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.

Listen to this poem (mp3) recited in Italian by Moro Silo

Chiare, fresche et dolci acque,
ove le belle membra
pose colei che sola a me par donna;
gentil ramo ove piacque
(con sospir' mi rimembra)
a lei di fare al bel fiancho colonna;
herba et fior' che la gonna
leggiadra ricoverse
co l'angelico seno;
aere sacro, sereno,
ove Amor co' begli occhi il cor m'aperse:
date udïenza insieme
a le dolenti mie parole extreme.

S'egli è pur mio destino
e 'l cielo in ciò s'adopra,
ch'Amor quest'occhi lagrimando chiuda,
qualche gratia il meschino
corpo fra voi ricopra,
et torni l'alma al proprio albergo ignuda.
La morte fia men cruda
se questa spene porto
a quel dubbioso passo:
ché lo spirito lasso
non poria mai in piú riposato porto
né in piú tranquilla fossa
fuggir la carne travagliata et l'ossa.

Tempo verrà anchor forse
ch'a l'usato soggiorno
torni la fera bella et mansüeta,
et là 'v'ella mi scorse
nel benedetto giorno,
volga la vista disïosa et lieta,
cercandomi; et, o pietà!,
già terra in fra le pietre
vedendo, Amor l'inspiri
in guisa che sospiri
sí dolcemente che mercé m'impetre,
et faccia forza al cielo,
asciugandosi gli occhi col bel velo.

Da' be' rami scendea
(dolce ne la memoria)
una pioggia di fior' sovra 'l suo grembo;
et ella si sedea
humile in tanta gloria,
coverta già de l'amoroso nembo.
Qual fior cadea sul lembo,
qual su le treccie bionde,
ch'oro forbito et perle
eran quel dí a vederle;
qual si posava in terra, et qual su l'onde;
qual con un vago errore
girando parea dir: - Qui regna Amore. -

Quante volte diss'io
allor pien di spavento:
Costei per fermo nacque in paradiso.
Cosí carco d'oblio
il divin portamento
e 'l volto e le parole e 'l dolce riso
m'aveano, et sí diviso
da l'imagine vera,
ch'i' dicea sospirando:
Qui come venn'io, o quando?;
credendo d'esser in ciel, non là dov'era.
Da indi in qua mi piace
questa herba sí, ch'altrove non ò pace.

Se tu avessi ornamenti quant'ài voglia,
poresti arditamente
uscir del boscho, et gir in fra la gente.
Clear, sweet fresh water
where she, the only one who seemed
woman to me, rested her beautiful limbs:
gentle branch where it pleased her
(with sighs, I remember it)
to make a pillar for her lovely flank:
grass and flowers which her dress
lightly covered,
as it did the angelic breast:
serene, and sacred air,
where Love pierced my heart with eyes of beauty:
listen together
to my last sad words.

If it is my destiny
and heaven works towards this,
that Love should close these weeping eyes,
let some grace bury
my poor body amongst you,
and the soul return naked to its place.
Death would be less cruel
if I could bear this hope
to the uncertain crossing:
since the weary spirit
could never in a more gentle harbour,
or in a quieter grave,
leave behind its troubled flesh and bone.

Perhaps another time will come,
when the beautiful, wild, and gentle one
will return to this accustomed place,
and here where she glanced at me
on that blessed day
may turn her face yearning and joyful,
to find me: and, oh pity!,
seeing me already earth
among the stones, Love will inspire her
in a manner such that she will sigh
so sweetly she will obtain mercy for me,
and have power in heaven,
drying her eyes with her lovely veil.

A rain of flowers descended
(sweet in the memory)
from the beautiful branches into her lap,
and she sat there
humble amongst such glory,
covered now by the loving shower.
A flower fell on her hem,
one in her braided blonde hair,
that was seen on that day to be
like chased gold and pearl:
one rested on the ground, and one in the water,
and one, in wandering vagary,
twirling, seemed to say: 'Here Love rules'.

Then, full of apprehension,
how often I said:
'For certain she was born in Paradise.'
Her divine bearing
and her face, her speech, her sweet smile
captured me, and so separated me,
from true thought
that I would say, sighing:
'How did I come here, and when?'
believing I was in heaven, not there where I was.
Since then this grass
has so pleased me, nowhere else do I find peace.

Song, if you had as much beauty as you wished,
you could boldly
leave this wood, and go among people.

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

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