Triumph of Love
After my fortune into another's power
Had driven me, and had cut all the nerves
Of the liberty that erstwhile had been mine,
I, who had been as wild as the forest deer,
Was swiftly tamed, even as all the rest
Of those who suffered in Love's servitude.
Their toils I witnessed, and the fruits of toil,
And saw what tortuous ways and what deceits
Had made them captives in the train of Love.
While I was looking here and there to see
If any of them had risen to renown
For pages they had writ, or old or new,
I beheld him who loved Eurydice:
E' en to the world below he followed her,
And calls her still, with a tongue now cold in death.
I saw Alcaeus, skilled in verse of love,
And Pindar, and Anacreon, who led
His Muses into the one port of Love;
And I saw Virgil; and it seemed to me
He had companions whom the olden world
Had gladly read, for wisdom and delight:
Ovid was there, and with him were Catullus,
Propertius, and Tibullus, and they all
Were fervid singers of the power of Love.
And with these noble poets, side by side,
Singing, there went a gentle Grecian maid,
Whose manner was her own, and sweet and rare.
And looking then now this way and now that,
I saw folk coming over a green sward,
Speaking of love, but in the common tongue:
Dante and Beatrice, Cino and her he loved,
Guittone of Arezzo, ill content
Not to be held as first among them all.
Here were both Guidos, held in high esteem;
And Ser Onesto; and from Sicily
Those who, once first, were now no more than last;
Sennuccio and Franceschino, kindly men,
As all men knew. Then came a company
Foreign in dress, and foreign in their speech:
First of them all was Arnaut Daniel,
Master in love; and he his native land
Honors with the strange beauty of his verse.
Here too were ready prisoners of Love,
Both Peires, and the less far-famed Arnaut;
And those whom Love found harder to defeat:
The two Raimbauts, one of them he who sang Of
Monferrato and its Beatrice;
And the old Peire d' Alvernhe, and Giraut;
Folquet, who to Marseilles has given the name
He took from Genoa, and at the end of life
Changed dress and state to win a better land;
Jaufre Rudel, who used both sail and oar
In voyaging to his death; and that Guillem
Who for his singing lost the flower of life.
Aimeric and Bernart, Dc and Gaucelm,
And many more I saw, for whom the tongue
Was ever lance and sword, helmet and targe.
I turned again-since I must voice my grief
To our own folk, and saw Tomasso there,
Ornament of Bologna, who lies now
In a Sicilian grave. Oh sweetness brief,
Oh weary life! who carried thee away
So soon, thou who wast ever by my side?
Where art thou now, who lately wast with me?
This mortal life, that we do cherish so,
Is an ill dream, a tale of vain romance!
Not far from the common path had
I yet moved When first I saw my Socrates, and with him
My Laelius: with them I still move on.
Oh what a pair of friends! Never could I
In verse or prose tell rightly of their worth
If at its due pure virtue be esteemed.
With these twain I have travelled many lands,
A common yoke holding us close together:
To them I told the tale of all my wounds.
N or time nor distance e'er shall separate
Us from each other-so I hope and pray
Until for us the funeral pyres be lit.
With them I plucked the glorious laurel branch
Wherewith-perhaps too soon-I decked my brow,
Remembering her whom I so deeply love.
And yet from her, who fills my heart with thoughts,
Ne'er have I gathered either branch or leaf,
So hard and so unyielding were her roots.
Wherefore, though overcome with grief betimes,
Like one offended, what I now beheld
With mine own eyes bids me to grieve no more.
Matter for tragedy, not for comedy,
To see him captured who is held a god
By slow and blunted and deluded minds!
But first I'll tell of what he did with us
And then of all that he himself endured
A tale for Homer, or for Orpheus!
We followed, in the sound of the red wings
of the flying coursers, through a thousand woes,
Until to his maternal realm he came;
N or were our chains made lighter or removed
As we were drawn through mountain heights and woods,
So that we knew not in what world we were.
Beyond the Aegean's sighs and tears there lies
The softest and the gentlest of all isles
Warmed by the sun or watered by the sea;
And hidden in the midst a shadowy hill
With fragrances so sweet and streams so clear
That from the heart they banish manly thoughts.
This is the land that Venus held so dear
Sacred to her it was in the olden time
When truth lay still unknown and unrevealed --
And even now it is so reft of worth,
Holds still so much of its first pagandom,
That to the bad' tis sweet, sour to the good.
Here then to triumph came the mighty lord
Of us and all whom with the selfsame snare
He had caught, from Thule to the Indian sea:
Thoughts in our bosoms, emptiness to grasp,
Fleeting delights, and constant weariness,
Roses in winter, ice in summertime;
Before us doubtful love and fleeting joy,
Behind us nought but penitence and dole
As the realm of Rome well knows, and that of Troy;
And the whole valley echoed with the songs
Of waters and of birds, and all its swards
Were white and green and red and yellow and perse.
Streamlets that spring from living fountains run
Through the fresh verdure in the summer heat
When shade is deep and gentle is the breeze:
And then, when winter comes and the air is cool,
Warm sun, games, food, and torpid idleness
That casts its evil spell on foolish hearts.
It was the season when the equinox
Gives victory to the day, and Procne comes,
And Philomel, for their sweet springtime task.
Alas, the instability of fate!
For there, and at the very time and hour
That draws a tearful tribute from my eyes
He held his triumph whom the common folk
Adore, and I beheld what servitude
And death and torment wait for one who loves.
Errors and dreams and vain imaginings
Were gathered at his great triumphal arch,
And at his palace gates were false beliefs,
And slippery hopes were high upon the stairs
Where he who climbs the highest falls the most,
Where it is ill to gain and well to lose;
Weary repose, peace hardly to be won,
Dishonour bright, and glory dark and black,
Perfidious loyalty and constant fraud;
Incessant madness, slothfulness in thought,
A prison entered by wide-open gates
Whence passage for escape is ill to find;
Descending slopes that are of steep ascent.
Within the palace mad confusion reigns
Of certain sorrows and uncertain joys.
Ne'er boiled volcano with such furious rage
Lipari, Ischia, Aetna, Stromboli.
Who risks such game has little thought for self
It was within this dark and narrow cage
That we were shut, and there, and all too soon
My hair turned white, and all my looks were changed;
And all the while, dreaming of liberty,
I fed my soul, impatient for escape,
By thinking of the loves of olden times.
Like snow that melts away in the sun was I,
Gazing at the great spirits here confined
Like one beholding lengthy painted scenes,
Whose eyes look back, despite his hurried feet.