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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
Solea da la fontana di mia vita
allontanarme, et cercar terre et mari,
non mio voler, ma mia stella seguendo;
et sempre andai, tal Amor diemmi aita,
in quelli esilii quanto e' vide amari,
di memoria et di speme il cor pascendo.
Or lasso, alzo la mano, et l'arme rendo
a l'empia et volenta mia fortuna,
che privo m' di s dolce speranza.
Sol memoria m'avanza,
et pasco 'l gran desir sol di quest'una:
onde l'alma vien men frale et digiuna.

Come a corrier tra via, se 'l cibo manca,
conven per forza rallentare il corso,
scemando la vert che 'l fea gir presto,
cos, mancando a la mia vita stanca
quel caro nutrimento in che di morso
die' chi 'l mondo fa nudo e 'l mio cor mesto,
il dolce acerbo, e 'l bel piacer molesto
mi si fa d'ora in hora, onde 'l camino
s breve non fornir spero et pavento.
Nebbia o polvere al vento,
fuggo per pi non esser pellegrino:
et cos vada, s' pur mio destino.

Mai questa mortal vita a ma non piacque
(sassel' Amor con cui spesso ne parlo)
se non per lei che fu 'l suo lume, e 'l mio:
poi che 'n terra morendo, al ciel rinacque
quello spirto ond'io vissi, a seguitarlo
(licito fusse) 'l mi' sommo desio.
Ma da dolermi ben sempre, perch'io
fui mal accorto a provveder mio stato,
ch'Amor mostrommi sotto quel bel ciglio
per darmi altro consiglio:
ch tal mor gi tristo et sconsolato,
cui poco inanzi era 'l morir beato.

Nelli occhi ov'habitar solea 'l mio core
fin che mia dura sorte invidia n'ebbe,
che di s ricco albergo il pose in bando,
di sua man propria avea descritto Amore
con lettre di piet quel ch'averrebbe
tosto del mio s lungo ir desando.
Bello et dolce morire era allor quando,
morend'io, non moria mia vita inseme,
anzi vivea di me l'optima parte:
or mie speranza sparte
Morte, et poca terra il mio ben preme;
et vivo; et mai nol penso ch'i' non treme.

Se stato fusse il mio poco intellecto
meco al bisogno, et non altra vaghezza
l'avesse disvando altrove vlto,
ne la fronte a madonna avrei ben lecto:
- Alfin se' giunto d'ogni tua dolcezza
et al principio del tuo amaro molto. -
Questo intendendo, dolcemente sciolto
in sua presentia del mortal mio velo
et di questa noiosa et grave carne,
potea inanzi lei andarne,
a veder preparar sua sedia in cielo:
or l'andr dietro, omai, con altro pelo.

Canzon, s'uom trovi in suo amor viver queto,
di': - Muor' mentre se' lieto,
ch morte al tempo non duol, ma refugio;
et chi ben p morir, non cerchi indugio. -
I used to wander far from the fountain
of my life, and search land and sea,
not as I wished, but following my star:
and always as I went, Love aided me,
in those exiles where bitterness is seen,
feeding my heart on hope and memory.
Now alas, I lift my hands in surrender
to my evil and violent destiny
that deprives me of that sweet hope.
Only memory is left,
and I feed desire on that alone:
so the soul might be less weak and lean.

As a runner on the way, if he lacks food,
is forced to slow his course,
losing the strength that gave him speed,
so, lacking dear nourishment
in my weary life, and bitten by death
that denuded the world and saddened my heart,
sweet bitterness, and lovely painful pleasure
so alter me from hour to hour, that I hope
and fear I will not complete the brief road.
I escape being a cloud or dust in the wind,
in order to no longer be a wanderer:
and so be it, if death is my fate.

But this mortal life never pleased me
(as Love knows with whom I often speak)
except through her who was his light and mine:
and since that spirit through whom I lived,
dying on earth, was reborn in heaven, the height
of my longing is (and let it be!) to follow her.
But it always grieved me deeply, since
I was unable to foresee my state,
that Love showed it me in those lovely eyes
to give me noble counsel:
for some have died disconsolate and sad,
who earlier might have died in blessedness.

In those eyes where my heart used to live
till my harsh fate became invidious,
and banished it from so rich a dwelling,
Love had described, with his own hand
in words of pity, what would happen
soon to my desire, so long on its journey.
It would have been a sweet and lovely death
if in dying my life had not died wholly,
rather I'd gone on living as my better part:
now my hopes are scattered
by Death, and a little earth weighs down my good:
and I live on: and never think of it without fear.

If my little intellect had stayed with me,
when needed, and other desires had not
sent it straying on another road,
I might have read in my lady's look:
'You've reached the end of all your sweetness
and the beginning of your great bitterness.'
Understanding that, sweetly freed
in her lifetime from my mortal veil
and this harmful burden of the flesh,
I might have gone before her,
to see her throne prepared in heaven:
now I follow after, with whitened hair.

Song, if you find a man at peace with love,
say: 'Die while you're happy,
since early death is no grief, but a refuge:
and he who can die well, should not delay.'


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

A Merentha Entertainment Project


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