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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Francesco Petrarch: Italia Mia

Italia Mia

My Italy, although talking does not serve to heal the mortal wounds which I see so thick on your fair body, it pleases me at least that my sighs are such as the Tiber hopes for, and the Arno, and the Po, where I now sit heavy with grief. Ruler of heaven, I ask that the pity which led you to earth may turn you to your dearly beloved country: see , Gracious Lord, what cruel war springs from what slight causes. Open, Father, and soften and untie the hearts that fierce and haughty Mars harden and locks up. Make truth be heard there - whatever I may be - through my tongue.

You, in whose hands fortune has put control of our fair country, no pity for which seems to constrain you, what are so many foreign swords doing here? Why is the verdant earth covered with the blood of barbarians? A vain error deludes you; you see little and think you see much, for you seek love or faith in venal hearts. He who possesses the most forces is most entangled by his enemies. O deluge gathered from what wild desert to inundate our gentle fields! If this happens to us by our own hands. Who will there now be to save us?

Nature provided well for us when she placed the shield of the Alps between us and the German frenzy, but blind greed clashing with its own good, has now so contrived as to cause sores on the healthy body. Now within a single cage wild animals and tame flocks nestle together in such a way that the better always suffers; and t our greater grief, this is from the descendants of the people without law, whose side (as we read) was so laid open by Marius that the memory of the deed is still alive, when thirsty and tired he drank as much blood as water from the river.

I'll say nothing of Caesar, who on every shore where he sent our iron made the grass bloody from their veins. Now it seems - I know not through what evil star - that heaven has us, thanks to you to whom so much was entrusted. Your divided wills lay waste he most beautiful part of the world. What sin, what judgment, what destiny causes you to oppress your poor neighbor, and to pursue his afflicted and scattered fortunes, and to seek our forces in foreign countries and to be pleased that blood is shed and souls sold for a price? I talk to say the truth, not out of hatred or scorn of others.

After so many proofs are you still unaware of the deceit of the Bavarian, who raising a finger trifles with death? But your blood rains more freely, for a different rage lashes you on. For a few hours think of yourselves and you will see how dear he who holds himself cheap holds others. Noble Latin blood, remove from yourself these harmful burdens; do not make an idol of an empty name; for that the fury from up there, a backward people, overcomes us in intelligence, is no natural thing but our own fault.

Is it not this the ground that I first touched? Is not this my nest, where I was so sweetly nurtured? Is not this the homeland in which I trust, the benign, devout mother that covers both my parents? For the love of God, let such thoughts sometimes move you, and look with pity on the tears of the grieving people, that for repose puts its hope in you alone, after God; and provided you just show some sign of pity, vertĂș will take arms against fury and the battle will be brief, for the ancient valor is not yet dead in Italian hearts.

Lords, look how time flies, and how life flees and death is at our shoulders. You are here now; think of your departure, for the soul, naked and alone, must arrive at that uncertain path. In passing through this valley may it please you to put down hatred and disdain, winds contrary to the serene life, and let the time which is spent in causing others pain be converted to some worthy act of hand or mind, to something praiseworthy, to some honorable pursuit. In this way one is glad here below and finds the way open to heaven.

Song, I enjoin you to tell your meaning courteously, for you must go among haughty people, and their wills are already full of the worst old habits ever hostile to the truth. You will try your luck among the magnanimous few to whom the good is pleasing. Say to them: "Who will give me assurance? I go crying: Peace, peace, peace."

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Peter Sadlon
Updated Sept 10th 2007

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