, I —'Twas April, the first hour, on its sixth day— Enter'd Love's labyrinth, whence is no retreat.
By will impell'd, Love o'er my path presides; By Pleasure led, o'ercome by Habit's reign, Sweet Hope deludes, and comforts me again; At her bright touch, my heart's despair subsides. It takes her proffer'd hand, and there confides. To doubt its blind disloyal guide were vain; Each sense usurps poor Reason's broken rein; On each desire, another wilder rides! Grace, virtue, honour, beauty, words so dear, Have twined me with that laurell'd bough, whose power My heart hath tangled in its lab'rinth sweet: The thirteen hundred twenty-seventh year, The sixth of April's suns—in that first hour, My entrance mark'd, whence I see no retreat.
Beato in sogno, e di languir contento.
THOUGH SO LONG LOVE'S FAITHFUL SERVANT, HIS ONLY REWARD HAS BEEN TEARS.
Happy in visions, and content to pine, Shadows to clasp, to chase the summer gale, On shoreless and unfathom'd sea to sail, To build on sand, and in the air design, The sun to gaze on till these eyes of mine Abash'd before his noonday splendour fail, To chase adown some soft and sloping vale, The winged stag with maim'd and heavy kine; Weary and blind, save my own harm to all, Which day and night I seek with throbbing heart, On Love, on Laura, and on Death I call. Thus twenty years of long and cruel smart, In tears and sighs I've pass'd, because I took Under ill stars, alas! both bait and hook.
Grazie ch' a pochi 'l ciel largo destina.
THE ENCHANTMENTS THAT ENTHRALL HIM
Graces, that liberal Heaven on few bestows; Rare excellence, scarce known to human kind; With youth's bright locks age's ripe judgment join'd; Celestial charms, which a meek mortal shows; An elegance unmatch'd; and lips, whence flows Music that can the sense in fetters bind; A goddess step; a lovely ardent mind, That breaks the stubborn, and the haughty bows; Eyes, whose refulgence petrifies the heart, To glooms, to shades that can a light impart, Lift high the lover's soul, or plunge it low; Speech link'd by tenderness and dignity; With many a sweetly-interrupted sigh; Such are the witcheries that transform me so.
Graces which liberal Heaven grants few to share: Rare virtue seldom witness'd by mankind; Experienced judgment with fair hair combined; High heavenly beauty in a humble fair; A gracefulness most excellent and rare; A voice whose music sinks into the mind; An angel gait; wit glowing and refined, The hard to break, the high and haughty tear, And brilliant eyes which turn the heart to stone, Strong to enlighten hell and night, and take Souls from our bodies and their own to make; A speech where genius high yet gentle shone, Evermore broken by the balmiest sighs —Such magic spells transform'd me in this wise.
Anzi tre di creata era alma in parte.
THE HISTORY OF HIS LOVE; AND PRAYER FOR HELP.
Life's three first stages train'd my soul in part To place its care on objects high and new, And to disparage what men often prize, But, left alone, and of her fatal course As yet uncertain, frolicsome, and free, She enter'd at spring-time a lovely wood.
A tender flower there was, born in that wood The day before, whose root was in a part High and impervious e'en to spirit free; For many snares were there of forms so new, And such desire impell'd my sanguine course, That to lose freedom were to gain a prize.
Dear, sweet, yet perilous and painful prize! Which quickly drew me to that verdant wood, Doom'd to mislead me midway in life's course; The world I since have ransack'd part by part, For rhymes, or stones, or sap of simples new, Which yet might give me back the spirit, free.
But ah! I feel my body must be free From that hard knot which is its richest prize, Ere medicine old or incantations new Can heal the wounds which pierced me in that wood, Thorny and troublous, where I play'd such part, Leaving it halt who enter'd with hot course.
Yes! full of snares and sticks, a difficult course Have I to run, where easy foot and sure Were rather needed, healthy in each part; Thou, Lord, who still of pity hast the prize, Stretch to me thy right hand in this wild wood, And let thy sun dispel my darkness new.
Look on my state, amid temptations new, Which, interrupting my life's tranquil course, Have made me denizen of darkling wood; If good, restore me, fetterless and free, My wand'ring consort, and be thine the prize If yet with thee I find her in blest part.
Lo! thus in part I put my questions new, If mine be any prize, or run its course, Be my soul free, or captived in close wood.
In nobil sangue vita umile e queta.
SHE UNITES IN HERSELF THE HIGHEST EXCELLENCES OF VIRTUE AND BEAUTY.
High birth in humble life, reserved yet kind, On youth's gay flower ripe fruits of age and rare, A virtuous heart, therewith a lofty mind, A happy spirit in a pensive air; Her planet, nay, heaven's king, has fitly shrined All gifts and graces in this lady fair, True honour, purest praises, worth refined, Above what rapt dreams of best poets are. Virtue and Love so rich in her unite, With natural beauty dignified address, Gestures that still a silent grace express, And in her eyes I know not what strange light, That makes the noonday dark, the dusk night clear, Bitter the sweet, and e'en sad absence dear.
Though nobly born, so humbly calm she dwells, So bright her intellect—so pure her mind— The blossom and its bloom in her we find; With pensive look, her heart with mirth rebels: Thus by her planets' union she excels, (Nay—His, the stars' proud sov'reign, who enshrined There honour, worth, and fortitude combined!) Which to the bard inspired, his hope dispels. Love blooms in her, but 'tis his home most pure; Her daily virtues blend with native grace; Her noiseless movements speak, though she is mute: Such power her eyes, they can the day obscure, Illume the night,—the honey's sweetness chase, And wake its stream, where gall doth oft pollute.
Tutto 'l di piango; e poi la notte, quando.
HER CRUELTY RENDERS LIFE WORSE THAN DEATH TO HIM.
Through the long lingering day, estranged from rest, My sorrows flow unceasing; doubly flow, Painful prerogative of lover's woe! In that still hour, when slumber soothes th' unblest. With such deep anguish is my heart opprest, So stream mine eyes with tears! Of things below Most miserable I; for Cupid's bow Has banish'd quiet from this heaving breast. Ah me! while thus in suffering, morn to morn And eve to eve succeeds, of death I view (So should this life be named) one-half gone by— Yet this I weep not, but another's scorn; That she, my friend, so tender and so true, Should see me hopeless burn, and yet her aid deny.
Gia desiai con si giusta querela.
HE LIVES DESTITUTE OF ALL HOPE SAVE THAT OF RENDERING HER IMMORTAL.
Erewhile I labour'd with complaint so true, And in such fervid rhymes to make me heard, Seem'd as at last some spark of pity stirr'd In the hard heart which frost in summer knew. Th' unfriendly cloud, whose cold veil o'er it grew, Broke at the first breath of mine ardent word Or low'ring still she others' blame incurr'd Her bright and killing eyes who thus withdrew No ruth for self I crave, for her no hate; I wish not this—that passes power of mine: Such was mine evil star and cruel fate. But I shall ever sing her charms divine, That, when I have resign'd this mortal breath, The world may know how sweet to me was death.
Tra quantunque leggiadre donne e belle.
ALL NATURE WOULD BE IN DARKNESS WERE SHE, ITS SUN, TO PERISH.
Where'er she moves, whatever dames among, Beauteous or graceful, matchless she below. With her fair face she makes all others show Dim, as the day's bright orb night's starry throng. And Love still whispers, with prophetic tongue,— "Long as on earth is seen that glittering brow, Shall life have charms: but she shall cease to glow And with her all my power shall fleet along, Should Nature from the skies their twin-lights wrest; Hush every breeze, each herb and flower destroy; Strip man of reason—speech; from Ocean's breast His tides, his tenants chase—such, earth's annoy; Yea, still more darken'd were it and unblest, Had she, thy Laura, closed her eyes to love and joy."
Whene'er amidst the damsels, blooming bright, She shows herself, whose like was never made, At her approach all other beauties fade, As at morn's orient glow the gems of night. Love seems to whisper,—"While to mortal sight Her graces shall on earth be yet display'd, Life shall be blest; 'till soon with her decay'd, The virtues, and my reign shall sink outright." Of moon and sun, should nature rob the sky, The air of winds, the earth of herbs and leaves, Mankind of speech and intellectual eye, The ocean's bed of fish, and dancing waves; Even so shall all things dark and lonely lye, When of her beauty Death the world bereaves!
Il cantar novo e 'l pianger degli augelli.
The birds' sweet wail, their renovated song, At break of morn, make all the vales resound; With lapse of crystal waters pouring round, In clear, swift runnels, the fresh shores among. She, whose pure passion knows nor guile nor wrong, With front of snow, with golden tresses crown'd, Combing her aged husband's hoar locks found, Wakes me when sportful wakes the warbling throng. Thus, roused from sleep, I greet the dawning day, And its succeeding sun, with one more bright, Still dazzling, as in early youth, my sight: Both suns I've seen at once uplift their ray; This drives the radiance of the stars away, But that which gilds my life eclipses e'en his light.
Soon as gay morn ascends her purple car, The plaintive warblings of the new-waked grove, The murmuring streams, through flowery meads that rove, Fill with sweet melody the valleys fair. Aurora, famed for constancy in love, Whose face with snow, whose locks with gold compare. Smoothing her aged husband's silvery hair, Bids me the joys of rural music prove. Then, waking, I salute the sun of day; But chief that beauteous sun, whose cheering ray Once gilt, nay gilds e'en now, life's scene so bright. Dear suns! which oft I've seen together rise; This dims each meaner lustre of the skies, And that sweet sun I love dims every light.
Onde tolse Amor l' oro e di qual vena.
THE CHARMS OF HER COUNTENANCE AND VOICE.
Whence could Love take the gold, and from what vein, To form those bright twin locks? What thorn could grow Those roses? And what mead that white bestow Of the fresh dews, which pulse and breath obtain? Whence came those pearls that modestly restrain Accents which courteous, sweet, and rare can flow? And whence those charms that so divinely show, Spread o'er a face serene as heaven's blue plain? Taught by what angel, or what tuneful sphere, Was that celestial song, which doth dispense Such potent magic to the ravish'd ear? What sun illumed those bright commanding eyes, Which now look peaceful, now in hostile guise; Now torture me with hope, and now with fear?
Say, from what vein did Love procure the gold To make those sunny tresses? From what thorn Stole he the rose, and whence the dew of morn, Bidding them breathe and live in Beauty's mould? What depth of ocean gave the pearls that told Those gentle accents sweet, though rarely born? Whence came so many graces to adorn That brow more fair than summer skies unfold? Oh! say what angels lead, what spheres control The song divine which wastes my life away? (Who can with trifles now my senses move?) What sun gave birth unto the lofty soul Of those enchanting eyes, whose glances stray To burn and freeze my heart—the sport of Love?
Qual mio destin, qual forza o qual inganno.
THOUGH HER EYES DESTROY HIM, HE CANNOT TEAR HIMSELF AWAY.
What destiny of mine, what fraud or force, Unarm'd again conducts me to the field, Where never came I but with shame to yield 'Scape I or fall, which better is or worse? —Not worse, but better; from so sweet a source Shine in my heart those lights, so bright reveal'd The fatal fire, e'en now as then, which seal'd My doom, though twenty years have roll'd their course I feel death's messengers when those dear eyes, Dazzling me from afar, I see appear, And if on me they turn as she draw near, Love with such sweetness tempts me then and tries, Tell it I cannot, nor recall in sooth, For wit and language fail to reach the truth!
Liete e pensose, accompagnate e sole.
NOT FINDING HER WITH HER FRIENDS, HE ASKS THEM WHY SHE IS ABSENT.
P. Pensive and glad, accompanied, alone, Ladies who cheat the time with converse gay, Where does my life, where does my death delay? Why not with you her form, as usual, shown? L. Glad are we her rare lustre to have known, And sad from her dear company to stay, Which jealousy and envy keep away O'er other's bliss, as their own ill who moan. P. Who lovers can restrain, or give them law? L. No one the soul, harshness and rage the frame; As erst in us, this now in her appears. As oft the face, betrays the heart, we saw Clouds that, obscuring her high beauty, came, And in her eyes the dewy trace of tears.
Quando 'l sol bagna in mur l' aurato carro.
HIS NIGHTS ARE, LIKE HIS DAYS, PASSED IN TORMENT.
When in the sea sinks the sun's golden light, And on my mind and nature darkness lies, With the pale moon, faint stars and clouded skies I pass a weary and a painful night: To her who hears me not I then rehearse My sad life's fruitless toils, early and late; And with the world and with my gloomy fate, With Love, with Laura and myself, converse. Sleep is forbid me: I have no repose, But sighs and groans instead, till morn returns, And tears, with which mine eyes a sad heart feeds; Then comes the dawn, the thick air clearer grows, But not my soul; the sun which in it burns Alone can cure the grief his fierce warmth breeds.
When Phoebus lashes to the western main His fiery steeds, and shades the lurid air; Grief shades my soul, my night is spent in care; Yon moon, yon stars, yon heaven begin my pain. Wretch that I am! full oft I urge in vain To heedless beings all those pangs I bear; Of the false world, of an unpitying fair, Of Love, and fickle fortune I complain! From eve's last glance, till morning's earliest ray, Sleep shuns my couch; rest quits my tearful eye; And my rack'd breast heaves many a plaintive sigh. Then bright Aurora cheers the rising day, But cheers not me—for to my sorrowing heart One sun alone can cheering light impart!
S' una fede amorosa, un cor non finto.
THE MISERY OF HIS LOVE.
If faith most true, a heart that cannot feign, If Love's sweet languishment and chasten'd thought, And wishes pure by nobler feelings taught, If in a labyrinth wanderings long and vain, If on the brow each pang pourtray'd to bear, Or from the heart low broken sounds to draw, Withheld by shame, or check'd by pious awe, If on the faded cheek Love's hue to wear, If than myself to hold one far more dear, If sighs that cease not, tears that ever flow, Wrung from the heart by all Love's various woe, In absence if consumed, and chill'd when near,— If these be ills in which I waste my prime, Though I the sufferer be, yours, lady, is the crime.
If fondest faith, a heart to guile unknown, By melting languors the soft wish betray'd; If chaste desires, with temper'd warmth display'd; If weary wanderings, comfortless and lone; If every thought in every feature shown, Or in faint tones and broken sounds convey'd, As fear or shame my pallid cheek array'd In violet hues, with Love's thick blushes strown; If more than self another to hold dear; If still to weep and heave incessant sighs, To feed on passion, or in grief to pine, To glow when distant, and to freeze when near,— If hence my bosom's anguish takes its rise, Thine, lady, is the crime, the punishment is mine.
Dodici donne onestamente lasse.
HAPPY WHO STEERED THE BOAT, OR DROVE THE CAR, WHEREIN SHE SAT AND SANG.
Twelve ladies, their rare toil who lightly bore, Rather twelve stars encircling a bright sun, I saw, gay-seated a small bark upon, Whose like the waters never cleaved before: Not such took Jason to the fleece of yore, Whose fatal gold has ev'ry heart now won, Nor such the shepherd boy's, by whom undone Troy mourns, whose fame has pass'd the wide world o'er. I saw them next on a triumphal car, Where, known by her chaste cherub ways, aside My Laura sate and to them sweetly sung. Things not of earth to man such visions are! Blest Tiphys! blest Automedon! to guide The bark, or car of band so bright and young.
Passer mai solitario in alcun tetto.
FAR FROM HIS BELOVED, LIFE IS MISERABLE BY NIGHT AS BY DAY.
Never was bird, spoil'd of its young, more sad, Or wild beast in his lair more lone than me, Now that no more that lovely face I see, The only sun my fond eyes ever had. In ceaseless sorrow is my chief delight: My food to poison turns, to grief my joy; The night is torture, dark the clearest sky, And my lone pillow a hard field of fight. Sleep is indeed, as has been well express'd. Akin to death, for it the heart removes From the dear thought in which alone I live. Land above all with plenty, beauty bless'd! Ye flowery plains, green banks and shady groves! Ye hold the treasure for whose loss I grieve!
Aura, che quelle chiome bionde e crespe.
HE ENVIES THE BREEZE WHICH SPORTS WITH HER, THE STREAM THAT FLOWS TOWARDS HER.
Ye laughing gales, that sporting with my fair, The silky tangles of her locks unbraid; And down her breast their golden treasures spread; Then in fresh mazes weave her curling hair, You kiss those bright destructive eyes, that bear The flaming darts by which my heart has bled; My trembling heart! that oft has fondly stray'd To seek the nymph, whose eyes such terrors wear. Methinks she's found—but oh! 'tis fancy's cheat! Methinks she's seen—but oh! 'tis love's deceit! Methinks she's near—but truth cries "'tis not so!" Go happy gale, and with my Laura dwell! Go happy stream, and to my Laura tell What envied joys in thy clear crystal flow!
Thou gale, that movest, and disportest round Those bright crisp'd locks, by them moved sweetly too, That all their fine gold scatter'st to the view, Then coil'st them up in beauteous braids fresh wound; About those eyes thou playest, where abound The am'rous swarms, whose stings my tears renew! And I my treasure tremblingly pursue, Like some scared thing that stumbles o'er the ground. Methinks I find her now, and now perceive She's distant; now I soar, and now descend; Now what I wish, now what is true believe. Stay and enjoy, blest air, the living beam; And thou, O rapid, and translucent stream, Why can't I change my course, and thine attend?
Amor con la man destra il lato manco.
UNDER THE FIGURE OF A LAUREL, HE RELATES THE GROWTH OF HIS LOVE.
My poor heart op'ning with his puissant hand, Love planted there, as in its home, to dwell A Laurel, green and bright, whose hues might well In rivalry with proudest emeralds stand: Plough'd by my pen and by my heart-sighs fann'd, Cool'd by the soft rain from mine eyes that fell, It grew in grace, upbreathing a sweet smell, Unparallel'd in any age or land. Fair fame, bright honour, virtue firm, rare grace, The chastest beauty in celestial frame,— These be the roots whence birth so noble came. Such ever in my mind her form I trace, A happy burden and a holy thing, To which on rev'rent knee with loving prayer I cling.
Cantai, or piango; e non men di dolcezza.
THOUGH IN THE MIDST OF PAIN, HE DEEMS HIMSELF THE HAPPIEST OF MEN.
I sang, who now lament; nor less delight Than in my song I found, in tears I find; For on the cause and not effect inclined, My senses still desire to scale that height: Whence, mildly if she smile or hardly smite, Cruel and cold her acts, or meek and kind, All I endure, nor care what weights they bind, E'en though her rage would break my armour quite. Let Love and Laura, world and fortune join, And still pursue their usual course for me, I care not, if unblest, in life to be. Let me or burn to death or living pine, No gentler state than mine beneath the sun, Since from a source so sweet my bitters run.
I' piansi, or canto; che 'l celeste lume.
AT HER RETURN, HIS SORROWS VANISH.
I wept, but now I sing; its heavenly light That living sun conceals not from my view, But virtuous love therein revealeth true His holy purposes and precious might; Whence, as his wont, such flood of sorrow springs To shorten of my life the friendless course, Nor bridge, nor ford, nor oar, nor sails have force To forward mine escape, nor even wings. But so profound and of so full a vein My suff'ring is, so far its shore appears, Scarcely to reach it can e'en thought contrive: Nor palm, nor laurel pity prompts to gain, But tranquil olive, and the dark sky clears, And checks my grief and wills me to survive.
I' mi vivea di mia sorte contento.
HE FEARS THAT AN ILLNESS WHICH HAS ATTACKED THE EYES OF LAURA MAY DEPRIVE HIM OF THEIR SIGHT.
I lived so tranquil, with my lot content, No sorrow visited, nor envy pined, To other loves if fortune were more kind One pang of mine their thousand joys outwent; But those bright eyes, whence never I repent The pains I feel, nor wish them less to find, So dark a cloud and heavy now does blind, Seems as my sun of life in them were spent. O Nature! mother pitiful yet stern, Whence is the power which prompts thy wayward deeds, Such lovely things to make and mar in turn? True, from one living fount all power proceeds: But how couldst Thou consent, great God of Heaven, That aught should rob the world of what thy love had given?
Vincitore Alessandro l' ira vinse.
THE EVIL RESULTS OF UNRESTRAINED ANGER.
What though the ablest artists of old time Left us the sculptured bust, the imaged form Of conq'ring Alexander, wrath o'ercame And made him for the while than Philip less? Wrath to such fury valiant Tydeus drove That dying he devour'd his slaughter'd foe; Wrath made not Sylla merely blear of eye, But blind to all, and kill'd him in the end. Well Valentinian knew that to such pain Wrath leads, and Ajax, he whose death it wrought. Strong against many, 'gainst himself at last. Wrath is brief madness, and, when unrestrain'd, Long madness, which its master often leads To shame and crime, and haply e'en to death.
Qual ventura mi fu, quando dall' uno.
HE REJOICES AT PARTICIPATING IN HER SUFFERINGS.
Strange, passing strange adventure! when from one Of the two brightest eyes which ever were, Beholding it with pain dis urb'd and dim, Moved influence which my own made dull and weak. I had return'd, to break the weary fast Of seeing her, my sole care in this world, Kinder to me were Heaven and Love than e'en If all their other gifts together join'd, When from the right eye—rather the right sun— Of my dear Lady to my right eye came The ill which less my pain than pleasure makes; As if it intellect possess'd and wings It pass'd, as stars that shoot along the sky: Nature and pity then pursued their course.
O cameretta che gia fosti un porto.
HE NO LONGER FINDS RELIEF IN SOLITUDE.
Thou little chamber'd haven to the woes Whose daily tempest overwhelms my soul! From shame, I in Heaven's light my grief control; Thou art its fountain, which each night o'erflows. My couch! that oft hath woo'd me to repose, 'Mid sorrows vast—Love's iv'ried hand hath stole Griefs turgid stream, which o'er thee it doth roll, That hand which good on all but me bestows. Not only quiet and sweet rest I fly, But from myself and thought, whose vain pursuit On pinion'd fancy doth my soul transport: The multitude I did so long defy, Now as my hope and refuge I salute, So much I tremble solitude to court.
Room! which to me hast been a port and shield From life's rude daily tempests for long years, Now the full fountain of my nightly tears Which in the day I bear for shame conceal'd: Bed! which, in woes so great, wert wont to yield Comfort and rest, an urn of doubts and fears Love o'er thee now from those fair hands uprears, Cruel and cold to me alone reveal'd. But e'en than solitude and rest, I flee More from myself and melancholy thought, In whose vain quest my soul has heavenward flown. The crowd long hateful, hostile e'en to me, Strange though it sound, for refuge have I sought, Such fear have I to find myself alone!
Lasso! Amor mi trasporta ov' io non voglio.
HE EXCUSES HIMSELF FOR VISITING LAURA TOO OFTEN, AND LOVING HER TOO MUCH.
Alas! Love bears me where I would not go, And well I see how duty is transgress'd, And how to her who, queen-like, rules my breast, More than my wont importunate I grow. Never from rocks wise sailor guarded so His ship of richest merchandise possess'd, As evermore I shield my bark distress'd From shocks of her hard pride that would o'erthrow Torrents of tears, fierce winds of infinite sighs —For, in my sea, nights horrible and dark And pitiless winter reign—have driven my bark, Sail-less and helm-less where it shatter'd lies, Or, drifting at the mercy of the main, Trouble to others bears, distress to me and pain.
Amor, io fallo e veggio il mio fallire.
HE PRAYS LOVE, WHO IS THE CAUSE OF HIS OFFENCES, TO OBTAIN PARDON FOR HIM.
O Love, I err, and I mine error own, As one who burns, whose fire within him lies And aggravates his grief, while reason dies, With its own martyrdom almost o'erthrown. I strove mine ardent longing to restrain, Her fair calm face that I might ne'er disturb: I can no more; falls from my hand the curb, And my despairing soul is bold again; Wherefore if higher than her wont she aim, The act is thine, who firest and spur'st her so, No way too rough or steep for her to go: But the rare heavenly gifts are most to blame Shrined in herself: let her at least feel this, Lest of my faults her pardon I should miss.
Non ha tanti animali il mar fra l' onde.
HE DESPAIRS OF ESCAPE FROM THE TORMENTS BY WHICH HE IS SURROUNDED.
Nor Ocean holds such swarms amid his waves, Not overhead, where circles the pale moon, Were stars so numerous ever seen by night, Nor dwell so many birds among the woods, Nor plants so many clothe the field or hill, As holds my tost heart busy thoughts each eve.
Each day I hope that this my latest eve Shall part from my quick clay the sad salt waves, And leave me in last sleep on some cold hill; So many torments man beneath the moon Ne'er bore as I have borne; this know the woods Through which I wander lonely day and night.
For never have I had a tranquil night, But ceaseless sighs instead from morn till eve, Since love first made me tenant of the woods: The sea, ere I can rest, shall lose his waves, The sun his light shall borrow from the moon, And April flowers be blasted o'er each hill.
Thus, to myself a prey, from hill to hill, Pensive by day I roam, and weep at night, No one state mine, but changeful as the moon; And when I see approaching the brown eve, Sighs from my bosom, from my eyes fall waves, The herbs to moisten and to move the woods.
Hostile the cities, friendly are the woods To thoughts like mine, which, on this lofty hill, Mingle their murmur with the moaning waves, Through the sweet silence of the spangled night, So that the livelong day I wait the eve, When the sun sets and rises the fair moon.
Would, like Endymion, 'neath the enamour'd moon, That slumbering I were laid in leafy woods, And that ere vesper she who makes my eve, With Love and Luna on that favour'd hill, Alone, would come, and stay but one sweet night, While stood the sun nor sought his western waves.
Upon the hard waves, 'neath the beaming moon, Song, that art born of night amid the woods, Thou shalt a rich hill see to-morrow eve!
Count the ocean's finny droves; Count the twinkling host of stars. Round the night's pale orb that moves; Count the groves' wing'd choristers; Count each verdant blade that grows; Counted then will be my woes.
When shall these eyes cease to weep; When shall this world-wearied frame, Cover'd by the cold sod, sleep?— Sure, beneath yon planet's beam, None like me have made such moan; This to every bower is known.
Sad my nights; from morn till eve, Tenanting the woods, I sigh: But, ere I shall cease to grieve, Ocean's vast bed shall be dry, Suns their light from moons shall gain. And spring wither on each plain.
Pensive, weeping, night and day, From this shore to that I fly, Changeful as the lunar ray; And, when evening veils the sky, Then my tears might swell the floods, Then my sighs might bow the woods!
Towns I hate, the shades I love; For relief to yon green height, Where the rill resounds, I rove At the grateful calm of night; There I wait the day's decline, For the welcome moon to shine.
Oh, that in some lone retreat, Like Endymion I were lain; And that she, who rules my fate, There one night to stay would deign; Never from his billowy bed More might Phoebus lift his head!
Song, that on the wood-hung stream In the silent hour wert born, Witness'd but by Cynthia's beam. Soon as breaks to-morrow's morn, Thou shalt seek a glorious plain, There with Laura to remain!
La ver l' aurora, che si dolce l' aura.
SHE IS MOVED NEITHER BY HIS VERSES NOR HIS TEARS.
When music warbles from each thorn, And Zephyr's dewy wings Sweep the young flowers; what time the morn Her crimson radiance flings: Then, as the smiling year renews, I feel renew'd Love's tender pain; Renew'd is Laura's cold disdain; And I for comfort court the weeping muse.
Oh! could my sighs in accents flow So musically lorn, That thou might'st catch my am'rous woe, And cease, proud Maid! thy scorn: Yet, ere within thy icy breast The smallest spark of passion's found, Winter's cold temples shall be bound With all the blooms that paint spring's glowing vest.
The drops that bathe the grief-dew'd eye, The love-impassion'd strain To move thy flinty bosom try Full oft;—but, ah! in vain Would tears, and melting song avail; As vainly might the silken breeze, That bends the flowers, that fans the trees, Some rugged rock's tremendous brow assail.
Both gods and men alike are sway'd By Love, as poets tell;— And I, when flowers in every shade Their bursting gems reveal, First felt his all-subduing power: While Laura knows not yet the smart; Nor heeds the tortures of my heart, My prayers, my plaints, and sorrow's pearly shower!
Thy wrongs, my soul! with patience bear, While life shall warm this clay; And soothing sounds to Laura's ear My numbers shall convey; Numbers with forceful magic charm All nature o'er the frost-bound earth, Wake summer's fragrant buds to birth, And the fierce serpent of its rage disarm.
The blossom'd shrubs in smiles are drest, Now laughs his purple plain; And shall the nymph a foe profest To tenderness remain? But oh! what solace shall I find, If fortune dooms me yet to bear The frowns of my relentless Fair, Save with soft moan to vex the pitying wind? In baffling nets the light-wing'd gale I'd fetter as it blows, The vernal rose that scents the vale I'd cull on wintery snows; Still I'd ne'er hope that mind to move Which dares defy the wiles of verse, and Love.
Real natura, angelico intelletto.
ON THE KISS OF HONOUR GIVEN BY CHARLES OF LUXEMBURG TO LAURA AT A BANQUET.
A kingly nature, an angelic mind, A spotless soul, prompt aspect and keen eye, Quick penetration, contemplation high And truly worthy of the breast which shrined: In bright assembly lovely ladies join'd To grace that festival with gratulant joy, Amid so many and fair faces nigh Soon his good judgment did the fairest find. Of riper age and higher rank the rest Gently he beckon'd with his hand aside, And lovingly drew near the perfect ONE: So courteously her eyes and brow he press'd, All at his choice in fond approval vied— Envy through my sole veins at that sweet freedom run.
A sovereign nature,—an exalted mind,— A soul proud—sleepless—with a lynx's eye,— An instant foresight,—thought as towering high, E'en as the heart in which they are enshrined: A bright assembly on that day combined Each other in his honour to outvie, When 'mid the fair his judgment did descry That sweet perfection all to her resign'd. Unmindful of her rival sisterhood, He motion'd silently his preference, And fondly welcomed her, that humblest one: So pure a kiss he gave, that all who stood, Though fair, rejoiced in beauty's recompense: By that strange act nay heart was quite undone!
I' ho pregato Amor, e nel riprego.
HE PLEADS THE EXCESS OF HIS PASSION IN PALLIATION OF HIS FAULT.
Oft have I pray'd to Love, and still I pray, My charming agony, my bitter joy! That he would crave your grace, if consciously From the right path my guilty footsteps stray. That Reason, which o'er happier minds holds sway, Is quell'd of Appetite, I not deny; And hence, through tracks my better thoughts would fly, The victor hurries me perforce away, You, in whose bosom Genius, Virtue reign With mingled blaze lit by auspicious skies— Ne'er shower'd kind star its beams on aught so rare! You, you should say with pity, not disdain; "How could he 'scape, lost wretch! these lightning eyes— So passionate he, and I so direly fair?"
L' alto signor, dinanzi a cui non vale.
HIS SORROW FOR THE ILLNESS OF LAURA INCREASES, NOT LESSENS, HIS FLAME.
The sovereign Lord, 'gainst whom of no avail Concealment, or resistance is, or flight, My mind had kindled to a new delight By his own amorous and ardent ail: Though his first blow, transfixing my best mail Were mortal sure, to push his triumph quite He took a shaft of sorrow in his right, So my soft heart on both sides to assail. A burning wound the one shed fire and flame, The other tears, which ever grief distils, Through eyes for your weak health that are as rills. But no relief from either fountain came My bosom's conflagration to abate, Nay, passion grew by very pity great.
Mira quel colle, o stanco mio cor vago.
HE BIDS HIS HEART RETURN TO LAURA, NOT PERCEIVING THAT IT HAD NEVER LEFT HER.
P. Look on that hill, my fond but harass'd heart! Yestreen we left her there, who 'gan to take Some care of us and friendlier looks to dart; Now from our eyes she draws a very lake: Return alone—I love to be apart— Try, if perchance the day will ever break To mitigate our still increasing smart, Partner and prophet of my lifelong ache. H. O wretch! in whom vain thoughts and idle swell, Thou, who thyself hast tutor'd to forget, Speak'st to thy heart as if 'twere with thee yet? When to thy greatest bliss thou saidst farewell, Thou didst depart alone: it stay'd with her, Nor cares from those bright eyes, its home, to stir.
Fresco ambroso fiorito e verde colle.
HE CONGRATULATES HIS HEART ON ITS REMAINING WITH HER.
O hill with green o'erspread, with groves o'erhung! Where musing now, now trilling her sweet lay, Most like what bards of heavenly spirits say, Sits she by fame through every region sung: My heart, which wisely unto her has clung— More wise, if there, in absence blest, it stay! Notes now the turf o'er which her soft steps stray, Now where her angel-eyes' mild beam is flung; Then throbs and murmurs, as they onward rove, "Ah! were he here, that man of wretched lot, Doom'd but to taste the bitterness of love!" She, conscious, smiles: our feelings tally not: Heartless am I, mere stone; heaven is thy grove— O dear delightful shade, O consecrated spot!
Fresh, shaded hill! with flowers and verdure crown'd, Where, in fond musings, or with music sweet, To earth a heaven-sent spirit takes her seat! She who from all the world has honour found. Forsaking me, to her my fond heart bound —Divorce for aye were welcome as discreet— Notes where the turf is mark'd by her fair feet, Or from these eyes for her in sorrow drown'd, Then inly whispers as her steps advance, "Would for awhile that wreteh were here alone Who pines already o'er his bitter lot." She conscious smiles. Not equal is the chance; An Eden thou, while I a heartless stone. O holy, happy, and beloved spot!
Il mal mi preme, e mi spaventa il peggio.
TO A FRIEND, IN LOVE LIKE HIMSELF, HE CAN GIVE NO ADVICE BUT TO RAISE HIS SOUL TO GOD.
Evil oppresses me and worse dismay, To which a plain and ample way I find; Driven like thee by frantic passion, blind, Urged by harsh thoughts I bend like thee my way. Nor know I if for war or peace to pray: To war is ruin, shame to peace, assign'd. But wherefore languish thus?—Rather, resign'd, Whate'er the Will Supreme ordains, obey. However ill that honour me beseem By thee conferr'd, whom that affection cheats Which many a perfect eye to error sways, To raise thy spirit to that realm supreme My counsel is, and win those blissful seats: For short the time, and few the allotted days.
The bad oppresses me, the worse dismays, To which so broad and plain a path I see; My spirit, to like frenzy led with thee, Tried by the same hard thoughts, in dotage strays, Nor knows if peace or war of God it prays, Though great the loss and deep the shame to me. But why pine longer? Best our lot will be, What Heaven's high will ordains when man obeys. Though I of that great honour worthless prove Offer'd by thee—herein Love leads to err Who often makes the sound eye to see wrong— My counsel this, instant on Heaven above Thy soul to elevate, thy heart to spur, For though the time be short, the way is long.
Due rose fresche, e colte in paradiso.
THE TWO ROSES.
Two brilliant roses, fresh from Paradise, Which there, on May-day morn, in beauty sprung Fair gift, and by a lover old and wise Equally offer'd to two lovers young: At speech so tender and such winning guise, As transports from a savage might have wrung, A living lustre lit their mutual eyes, And instant on their cheeks a soft blush hung. The sun ne'er look'd upon a lovelier pair, With a sweet smile and gentle sigh he said, Pressing the hands of both and turn'd away. Of words and roses each alike had share. E'en now my worn heart thrill with joy and dread, O happy eloquence! O blessed day!
L' aura che 'l verde Lauro e l' aureo crine.
HE PRAYS THAT HE MAY DIE BEFORE LAURA.
The balmy gale, that, with its tender sigh, Moves the green laurel and the golden hair, Makes with its graceful visitings and rare The gazer's spirit from his body fly. A sweet and snow-white rose in hard thorns set! Where in the world her fellow shall we find? The glory of our age! Creator kind! Grant that ere hers my death shall first be met. So the great public loss I may not see, The world without its sun, in darkness left, And from my desolate eyes their sole light reft, My mind with which no other thoughts agree, Mine ears which by no other sound are stirr'd Except her ever pure and gentle word.
Parra forse ad alcun, che 'n lodar quella.
HE INVITES THOSE TO WHOM HIS PRAISES SEEM EXCESSIVE TO BEHOLD THE OBJECT OF THEM.
Haply my style to some may seem too free In praise of her who holds my being's chain, Queen of her sex describing her to reign, Wise, winning, good, fair, noble, chaste to be: To me it seems not so; I fear that she My lays as low and trifling may disdain, Worthy a higher and a better strain; —Who thinks not with me let him come and see. Then will he say, She whom his wishes seek Is one indeed whose grace and worth might tire The muses of all lands and either lyre. But mortal tongue for state divine is weak, And may not soar; by flattery and force, As Fate not choice ordains, Love rules its course.
Chi vuol veder quantunque puo Natura.
WHOEVER BEHOLDS HER MUST ADMIT THAT HIS PRAISES CANNOT REACH HER PERFECTION.
Who wishes to behold the utmost might Of Heaven and Nature, on her let him gaze, Sole sun, not only in my partial lays, But to the dark world, blind to virtue's light! And let him haste to view; for death in spite The guilty leaves, and on the virtuous preys; For this loved angel heaven impatient stays; And mortal charms are transient as they're bright! Here shall he see, if timely he arrive, Virtue and beauty, royalty of mind, In one bless'd union join'd. Then shall he say That vainly my weak rhymes to praise her strive, Whose dazzling beams have struck my genius blind:— He must for ever weep if he delay!
Stranger, whose curious glance delights to trace What Heaven and Nature join'd to frame most rare; Here view mine eyes' bright sun—a sight so fair, That purblind worlds, like me, enamour'd gaze. But speed thy step; for Death with rapid pace Pursues the best, nor makes the bad his care: Call'd to the skies through yon blue fields of air, On buoyant plume the mortal grace obeys. Then haste, and mark in one rich form combined (And, for that dazzling lustre dimm'd mine eye, Chide the weak efforts of my trembling lay) Each charm of person, and each power of mind— But, slowly if thy lingering foot comply, Grief and repentant shame shall mourn the brief delay.
Qual paura ho, quando mi torna a mente.
MELANCHOLY RECOLLECTIONS AND PRESAGES.
O Laura! when my tortured mind The sad remembrance bears Of that ill-omen'd day, When, victim to a thousand doubts and fears, I left my soul behind, That soul that could not from its partner stray; In nightly visions to my longing eyes Thy form oft seems to rise, As ever thou wert seen, Fair like the rose, 'midst paling flowers the queen, But loosely in the wind, Unbraided wave the ringlets of thy hair, That late with studious care, I saw with pearls and flowery garlands twined: On thy wan lip, no cheerful smile appears; Thy beauteous face a tender sadness wears; Placid in pain thou seem'st, serene in grief, As conscious of thy fate, and hopeless of relief! Cease, cease, presaging heart! O angels, deign To hear my fervent prayer, that all my fears be vain!
What dread I feel when I revolve the day I left my mistress, sad, without repose, My heart too with her: and my fond thought knows Nought on which gladlier, oft'ner it can stay. Again my fancy doth her form portray Meek among beauty's train, like to some rose Midst meaner flowers; nor joy nor grief she shows; Not with misfortune prest but with dismay. Then were thrown by her custom'd cheerfulness, Her pearls, her chaplets, and her gay attire, Her song, her laughter, and her mild address; Thus doubtingly I quitted her I love: Now dark ideas, dreams, and bodings dire Raise terrors, which Heaven grant may groundless prove!
Solea lontana in sonno consolarme.
SHE ANNOUNCES TO HIM, IN A VISION, THAT HE WILL NEVER SEE HER MORE.
To soothe me distant far, in days gone by, With dreams of one whose glance all heaven combined, Was mine; now fears and sorrow haunt my mind, Nor can I from that grief, those terrors fly: For oft in sleep I mark within her eye Deep pity with o'erwhelming sadness join'd; And oft I seem to hear on every wind Accents, which from my breast chase peace and joy. "That last dark eve," she cries, "remember'st thou, When to those doting eyes I bade farewell, Forced by the time's relentless tyranny? I had not then the power, nor heart to tell, What thou shalt find, alas! too surely true— Hope not again on earth thy Laura's face to see."
O misera ed orribil visione.
HE CANNOT BELIEVE IN HER DEATH, BUT IF TRUE, HE PRAYS GOD TO TAKE HIM ALSO FROM LIFE.
O misery! horror! can it, then, be true, That the sweet light before its time is spent, 'Mid all its pains which could my life content, And ever with fresh hopes of good renew? If so, why sounds not other channels through, Nor only from herself, the great event? No! God and Nature could not thus consent, And my dark fears are groundless and undue. Still it delights my heart to hope once more The welcome sight of that enchanting face, The glory of our age, and life to me. But if, to her eternal home to soar, That heavenly spirit have left her earthly place, Oh! then not distant may my last day be!
In dubbio di mio stato, or piango, or canto.
TO HIS LONGING TO SEE HER AGAIN IS NOW ADDED THE FEAR OF SEEING HER NO MORE.
Uncertain of my state, I weep and sing, I hope and tremble, and with rhymes and sighs I ease my load, while Love his utmost tries How worse my sore afflicted heart to sting. Will her sweet seraph face again e'er bring Their former light to these despairing eyes. (What to expect, alas! or how advise) Or must eternal grief my bosom wring? For heaven, which justly it deserves to win, It cares not what on earth may be their fate, Whose sun it was, where centred their sole gaze. Such terror, so perpetual warfare in, Changed from my former self, I live of late As one who midway doubts, and fears and strays.
O dolci sguardi, o parolette accorte.
HE SIGHS FOR THOSE GLANCES FROM WHICH, TO HIS GRIEF, FORTUNE EVER DELIGHTS TO WITHDRAW HIM.
O angel looks! O accents of the skies! Shall I or see or hear you once again? O golden tresses, which my heart enchain, And lead it forth, Love's willing sacrifice! O face of beauty given in anger's guise, Which still I not enjoy, and still complain! O dear delusion! O bewitching pain! Transports, at once my punishment and prize! If haply those soft eyes some kindly beam (Eyes, where my soul and all my thoughts reside) Vouchsafe, in tender pity to bestow; Sudden, of all my joys the murtheress tried, Fortune with steed or ship dispels the gleam; Fortune, with stern behest still prompt to work my woe.
O gentle looks! O words of heavenly sound! Shall I behold you, hear you once again? O waving locks, that Love has made the chain, In which this wretched ruin'd heart is bound! O face divine! whose magic spells surround My soul, distemper'd with unceasing pain: O dear deceit! O loving errors vain! To hug the dart and doat upon the wound! Did those soft eyes, in whose angelic light My life, my thoughts, a constant mansion find, Ever impart a pure unmixed delight? Or if they have one moment, then unkind Fortune steps in, and sends me from their sight, And gives my opening pleasures to the wind.
I' pur ascolto, e non odo novella.
HEARING NO TIDINGS OF HER, HE BEGINS TO DESPAIR.
Still do I wait to hear, in vain still wait, Of that sweet enemy I love so well: What now to think or say I cannot tell, 'Twixt hope and fear my feelings fluctuate: The beautiful are still the marks of fate; And sure her worth and beauty most excel: What if her God have call'd her hence, to dwell Where virtue finds a more congenial state? If so, she will illuminate that sphere Even as a sun: but I—'tis done with me! I then am nothing, have no business here! O cruel absence! why not let me see The worst? my little tale is told, I fear, My scene is closed ere it accomplish'd be.
No tidings yet—I listen, but in vain; Of her, my beautiful beloved foe, What or to think or say I nothing know, So thrills my heart, my fond hopes so sustain, Danger to some has in their beauty lain; Fairer and chaster she than others show; God haply seeks to snatch from earth below Virtue's best friend, that heaven a star may gain, Or rather sun. If what I dread be nigh, My life, its trials long, its brief repose Are ended all. O cruel absence! why Didst thou remove me from the menaced woes? My short sad story is already done, And midway in its course my vain race run.
La sera desiar, odiar l' aurora.
CONTRARY TO THE WONT OF LOVERS, HE PREFERS MORN TO EVE.
Tranquil and happy loves in this agree, The evening to desire and morning hate: On me at eve redoubled sorrows wait— Morning is still the happier hour for me. For then my sun and Nature's oft I see Opening at once the orient's rosy gate, So match'd in beauty and in lustre great, Heaven seems enamour'd of our earth to be! As when in verdant leaf the dear boughs burst Whose roots have since so centred in my core, Another than myself is cherish'd more. Thus the two hours contrast, day's last and first: Reason it is who calms me to desire, And fear and hate who fiercer feed my fire.
Far potess' io vendetta di colei.
HIS SOUL VISITS HER IN SLEEP.
Oh! that from her some vengeance I could wrest With words and glances who my peace destroys, And then abash'd, for my worse sorrow, flies, Veiling her eyes so cruel, yet so blest; Thus mine afflicted spirits and oppress'd By sure degrees she sorely drains and dries, And in my heart, as savage lion, cries Even at night, when most I should have rest. My soul, which sleep expels from his abode, The body leaves, and, from its trammels free, Seeks her whose mien so often menace show'd. I marvel much, if heard its advent be, That while to her it spake, and o'er her wept, And round her clung, asleep she alway kept.
In quel bel viso, ch' i' sospiro e bramo.
ON LAURA PUTTING HER HAND BEFORE HER EYES WHILE HE WAS GAZING ON HER.
On the fair face for which I long and sigh Mine eyes were fasten'd with desire intense. When, to my fond thoughts, Love, in best reply, Her honour'd hand uplifting, shut me thence. My heart there caught—as fish a fair hook by, Or as a young bird on a limed fence— For good deeds follow from example high, To truth directed not its busied sense. But of its one desire my vision reft, As dreamingly, soon oped itself a way, Which closed, its bliss imperfect had been left: My soul between those rival glories lay, Fill'd with a heavenly and new delight, Whose strange surpassing sweets engross'd it quite.
Vive faville uscian de' duo bei lumi.
A SMILING WELCOME, WHICH LAURA GAVE HIM UNEXPECTEDLY, ALMOST KILLS HIM WITH JOY.
Live sparks were glistening from her twin bright eyes, So sweet on me whose lightning flashes beam'd, And softly from a feeling heart and wise, Of lofty eloquence a rich flood stream'd: Even the memory serves to wake my sighs When I recall that day so glad esteem'd, And in my heart its sinking spirit dies As some late grace her colder wont redeem'd. My soul in pain and grief that most has been (How great the power of constant habit is!) Seems weakly 'neath its double joy to lean: For at the sole taste of unusual bliss, Trembling with fear, or thrill'd by idle hope, Oft on the point I've been life's door to ope.
Cercato ho sempre solitaria vita.
THINKING ALWAYS OF LAURA, IT PAINS HIM TO REMEMBER WHERE SHE IS LEFT.
Still have I sought a life of solitude; The streams, the fields, the forests know my mind; That I might 'scape the sordid and the blind, Who paths forsake trod by the wise and good: Fain would I leave, were mine own will pursued, These Tuscan haunts, and these soft skies behind, Sorga's thick-wooded hills again to find; And sing and weep in concert with its flood. But Fortune, ever my sore enemy, Compels my steps, where I with sorrow see Cast my fair treasure in a worthless soil: Yet less a foe she justly deigns to prove, For once, to me, to Laura, and to love; Favouring my song, my passion, with her smile.
Still have I sought a life of solitude— This know the rivers, and each wood and plain— That I might 'scape the blind and sordid train Who from the path have flown of peace and good: Could I my wish obtain, how vainly would This cloudless climate woo me to remain; Sorga's embowering woods I'd seek again, And sing, weep, wander, by its friendly flood. But, ah! my fortune, hostile still to me, Compels me where I must, indignant, find Amid the mire my fairest treasure thrown: Yet to my hand, not all unworthy, she Now proves herself, at least for once, more kind, Since—but alone to Love and Laura be it known.
In tale Stella duo begli occhi vidi.
THE BEAUTY OF LAURA IS PEERLESS.
In one fair star I saw two brilliant eyes, With sweetness, modesty, so glistening o'er, That soon those graceful nests of Love before My worn heart learnt all others to despise: Equall'd not her whoever won the prize In ages gone on any foreign shore; Not she to Greece whose wondrous beauty bore Unnumber'd ills, to Troy death's anguish'd cries: Not the fair Roman, who, with ruthless blade Piercing her chaste and outraged bosom, fled Dishonour worse than death, like charms display'd; Such excellence should brightest glory shed On Nature, as on me supreme delight, But, ah! too lately come, too soon it takes its flight.
Qual donna attende a gloriosa fama.
THE EYES OF LAURA ARE THE SCHOOL OF VIRTUE.
Feels any fair the glorious wish to gain Of sense, of worth, of courtesy, the praise? On those bright eyes attentive let her gaze Of her miscall'd my love, but sure my foe. Honour to gain, with love of God to glow, Virtue more bright how native grace displays, May there be learn'd; and by what surest ways To heaven, that for her coming pants, to go. The converse sweet, beyond what poets write, Is there; the winning silence, and the meek And saint-like manners man would paint in vain. The matchless beauty, dazzling to the sight, Can ne'er be learn'd; for bootless 'twere to seek By art, what by kind chance alone we gain.
ANON., OX., 1795.
Cara la vita, e dopo lei mi pare.
HONOUR TO BE PREFERRED TO LIFE.
Methinks that life in lovely woman first, And after life true honour should be dear; Nay, wanting honour—of all wants the worst— Friend! nought remains of loved or lovely here. And who, alas! has honour's barrier burst, Unsex'd and dead, though fair she yet appear, Leads a vile life, in shame and torment curst, A lingering death, where all is dark and drear. To me no marvel was Lucretia's end, Save that she needed, when that last disgrace Alone sufficed to kill, a sword to die. Sophists in vain the contrary defend: Their arguments are feeble all and base, And truth alone triumphant mounts on high!
Arbor vittoriosa e trionfale.
HE EXTOLS THE VIRTUE OF LAURA.
Tree, victory's bright guerdon, wont to crown Heroes and bards with thy triumphal leaf, How many days of mingled joy and grief Have I from thee through life's short passage known. Lady, who, reckless of the world's renown, Reapest in virtue's field fair honour's sheaf; Nor fear'st Love's limed snares, "that subtle thief," While calm discretion on his wiles looks down. The pride of birth, with all that here we deem Most precious, gems and gold's resplendent grace. Abject alike in thy regard appear: Nay, even thine own unrivall'd beauties beam No charm to thee—save as their circling blaze Clasps fitly that chaste soul, which still thou hold'st most dear.
Blest laurel! fadeless and triumphant tree! Of kings and poets thou the fondest pride! How much of joy and sorrow's changing tide In my short breath hath been awaked by thee! Lady, the will's sweet sovereign! thou canst see No bliss but virtue, where thou dost preside; Love's chain, his snare, thou dost alike deride; From man's deceit thy wisdom sets thee free. Birth's native pride, and treasure's precious store, (Whose bright possession we so fondly hail) To thee as burthens valueless appear: Thy beauty's excellence—(none viewed before) Thy soul had wearied—but thou lov'st the veil, That shrine of purity adorneth here.
I' vo pensando, e nel pensier m' assale.
Ceaseless I think, and in each wasting thought So strong a pity for myself appears, That often it has brought My harass'd heart to new yet natural tears; Seeing each day my end of life draw nigh, Instant in prayer, I ask of God the wings With which the spirit springs, Freed from its mortal coil, to bliss on high; But nothing, to this hour, prayer, tear, or sigh, Whatever man could do, my hopes sustain: And so indeed in justice should it be; Able to stay, who went and fell, that he Should prostrate, in his own despite, remain. But, lo! the tender arms In which I trust are open to me still, Though fears my bosom fill Of others' fate, and my own heart alarms, Which worldly feelings spur, haply, to utmost ill.
One thought thus parleys with my troubled mind— "What still do you desire, whence succour wait? Ah! wherefore to this great, This guilty loss of time so madly blind? Take up at length, wisely take up your part: Tear every root of pleasure from your heart, Which ne'er can make it blest, Nor lets it freely play, nor calmly rest. If long ago with tedium and disgust You view'd the false and fugitive delights With which its tools a treacherous world requites, Why longer then repose in it your trust, Whence peace and firmness are in exile thrust? While life and vigour stay, The bridle of your thoughts is in your power: Grasp, guide it while you may: So clogg'd with doubt, so dangerous is delay, The best for wise reform is still the present hour.
"Well known to you what rapture still has been Shed on your eyes by the dear sight of her Whom, for your peace it were Better if she the light had never seen; And you remember well (as well you ought) Her image, when, as with one conquering bound, Your heart in prey she caught, Where flame from other light no entrance found. She fired it, and if that fallacious heat Lasted long years, expecting still one day, Which for our safety came not, to repay, It lifts you now to hope more blest and sweet, Uplooking to that heaven around your head Immortal, glorious spread; If but a glance, a brief word, an old song, Had here such power to charm Your eager passion, glad of its own harm, How far 'twill then exceed if now the joy so strong."
Another thought the while, severe and sweet, Laborious, yet delectable in scope, Takes in my heart its seat, Filling with glory, feeding it with hope; Till, bent alone on bright and deathless fame, It feels not when I freeze, or burn in flame, When I am pale or ill, And if I crush it rises stronger still. This, from my helpless cradle, day by day, Has strengthen'd with my strength, grown with my growth, Till haply now one tomb must cover both: When from the flesh the soul has pass'd away, No more this passion comrades it as here; For fame—if, after death, Learning speak aught of me—is but a breath: Wherefore, because I fear Hopes to indulge which the next hour may chase, I would old error leave, and the one truth embrace.
But the third wish which fills and fires my heart O'ershadows all the rest which near it spring: Time, too, dispels a part, While, but for her, self-reckless grown, I sing. And then the rare light of those beauteous eyes, Sweetly before whose gentle heat I melt, As a fine curb is felt, To combat which avails not wit or force; What boots it, trammell'd by such adverse ties, If still between the rocks must lie her course, To trim my little bark to new emprize? Ah! wilt Thou never, Lord, who yet dost keep Me safe and free from common chains, which bind, In different modes, mankind, Deign also from my brow this shame to sweep? For, as one sunk in sleep, Methinks death ever present to my sight, Yet when I would resist I have no arms to fight.
Full well I see my state, in nought deceived By truth ill known, but rather forced by Love, Who leaves not him to move In honour, who too much his grace believed: For o'er my heart from time to time I feel A subtle scorn, a lively anguish, steal, Whence every hidden thought, Where all may see, upon my brow is writ. For with such faith on mortal things to dote, As unto God alone is just and fit, Disgraces worst the prize who covets most: Should reason, amid things of sense, be lost. This loudly calls her to the proper track: But, when she would obey And home return, ill habits keep her back, And to my view portray Her who was only born my death to be, Too lovely in herself, too loved, alas! by me.
I neither know, to me what term of life Heaven destined when on earth I came at first To suffer this sharp strife, 'Gainst my own peace which I myself have nursed, Nor can I, for the veil my body throws, Yet see the time when my sad life may close. I feel my frame begin To fail, and vary each desire within: And now that I believe my parting day Is near at hand, or else not distant lies, Like one whom losses wary make and wise, I travel back in thought, where first the way, The right-hand way, I left, to peace which led. While through me shame and grief, Recalling the vain past on this side spread, On that brings no relief, Passion, whose strength I now from habit, feel, So great that it would dare with death itself to deal.
Song! I am here, my heart the while more cold With fear than frozen snow, Feels in its certain core death's coming blow; For thus, in weak self-communing, has roll'd Of my vain life the better portion by: Worse burden surely ne'er Tried mortal man than that which now I bear; Though death be seated nigh, For future life still seeking councils new, I know and love the good, yet, ah! the worse pursue.
Aspro core e selvaggio, e cruda voglia.
HOPE ALONE SUPPORTS HIM IN HIS MISERY.
Hard heart and cold, a stern will past belief, In angel form of gentle sweet allure; If thus her practised rigour long endure, O'er me her triumph will be poor and brief. For when or spring, or die, flower, herb, and leaf. When day is brightest, night when most obscure, Alway I weep. Great cause from Fortune sure, From Love and Laura have I for my grief. I live in hope alone, remembering still How by long fall of small drops I have seen Marble and solid stone that worn have been. No heart there is so hard, so cold no will, By true tears, fervent prayers, and faithful love That will not deign at length to melt and move.
Signor mio caro, ogni pensier mi tira.
HE LAMENTS HIS ABSENCE FROM LAURA AND COLONNA, THE ONLY OBJECTS OF HIS AFFECTION.
My lord and friend! thoughts, wishes, all inclined My heart to visit one so dear to me, But Fortune—can she ever worse decree?— Held me in hand, misled, or kept behind. Since then the dear desire Love taught my mind But leads me to a death I did not see, And while my twin lights, wheresoe'er I be, Are still denied, by day and night I've pined. Affection for my lord, my lady's love, The bonds have been wherewith in torments long I have been bound, which round myself I wove. A Laurel green, a Column fair and strong, This for three lustres, that for three years more In my fond breast, nor wish'd it free, I bore.
TO LAURA IN DEATH.
Oime il bel viso! oime il soave sguardo!
ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DEATH OF LAURA.
Woe for the 'witching look of that fair face! The port where ease with dignity combined! Woe for those accents, that each savage mind To softness tuned, to noblest thoughts the base! And the sweet smile, from whence the dart I trace, Which now leaves death my only hope behind! Exalted soul, most fit on thrones to 've shined, But that too late she came this earth to grace! For you I still must burn, and breathe in you; For I was ever yours; of you bereft, Full little now I reck all other care. With hope and with desire you thrill'd me through, When last my only joy on earth I left:— But caught by winds each word was lost in air.