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
Download them all in English or Italian
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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.

Se 'l pensier che mi strugge,
com'è pungente et saldo,
cosí vestisse d'un color conforme,
forse tal m'arde et fugge,
ch'avria parte del caldo,
et desteriasi Amor là dov'or dorme;
men solitarie l'orme
fôran de' miei pie' lassi
per campagne et per colli,
men gli occhi ad ognor molli,
ardendo lei che come un ghiaccio stassi,
et non lascia in me dramma
che non sia foco et fiamma.

Però ch'Amor mi sforza
et di saver mi spoglia,
parlo in rime aspre, et di dolcezza ignude:
ma non sempre a la scorza
ramo, né in fior, né 'n foglia
mostra di for sua natural vertude.
Miri ciò che 'l cor chiude
Amor et que' begli occhi,
ove si siede a l'ombra.
Se 'l dolor che si sgombra
aven che 'n pianto o in lamentar trabocchi,
l'un a me nòce et l'altro
altrui, ch'io non lo scaltro.

Dolci rime leggiadre
che nel primiero assalto
d'Amor usai, quand'io non ebbi altr'arme,
chi verrà mai che squadre
questo mio cor di smalto
ch'almen com'io solea possa sfogarme?
Ch'aver dentro a lui parme
un che madonna sempre
depinge et de lei parla:
a voler poi ritrarla
per me non basto, et par ch'io me ne stempre.
Lasso, cosí m'è scorso
lo mio dolce soccorso.

Come fanciul ch'a pena
volge la lingua et snoda,
che dir non sa, ma 'l piú tacer gli è noia,
così 'l desir mi mena
a dire, et vo' che m'oda
la dolce mia nemica anzi ch'io moia.
Se forse ogni sua gioia
nel suo bel viso è solo,
et di tutt'altro è schiva,
odil tu, verde riva,
e presta a' miei sospir' sí largo volo,
che sempre si ridica
come tu m'eri amica.

Ben sai che sí bel piede
non tocchò terra unquancho
come quel dí che già segnata fosti;
onde 'l cor lasso riede
col tormentoso fiancho
a partir teco i lor pensier' nascosti.
Cosí avestú riposti
de' be' vestigi sparsi
anchor tra' fiori et l'erba,
che la mia vita acerba,
lagrimando, trovasse ove acquetarsi!
Ma come pò s'appaga
l'alma dubbiosa et vaga.

Ovunque gli occhi volgo
trovo un dolce sereno
pensando: Qui percosse il vago lume.
Qualunque herba o fior colgo
credo che nel terreno
aggia radice, ov'ella ebbe in costume
gir fra le piagge e 'l fiume,
et talor farsi un seggio
fresco, fiorito et verde.
Cosí nulla se 'n perde,
et piú certezza averne fôra il peggio.
Spirto beato, quale
se', quando altrui fai tale?

O poverella mia, come se' rozza!
Credo che tel conoschi:
rimanti in questi boschi.
If the thought that torments me,
so sharp and fierce,
could be dressed in a fitting colour,
perhaps the one who burns me and flees,
would share the heat,
and Love would wake where he sleeps:
the footprints left by my feet
on the hills and fields,
would perhaps be less lonely
my eyes would be less moist,
if she burned who remains like ice,
and leaves not an ounce in me
that it not fire and flame.

Because love weakens me
and robs me of my skill,
I speak in harsh rhymes, devoid of sweetness:
and yet the branches
do not always show their natural worth
in bark, or flower, or leaf.
Let Love, where he sits in the shade
and those lovely eyes
see what the heart conceals.
If the grief that's freed
should overflow in tears and laments,
the one hurts me the other
her, in that I have no art.

Sweet graceful verses,
I used in Love's
first assault, when I had no other weapons,
which of you will come and square
my heart of stone
so I can at least give tongue as before?
For I seem to have him within
who always depicts my lady
and speaks about her:
wishing to portray her,
is not enough for me, and it seems I only waste away.
Alas, what help there was
for my sweetness has fled.

Like a child who has trouble
moving and shaping his tongue,
who cannot speak, but who's pained by any longer
being silent, so desire leads me
to speak, and I hope before I die
my sweet enemy will hear me.
If her only joy perhaps
is in her lovely face,
and she scorns all else,
green river-bank, you can hear,
and make my sighs echo so widely
that how your were my friend
will always be repeated.

I know so lovely a foot
never touched the earth
as the one that has imprinted you:
so that the weary heart returns
with tormented body
to share its hidden thoughts with you.
If you had only kept
some of those lovely traces
among your turf and flowers,
so that my bitter life
in weeping, might find what calms it!
The doubtful wandering soul
must find what peace it can.

Wherever I turn my eyes
I find sweet peace,
thinking: 'Here the wandering light fell.'
Whatever herb or flower I cull
I think that it has its roots
in this earth, where she used to walk
among the fields and streams
and so find a cool seat
flowery and green.
So nothing is lost,
and greater certainty would be worse.
Blessed spirit, what are you
who do this to another?

O my poor verse, how rough you are!
I think you know it:
so stay here in this wood.

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

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