Petrarch Laura Francesco Petrarch and Laura For a woman he would never know
For a woman he could never have
He should change the world forever
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Petrarch:The Canzoniere

Translated by: A.S.Kline
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Information on the sonnet is available here.
Looking for an analysis of a specific poem from the Canzoniere?
Read I go thinking an analysis of poem 264 by Holly Barbaccia.


ITALIAN ENGLISH
In quella parte dove Amor mi sprona
conven ch'io volga le dogliose rime,
che son seguaci de la mente afflicta.
Quai fien ultime, lasso, et qua' fien prime?
Collui che del mio mal meco ragiona
mi lascia in dubbio, s confuso ditta.
Ma pur quanto l'istoria trovo scripta
in mezzo 'l cor (che s spesso rincorro)
co la sua propria man de' miei martiri,
dir, perch i sospiri
parlando n triegua, et al dolor soccorro.
Dico che, perch'io miri
mille cose diverse attento et fiso,
sol una donna veggio, e 'l suo bel viso.

Poi che la dispietata mia ventura
m' dilungato dal maggior mio bene,
noiosa, inexorabile et superba,
Amor col rimembrar sol mi mantene:
onde s'io veggio in giovenil figura
incominciarsi il mondo a vestir d'erba,
parmi vedere in quella etate acerba
la bella giovenetta, ch'ora donna;
poi che sormonta riscaldando il sole,
parmi qual esser sle,
fiamma d'amor che 'n cor alto s'endonna;
ma quando il d si dole
di lui che passo passo a dietro torni,
veggio lei giunta a' suoi perfecti giorni.

In ramo fronde, over vole in terra,
mirando a la stagion che 'l freddo perde,
et le stelle miglior' acquistan forza,
ne gli occhi pur le volette e 'l verde
di ch'era nel principio de mia guerra
Amor armato, s ch'anchor mi sforza,
et quella dolce leggiadretta scorza
che ricopria le pargolette membra
dove oggi alberga l'anima gentile
ch'ogni altro piacer vile
sembiar mi fa: s forte mi rimembra
del portamento humile
ch'allor fioriva, et poi crebbe anzi agli anni,
cagion sola et riposo de' miei affanni.

Qualor tenera neve per li colli
dal sol percossa veggio di lontano,
come 'l sol neve, mi governa Amore,
pensando nel bel viso pi che humano
che p da lunge gli occhi miei far molli,
ma da presso gli abbaglia, et vince il core:
ove fra 'l biancho et l'auro colore,
sempre si mostra quel che mai non vide
occhio mortal, ch'io creda, altro che 'l mio;
et del caldo desio,
che, quando sospirando ella sorride,
m'infiamma s che oblio
nente aprezza, ma diventa eterno,
n state il cangia, n lo spegne il verno.

Non vidi mai dopo nocturna pioggia
gir per l'aere sereno stelle erranti,
et fiammeggiar fra la rugiada e 'l gielo,
ch'i' non avesse i begli occhi davanti
ove la stancha mia vita s'appoggia,
quali io gli vidi a l'ombra di un bel velo;
et s come di lor bellezze il cielo
splendea quel d, cos bagnati anchora
li veggio sfavillare, ond'io sempre ardo.
Se 'l sol levarsi sguardo,
sento il lume apparir che m'innamora;
se tramontarsi al tardo,
parmel veder quando si volge altrove
lassando tenebroso onde si move.

Se mai candide rose con vermiglie
in vasel d'oro vider gli occhi miei
allor allor da vergine man colte,
veder pensaro il viso di colei
ch'avanza tutte l'altre meraviglie
con tre belle excellentie in lui raccolte:
le bionde treccie sopra 'l collo sciolte,
ov'ogni lacte perderia sua prova,
e le guancie ch'adorna un dolce foco.
Ma pur che l'ra un poco
fior' bianchi et gialli per le piaggie mova,
torna a la mente il loco
e 'l primo d ch'i' vidi a l'aura sparsi
i capei d'oro, ond'io s sbito arsi,

Ad una ad una annoverar le stelle,
e 'n picciol vetro chiuder tutte l'acque,
forse credea, quando in s poca carta
novo penser di ricontar mi nacque
in quante parti il fior de l'altre belle,
stando in se stessa, la sua luce sparta
a ci che mai da lei non mi diparta:
n far io; et se pur talor fuggo,
in cielo e'n terra m'ha rachiuso i passi,
perch'agli occhi miei lassi
sempre presente, ond'io tutto mi struggo.
Et cos meco stassi,
ch'altra non veggio mai, n veder bramo,
n 'l nome d'altra n sospir' miei chiamo.

Ben sai, canzon, che quant'io parlo nulla
al celato amoroso mio pensero,
che d et nocte ne la mente porto,
solo per cui conforto
in cos lunga guerra ancho non pro:
ch ben m'avria gi morto
la lontananza del mio cor piangendo,
ma quinci da la morte indugio prendo.

I must turn these sorrowful verses,
the followers of my tormented mind,
towards the place where Love drives me.
Which shall be last, alas, and which first?
He who talks to me of my ills
leaves me in doubt, he speaks so confusedly.
But I will speak as much of the history written
in my heart's core, in his own hand,
about my suffering (which I so often recall)
since by speaking I seek
a truce to sighs and help for sadness.
I say that, though I gaze
at a thousand diverse things attentively and fixedly,
I only see one lady, and one lovely face.

Since my pitiless fate separated me
from my greater good,
fate proud, inexorable and harmful,
Love aids me with the memory alone:
and when I see the earth in youthful guise
begin to clothe itself with grass,
I seem to see in that bitter season
the lovely young girl who is now a woman:
so that when the sun rises warming me,
it seems to me he is solely
that flame of love that claims noble hearts:
but when the day grieves
for him, who descends little by little,
I see her in her days of maturity.

Seeing leaves on the branches, or violets on the ground,
in the season when the cold lessens,
and gentler stars acquire power,
brings the violets and greenness to mind
with which Love, who still rules me,
armed himself at the start of our battle,
and that sweet graceful outer bark
that covered her childish limbs
that a gentle spirit inhabits today
seemed to me to make
all other pleasures base: so deeply I recall
her humble bearing
that flowered then, and increased beyond her years,
sole reason and solace for my torment.

Sometimes I see fresh snow
on distant hills struck by the sun:
as sun does snow, Love rules over me,
thinking of that more than mortal face
that makes my eyes moisten from afar,
but, close to, dazzles, and defeats the heart:
where between the white and the gold,
what has never been seen by human eye
except I think my own, reveals itself:
and that warm passion
which, when she smiles in sighing,
inflames me so that it makes me
forget nothing, but becomes eternal,
nor changes state, nor quenches spring.

I never see the wandering stars
move through the calm air after night rain,
flaming more brightly among the dew and frost,
without seeing her eyes before me,
where the weariness of my life is soothed,
as I've seen them in the shadow of a lovely veil:
and as I saw the sky ablaze that day
with their beauty, so I see them still
sparkling through tears, so that I burn forever.
If I see the sun rising,
I feel the light appear that enamoured me:
if slowly setting,
I seem to see it turning elsewhere
leaving darkness behind as it goes.

If my eyes ever saw pure white
and vermilion roses in a gold vase
freshly picked by a virgin hand,
I thought I saw her face
that exceeded all other marvels
through the three virtues caught up in her:
the blonde hair, loose on a neck
where any milk would lose its power,
and her cheeks that a sweet fire adorns.
But truly when a little breeze
stirs white and yellow flowers in the fields,
my mind turns to that place
and the first time I saw her golden hair
blown by the wind, so that I suddenly burned.

Perhaps it would be more believable if I
counted the stars one by one, or enclosed
the waves in a little glass, as for fresh thought
to be born in me, of telling in so small a space
all places that this flower of noble beauty
remaining still herself, has scattered her light
so that I can never depart from her:
nor will I: and if I flee at times,
she has closed the passes in heaven and earth,
so that to my weary eyes
she is always present, and I am all consumed.
And she stays with me,
so that I see nothing else, nor wish to see,
nor speak another's name in my sighing.

Song, you well know that what I say is nothing
compared to the hidden thought of love,
that I have in my mind night and day,
comforted only by that,
so that I'm still not dead of the long war:
and I should already have died,
weeping for my heart's absence,
but by this I gain my death's delay.


© Copyright 1999-2006
Peter Sadlon
Updated Sept 10th 2007

A Merentha Entertainment Project


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