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
Vergin bella, che di sol vestita,
coronata di stelle, al sommo Sole
piacesti s, che 'n te Sua luce ascose,
amor mi spinge a dir di te parole:
ma non so 'ncominciar senza tu' aita,
et di Colui ch'amando in te si pose.
Invoco lei che ben sempre rispose,
chi la chiam con fede:
Vergine, s'a mercede
miseria extrema de l'humane cose
gi mai ti volse, al mio prego t'inchina,
soccorri a la mia guerra,
bench'i' sia terra, et tu del ciel regina.

Vergine saggia, et del bel numero una
de le beate vergini prudenti,
anzi la prima, et con pi chiara lampa;
o saldo scudo de l'afflicte genti
contra colpi di Morte et di Fortuna,
sotto 'l qual si trumpha, non pur scampa;
o refrigerio al cieco ardor ch'avampa
qui fra i mortali sciocchi:
Vergine, que' belli occhi
che vider tristi la spietata stampa
ne' dolci membri del tuo caro figlio,
volgi al mio dubbio stato,
che sconsigliato a te vn per consiglio.

Vergine pura, d'ogni parte intera,
del tuo parto gentil figliola et madre,
ch'allumi questa vita, et l'altra adorni,
per te il tuo figlio, et quel del sommo Padre,
o fenestra del ciel lucente altera,
venne a salvarne in su li extremi giorni;
et fra tutt'i terreni altri soggiorni
sola tu fosti electa,
Vergine benedetta,
che 'l pianto d'Eva in allegrezza torni.
Fammi, ch puoi, de la Sua gratia degno,
senza fine o beata,
gi coronata nel superno regno.

Vergine santa d'ogni gratia piena,
che per vera et altissima humiltate
salisti al ciel onde miei preghi ascolti,
tu partoristi il fonte di pietate,
et di giustitia il sol, che rasserena
il secol pien d'errori oscuri et folti;
tre dolci et cari nomi i in te raccolti,
madre, figliuola et sposa:
Vergina glorosa,
donna del Re che nostri lacci sciolti
et fatto 'l mondo libero et felice,
ne le cui sante piaghe
prego ch'appaghe il cor, vera beatrice.

Vergine sola al mondo senza exempio,
che 'l ciel di tue bellezze innamorasti,
cui n prima fu simil n seconda,
santi penseri, atti pietosi et casti
al vero Dio sacrato et vivo tempio
fecero in tua verginit feconda.
Per te p la mia vita esser ioconda,
s'a' tuoi preghi, o Maria,
Vergine dolce et pia,
ove 'l fallo abond, la gratia abonda.
Con le ginocchia de la mente inchine,
prego che sia mia scorta,
et la mia torta via drizzi a buon fine.

Vergine chiara et stabile in eterno,
di questo tempestoso mare stella,
d'ogni fedel nocchier fidata guida,
pon' mente in che terribile procella
i' mi ritrovo sol, senza governo,
et gi da vicin l'ultime strida.
Ma pur in te l'anima mia si fida,
peccatrice, i' no 'l nego,
Vergine; ma ti prego
che 'l tuo nemico del mio mal non rida:
ricorditi che fece il peccar nostro,
prender Dio per scamparne,
humana carne al tuo virginal chiostro.

Vergine, quante lagrime gi sparte,
quante lusinghe et quanti preghi indarno,
pur per mia pena et per mio grave danno!
Da poi ch'i' nacqui in su la riva d'Arno,
cercando or questa et or quel'altra parte,
non stata mia vita altro ch'affanno.
Mortal bellezza, atti et parole m'nno
tutta ingombrata l'alma.

Vergine sacra et alma,
non tardar, ch'i' son forse a l'ultimo anno.
I d miei pi correnti che saetta
fra miserie et peccati
sonsen' andati, et sol Morte n'aspetta.

Vergine, tale terra, et posto in doglia
lo mio cor, che vivendo in pianto il tenne
et de mille miei mali un non sapea:
et per saperlo, pur quel che n'avenne
fra avenuto, ch'ogni altra sua voglia
era a me morte, et a lei fama rea.
Or tu donna del ciel, tu nostra dea
(se dir lice, e convensi),
Vergine d'alti sensi,
tu vedi il tutto; e quel che non potea
far altri, nulla a la tua gran vertute,
por fine al mio dolore;
ch'a te honore, et a me fia salute.

Vergine, in cui tutta mia speranza
che possi et vogli al gran bisogno aitarme,
non mi lasciare in su l'extremo passo.
Non guardar me, ma Chi degn crearme;
no 'l mio valor, ma l'alta Sua sembianza,
ch' in me, ti mova a curar d'uom s basso.
Medusa et l'error mio m'n fatto un sasso
d'umor vano stillante:
Vergine, tu di sante
lagrime et pe adempi 'l meo cor lasso,
ch'almen l'ultimo pianto sia devoto,
senza terrestro limo,
come fu 'l primo non d'insania vto.

Vergine humana, et nemica d'orgoglio,
del comune principio amor t'induca:
miserere d'un cor contrito humile.
Che se poca mortal terra caduca
amar con s mirabil fede soglio,
che devr far di te, cosa gentile?
Se dal mio stato assai misero et vile
per le tue man' resurgo,
Vergine, i' sacro et purgo
al tuo nome et penseri e 'ngegno et stile,
la lingua e 'l cor, le lagrime e i sospiri.
Scorgimi al miglior guado,
et prendi in grado i cangiati desiri.

Il d s'appressa, et non pte esser lunge,
s corre il tempo et vola,
Vergine unica et sola,
e 'l cor or coscentia or morte punge.
Raccomandami al tuo figliuol, verace
homo et verace Dio,
ch'accolga 'l mo spirto ultimo in pace.

Lovely Virgin, who, clothed in glory,
crowned with stars, so pleased
the high Sun, that he hid his light in you,
love urges me to speak of you:
but I cannot begin without your help,
and His, who lovingly was set in you.
I call on her who always replies truly
to those who call to her with faith:
Virgin, if the final
misery of human life can forever
turn to you for mercy, bow down to hear my prayer,
and help me in this, my war,
though I am earth, and you the queen of heaven.

Wisest Virgin, and of that lovely number
one of the virgins blessed with prudence,
rather the first of them, and with the brightest lamp:
O solid shield for the oppressed peoples
against the blows of Death and Fortune,
under whom we triumph, not just escape:
O coolness for blind heat that flares
among foolish mortals here:
Virgin, turn those lovely eyes,
that saw in sadness the pitiless wounds
in the sweet limbs of your dear Son,
on my uncertain state,
who, without counsel, come to you for counsel.

Virgin, pure, perfect in every way,
daughter and mother to your noble Son,
you who illuminate this life, adorn the other,
through you that Son of the highest Father,
O highest shining window of heaven,
came to save us in these latter days:
and from all the other earthly wombs
you alone were chosen,
Virgin, so blessed,
that Eve's weeping turned to happiness.
Make me, as you can, worthy of His grace,
O forever blessed,
already crowned in the highest kingdom.

Sacred Virgin, filled with every grace,
that through true and noblest humility
leapt to heaven, where you hear my prayers,
you gave birth to pity's fountain,
and the sun of justice, you who shine through
this age filled with darkness, thick with error:
three sweet, beloved, names combine in you,
mother, daughter, spouse:
Glorious Virgin,
queen to that King who has loosed our bonds,
and made the world free and happy,
I pray you satisfy my heart
with his sacred wounds, true blessed one.

Virgin sole on earth without a peer,
who enamoured heaven of your beauty,
whom no other equalled or came near,
holy thoughts, chaste and merciful actions
made you sacred to the one true God,
a living temple, fruitful in virginity.
You have the power to render my life joyful,
since with your prayers, O Maria,
sweet, virtuous Virgin,
grace abounds where sin abounded.
I bow to you on my knees, in thought,
I beg you to be my guide
and direct my crooked path to a good end.

Bright Virgin, established in eternity,
star of this tempestuous sea,
faithful guide to every faithful sailor,
consider in what fearful danger
I find myself alone, without a helm,
and already near the final shout.
But my soul trusts in you completely,
sinful, I don't deny it,
Virgin: but I pray to you
that your enemy derive no mockery from my evils:
you know that our sin made God,
take on human flesh,
in your virgin cloister, to save us.

Virgin, what tears I have already scattered,
what pleadings and what prayers in vain,
solely for my pain and my grave hurt!
From the time I was born on the banks of the Arno,
searching in this place or in that,
my life has been nothing but trouble.
Mortal beauty, actions and speech
have all hampered my soul.

Sacred, kindly Virgin,
do not delay, since perhaps this is my last year.
And my days have flown, swifter
than an arrow
in misery and sin, and I only wait for Death.

Virgin, she is so much earth, and has sunk
my heart in sadness, that living she held weeping,
who never knew even one of my thousand ills:
and for her to know them, what was would
have had to not be: for any other will than hers
would have been death to me, ill fame to her.
Now lady of heaven, our goddess
(if it is right to call you so)
Virgin of noble feelings,
you see all: and what no other can do
is as nothing to your great power,
making an end to sorrow:
that honours you, and is my salvation.

Virgin, in whom is all my hope,
who can and will aid me in my great need,
do not abandon me in this last strait.
No one protects me but he who deigned to make me:
not for my worth, but because His noble image,
that is in me, moves you to care for a man so vile.
Medusa and my error turned me to stone,
dripping with vain moisture:
Virgin, you with holy tears
and mercy fill my weary heart,
so that at least my final tears will be pious,
free of earthly mire,
just as the first were unmarked by its sickness.

Kindly Virgin, and enemy of pride,
may love of our common origin guide you:
to take pity on a humble contrite heart.
Since I used to love a little fallen mortal dust
with such marvellous faith, what
must I do towards your noble person?
If by your hand I rise from this
wretched and vile state,
Virgin, I'll consecrate my purified
thoughts, intellect and style, to your name,
tongue and heart, tears and sighs.
Urge me to better ways,
and be pleased to accept my altered passions.

The day is coming, and cannot be long,
time runs so fast, and flies,
Virgin, unique, alone,
remorse and death sting my heart.
Commend me to your Son, truly
Man, and truly God,
that he might receive my last breath, in peace.



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

A Merentha Entertainment Project


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