Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: The Early Italian Poets From Ciullo D'Alcamo to Dante Alighieri (1100-1200-1300) (the Princeton illustrated copy)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1861
Publisher: Smith, Elder, and Co.
Printer: J. Whittingham, Chiswick Press
Edition: 1

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

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Part I. Poets chiefly before Dante

Part II. Dante and his Circle




Transcribed Footnote (page [iii]):

The rights of translation and reproduction, as regards all editorial parts

of this work, are reserved.

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Sig. b


D. G. R.,1861.
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page: [vii]
I need not dilate here on the characteristics of

the first epoch of Italian Poetry; since the extent

of my translated selections is sufficient to afford a

complete view of it. Its great beauties may often

remain unapproached in the versions here attempted;

but, at the same time, its imperfections are not all

to be charged to the translator. Among these I may

refer to its limited range of subject and continual

obscurity, as well as to its monotony in the use of

rhymes or frequent substitution of assonances. But

to compensate for much that is incomplete and in-

experienced, these poems possess, in their degree,

beauties of a kind which can never again exist in art;

and offer, besides, a treasure of grace and variety in

the formation of their metres. Nothing but a strong

impression, first of their poetic value, and next of

the biographical interest of some of them (chiefly

of those in my second division), would have inclined

me to bestow the time and trouble which have re-

sulted in this collection.
Much has been said, and in many respects justly,

against the value of metrical translation. But I think

it would be admitted that the tributary art might

find a not illegitimate use in the case of poems which
page: viii

come down to us in such a form as do these early

Italian ones. Struggling originally with corrupt

dialect and imperfect expression, and hardly kept

alive through centuries of neglect, they have reached

that last and worst state in which the coup-de-grace

has almost been dealt them by clumsy transcription

and pedantic superstructure. At this stage the task

of talking much more about them in any language

is hardly to be entered upon; and a translation (in-

volving, as it does, the necessity of settling many

points without discussion,) remains perhaps the most

direct form of commentary.
The life-blood of rhymed translation is this,—that

a good poem shall not be turned into a bad one.

The only true motive for putting poetry into a fresh

language must be to endow a fresh nation, as far as

possible, with one more possession of beauty. Poetry

not being an exact science, literality of rendering is

altogether secondary to this chief aim. I say literality,

—not fidelity, which is by no means the same thing.

When literality can be combined with what is thus

the primary condition of success, the translator is

fortunate, and must strive his utmost to unite them;

when such object can only be attained by paraphrase,

that is his only path.
Any merit possessed by these translations is de-

rived from an effort to follow this principle; and, in

some degree, from the fact that such painstaking in

arrangement and descriptive heading as is often

indispensable to old and especially to “occasional”
page: ix

poetry, has here been bestowed on these poets for the

first time.
That there are many defects in these translations,

or that the above merit is their defect, or that they have

no merits but only defects, are discoveries so sure to be

made if necessary (or perhaps here and there in any

case), that I may safely leave them in other hands.

The collection has probably a wider scope than some

readers might look for, and includes now and then

(though I believe in rare instances) matter which

may not meet with universal approval; and whose

introduction, needed as it is by the literary aim of

my work, is I know inconsistent with the principles

of pretty bookmaking. My wish has been to give

a full and truthful view of early Italian poetry;

not to make it appear to consist only of certain

elements to the exclusion of others equally belonging

to it.
Of the difficulties I have had to encounter,—the

causes of imperfections for which I have no other

excuse,—it is the reader's best privilege to remain

ignorant; but I may perhaps be pardoned for briefly

referring to such among these as concern the exi-

gencies of translation. The task of the translator

(and with all humility be it spoken) is one of some

self-denial. Often would he avail himself of any

special grace of his own idiom and epoch, if only his

will belonged to him: often would some cadence

serve him but for his author's structure—some struc-

ture but for his author's cadence: often the beautiful
page: x

turn of a stanza must be weakened to adopt some

rhyme which will tally, and he sees the poet revelling

in abundance of language where himself is scantily

supplied. Now he would slight the matter for the

music, and now the music for the matter; but no,

he must deal to each alike. Sometimes too a flaw

in the work galls him, and he would fain remove it,

doing for the poet that which his age denied him;

but no,—it is not in the bond. His path is like that

of Aladdin through the enchanted vaults: many are

the precious fruits and flowers which he must pass

by unheeded in search for the lamp alone; happy

if at last, when brought to light, it does not prove

that his old lamp has been exchanged for a new one,—

glittering indeed to the eye, but scarcely of the same

virtue nor with the same genius at its summons.
In relinquishing this work (which, small as it is,

is the only contribution I expect to make to our

English knowledge of old Italy), I feel, as it were,

divided from my youth. The first associations I

have are connected with my father's devoted studies,

which, from his own point of view, have done so

much towards the general investigation of Dante's

writings. Thus, in those early days, all around me

partook of the influence of the great Florentine; till,

from viewing it as a natural element, I also, growing

older, was drawn within the circle. I trust that

from this the reader may place more confidence in a

work not carelessly undertaken, though produced in

the spare-time of other pursuits more closely followed.
page: xi

He should perhaps be told that it has occupied the

leisure moments of not a few years; thus affording,

often at long intervals, every opportunity for consi-

deration and revision; and that on the score of care,

at least, he has no need to mistrust it.
Nevertheless, I know there is no great stir to

be made by launching afresh, on high-seas busy

with new traffic, the ships which have been long

outstripped and the ensigns which are grown strange.

The feeling of self-doubt inseparable from such an

attempt has been admirably expressed by a great

living poet, in words which may be applied exactly

to my humbler position, though relating in his case

to a work all his own.
  • “Still, what if I approach the august sphere
  • Named now with only one name,—disentwine
  • That under current soft and argentine
  • From its fierce mate in the majestic mass
  • Leaven'd as the sea whose fire was mix'd with glass
  • In John's transcendent vision,—launch once more
  • That lustre? Dante, pacer of the shore
  • Where glutted Hell disgorges filthiest gloom,
  • Unbitten by its whirring sulphur-spume—
  • Or whence the grieved and obscure waters slope
  • Into a darkness quieted by hope—
  • Plucker of amaranths grown beneath God's eye
  • In gracious twilights where His chosen lie,—
  • I would do this! If I should falter now!....”
( Sordello, byRobert Browning, B. i.)
It may be well to conclude this short preface with

a list of the works which have chiefly contributed to

the materials of the present volume.
page: xii
  • I. Poeti del primo secolo della Lingua Ita-

    liana. 2 vol. (Firenze. 1816.)
  • II. Raccolta di Rime antiche Toscane. 4 vol.

    (Palermo. 1817.)
  • III. Manuale della Letteratura del primo Secolo.

    del Prof. V. Nannucci. 3 vol. (Firenze. 1843.)
  • IV. Poesie Italiane inedite di dugento autori:

    raccolte da Francesco Trucchi. 4 vol. (Prato.

  • V. Opere Minori di Dante. Edizione di P. I.

    Fraticelli. (Firenze. 1843, &c.)
  • VI. Rime di Guido Cavalcanti; raccolte da A.

    Cicciaporci. (Firenze. 1813.)
  • VII. Vita e Poesie di Messer Cino da Pistoia.

    Edizione di S. Ciampi. (Pisa. 1813.)
  • VIII. Documenti d'Amore; di Francesco da

    Barberino. Annotati da F. Ubaldini. (Roma.

  • IX. Del Reggimento e dei Costumi delle Donne;

    di Francesco da Barberino. (Roma. 1815.)
  • X. Il Dittamondo di Fazio degli Uberti. (Milano.

Transcribed Footnote (page xii):

* This work contains, in its first and second volumes, by

far the best edited collection I know of early Italian poetry.

Unfortunately it is only a supplement to the previous ones,

giving poems till then unpublished. A reprint of the whole

mass by the same editor, with such revision and further

additions as he could give it, would be very desirable.

page: [xiii]
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Sig. c

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page: [xxiii]

    CIULLO D'ALCAMO, 1172-78.
  • Ciullo is a popular form of the name Vin-

    cenzo, and Alcamo an Arab fortress some miles

    from Palermo. The Dialogue which is the only

    known production of this poet holds here the place

    generally accorded to it as the earliest Italian poem

    (exclusive of one or two dubious inscriptions) which

    has been preserved to our day. Arguments have

    sometimes been brought to prove that it must be as-

    signed to a later date than the poem by Folcachiero,

    which follows it in this volume; thus ascribing the

    first honours of Italian poetry to Tuscany, and not

    to Sicily, as is commonly supposed. Trucchi, how-

    ever, (in the preface to his valuable collection,)

    states his belief that the two poems are about con-

    temporaneous, fixing the date of that by Ciullo

    between 1172 and 1178,—chiefly from the fact that

    the fame of Saladin, to whom this poet alludes, was

    most in men's mouths during that interval. At first

    sight, any casual reader of the original would sup-

    pose that this poem must be unquestionably the

    earliest of all, as its language is far the most un-

    formed and difficult; but much of this might, of course,

    page: xxiv

    be dependent on the inferior dialect of Sicily, mixed

    however in this instance (as far as I can judge)

    with mere nondescript patois.

  • II. Folcachiero de' Folcachieri, Knight of

    Siena, 1177.
  • The above date has been assigned with probabi-

    lity to Folcachiero's Canzone, on account of its first

    line where the whole world is said to be “living

    without war;” an assertion which seems to refer

    its production to the period of the celebrated peace

    concluded at Venice between Frederick Barbarossa

    and Pope Alexander III.

  • III. Lodovico della Vernaccia, 1200.IV. Saint Francis of Assisi; born, 1182, died,

  • His baptismal name was Giovanni, and his father

    was Bernardone Moriconi, whose mercantile pur-

    suits he shared till the age of twenty-five; after

    which his life underwent the extraordinary change

    which resulted in his canonization, by Gregory IX.,

    three years after his death, and in the formation of

    the Religious Order called Franciscans.

  • V. Frederick II., Emperor; born, 1194,

    died, 1250.
  • The life of Frederick II., and his excommunica-

    tion and deposition from the Empire by Innocent

    IV., to whom, however, he did not succumb, are

    matters of history which need no repetition. In-

    tellectually, he was in all ways a highly-gifted and

    accomplished prince; and lovingly cultivated the

    Italian language, in preference to the many others

    page: xxv

    with which he was familiar. The poem of his which

    I give has great passionate beauty; yet I believe

    that an allegorical interpretation may here probably

    be admissible; and that the lady of the poem may

    be the Empire, or perhaps the Church herself, held

    in bondage by the Pope.

  • VI. Enzo, King of Sardinia; born, 1225,

    died, 1272.
  • The unfortunate Enzo was a natural son of Fre-

    derick II., and was born at Palermo. By his own

    warlike enterprise, at an early age (it is said at

    fifteen!) he subjugated the Island of Sardinia, and

    was made King of it by his father. Afterwards he

    joined Frederick in his war against the Church,

    and displayed the highest promise as a leader; but

    at the age of twenty-five was taken prisoner by the

    Bolognese, whom no threats or promises from the

    Emperor could induce to set him at liberty. He

    died in prison at Bologna, after a confinement of

    nearly twenty-three years. A hard fate indeed for

    one who, while moving among men, excited their

    hopes and homage, still on record, by his great mili-

    tary genius and brilliant gifts of mind and person.

  • VII. Guido Guinicelli, 1220.
  • This poet, certainly the greatest of his time, be-

    longed to a noble and even princely Bolognese family.

    Nothing seems known of his life, except that he was

    married to a lady named Beatrice, and that in 1274,

    having adhered to the imperial cause, he was sent

    into exile, but whither cannot be learned. He died

    two years afterwards. The highest praise has been

    bestowed by Dante on Guinicelli, in the Commedia,

    (Purg. C. xxvi.) in the Convito, and in the De

    page: xxvi
    Vulgari Eloquio; and many instances might be

    cited in which the works of the great Florentine

    contain reminiscences of his Bolognese predecessor;

    especially the third canzone of Dante's Convito may

    be compared with Guido's most famous one “On the

    Gentle Heart.”

  • VIII. Guerzo di Montecanti, 1220.IX. Inghilfredi, Siciliano, 1220.X. Rinaldo d'Aquino, 1250.
  • I have placed this poet, belonging to a Neapoli-

    tan family, under the date usually assigned to him;

    but Trucchi states his belief that he flourished much

    earlier, and was a contemporary of Folcachiero;

    partly on account of two lines in one of his poems

    which say,—

    • “Lo Imperadore con pace
    • Tutto il mondo mantene.”

    If so, the mistake would be easily accounted for, as

    there seem to have been various members of the

    family named Rinaldo, at different dates.

  • XI. Jacopo da Lentino, 1250.
  • This Sicilian poet is generally called “the No-

    tary of Lentino.” The low estimate expressed of him,

    as well as of Bonaggiunta and Guittone, by Dante

    (Purg. C. xxiv.), must be understood as referring in

    great measure to their want of grammatical purity

    and nobility of style, as we may judge when this

    passage is taken in conjunction with the principles

    of the De Vulgari Eloquio. However, Dante also

    attributes his own superiority to the fact of his writing

    only when love (or natural impulse) really prompted

    page: xxvii

    him,—the highest certainly of all laws relating to

    • “Io mi son un che quando
    • Amor mi spira, noto, e in quel modo
    • Ch'ei detta dentro, vo significando.”

    A translation does not suffer from such offences of

    dialect as may exist in its original; and I think

    my readers will agree that, chargeable as he is with

    some conventionality of sentiment, the Notary of

    Lentino is often not without his claims to beauty

    and feeling. There is a peculiar charm in the son-

    net which stands first among my specimens.

  • XII. Mazzeo di Ricco, da Messina, 1250.XIII. Pannuccio dal Bagno, Pisano, 1250.XIV. Giacomino Pugliesi, Knight of Prato,

  • Of this poet there seems nothing to be learnt;

    but he deserves special notice as possessing rather

    more poetic individuality than usual, and also as

    furnishing the only instance, among Dante's prede-

    cessors, of a poem (and a very beautiful one) writ-

    ten on a lady's death.

  • XV. Fra Guittone d'Arezzo, 1250.
  • Guittone was not a monk, but derived the prefix

    to his name from the fact of his belonging to the

    religious and military order of Cavalieri Gau-

    denti. He seems to have enjoyed a greater literary

    reputation than almost any writer of his day; but

    certainly his poems, of which many have been

    preserved, cannot be said to possess merit of a pro-

    minent kind; and Dante shows by various allusions

    page: xxviii

    that he considered them much over-rated. The sonnet

    I have given is somewhat remarkable, from Petrarch's

    having transplanted its last line into his Trionfi

    d'Amore (cap. III). Guittone is the author of a

    series of Italian letters to various eminent persons,

    which are the earliest known epistolary writings in

    the language.

  • XVI. Bartolomeo di Sant' Angelo, 1250.XVII. Saladino da Pavia, 1250.XVIII. Bonaggiunta Urbiciani, da Lucca,

    1250.XIX. Meo Abbracciavacca, da Pistoia,

    1250.XX. Ubaldo di Marco, 1250.XXI. Simbuono Giudice, 1250.XXII. Masolino da Todi, 1250.XXIII. Onesto di Boncima, Bolognese,

  • Onesto was a doctor of laws, and an early friend

    of Cino da Pistoia. He was living as late as 1301,

    though his career as a poet may be fixed somewhat

    further back.

  • XXIV. Terino da Castel Fiorentino, 1250.XXV. Maestro Migliore, da Fiorenza,

    1250.XXVI. Dello da Signa, 1250.XXVII. Folgore da San Geminiano, 1260.
    page: xxix
    XXVIII. Guido delle Colonne, 1250.
  • This Sicilian poet has few equals among his con-

    temporaries, and is ranked high by Dante in his

    treatise De Vulgari Eloquio. He visited England

    and wrote in Latin a Historia de regibus et rebus

    Angliæ, as well as a Historia destructionis Trojæ.

  • XXIX. Pier Moronelli, di Fiorenza, 1250.XXX. Ciuncio Fiorentino, 1250.XXXI. Ruggieri di Amici, Siciliano, 1250.XXXII. Carnino Ghiberti, da Fiorenza,

    1250.XXXIII. Prinzivalle Doria, 1250.
  • Prinzivalle commenced by writing Italian poetry,

    but afterwards composed verses entirely in Provençal,

    for the love of Beatrice, Countess of Provence. He

    wrote also, in Provençal prose, a treatise “On the

    dainty madness of Love,” and another “On the

    War of Charles, King of Naples, against the tyrant

    Manfredi.” He held various high offices, and died

    at Naples in 1276.

  • XXXIV. Rustico di Filippo; born about

    1200, died, 1270.
  • The writings of this Tuscan poet (called also

    Rustico Barbuto) show signs of more vigour and

    versatility than was common in his day, and he pro-

    bably began writing in Italian verse even before

    many of those already mentioned. In his old age,

    he, though a Ghibelline, received the dedication of

    the Tesoretto from the Guelf Brunetto Latini, who

    there pays him unqualified homage for surpassing

    page: xxx

    worth in peace and war. It is strange that more

    should not be known regarding this doubtless re-

    markable man. His compositions have sometimes

    much humour, and on the whole convey the im-

    pression of an active and energetic nature. More-

    over, Trucchi pronounces some of them to be as pure

    in language as the poems of Dante or Guido Caval-

    canti, though written thirty or forty years earlier.

  • XXXV. Pucciarello di Fiorenza, 1260.XXXVI. Albertuccio della Viola, 1260.XXXVII. Tommaso Buzzuola, da Faenza, 1280.XXXVIII. Noffo Bonaguida, 1280.XXXIX. Lippo Paschi de' Bardi, 1280.XL. Ser Pace, Notaio da Fiorenza, 1280.XLI. Niccolò degli Albizzi, 1300.
  • The noble Florentine family of Albizzi produced

    writers of poetry in more than one generation. The

    vivid and admirable sonnet which I have translated

    is the only one I have met with by Niccolò. I must

    confess my inability to trace the circumstances which

    gave rise to it.

  • XLII. Francesco da Barberino; born,

    1264, died, 1348.
  • With the exception of Brunetto Latini, (whose

    poems are neither very poetical nor well adapted for

    extract,) Francesco da Barberino shows by far the

    most sustained productiveness among the poets who

    preceded Dante, or were contemporaries of his youth.

    page: xxxi

    Though born only one year in advance of Dante,

    Barberino seems to have undertaken, if not com-

    pleted, his two long poetic treatises, some years be-

    fore the commencement of the Commedia.

    This poet was born at Barberino di Valdelsa, of a

    noble family, his father being Neri di Rinuccio da

    Barberino. Up to the year of his father's death,

    1296, he pursued the study of law chiefly in Bologna

    and Padua; but afterwards removed to Florence for

    the same purpose, and became one of the many

    distinguished disciples of Brunetto Latini, who pro-

    bably had more influence than any other one man in

    forming the youth of his time to the great things

    they accomplished. After this he travelled in France

    and elsewhere; and on his return to Italy in 1313,

    was the first who, by special favour of Pope Clement

    V., received the grade of Doctor of Laws in Florence.

    Both as lawyer and as citizen, he held great trusts

    and discharged them honourably. He was twice

    married, the name of his second wife being Barna

    di Tano, and had several children. At the age of

    eighty-four he died in the great Plague of Florence.

    Of the two works which Barberino has left, one

    bears the title of Documenti d'Amore, literally “Do-

    cuments of Love,” but perhaps more properly ren-

    dered as “Laws of Courtesy;” while the other is

    called Del Reggimento e dei Costumi delle Donne,

    “Of the Government and Conduct of Women.”

    They may be described, in the main, as manuals of

    good breeding, or social chivalry, the one for men

    and the other for women. Mixed with vagueness,

    tediousness, and not seldom with artless absurdity,

    they contain much simple wisdom, much curious re-

    cord of manners, and (as my specimens show) occa-

    page: xxxii
    Transcribed Note (page xxxii):
    Note: In line 11, the word "anecdotes" is misspelled.

    sional poetic sweetness or power, though these last

    are far from being their most prominent merits.

    The first-named treatise, however, has much more

    of such qualities than the second; and contains,

    moreover, passages of homely humour which startle

    by their truth as if written yesterday. At the same

    time, the second book is quite as well worth reading,

    for the sake of its authoritative minuteness in mat-

    ters which ladies, now-a-days, would probably con-

    sider their own undisputed region; and also for the

    quaint gravity of certain surprising prose ancedotes

    of real life, with which it is interspersed. Both

    these works remained long unprinted, the first edi-

    tion of the Documenti d'Amore being that edited

    by Ubaldini in 1640, at which time he reports the

    Reggimento, &c., to be only possessed by his

    age “in name and in desire.” This treatise was

    afterwards brought to light, but never printed till

    1815. I should not forget to state that Barberino

    attained some knowledge of drawing, and that

    Ubaldini had seen his original MS. of the Docu-

    menti, containing, as he says, skilful miniatures by

    the author.

    Barberino never appears to have taken a very

    active part in politics, but he inclined to the Imperial

    and Ghibelline party. This contributes with other

    things to render it rather singular that we find no

    poetic correspondence or apparent communication of

    any kind between him and his many great countrymen,

    contemporaries of his long life, and with whom he

    had more than one bond of sympathy. His career

    stretched from Dante, Guido Cavalcanti, and Cino

    da Pistoia, to Petrarca and Boccaccio; yet only in

    one respectful but not enthusiastic notice of him by

    page: xxxiii

    the last-named writer ( Genealogia degli Dei), do we

    ever meet with an allusion to him by any of the

    greatest men of his time. Nor in his own writings,

    as far as I remember, are they ever referred to.

    His epitaph is said to have been written by Boccaccio,

    but this is doubtful. On reviewing the present series,

    I am sorry, on the whole, not to have included more

    specimens of Barberino, whose writings, though not

    very easy to tackle in the mass, would afford an

    excellent field for selection and summary.

  • XLIII. Fazio Degli Uberti, 1326-60.
  • The dates of this poet's birth and death are not

    ascertainable, but I have set against his name two

    dates which result from his writings as belonging to

    his lifetime. He was a member of that great house

    of the Uberti, which was driven from Florence on

    the expulsion of the Ghibellines in 1267, and which

    was ever afterwards specially excluded by name from

    the various amnesties offered from time to time to

    the exiled Florentines. His grandfather was Farinata

    degli Uberti, whose stern nature, unyielding even

    amid penal fires, has been recorded by Dante in the

    tenth canto of the Inferno. Farinata's son Lapo,

    himself a poet, was the father of Fazio ( i.e. Boni-

    fazio), who was no doubt born in the lifetime of Dante,

    and in some place of exile, but where is not known.

    In his youth he was enamoured of a certain Vero-

    nese lady named Angiola, and was afterwards

    married, but whether to her or not is again among

    the uncertainties. Certain it is that he had a son

    named Leopardo, who, after his father's death at

    Verona, settled in Venice, where his descendants

    maintained an honourable rank for the space of two

    page: xxxiv

    succeeding centuries. Though Fazio appears to have

    suffered sometimes from poverty, he enjoyed high

    reputation as a poet, and is even said, on the autho-

    rity of various early writers, to have publicly received

    the laurel crown; but in what city of Italy this took

    place, we do not learn.

    There is much beauty in several of Fazio's lyrical

    poems, of which, however, no great number have

    been preserved. The finest of all is the Canzone

    which I have translated; whose excellence is such

    as to have procured it the high honour of being at-

    tributed to Dante, so that it is to be found in most

    editions of the Canzoniere; and as far as poetic

    beauty is concerned, it must be allowed to hold

    even there an eminent place. Its style, however,

    (as Monti was the first to point out) is more par-

    ticularizing than accords with the practice of Dante;

    while, though certainly more perfect than any other

    poem by Fazio, its manner is quite his; bearing

    especially a strong resemblance throughout in struc-

    ture to one canzone, where he speaks of his love

    with minute reference to the seasons of the year.

    Moreover, Fraticelli tells us that it is not attributed

    to Dante in any one of the many ancient MSS. he had

    seen, but has been fathered on him solely on the autho-

    rity of a printed collection of 1518. This contested

    Canzone is well worth fighting for; and the victor

    would deserve to receive his prize at the hands of a

    peerless Queen of Beauty, for never was beauty

    better described. I believe we may decide that

    the triumph belongs by right to Fazio.

    An exile by inheritance, Fazio seems to have

    acquired restless tastes; and in the latter years of

    his life (which was prolonged to old age), he tra-

    page: xxxv

    velled over a great part of Europe, and composed

    his long poem entitled Il Dittamondo,—“The Song

    of the World,” or, more exactly, “Words of the

    World.” This work, though by no means con-

    temptible in point of execution, certainly falls far

    short of its conception, which is a grand one; the

    topics of which it treats in great measure,—geogra-

    phy and natural history,—rendering it in those days

    the native home of all credulities and monstrosities.

    In scheme it was intended as an earthly parallel to

    Dante's Sacred Poem, doing for this world what

    he did for the other. At Fazio's death it remained

    unfinished, but I should think by very little; the

    plan of the work seeming in the main accomplished.

    The whole earth (or rather all that was then known

    of it) is traversed,—its surface and its history,—end-

    ing with the Holy Land, and thus bringing Man's

    world as near as may be to God's; that is, to the

    point at which Dante's office begins. No conception

    could well be nobler, or worthier even now of being

    dealt with by a great master. To the work of such a

    man, Fazio's work might afford such first materials as

    have usually been furnished beforehand to the

    greatest poets by some unconscious steward.

  • XLIV. Franco Sacchetti; born, 1335, died

    shortly after 1400.
  • This excellent writer is the only member of my

    gathering who was born after the death of Dante,

    which event (in 1321) preceded Franco's birth by

    some fourteen years. I have introduced a few

    specimens of his poetry, partly because their attrac-

    tion was irresistible, but also because he is the earliest

    Italian poet with whom playfulness is the chief

    page: xxxvi

    characteristic; for even with Boccaccio, in his poetry,

    this is hardly the case. However, Franco Sacchetti

    wrote poems also on political subjects; and had he

    belonged more strictly to the period of which I treat,

    there is no one who would better have deserved

    abundant selection. Besides his poetry, he is the

    author of a well-known series of three hundred

    stories; and Trucchi gives a list of prose works by

    him which are still in MS., and whose subjects are

    genealogical, historical, natural-historical, and even

    theological. He was a prolific writer, and one who

    well merits complete and careful publication. The

    pieces which I have translated, like many others of

    his, are written for music.

    Franco Sacchetti was a Florentine noble by birth,

    and was the son of Benci di Uguccione Sacchetti.

    Between this family and the Alighieri there had

    been a vendetta of long standing (spoken of here in

    the Appendix to Part II .), but which was probably

    set at rest before Franco's time, by the deaths of at

    least one Alighieri and two Sacchetti. After some

    years passed in study, Franco devoted himself to

    commerce, like many nobles of the republic, and for

    that purpose spent some time in Sclavonia, whose

    uncongenial influences he has recorded in an amusing

    poem. As his literary fame increased, he was

    called to many important offices, was one of the

    Priori in 1383, and for some time was deputed to

    the government of Faenza, in the absence of its

    lord, Astorre Manfredi. He was three times mar-

    ried; to Felice degli Strozzi, to Ghita Gherardini,

    and to Nannina di Santi Bruni.

  • XLV. Anonymous Poems.
page: [1]
Sig. B

Lover and Lady.
  • He.
  • Thou sweetly-smelling fresh red rose
  • That near thy summer art,
  • Of whom each damsel and each dame
  • Would fain be counterpart;
  • Oh! from this fire to draw me forth
  • Be it in thy good heart:
  • For night or day there is no rest with me,
  • Thinking of none, my lady, but of thee.
  • She.
  • If thou hast set thy thoughts on me,
  • 10 Thou hast done a foolish thing.
  • Yea, all the pine-wood of this world
  • Together might'st thou bring,
    page: 2
  • And make thee ships, and plough the sea
  • Therewith for corn-sowing,
  • Ere any way to win me could be found:
  • For I am going to shear my locks all round.
  • He.
  • Lady, before thou shear thy locks
  • I hope I may be dead:
  • For I should lose such joy thereby
  • 20 And gain such grief instead.
  • Merely to pass and look at thee,
  • Rose of the garden-bed,
  • Has comforted me much, once and again.
  • Oh! if thou wouldst but love, what were it then!
  • She.
  • Nay, though my heart were prone to love,
  • I would not grant it leave.
  • Hark! should my father or his kin
  • But find thee here this eve,
  • Thy loving body and lost breath
  • 30 Our moat may well receive.
  • Whatever path to come here thou dost know,
  • By the same path I counsel thee to go.
  • He.
  • And if thy kinsfolk find me here,
  • Shall I be drown'd then? Marry,
  • I'll set, for price against my head,
  • Two thousand agostari.
    page: 3
  • I think thy father would not do't
  • For all his lands in Bari.
  • Long life to the Emperor! Be God's the praise!
  • 40Thou hear'st, my beauty, what thy servant says.
  • She.
  • And am I then to have no peace
  • Morning or evening?
  • I have strong coffers of my own
  • And much good gold therein;
  • So that if thou couldst offer me
  • The wealth of Saladin,
  • And add to that the Soldan's money-hoard,
  • Thy suit would not be anything toward.
  • He.
  • I have known many women, love,
  • 50 Whose thoughts were high and proud,
  • And yet have been made gentle by
  • Man's speech not over loud.
  • If we but press ye long enough,
  • At length ye will be bow'd;
  • For still a woman's weaker than a man.
  • When the end comes, recall how this began.
  • She.
  • God grant that I may die before
  • Any such end do come,—
  • Before the sight of a chaste maid
  • 60 Seem to be troublesome!
    page: 4
  • I mark'd thee here all yestereve
  • Lurking about my home,
  • And now I say, Leave climbing, lest thou fall,
  • For these thy words delight me not at all.
  • He.
  • How many are the cunning chains
  • Thou hast wound round my heart!
  • Only to think upon thy voice
  • Sometimes I groan apart.
  • For I did never love a maid
  • 70 Of this world, as thou art,
  • So much as I love thee, thou crimson rose.
  • Thou wilt be mine at last: this my soul knows.
  • She.
  • If I could think it would be so,
  • Small pride it were of mine
  • That all my beauty should be meant
  • But to make thee to shine.
  • Sooner than stoop to that I'd shear
  • These golden tresses fine,
  • And make one of some holy sisterhood;
  • 80Escaping so thy love, which is not good.
  • He.
  • If thou unto the cloister fly,
  • Thou cruel lady and cold,
  • Unto the cloister I will come
  • And by the cloister hold;
    page: 5
  • For such a conquest liketh me
  • Much better than much gold;
  • At matins and at vespers I shall be
  • Still where thou art. Have I not conquer'd thee?
  • She.
  • Out and alack! wherefore am I
  • 90 Tormented in suchwise?
  • Lord Jesus Christ the Saviour,
  • In whom my best hope lies,
  • O give me strength that I may hush
  • This vain man's blasphemies!
  • Let him seek through the earth; 'tis long and broad:
  • He will find fairer damsels, O my God!
  • He.
  • I have sought through Calabria,
  • Lombardy, and Tuscany,
  • Rome, Pisa, Lucca, Genoa,
  • 100 All between sea and sea:
  • Yea, even to Babylon I went
  • And distant Barbary:
  • But not a woman found I anywhere
  • Equal to thee, who art indeed most fair.
  • She.
  • If thou have all this love for me,
  • Thou canst no better do
  • Than ask me of my father dear
  • And my dear mother too:
    page: 6
  • They willing, to the abbey-church
  • 110 We will together go,
  • And, before Advent, thou and I will wed;
  • After the which, I'll do as thou hast said.
  • He.
  • These thy conditions, lady mine,
  • Are altogether nought;
  • Despite of them, I'll make a net
  • Wherein thou shalt be caught.
  • What, wilt thou put on wings to fly?
  • Of wax I think they're wrought,—
  • They'll let thee fall to earth, not rise with thee:
  • 120So, if thou canst, then keep thyself from me.
  • She.
  • Think not to fright me with thy nets
  • And suchlike childish gear;
  • I am safe pent within the walls
  • Of this strong castle here;
  • A boy before he is a man
  • Could give me as much fear.
  • If suddenly thou get not hence again,
  • It is my prayer thou may'st be found and slain.
  • He.
  • Wouldst thou in very truth that I
  • 130 Were slain, and for thy sake?
  • Then let them hew me to such mince
  • As a man's limbs may make!
    page: 7
  • But meanwhile I shall not stir hence
  • Till of that fruit I take
  • Which thou hast in thy garden, ripe enough:
  • All day and night I thirst to think thereof.
  • She.
  • None have partaken of that fruit,
  • Not Counts nor Cavaliers:
  • Though many have reach'd up for it,
  • 140 Barons and great Seigneurs,
  • They all went hence in wrath because
  • They could not make it theirs.
  • Then how canst thou think to succeed alone
  • Who hast not a thousand ounces of thine own?
  • He.
  • How many nosegays I have sent
  • Unto thy house, sweet soul!
  • At least till I am put to proof,
  • This scorn of thine control.
  • For if the wind, so fair for thee,
  • 150 Turn ever and wax foul,
  • Be sure that thou shalt say when all is done,
  • “Now is my heart heavy for him that's gone.”
  • She.
  • If by my grief thou couldst be grieved,
  • God send me a grief soon!
  • I tell thee that though all my friends
  • Pray'd me as for a boon,
    page: 8
  • Saying, “Even for the love of us,
  • Love thou this worthless loon,”—
  • Thou shouldst not have the thing that thou dost hope.
  • 160No, verily; not for the realm o' the Pope.
  • He.
  • Now could I wish that I in truth
  • Were dead here in thy house:
  • My soul would get its vengeance then;
  • Once known, the thing would rouse
  • A rabble, and they'd point and say,—
  • “Lo! she that breaks her vows,
  • And, in her dainty chamber, stabs!” Love, see:
  • One strikes just thus: it is soon done, pardie!
  • She.
  • If now thou do not hasten hence,
  • 170 (My curse companioning,)
  • That my stout friends will find thee here
  • Is a most certain thing:
  • After the which, my gallant sir,
  • Thy points of reasoning
  • May chance, I think, to stand thee in small stead.
  • Thou hast no friend, sweet friend, to bring thee aid.
  • He.
  • Thou sayest truly, saying that
  • I have not any friend:
  • A landless stranger, lady mine,
  • 180 None but his sword defend.
    page: 9
  • One year ago, my love began,
  • And now, is this the end?
  • Oh! the rich dress thou worest on that day
  • Since when thou art walking at my side alway!
  • She.
  • So 'twas my dress enamour'd thee!
  • What marvel? I did wear
  • A cloth of samite silver-flower'd,
  • And gems within my hair.
  • But one more word; if on Christ's Book
  • 190 To wed me thou didst swear,
  • There's nothing now could win me to be thine:
  • I had rather make my bed in the sea-brine.
  • He.
  • And if thou make thy bed therein,
  • Most courteous lady and bland,
  • I'll follow all among the waves,
  • Paddling with foot and hand;
  • Then, when the sea hath done with thee,
  • I'll seek thee on the sand.
  • For I will not be conquer'd in this strife:
  • 200I'll wait, but win; or losing, lose my life.
  • She.
  • For Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
  • Three times I cross myself.
  • Thou art no godless heretic,
  • Nor Jew, whose God's his pelf:
    page: 10
  • Even as I know it then, meseems,
  • Thou needs must know thyself
  • That woman, when the breath in her doth cease,
  • Loseth all savour and all loveliness.
  • He.
  • Woe's me! Perforce it must be said
  • 210 No craft could then avail:
  • So that if thou be thus resolved,
  • I know my suit must fail.
  • Then have some pity, of thy grace!
  • Thou may'st, love, very well;
  • For though thou love not me, my love is such
  • That 'tis enough for both—yea overmuch.
  • She.
  • Is it even so? Learn then that I
  • Do love thee from my heart.
  • To-morrow, early in the day,
  • 220 Come here, but now depart.
  • By thine obedience in this thing
  • I shall know what thou art,
  • And if thy love be real or nothing worth;
  • Do but go now, and I am thine henceforth.
  • He.
  • Nay, for such promise, my own life,
  • I will not stir a foot.
  • I've said, if thou wouldst tear away
  • My love even from its root,
    page: 11
  • I have a dagger at my side
  • 230 Which thou may'st take to do't:
  • But as for going hence, it will not be.
  • O hate me not! my heart is burning me.
  • She.
  • Think'st thou I know not that thy heart
  • Is hot and burns to death?
  • Of all that thou or I can say,
  • But one word succoureth.
  • Till thou upon the Holy Book
  • Give me thy bounden faith,
  • God is my witness that I will not yield:
  • 240For with thy sword 'twere better to be kill'd.
  • He.
  • Then on Christ's Book, borne with me still
  • To read from and to pray,
  • (I took it, fairest, in a church,
  • The priest being gone away,)
  • I swear that my whole self shall be
  • Thine always from this day.
  • And now at once give joy for all my grief,
  • Lest my soul fly, that's thinner than a leaf.
  • She.
  • Now that this oath is sworn, sweet lord,
  • 250 There is no need to speak:
  • My heart, that was so strong before,
  • Now feels itself grow weak.
  • Image of page 12 page: 12
  • If any of my words were harsh,
  • Thy pardon: I am meek
  • Now, and will give thee entrance presently.
  • It is best so, sith so it was to be.
page: [13]


He dwells on his Condition through Love.
  • All the whole world is living without war,
  • And yet I cannot find out any peace.
  • O God! that this should be!
  • O God! what does the earth sustain me for?
  • My life seems made for other lives' ill-ease:
  • All men look strange to me;
  • Nor are the wood-flowers now
  • As once, when up above
  • The happy birds in love
  • 10Made such sweet verses, going from bough to bough.
  • And if I come where other gentlemen
  • Bear arms, or say of love some joyful thing,—
  • Then is my grief most sore,
  • And all my soul turns round upon me then:
  • Folk also gaze upon me, whispering,
  • Because I am not what I was before.
  • page: 14
  • I know not what I am.
  • I know how wearisome
  • My life is now become,
  • 20And that the days I pass seem all the same.
  • I think that I shall die; yea, death begins;
  • Though 'tis no set down sickness that I have,
  • Nor are my pains set down.
  • But to wear raiment seems a burden since
  • This came, nor ever any food I crave;
  • Not any cure is known
  • To me, nor unto whom
  • I might commend my case:
  • This evil therefore stays
  • 30Still where it is, and hope can find no room.
  • I know that it must certainly be Love:
  • No other Lord, being thus set over me,
  • Had judged me to this curse;
  • With such high hand he rules, sitting above,
  • That of myself he takes two parts in fee,
  • Only the third being hers.
  • Yet if through service I
  • Be justified with God,
  • He shall remove this load,
  • 40Because my heart with inmost love doth sigh.
  • Gentle my lady, after I am gone,
  • There will not come another, it may be,
  • Image of page 15 page: 15
  • To show thee love like mine:
  • For nothing can I do, neither have done,
  • Except what proves that I belong to thee
  • And am a thing of thine.
  • Be it not said that I
  • Despair'd and perish'd, then;
  • But pour thy grace, like rain,
  • 50On him who is burn'd up, yea, visibly.
page: [16]

He exhorts the State to vigilance.
  • Think a brief while on the most marvellous
  • arts
  • Of our high-purposed labour, citizens;
  • And having thought, draw clear conclusion thence;
  • And say, do not ours seem but childish parts?
  • Also on these intestine sores and smarts
  • Ponder advisedly; and the deep sense
  • Thereof shall bow your heads in penitence,
  • And like a thorn shall grow into your hearts.
  • If, of our foreign foes, some prince or lord
  • 10 Is now, perchance, some whit less troublesome,
  • Shall the sword therefore drop into the sheath?
  • Nay, grasp it as the friend that warranteth:
  • For unto this vile rout, our foes at home,
  • Nothing is high or awful save the sword.
page: [17]
Sig. C

Our Lord Christ: of order.*
  • Set Love in order, thou that lovest Me.
  • Never was virtue out of order found;
  • And though I fill thy heart desirously,
  • By thine own virtue I must keep My ground:
  • When to My love thou dost bring charity,
  • Even she must come with order girt and gown'd.
  • Look how the trees are bound
  • To order, bearing fruit;
  • And by one thing compute,
  • 10In all things earthly, order's grace or gain.
  • All earthly things I had the making of
  • Were number'd and were measured then by Me;
  • And each was order'd to its end by Love,
  • Each kept, through order, clean for ministry.
  • Transcribed Footnote (page [17]):

    * This speech occurs in a long poem on Divine Love, half

    ecstatic, half scholastic, and hardly appreciable now. The

    passage stands well by itself, and is the only one spoken by

    our Lord.

    Image of page 18 page: 18
  • Charity most of all, when known enough,
  • Is of her very nature orderly.
  • Lo, now! what heat in thee,
  • Soul, can have bred this rout?
  • Thou putt'st all order out.
  • 20Even this love's heat must be its curb and rein.
page: [19]

Of his Lady in bondage.
  • For grief I am about to sing,
  • Even as another would for joy;
  • Mine eyes which the hot tears destroy
  • Are scarce enough for sorrowing:
  • To speak of such a grievous thing
  • Also my tongue I must employ,
  • Saying: Woe's me, who am full of woes!
  • Not while I live shall my sighs cease
  • For her in whom my heart found peace:
  • 10I am become like unto those
  • That cannot sleep for weariness,
  • Now I have lost my crimson rose.
  • And yet I will not call her lost;
  • She is not gone out of the earth;
  • She is but girded with a girth
  • Of hate, that clips her in like frost.
  • Thus says she every hour almost:—
  • “When I was born, 'twas an ill birth!
  • O that I never had been born,
  • 20 If I am still to fall asleep
  • page: 20
  • Weeping, and when I wake to weep;
  • If he whom I most loathe and scorn
  • Is still to have me his, and keep
  • Smiling about me night and morn!
  • “O that I never had been born
  • A woman! a poor, helpless fool,
  • Who can but stoop beneath the rule
  • Of him she needs must loathe and scorn!
  • If ever I feel less forlorn,
  • 30 I stand all day in fear and dule,
  • Lest he discern it, and with rough
  • Speech mock at me, or with his smile
  • So hard you scarce could call it guile:
  • No man is there to say, ‘Enough.’
  • O, but if God waits a long while,
  • Death cannot always stand aloof!
  • “Thou, God the Lord, dost know all this:
  • Give me a little comfort then.
  • Him who is worst among bad men
  • 40 Smite thou for me. Those limbs of his
  • Once hidden where the sharp worm is,
  • Perhaps I might see hope again.
  • Yet for a certain period
  • Would I seem like as one that saith
  • Strange things for grief, and murmureth
  • With smitten palms and hair abroad:
  • Still whispering under my held breath,
  • ‘Shall I not praise Thy name, O God?’
    Note: The final four lines of the preceding stanza ("Strange things for grief ... Thy name, O God?'") were incorrectly set too far to the left by the printer. They do not line up properly with the rest of the stanza.
Image of page 21 page: 21
  • “Thou, God the Lord, dost know all this:
  • 50 It is a very weary thing
  • Thus to be always trembling:
  • And till the breath of his life cease,
  • The hate in him will but increase,
  • And with his hate my suffering.
  • Each morn I hear his voice bid them
  • That watch me, to be faithful spies
  • Lest I go forth and see the skies;
  • Each night, to each, he saith the same;—
  • And in my soul and in mine eyes
  • 60There is a burning heat like flame.”
  • Thus grieves she now; but she shall wear
  • This love of mine, whereof I spoke,
  • About her body for a cloak,
  • And for a garland in her hair,
  • Even yet: because I mean to prove,
  • Not to speak only, this my love.
page: [22]

On the Fitness of Seasons.
  • There is a time to mount; to humble thee
  • A time; a time to talk, and hold thy peace;
  • A time to labour, and a time to cease;
  • A time to take thy measures patiently;
  • A time to watch what Time's next step may be;
  • A time to make light count of menaces,
  • And to think over them a time there is;
  • There is a time when to seem not to see.
  • Wherefore I hold him well-advised and sage
  • 10 Who evermore keeps prudence facing him,
  • And lets his life slide with occasion;
  • And so comports himself, through youth to age,
  • That never any man at any time
  • Can say, Not thus, but thus thou shouldst have
  • done.
page: [23]


Concerning Lucy.
  • When Lucy draws her mantle round her face,
  • So sweeter than all else she is to see,
  • That hence unto the hills there lives not he
  • Whose whole soul would not love her for her grace.
  • Then seems she like a daughter of some race
  • That holds high rule in France or Germany:
  • And a snake's head stricken off suddenly
  • Throbs never as then throbs my heart to embrace
  • Her body in these arms, even were she loth;—
  • 10 To kiss her lips, to kiss her cheeks, to kiss
  • The lids of her two eyes which are two flames.
  • Yet what my heart so longs for, my heart
  • blames:
  • For surely sorrow might be bred from this
  • Where some man's patient love abides its growth.
page: 24


Of the gentle Heart.
  • Within the gentle heart Love shelters him,
  • As birds within the green shade of the
  • grove.
  • Before the gentle heart, in Nature's scheme,
  • Love was not, nor the gentle heart ere Love.
  • For with the sun, at once,
  • So sprang the light immediately; nor was
  • Its birth before the sun's.
  • And Love hath his effect in gentleness
  • Of very self; even as
  • 10 Within the middle fire the heat's excess.
    Note: The next-to-last line ("And Love hath...") and last line ("Within the middle...") of the preceding stanza were set incorrectly by the printer so that they do not line up properly with the rest of the stanza. Compare the indentation for corresponding lines in the rest of the poem.
  • The fire of Love comes to the gentle heart
  • Like as its virtue to a precious stone;
  • To which no star its influence can impart
  • Till it is made a pure thing by the sun:
  • For when the sun hath smit
  • From out its essence that which there was vile,
  • The star endoweth it.
  • And so the heart created by God's breath
  • Pure, true, and clean from guile,
  • 20A woman, like a star, enamoureth.
page: 25
  • In gentle heart Love for like reason is
  • For which the lamp's high flame is fann'd and
  • bow'd:
  • Clear, piercing bright, it shines for its own bliss;
  • Nor would it burn there else, it is so proud.
  • For evil natures meet
  • With Love as it were water met with fire,
  • As cold abhorring heat.
  • Through gentle heart Love doth a track divine,—
  • Like knowing like; the same
  • 30As diamond runs through iron in the mine.
  • The sun strikes full upon the mud all day;
  • It remains vile, nor the sun's worth is less.
  • “By race I am gentle,” the proud man doth say:
  • He is the mud, the sun is gentleness.
  • Let no man predicate
  • That aught the name of gentleness should have,
  • Even in a king's estate,
  • Except the heart there be a gentle man's.
  • The star-beam lights the wave,—
  • 40Heaven holds the star and the star's radiance.
  • God, in the understanding of high Heaven,
  • Burns more than in our sight the living sun:
  • There to behold His Face unveil'd is given;
  • And Heaven, whose will is homage paid to One,
  • Fulfils the things which live
  • In God, from the beginning excellent.
  • So should my lady give
  • Image of page 26 page: 26
  • That truth which in her eyes is glorified,
  • On which her heart is bent,
  • 50To me whose service waiteth at her side.
  • My lady, God shall ask, “What dared'st thou?”
  • (When my soul stands with all her acts review'd;)
  • “Thou passed'st Heaven, into My sight, as now,
  • To make Me of vain love similitude.
  • To Me doth praise belong,
  • And to the Queen of all the realm of grace
  • Who endeth fraud and wrong.”
  • Then may I plead: “As though from Thee he came,
  • Love wore an angel's face:
  • 60Lord, if I loved her, count it not my shame.”
page: 27


He will praise his Lady.
  • Yea, let me praise my lady whom I love,
  • Likening her unto the lily and rose:
  • Brighter than morning star her visage glows;
  • She is beneath even as her Saint above:
  • She is as the air in summer which God wove
  • Of purple and of vermillion glorious;
  • As gold and jewels richer than man knows.
  • Love's self, being love for her, must holier prove.
  • Ever as she walks she hath a sober grace,
  • 10 Making bold men abash'd and good men glad;
  • If she delight thee not, thy heart must err.
  • No man dare look on her his thoughts being base:
  • Nay, let me say even more than I have said;—
  • No man could think base thoughts who look'd
  • on her.
page: 28


He perceives his Rashness in Love, but has no choice.
  • I hold him, verily, of mean emprise,
  • Whose rashness tempts a strength too great to
  • bear;
  • As I have done, alas! who turn'd mine eyes
  • Upon those perilous eyes of the most fair.
  • Unto her eyes I bow'd;
  • No need her other beauties in that hour
  • Should aid them, cold and proud:
  • As when the vassals of a mighty lord,
  • What time he needs his power,
  • 10Are all girt round him to make strong his sword.
  • With such exceeding force the stroke was dealt,
  • That by mine eyes its path might not be stay'd;
  • But deep into the heart it pierced, which felt
  • The pang of the sharp wound, and wax'd afraid;
  • Then rested in strange wise,
  • As when some creature utterly outworn
  • Sinks into bed and lies.
  • And she the while doth in no manner care,
  • But goes her way in scorn,
  • 20Beholding herself alway proud and fair.
Image of page 29 page: 29
  • And she may be as proud as she shall please,
  • For she is still the fairest woman found:
  • A sun she seems among the rest; and these
  • Have all their beauties in her splendour drown'd.
  • In her is every grace,—
  • Simplicity of wisdom, noble speech,
  • Accomplish'd loveliness;
  • All earthly beauty is her diadem.
  • This truth my song would teach,—
  • 30My lady is of ladies chosen gem.
  • Love to my lady's service yieldeth me,—
  • Will I, or will I not, the thing is so,—
  • Nor other reason can I say or see,
  • Except that where it lists the wind doth blow.
  • He rules and gives no sign;
  • Nor once from her did show of love upbuoy
  • This passion which is mine.
  • It is because her virtue's strength and stir
  • So fill her full of joy
  • 40That I am glad to die for love of her.
page: 30


Of Moderation and Tolerance.
  • He that has grown to wisdom hurries not,
  • But thinks and weighs what Reason bids
  • him do;
  • And after thinking he retains his thought
  • Until as he conceived the fact ensue.
  • Let no man to o'erweening pride be wrought,
  • But count his state as Fortune's gift and due.
  • He is a fool who deems that none has sought
  • The truth, save he alone, or knows it true.
  • Many strange birds are on the air abroad,
  • 10 Nor all are of one flight or of one force,
  • But each after his kind dissimilar:
  • To each was portion'd of the breath of God,
  • Who gave them divers instincts from one source.
  • Then judge not thou thy fellows what they are.
page: 31


Of Human Presumption.
  • Among my thoughts I count it wonderful,
  • How foolishness in man should be so rife
  • That masterly he takes the world to wife
  • As though no end were set unto his rule:
  • In labour alway that his ease be full,
  • As though there never were another life;
  • Till Death throws all his order into strife,
  • And round his head his purposes doth pull.
  • And evermore one sees the other die,
  • 10 And sees how all conditions turn to change,
  • Yet in no wise may the blind wretch be heal'd.
  • I therefore say, that sin can even estrange
  • Man's very sight, and his heart satisfy
  • To live as lives a sheep upon the field.
page: [32]

He is out of heart with his Time.
  • If any man would know the very cause
  • Which makes me to forget my speech in rhyme,
  • All the sweet songs I sang in other time,—
  • I'll tell it in a sonnet's simple clause.
  • I hourly have beheld how good withdraws
  • To nothing, and how evil mounts the while:
  • Until my heart is gnaw'd as with a file,
  • Nor aught of this world's worth is what it was.
  • At last there is no other remedy
  • 10 But to behold the universal end;
  • And so upon this hope my thoughts are urged:
  • To whom, since truth is sunk and dead at sea,
  • There has no other part or prayer remain'd,
  • Except of seeing the world's self submerged.
page: [33]
Sig. D

He rebukes the Evil of that Time.
  • Hard is it for a man to please all men:
  • I therefore speak in doubt,
  • And as one may that looketh to be chid.
  • But who can hold his peace in these days?—when
  • Guilt cunningly slips out,
  • And innocence atones for what he did;
  • When worth is crush'd, even if it be not hid;
  • When on crush'd worth, guile sets his foot to rise;
  • And when the things wise men have counted wise
  • 10 Make fools to smile and stare and lift the lid.
  • Let none who have not wisdom govern you:
  • For he that was a fool
  • At first shall scarce grow wise under the sun.
  • And as it is, my whole heart bleeds anew
  • To think how hard a school
  • Young hope grows old at, as these seasons run.
  • Behold, sirs, we have reach'd this thing for
  • one:—
  • The lord before his servant bends the knee,
  • And service puts on lordship suddenly.
  • 20 Ye speak o' the end? Ye have not yet begun.
page: 34
  • I would not have ye without counsel ta'en
  • Follow my words; nor meant,
  • If one should talk and act not, to praise him.
  • But who, being much opposed, speaks not again,
  • Confesseth himself shent
  • And put to silence,—by some loud-mouth'd
  • mime,
  • Perchance, for whom I speak not in this
  • rhyme.
  • Strive what ye can; and if ye cannot all,
  • Yet should not your hearts fall:
  • 30 The fruit commends the flower in God's good
  • time.
  • (For without fruit, the flower delights not God:)
  • Wherefore let him whom Hope
  • Puts off, remember time is not gone by.
  • Let him say calmly: “Thus far on this road
  • A foolish trust buoy'd up
  • My soul, and made it like the butterfly
  • Burn'd in the flame it seeks: even so was I:
  • But now I'll aid myself; for still this trust,
  • I find, falleth to dust:
  • 40 The fish gapes for the bait-hook, and doth die.”
  • And yet myself, who bid ye do this thing,—
  • Am I not also spurn'd
  • By the proud feet of Hope continually;
  • Till that which gave me such good comforting
  • Is altogether turn'd
    page: 35
  • Unto a fire whose heat consumeth me?
  • I am so girt with grief that my thoughts be
  • Tired of themselves, and from my soul I loathe
  • Silence and converse both;
  • 50 And my own face is what I hate to see.
  • Because no act is meet now nor unmeet.
  • He that does evil, men applaud his name,
  • And the well-doer must put up with shame:
  • Yea, and the worst man sits in the best seat.
page: [36]


He is resolved to be joyful in Love.
  • A thing is in my mind,—
  • To have my joy again,
  • Which I had almost put away from me.
  • It were in foolish kind
  • For ever to refrain
  • From song, and renounce gladness utterly.
  • Seeing that I am given into the rule
  • Of Love, whom only pleasure makes alive
  • Whom pleasure nourishes and brings to
  • growth:
  • 10 The wherefore sullen sloth
  • Will he not suffer in those serving him
  • But pleasant they must seem,
  • That good folk love them and their service thrive;
  • Nor even their pain must make them sorrowful.
page: 37
  • So bear he him that thence
  • The praise of men be gain'd,—
  • He that would put his hope in noble Love;
  • For by great excellence
  • Alone can be attain'd
  • 20That amorous joy which wisdom may approve.
  • The way of Love is this, righteous and just;
  • Then whoso would be held of good account,
  • To seek the way of Love must him befit,—
  • Pleasure, to wit.
  • Through pleasure, man attains his worthiness:
  • For he must please
  • All men, so bearing him that Love may mount
  • In their esteem, Love's self being in his trust.
  • Trustful in servitude
  • 30 I have been and will be,
  • And loyal unto Love my whole life through.
  • A hundred-fold of good
  • Hath he not guerdon'd me
  • For what I have endured of grief and woe?
  • Since he hath given me unto one of whom
  • Thus much he said,—thou mightest seek for
  • aye
  • Another of such worth, so beauteous.
  • Joy therefore may keep house
  • In this my heart, that it hath loved so well.
  • 40 Me seems I scarce could dwell
  • Ever in weary life or in dismay
  • If to true service still my heart gave room.
page: 38
  • Serving at her pleasaunce
  • Whose service pleasureth,
  • I am enrich'd with all the wealth of Love.
  • Song hath no utterance
  • For my life's joyful breath
  • Since in this lady's grace my homage throve.
  • Yea, for I think it would be difficult
  • 50 One should conceive my former abject case:—
  • Therefore have knowledge of me from this
  • rhyme.
  • My penance-time
  • Is all accomplish'd now, and all forgot,
  • So that no jot
  • Do I remember of mine evil days.
  • It is my lady's will that I exult.
  • Exulting let me take
  • My joyful comfort, then,
  • Seeing myself in so much blessedness.
  • 60 Mine ease even as mine ache
  • Accepting, let me gain
  • No pride tow'rds Love; but with all humbleness,
  • Even still, my pleasurable service pay.
  • For a good servant ne'er was left to pine:
  • Great shall his guerdon be who greatly bears.
  • But, because he that fears
  • To speak too much, by his own silence shent,
  • Hath sometimes made lament,—
  • I am thus boastful, lady; being thine
  • 70For homage and obedience night and day.
page: 39


A Lady, in Spring, repents of her Coldness.
  • Now, when it flowereth,
  • And when the banks and fields
  • Are greener every day,
  • And sweet is each bird's breath,
  • In the tree where he builds
  • Singing after his way,—
  • Spring comes to us with hasty step and brief,
  • Everywhere in leaf,
  • And everywhere makes people laugh and play.
  • 10 Love is brought unto me
  • In the scent of the flower
  • And in the birds' blithe noise.
  • When day begins to be,
  • I hear in every bower
  • New verses finding voice:
  • From every branch around me and above,
  • A minstrels' court of love,
  • The birds contend in song about love's joys.
page: 40
  • What time I hear the lark
  • 20 And nightingale keep Spring,
  • My heart will pant and yearn
  • For love. (Ye all may mark
  • The unkindly comforting
  • Of fire that will not burn.)
  • And, being in the shadow of the fresh wood,
  • How excellently good
  • A thing love is, I cannot choose but learn.
  • Let me ask grace; for I,
  • Being loved, loved not again.
  • 30 Now springtime makes me love,
  • And bids me satisfy
  • The lover whose fierce pain
  • I thought too lightly of:
  • For that the pain is fierce I do feel now.
  • And yet this pride is slow
  • To free my heart, which pity would fain move.
  • Wherefore I pray thee, Love,
  • That thy breath turn me o'er,
  • Even as the wind a leaf;
  • 40 And I will set thee above
  • This heart of mine, that's sore
  • Perplex'd, to be its chief.
  • Let also the dear youth, whose passion must
  • Henceforward have good trust,
  • Be happy without words; for words bring grief.
page: [41]


Of his Lady in Heaven.
  • I have it in my heart to serve God so
  • That into Paradise I shall repair,—
  • The holy place through the which everywhere
  • I have heard say that joy and solace flow.
  • Without my lady I were loth to go,—
  • She who has the bright face and the bright hair;
  • Because if she were absent, I being there,
  • My pleasure would be less than nought, I know.
  • Look you, I say not this to such intent
  • 10 As that I there would deal in any sin:
  • I only would behold her gracious mien,
  • And beautiful soft eyes, and lovely face,
  • That so it should be my complete content
  • To see my lady joyful in her place.
page: 42


Of his Lady, and of her Portrait.
  • Marvellously elate,
  • Love makes my spirit warm
  • With noble sympathies;
  • As one whose mind is set
  • Upon some glorious form,
  • To paint it as it is;—
  • I verily who bear
  • Thy face at heart, most fair,
  • Am like to him in this.
  • 10Not outwardly declared,
  • Within me dwells enclosed
  • Thine image as thou art.
  • Ah! strangely hath it fared!
  • I know not if thou know'st
  • The love within my heart.
  • Exceedingly afraid,
  • My hope I have not said,
  • But gazed on thee apart.
page: 43
  • Because desire was strong,
  • 20 I made a portraiture
  • In thine own likeness, love;
  • When absence has grown long,
  • I gaze, till I am sure
  • That I behold thee move;
  • As one who purposeth
  • To save himself by faith,
  • Yet sees not, nor can prove.
  • Then comes the burning pain;
  • As with the man that hath
  • 30 A fire within his breast,—
  • When most he struggles, then
  • Most boils the flame in wrath,
  • And will not let him rest.
  • So still I burn'd and shook,
  • To pass, and not to look
  • In thy face, loveliest.
  • For where thou art I pass,
  • And do not lift mine eyes,
  • Lady, to look on thee:
  • 40But, as I go, alas!
  • With bitterness of sighs
  • I mourn exceedingly.
  • Alas! the constant woe!
  • Myself I do not know,
  • So sore it troubles me.
page: 44
  • And I have sung thy praise,
  • Lady, and many times
  • Have told thy beauties o'er.
  • Hast heard in anyways,
  • 50 Perchance, that these my rhymes
  • Are song-craft and no more?
  • Nay, rather deem, when thou
  • Shalt see me pass and bow,
  • These words I sicken for.
  • Delicate song of mine,
  • Go sing thou a new strain;
  • Seek, with the first sunshine,
  • Our lady, mine and thine,—
  • The rose of Love's domain,
  • 60Than red gold comelier.
  • “Lady, in Love's name hark
  • To Jacopo the clerk,
  • Born in Lentino here.”
page: 45


No Jewel is worth his Lady.
  • Sapphire, nor diamond, nor emerald,
  • Nor other precious stones past reckoning,
  • Topaz, nor pearl, nor ruby like a king,
  • Nor that most virtuous jewel, jasper call'd,
  • Nor amethyst, nor onyx, nor basalt,
  • Each counted for a very marvellous thing,
  • Is half so excellently gladdening
  • As is my lady's head uncoronall'd.
  • All beauty by her beauty is made dim;
  • 10 Like to the stars she is for loftiness;
  • And with her voice she taketh away grief.
  • She is fairer than a bud, or than a leaf.
  • Christ have her well in keeping, of His grace,
  • And make her holy and beloved, like Him!
page: 46


He will neither boast nor lament to his Lady.
  • Love will not have me cry
  • For grace, as others do;
  • Nor as they vaunt, that I
  • Should vaunt my love to you.
  • For service, such as all
  • Can pay, is counted small;
  • Nor is it much to praise
  • The thing which all must know;—
  • Such pittance to bestow
  • 10On you my love delays.
  • Love lets me not turn shape
  • As chance or use may strike;
  • As one may see an ape
  • Counterfeit all alike.
  • Then, lady, unto you
  • Be it not mine to sue
    page: 47
  • For grace or pitying.
  • Many the lovers be
  • That of such suit are free,—
  • 20It is a common thing.
  • A gem, the more 'tis rare,
  • The more its cost will mount:
  • And, be it not so fair,
  • It is of more account.
  • So, coming from the East,
  • The sapphire is increased
  • In worth, though scarce so bright;
  • I therefore seek thy face
  • Not to solicit grace
  • 30Being cheapen'd and made slight.
  • So is the colosmine
  • Now cheapen'd, which in fame
  • Was once so brave and fine,
  • But now is a mean gem.
  • So be such prayers for grace
  • Not heard in any place;
  • Would they indeed hold fast
  • Their worth, be they not said,
  • Nor by true lovers made
  • 40Before nine years be past.
  • Lady, sans sigh or groan,
  • My longing thou canst see;
    page: 48
  • Much better am I known
  • Than to myself, to thee.
  • And is there nothing else
  • That in thy heart avails
  • For love but groan and sigh?
  • And wilt thou have it thus,
  • This love betwixen us?—
  • 50Much rather let me die.
page: 49
Sig. E


Of his Lady, and of his making her Likeness.
  • My lady mine,* I send
  • These sighs in joy to thee;
  • Though, loving till the end,
  • There were no hope for me
  • That I should speak my love;
  • And I have loved indeed,
  • Though, having fearful heed,
  • It was not spoken of.
Transcribed Footnote (page 49):

* Madonna mia.

  • Thou art so high and great
  • 10 That whom I love I fear;
  • Which thing to circumstate
  • I have no messenger:
  • Wherefore to Love I pray,
  • On whom each lover cries,
  • That these my tears and sighs
  • Find unto thee a way.
page: 50
  • Well have I wish'd, when I
  • At heart with sighs have ached,
  • That there were in each sigh
  • 20 Spirit and intellect,
  • The which, where thou dost sit,
  • Should kneel and sue for aid,
  • Since I am thus afraid
  • And have no strength for it.
  • Thou, lady, killest me,
  • Yet keepest me in pain,
  • For thou must surely see
  • How, fearing, I am fain.
  • Ah! why not send me still
  • 30 Some solace, small and slight,
  • So that I should not quite
  • Despair of thy good will?
  • Thy grace, all else above,
  • Even now while I implore,
  • Enamoureth my love
  • To love thee still the more.
  • Yet scarce should I know well
  • A greater love to gain,
  • Even if a greater pain,
  • 40Lady, were possible.
  • Joy did that day relax
  • My grief's continual stress,
  • When I essay'd in wax
  • Thy beauty's life-likeness.
    page: 51
  • Ah! much more beautiful
  • Than golden-hair'd Yseult,—
  • Who mak'st all men exult,
  • Who bring'st all women dule.
  • And certes without blame
  • 50 Thy love might fall to me,
  • Though it should chance my name
  • Were never heard of thee.
  • Yea, for thy love, in fine,
  • Lentino gave me birth,
  • Who am not nothing worth
  • If worthy to be thine.
page: 52


Of his Lady's Face.
  • Her face has made my life most proud and
  • glad;
  • Her face has made my life quite wearisome;
  • It comforts me when other troubles come,
  • And amid other joys it strikes me sad.
  • Truly I think her face can drive me mad;
  • For now I am too loud, and anon dumb.
  • There is no second face in Christendom
  • Has a like power, nor shall have, nor has had.
  • What man in living face has seen such eyes,
  • 10 Or such a lovely bending of the head,
  • Or mouth that opens to so sweet a smile?
  • In speech, my heart before her faints and dies,
  • And into Heaven seems to be spirited;
  • So that I count me blest a certain while.
page: 53


At the end of his Hope.
  • Remembering this—how Love
  • Mocks me, and bids me hoard
  • Mine ill reward that keeps me nigh to death,—
  • How it doth still behove
  • I suffer the keen sword,
  • Whence undeplored I may not draw my breath;
  • In memory of this thing
  • Sighing and sorrowing,
  • I am languid at the heart
  • 10 For her to whom I bow,
  • Craving her pity now,
  • And who still turns apart.
  • I am dying, and through her—
  • This flower, from paradise
  • Sent in some wise, that I might have no rest.
  • Truly she did not err
  • To come before his eyes
  • Who fails and dies, by her sweet smile possess'd;
  • For, through her countenance
  • 20 (Fair brows and lofty glance!)
    page: 54
  • I live in constant dule.
  • Of lovers' hearts the chief
  • For sorrow and much grief,
  • My heart is sorrowful.
  • For Love has made me weep
  • With sighs that do him wrong,
  • Since, when most strong my joy, he gave this woe.
  • I am broken, as a ship
  • Perishing of the song
  • 30Sweet, sweet and long, the song the sirens know.
  • The mariner forgets,
  • Voyaging in those straits,
  • And dies assuredly.
  • Yea, from her pride perverse,
  • Who hath my heart as her's,
  • Even such my death must be.
  • I deem'd her not so fell
  • And hard but she would greet,
  • From her high seat, at length, the love I bring;
  • 40 For I have loved her well;—
  • Nor that her face so sweet
  • In so much heat would keep me languishing;
  • Seeing that she I serve
  • All honour doth deserve
  • For worth unparallell'd.
  • Yet what availeth moan
  • But for more grief alone?
  • O God! that it avail'd!
page: 55
  • Thou, my new song, shalt pray
  • 50 To her, who for no end
  • Each day doth tend her virtues that they grow,—
  • Since she to love saith nay;—
  • (More charms she hath attain'd
  • Than sea hath sand, and wisdom even so);—
  • Pray thou to her that she
  • For my love pity me,
  • Since with my love I burn,—
  • That of the fruit of love,
  • While help may come thereof,
  • 60 She give to me in turn.
page: [56]


He solicits his Lady's Pity
  • The lofty worth and lovely excellence,
  • Dear lady, that thou hast,
  • Hold me consuming in the fire of love;
  • That I am much afear'd and wilder'd thence,
  • As who, being meanly placed,
  • Would win unto some height he dreameth of.
  • Yet, if it be decreed,
  • After the multiplying of vain thought,
  • By Fortune's favour he at last is brought
  • 10To his far hope, the mighty bliss indeed.
  • Thus, in considering thy loveliness,
  • Love maketh me afear'd,—
  • So high art thou, joyful, and full of good;—
  • And all the more, thy scorn being never less.
  • Yet is this comfort heard,—
  • That underneath the water fire doth brood,
    page: 57
  • Which thing would seem unfit
  • By law of nature. So may thy scorn prove
  • Changed at the last, through pity, into love,
  • 20If favourable Fortune should permit.
  • Lady, though I do love past utterance,
  • Let it not seem amiss,
  • Neither rebuke thou the enamour'd eyes.
  • Look thou thyself on thine own countenance,
  • From that charm unto this,
  • All thy perfection of sufficiencies.
  • So shalt thou rest assured
  • That thine exceeding beauty lures me on
  • Perforce, as by the passive magnet-stone
  • 30The needle, of its nature's self, is lured.
  • Certes, it was of Love's dispiteousness
  • That I must set my life
  • On thee, proud lady, who accept'st it not.
  • And how should I attain unto thy grace,
  • That falter, thus at strife
  • To speak to thee the thing which is my thought?
  • Thou, lovely as thou art,
  • I pray for God, when thou dost pass me by,
  • Look upon me: so shalt thou certify,
  • 40By my cheek's ailing, that which ails my heart.
  • So thoroughly my love doth tend toward
  • Thy love its lofty scope,
  • That I may never think to ease my pain;
  • Because the ice, when it is frozen hard,
    page: 58
  • May have no further hope
  • That it should ever become snow again.
  • But, since Love bids me bend
  • Unto thy signiory,
  • Have pity thou on me,
  • 50That so upon thyself all grace descend.
page: 59


After six years' Service he renounces his Lady.
  • I laboured these six years
  • For thee, thou bitter sweet;
  • Yea, more than it is meet
  • That speech should now rehearse
  • Or song should rhyme to thee;
  • But love gains never aught
  • From thee, by depth or length;
  • Unto thine eyes such strength
  • And calmness thou hast taught,
  • 10 That I say wearily:—
  • “The child is most like me,
  • Who thinks in the clear stream
  • To catch the round flat moon
  • And draw it all a-dripping unto him,—
  • Who fancies he can take into his hand
  • The flame o' the lamp, but soon
  • Screams and is nigh to swoon
  • At the sharp heat his flesh may not withstand.”
page: 60
  • Though it be late to learn
  • 20 How sore I was possest,
  • Yet do I count me blest,
  • Because I still can spurn
  • This thrall which is so mean.
  • For when a man, once sick,
  • Has got his health anew,
  • The fever which boil'd through
  • His veins, and made him weak,
  • Is as it had not been.
  • For all that I had seen,
  • 30Thy spirit, like thy face,
  • More excellently shone
  • Than precious crystals in an untrod place.
  • Go to: thy worth is but as glass, the cheat,
  • Which, to gaze thereupon,
  • Seems crystal, even as one,
  • But only is a cunning counterfeit.
  • Foil'd hope has made me mad,
  • As one who, playing high,
  • Thought to grow rich thereby,
  • 40And loses what he had.
  • Yet I can now perceive
  • How true the saying is
  • That says: “If one turn back
  • Out of an evil track
  • Through loss which has been his,
  • He gains, and need not grieve.”
  • To me now, by your leave,
    page: 61
  • It chances as to him
  • Who of his purse is free
  • 50To one whose memory for such debts is dim.
  • Long time he speaks no word thereof, being loth:
  • But having ask'd, when he
  • Is answer'd slightingly,
  • Then shall he lose his patience, and be wroth.
page: 62


Of Self-seeing.
  • If any his own foolishness might see
  • As he can see his fellow's foolishness,
  • His evil speakings could not but prove less,
  • For his own fault would vex him inwardly.
  • But, by old custom, each man deems that he
  • Has to himself all this world's worthiness;
  • And thou, perchance, in blind contentedness,
  • Scorn'st him, yet know'st not what I think of thee.
  • Wherefore I wish it were so orderèd
  • 10 That each of us might know the good that's his,
  • And also the ill,—his honour and his shame.
  • For oft a man has on his proper head
  • Such weight of sins, that, did he know but this,
  • He could not for his life give others blame.
page: [63]

Of his Change through Love.
  • My lady, thy delightful high command,
  • Thy wisdom's great intent,
  • The worth which ever rules thee in thy sway,
  • (Whose righteousness of strength has ta'en in hand
  • Such full accomplishment
  • As height makes worthy of more height alway,)
  • Have granted to thy servant some poor due
  • Of thy perfection; who
  • From them has gain'd a proper will so fix'd,
  • 10 With other thought unmix'd,
  • That nothing save thy service now impels
  • His life, and his heart longs for nothing else.
  • Beneath thy pleasure, lady mine, I am:
  • The circuit of my will,
  • The force of all my life, to serve thee so:
  • Never but only this I think or name,
  • Nor ever can I fill
  • My heart with other joy that man may know.
  • And hence a sovereign blessedness I draw,
  • 20 Who soon most clearly saw
    page: 64
  • That not alone my perfect pleasure is
  • In this my life-service;
  • But Love has made my soul with thine to touch
  • Till my heart feels unworthy of so much.
  • For all that I could strive, it were not worth
  • That I should be uplift
  • Into thy love, as certainly I know:
  • Since one to thy deserving should stretch forth
  • His love for a free gift,
  • 30 And be full fain to serve and sit below.
  • And forasmuch as this is verity,
  • It came to pass with thee
  • That seeing how my love was not loud-tongued
  • Yet for thy service long'd,—
  • As only thy pure wisdom brought to pass,—
  • Thou knew'st my heart for only what it was.
  • Also because thou thus at once didst learn
  • This heart of mine and thine,
  • With all its love for thee, which was and is;
  • 40Thy lofty sense that could so well discern
  • Wrought even in me some sign
  • Of thee, and of itself some emphasis,
  • Which evermore might hold my purpose fast.
  • For lo! thy law is pass'd
  • That this my love should manifestly be
  • To serve and honour thee:
  • And so I do: and my delight is full,
  • Accepted for the servant of thy rule.
page: 65
Sig. F
  • Without almost, I am all rapturous,
  • 50 Since thus my will was set
  • To serve, thou flower of joy, thine excellence:
  • Nor ever seems it anything could rouse
  • A pain or a regret,
  • But on thee dwells mine every thought and sense;
  • Considering that from thee all virtues spread
  • As from a fountain-head,—
  • That in thy gift is wisdom's best avail
  • And honour without fail;
  • With whom each sovereign good dwells separate
  • 60Fulfilling the perfection of thy state.
  • Lady, since I conceived
  • Thy pleasurable aspect in my heart,
  • My life has been apart
  • In shining brightness and the place of truth;
  • Which till that time, good sooth,
  • Groped among shadows in a darken'd place
  • Where many hours and days
  • It hardly ever had remember'd good.
  • But now my servitude
  • 70Is thine, and I am full of joy and rest.
  • A man from a wild beast
  • Thou madest me, since for thy love I lived.
page: [66]



Of his Lady in absence.
  • The sweetly-favour'd face
  • She has, and her good cheer,
  • Have fill'd me full of grace
  • When I have walk'd with her.
  • They did upon that day:
  • And everything that pass'd
  • Comes back from first to last
  • Now that I am away.
  • There went from her meek mouth
  • 10 A poor low sigh which made
  • My heart sink down for drouth.
  • She stoop'd, and sobb'd, and said,—
  • “Sir, I entreat of you
  • Make little tarrying:
  • It is not a good thing
  • To leave one's love and go.”
page: 67
  • But when I turn'd about
  • Saying, “God keep you well!”—
  • As she look'd up I thought
  • 20 Her lips that were quite pale
  • Strove much to speak, but she
  • Had not half strength enough:
  • My own dear graceful love
  • Would not let go of me.
  • I am not so far, sweet maid,
  • That now the old love's unfelt:
  • I believe Tristram had
  • No such love for Yseult:
  • And when I see your eyes
  • 30 And feel your breath again,
  • I shall forget this pain
  • And my whole heart will rise.
page: 68


To his Lady, in Spring.
  • To see the green returning
  • To stream-side, garden, and meadow,—
  • To hear the birds give warning,
  • (The laughter of sun and shadow
  • Awaking them full of revel,)
  • It puts me in strength to carol
  • A music measured and level,
  • This grief in joy to apparel;
  • For the deaths of lovers are evil.
  • 10Love is a foolish riot,
  • And to be loved is a burden;
  • Who loves and is loved in quiet
  • Has all the world for his guerdon.
  • Ladies on him take pity
  • Who for their sake hath trouble:
  • Yet, if any heart be a city
  • From Love embarrèd double,
  • Thereof is a joyful ditty.
page: 69
  • That heart shall be always joyful;—
  • 20 But I in the heart, my lady,
  • Have jealous doubts unlawful,
  • And stubborn pride stands ready.
  • Yet love is not with a measure,
  • But still is willing to suffer
  • Service at his good pleasure:
  • The whole Love hath to offer
  • Tends to his perfect treasure.
  • Thine be this prelude-music
  • That was of thy commanding:
  • 30Thy gaze was not delusive,—
  • Of my heart thou hadst understanding.
  • Lady, by thine attemp'rance
  • Thou held'st my life from pining:
  • This tress thou gav'st, in semblance
  • Like gold of the third refining,
  • Which I do keep for remembrance.
page: 70


Of his dead Lady.
  • Death, why hast thou made life so hard to
  • bear,
  • Taking my lady hence? Hast thou no whit
  • Of shame? The youngest flower and the most fair
  • Thou hast pluck'd away, and the world wanteth it.
  • O leaden Death, hast thou no pitying?
  • Our warm love's very spring
  • Thou stopp'st, and endest what was holy and meet;
  • And of my gladdening
  • Mak'st a most woful thing,
  • 10And in my heart dost bid the bird not sing
  • That sang so sweet.
  • Once the great joy and solace that I had
  • Was more than is with other gentlemen:—
  • Now is my love gone hence, who made me glad.
  • With her that hope I lived in she hath ta'en,
  • And left me nothing but these sighs and tears,—
  • Nothing of the old years
  • That come not back again,
    page: 71
  • Wherein I was so happy, being her's.
  • 20Now to mine eyes her face no more appears,
  • Nor doth her voice make music in mine ears,
  • As it did then.
  • O God, why hast thou made my grief so deep?
  • Why set me in the dark to grope and pine?
  • Why parted me from her companionship,
  • And crush'd the hope which was a gift of thine?
  • To think, dear, that I never any more
  • Can see thee as before!
  • Who is it shuts thee in?
  • 30Who hides that smile for which my heart is sore,
  • And drowns those words that I am longing for,
  • Lady of mine?
  • Where is my lady, and the lovely face
  • She had, and the sweet motion when she walk'd?
  • Her chaste, mild favour—her so delicate grace—
  • Her eyes, her mouth, and the dear way she
  • talk'd?—
  • Her courteous bending—her most noble air—
  • The soft fall of her hair? . . . .
  • My lady—she who to my soul so rare
  • 40 A gladness brought!
  • Now I do never see her anywhere,
  • And may not, looking in her eyes, gain there
  • The blessing which I sought.
page: 72
  • So if I had the realm of Hungary,
  • With Greece, and all the Almayn even to France,
  • Or Saint Sophia's treasure-hoard, you see
  • All could not give me back her countenance.
  • For since the day when my dear lady died
  • From us, (with God being born and glorified,)
  • 50 No more pleasaunce
  • Her image bringeth, seated at my side,
  • But only tears. Ay me! the strength and pride
  • Which it brought once.
  • Had I my will, beloved, I would say
  • To God, unto whose bidding all things bow,
  • That we were still together night and day:
  • Yet be it done as His behests allow.
  • I do remember that while she remain'd
  • With me, she often call'd me her sweet friend;
  • 60 But does not now,
  • Because God drew her towards Him, in the end.
  • Lady, that peace which none but He can send
  • Be thine. Even so.
page: [73]

To the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • Lady of Heaven, the mother glorified
  • Of glory, which is Jesus,—He whose death
  • Us from the gates of Hell delivereth
  • And our first parents' error sets aside:—
  • Behold this earthly Love, how his darts glide—
  • How sharpen'd—to what fate—throughout this
  • earth!
  • Pitiful Mother, partner of our birth,
  • Win these from following where his flight doth guide.
  • And O, inspire in me that holy love
  • 10 Which leads the soul back to its origin,
  • Till of all other love the link do fail.
  • This water only can this fire reprove,—
  • Only such cure suffice for such like sin;
  • As nail from out a plank is struck by nail.
page: [74]

He jests concerning his Poverty.
  • I am so passing rich in poverty
  • That I could furnish forth Paris and Rome,
  • Pisa and Padua and Byzantium,
  • Venice and Lucca, Florence and Forlì;
  • For I possess, in actual specie,
  • Of nihil and of nothing a great sum;
  • And unto this my hoard whole shiploads come,
  • What between nought and zero, annually.
  • In gold and precious jewels I have got
  • 10 A hundred ciphers' worth, all roundly writ;
  • And therewithal am free to feast my friend.
  • Because I need not be afraid to spend,
  • Nor doubt the safety of my wealth a whit:—
  • No thief will ever steal thereof, God wot.
page: [75]

Lover and Lady.
  • She.
  • Fair sir, this love of ours,
  • In joy begun so well,
  • I see at length to fail upon thy part:
  • Wherefore my heart sinks very heavily.
  • Fair sir, this love of ours
  • Began with amorous longing, well I ween:
  • Yea, of one mind, yea, of one heart and will
  • This love of ours hath been.
  • Now these are sad and still;
  • 10For on thy part at length it fails, I see.
  • And now thou art gone from me,
  • Quite lost to me thou art:
  • Wherefore my heart in this pain languisheth,
  • Which sinks it unto death thus heavily.
  • He.
  • Lady, for will of mine
  • Our love had never changed in anywise,
  • Had not the choice been thine
  • With so much scorn my homage to despise.
    page: 76
  • I swore not to yield sign
  • 20Of holding 'gainst all hope my heart-service.
  • Nay, let thus much suffice:—
  • From thee whom I have served,
  • All undeserved contempt is my reward,—
  • Rich prize prepared to guerdon fealty!
  • She.
  • Fair sir, it oft is found
  • That ladies, who would try their lovers so,
  • Have for a season frown'd,
  • Not from their heart but in mere outward show.
  • Then chide not on such ground,
  • 30Since ladies oft have tried their lovers so.
  • Alas, but I will go,
  • If now it be thy will.
  • Yet turn thee still, alas! for I do fear
  • Thou lov'st elsewhere, and therefore fly'st from me.
    Note: Lines 31 and 32 appear to have been set incorrectly by the printer. They are indented a little deeper than the corresponding lines in the previous stanza, which otherwise has an identical form.
  • He.
  • Lady, there needs no doubt
  • Of my good faith, nor any nice suspense
  • Lest love be elsewhere sought.
  • For thine did yield me no such recompense,—
  • Rest thou assured in thought,—
  • 40That now, within my life's circumference,
  • I should not quite dispense
  • My heart from woman's laws,
  • Which for no cause give pain and sore annoy,
  • And for one joy a world of misery.
page: [77]


Of the true End of Love; with a Prayer to his Lady.
  • Never was joy or good that did not soothe
  • And beget glorying,
  • Neither a glorying without perfect love.
  • Wherefore, if one would compass of a truth
  • The flight of his soul's wing,
  • To bear a loving heart must him behove.
  • Since from the flower man still expects the fruit,
  • And, out of love, that he desireth;
  • Seeing that by good faith
  • 10 Alone hath love its comfort and its joy;
  • For, suffering falsehood, love were at the root
  • Dead of all worth, which living must aspire;
  • Nor could it breed desire
  • If its reward were less than its annoy.
  • Even such the joy, the triumph, and pleasaunce,
  • Whose issue honour is,
  • And grace, and the most delicate teaching sent
  • To amorous knowledge, its inheritance;
  • Because Love's properties
    page: 78
  • 20 Alter not by a true accomplishment;
  • But it were scarcely well if one should gain,
  • Without much pain, so great a blessedness;
  • He errs, when all things bless,
  • Whose heart had else been humbled to implore.
  • He gets not joy who gives no joy again;
  • Nor can win love whose love hath little scope;
  • Nor fully can know hope
  • Who leaves not of the thing most languish'd for.
  • Wherefore his choice must err immeasurably
  • 30 Who seeks the image when
  • He might behold the thing substantial.
  • I at the noon have seen dark night to be,
  • Against earth's natural plan,
  • And what was good to worst abasement fall.
  • Then be thus much sufficient, lady mine;
  • If of thy mildness pity may be born,
  • Count thou my grief outworn,
  • And turn into sweet joy this better ill;
  • Lest I might change, if left too long to pine:
  • 40As one who, journeying, in mid path should stay,
  • And not pursue his way,
  • But should go back against his proper will.
  • Natheless I hope, yea trust, to make an end
  • Of the beginning made,
  • Even by this sign—that yet I triumph not.
  • And if in truth, against my will constrain'd,
  • To turn my steps essay'd,
    page: 79
  • No courage have I neither strength, God wot.
  • Such is Love's rule, who thus subdueth me
  • 50 By thy sweet face, lovely and delicate;
  • Through which I live elate,
  • But in such longing that I die for love.
  • Ah! and these words as nothing seem to be:
  • For love to such a constant fear has chid
  • My heart, that I keep hid
  • Much more than I have dared to tell thee of.
page: 80


How he dreams of his Lady.
  • Lady, my wedded thought,
  • When to thy shape 'tis wrought,
  • Can think of nothing else
  • But only of thy grace,
  • And of those gentle ways
  • Wherein thy life excels.
  • For ever, sweet one, dwells
  • Thine image on my sight,
  • (Even as it were the gem
  • 10 Whose name is as thy name)*
  • And fills the sense with light.
Transcribed Footnote (page 80):

* The lady was probably called Diamante, Margherita, or

some similar name.

  • Continual ponderings
  • That brood upon these things
  • Yield constant agony:
  • Yea, the same thoughts have crept
  • About me as I slept.
  • My spirit looks at me,
  • And asks, “Is sleep for thee?
  • Transcribed Note (page 80):

    The indentation of line 15 has errantly slid to the right.

    page: 81
    Sig. G
  • Nay, mourner, do not sleep,
  • 20 But fix thine eyes, for lo!
  • Love's fulness thou shalt know
  • By steadfast gaze and deep.”
  • Then, burning, I awake,
  • Sore tempted to partake
  • Of dreams that seek thy sight:
  • Until, being greatly stirr'd,
  • I turn to where I heard
  • That whisper in the night;
  • And there a breath of light
  • 30Shines like a silver star.
  • The same is mine own soul,
  • Which lures me to the goal
  • Of dreams that gaze afar.
  • But now my sleep is lost;
  • And through this uttermost
  • Sharp longing for thine eyes,
  • At length it may be said
  • That I indeed am mad
  • With love's extremities.
  • 40Yet when in such sweet wise
  • Thou passest and dost smile,
  • My heart so fondly burns,
  • That unto sweetness turns
  • Its bitter pang the while.
  • Even so Love rends apart
  • My spirit and my heart,
    page: 82
  • Lady, in loving thee;
  • Till when I see thee now,
  • Life beats within my brow
  • 50And would be gone from me.
  • So hear I ceaselessly
  • Love's whisper, well fulfill'd,—
  • Even I am he, even so,
  • Whose flame thy heart doth know:
  • And while I strive I yield.
page: 83


Of Wisdom and Foresight.
  • Such wisdom as a little child displays
  • Were not amiss in certain lords of fame:
  • For, where he fell, thenceforth he shuns the place,
  • And, having suffer'd blows, he feareth them.
  • Who knows not this may forfeit all he sways
  • At length, and find his friends go as they came.
  • O therefore on the past time turn thy face,
  • And, if thy will do err, forget the same.
  • Because repentance brings not back the past:
  • 10 Better thy will should bend than thy life break:
  • Who knows not this, by him shall it appear.
  • And, because even from fools the wise may make
  • Wisdom, the first should count himself the last,
  • Since a dog scourged can bid the lion fear.
page: 84


Of Continence in Speech.
  • Whoso abandons peace for war-seeking,
  • 'Tis of all reason he should bear the
  • smart.
  • Whoso hath evil speech, his medicine
  • Is silence, lest it seem a hateful art.
  • To vex the wasps' nest is not a wise thing;
  • Yet who rebukes his neighbour in good part,
  • A hundred years shall show his right therein.
  • Too prone to fear, one wrongs another's heart.
  • If ye but knew what may be known to me,
  • 10 Ye would fall sorry sick, nor be thus bold
  • To cry among your fellows your ill thought.
  • Wherefore I would that every one of ye
  • Who thinketh ill, his ill thought should withold:
  • If that ye would not hear it, speak it not.
page: [85]


He will be silent and watchful in his Love.
  • Your joyful understanding, lady mine,
  • Those honours of fair life
  • Which all in you agree to pleasantness,
  • Long since to service did my heart assign;
  • That never it has strife,
  • Nor once remembers other means of grace;
  • But this desire alone gives light to it.
  • Behold, my pleasure, by your favour, drew
  • Me, lady, unto you,
  • 10 All beauty's and all joy's reflection here:
  • From whom good women also have thought fit
  • To take their life's example every day;
  • Whom also to obey
  • My wish and will have wrought, with love and fear.
  • With love and fear to yield obedience, I
  • Might never half deserve:
  • Yet you must know, merely to look on me,
  • How my heart holds its love and lives thereby;
  • Though, well intent to serve,
    page: 86
  • 20 It can accept Love's arrow silently.
  • 'Twere late to wait, ere I would render plain
  • My heart, (thus much I tell you, as I should,)
  • Which, to be understood,
  • Craves therefore the fine quickness of your glance.
  • So shall you know my love of such high strain
  • As never yet was shown by its own will;
  • Whose proffer is so still,
  • That love in heart hates love in countenance.
  • In countenance oft the heart is evident
  • 30 Full clad in mirth's attire
  • Wherein at times it overweens to waste:
  • Which yet of selfish joy or foul intent
  • Doth hide the deep desire,
  • And is, of heavy surety, double-faced;
  • Upon things double therefore look ye twice.
  • O ye that love! not what is fair alone
  • Desire to make your own,
  • But a wise woman, fair in purity;
  • Nor think that any, without sacrifice
  • 40 Of his own nature, suffers service still;
  • But out of high free-will;
  • In honour propp'd, thou bow'd in dignity.
  • In dignity as best I may, must I
  • The guerdon very grand,
  • The whole of it, secured in purpose, sing?
  • Lady, whom all my heart doth magnify,
  • You took me in your hand,
    page: 87
  • Ah! not ungraced with other guerdoning:
  • For you of your sweet reason gave me rest
  • 50 From yearning, from desire, from potent pain;
  • Till, now, if Death should gain
  • Me to his kingdom, it would pleasure me,
  • Having obey'd the whole of your behest.
  • Since you have drawn, and I am yours by lot,
  • I pray you doubt me not
  • Lest my faith swerve, for this could never be.
  • Could never be; because the natural heart
  • Will absolutely build
  • Her dwelling-place within the gates of truth:
  • 60And, if it be no grief to bear her part,
  • Why, then by change were fill'd
  • The measure of her shame beyond all ruth.
  • And therefore no delay shall once disturb
  • My bounden service, nor bring grief to it;
  • Nor unto you deceit.
  • True virtue her provision first affords,
  • Ere she yield grace, lest afterward some curb
  • Or check should come, and evil enter in:
  • For alway shame and sin
  • 70 Stand cover'd, ready, full of faithful words.
page: 88


His Life is by Contraries.
  • By the long sojourning
  • That I have made with grief,
  • I am quite changed, you see;—
  • If I weep, 'tis for glee;
  • I smile at a sad thing;
  • Despair is my relief.
  • Good hap makes me afraid;
  • Ruin seems rest and shade;
  • In May the year is old;
  • 10With friends I am ill at ease;
  • Among foes I find peace;
  • At noonday I feel cold.
  • The thing that strengthens others, frightens me.
  • If I am grieved, I sing;
  • I chafe at comforting;
  • Ill fortune makes me smile exultingly.
  • And yet, though all my days are thus,—despite
  • A shaken mind, and eyes
  • Which see by contraries,—
  • 20I know that without wings is an ill flight.
page: [89]

Of a Lady's Love for him.
  • My body resting in a haunt of mine,
  • I ranged among alternate memories;
  • What while an unseen noble lady's eyes
  • Were fix'd upon me, yet she gave no sign;
  • To stay and go she sweetly did incline,
  • Always afraid lest there were any spies;
  • Then reach'd to me,—and smelt it in sweet wise,
  • And reach'd to me—some sprig of bloom or bine.
  • Conscious of perfume, on my side I leant,
  • 10 And rose upon my feet, and gazed around
  • To see the plant whose flower could so beguile.
  • Finding it not, I sought it by the scent;
  • And by the scent, in truth, the plant I found,
  • And rested in its shadow a great while.
page: [90]

He finds that Love has beguiled him, but will

trust in his Lady.
  • Often the day had a most joyful morn
  • That bringeth grief at last
  • Unto the human heart which deem'd all well:
  • Of a sweet seed the fruit was often born
  • That hath a bitter taste:
  • Of mine own knowledge, oft it thus befell.
  • I say it for myself, who, foolishly
  • Expectant of all joy,
  • Triumphing undertook
  • 10 To love a lady proud and beautiful,
  • For one poor glance vouchsafed in mirth to me:
  • Wherefrom sprang all annoy:
  • For, since the day Love shook
  • My heart, she ever hath been cold and cruel.
  • Well thought I to possess my joy complete
  • When that sweet look of her's
  • I felt upon me, amorous and kind:
  • Now is my hope even underneath my feet.
  • And still the arrow stirs
    page: 91
  • 20 Within my heart—(oh hurt no skill can bind!)—
  • Which through mine eyes found entrance cunningly;
  • In manner as through glass
  • Light pierces from the sun,
  • And breaks it not, but wins its way beyond,—
  • As into an unalter'd mirror, free
  • And still, some shape may pass.
  • Yet has my heart begun
  • To break, methinks, for I on death grow fond.
  • But, even though death were long'd for, the sharp
  • wound
  • 30 I have might yet be heal'd,
  • And I not altogether sink to death.
  • In mine own foolishness the curse I found,
  • Who foolish faith did yield
  • Unto mine eyes, in hope that sickeneth.
  • Yet might love still exult and not be sad—
  • (For some such utterance
  • Is at my secret heart)—
  • If from herself the cure it could obtain,—
  • Who hath indeed the power Achilles had,
  • 40 To wit, that of his lance,
  • The wound could by no art
  • Be closed till it were touch'd therewith again.
  • So must I needs appeal for pity now
  • From her on her own fault,
  • And in my prayer put meek humility:
  • For certes her much worth will not allow
    page: 92
  • That anything be call'd
  • Treacherousness in such an one as she,
  • In whom is judgment and true excellence.
  • 50 Wherefore I cry for grace;
  • Not doubting that all good,
  • Joy, wisdom, pity, must from her be shed;
  • For scarcely should it deal in death's offence,
  • The so-beloved face
  • So watch'd for; rather should
  • All death and ill be thereby subjected.
  • And since, in hope of mercy, I have bent
  • Unto her ordinance
  • Humbly my heart, my body, and my life,
  • 60Giving her perfect power acknowledgment,—
  • I think some kinder glance
  • She'll deign, and, in mere pity, pause from strife.
  • She surely shall enact the good lord's part:
  • When one whom force compels
  • Doth yield, he is pacified,
  • Forgiving him therein where he did err.
  • Ah! well I know she hath the noble heart
  • Which in the lion quells
  • Obduracy of pride;
  • 70 Whose nobleness is for a crown on her.
page: [93]

Of Work and Wealth.
  • A man should hold in very dear esteem
  • The first possession that his labours gain'd;
  • For, though great riches be at length attain'd,
  • From that first mite they were increased to him.
  • Who followeth after his own wilful whim
  • Shall see himself outwitted in the end;
  • Wherefore I still would have him apprehend
  • His fall, who toils not being once supreme.
  • Thou seldom shalt find folly, of the worst,
  • 10 Holding companionship with poverty,
  • Because it is distracted of much care.
  • Howbeit, if one that hath been poor at first
  • Is brought at last to wealth and dignity,
  • Still the worst folly thou shalt find it there.
page: [94]


Of the Last Judgment.
  • Upon that cruel season when our Lord
  • Shall come to judge the world eternally;
  • When to no man shall anything afford
  • Peace in the heart, how pure soe'er it be;
  • When heaven shall break asunder at His word,
  • With a great trembling of the earth and sea;
  • When even the just shall fear the dreadful sword,—
  • The wicked crying, “Where shall I cover me?”—
  • When no one angel in His presence stands
  • 10 That shall not be affrighted of that wrath,
  • Except the Virgin Lady, she our guide;—
  • How shall I then escape, whom sin commands?
  • Out and alas on me! There is no path
  • If in her prayers I be not justified.
page: 95


He wishes that he could meet his Lady alone.
  • Whether all grace have fail'd I scarce
  • may scan,
  • Be it of mere mischance, or art's ill sway,
  • That this-wise, Monday, Tuesday, every day,
  • Afflicts me, through her means, with bale and ban.
  • Now are my days but as a painful span;
  • Nor once “Take heed of dying” did she say.
  • I thank thee for my life thus cast away,
  • Thou who hast wearied out a living man.
  • Yet, oh! my Lord, if I were bless'd no more
  • 10 Than thus much,—clothed with thy humility,
  • To find her for a single hour alone,—
  • Such perfectness of joy would triumph o'er
  • This grief wherein I waste, that I should be
  • As a new image of Love to look upon.
page: [96]

To Onesto di Boncima, in answer to the Foregoing.
  • If, as thou say'st, thy love tormented thee,
  • That thou thereby wast in the fear of death,
  • Messer Onesto, couldst thou bear to be
  • Far from Love's self, and breathing other breath?
  • Nay, thou wouldst pass beyond the greater sea
  • (I do not speak of the Alps, an easy path),
  • For thy life's gladdening; if so to see
  • That light which for my life no comfort hath
  • But rather makes my grief the bitterer:
  • 10 For I have neither ford nor bridge—no course
  • To reach my lady, or send word to her.
  • And there is not a greater pain, I think,
  • Than to see waters at the limpid source,
  • And to be much athirst, and not to drink.
page: [97]
Sig. H

He declares all Love to be Grief.
  • Love, taking leave, my heart then leaveth me,
  • And is enamour'd even while it would shun;
  • For I have look'd so long upon the sun
  • That the sun's glory is now in all I see.
  • To its first will unwilling may not be
  • This heart (though by its will its death be won),
  • Having remembrance of the joy forerun:
  • Yea, all life else seems dying constantly.
  • Ay and alas! in love is no relief,
  • 10 For any man who loveth in full heart,
  • That is not rather grief than gratefulness.
  • Whoso desires it, the beginning is grief;
  • Also the end is grief, most grievous smart;
  • And grief is in the middle, and is call'd grace.
page: [98]

His Creed of Ideal Love.
  • Prohibiting all hope
  • Of the fulfilment of the joy of love,
  • My lady chose me for her lover still.
  • So am I lifted up
  • To trust her heart which piteous pulses move,
  • Her face which is her joy made visible.
  • Nor have I any fear
  • Lest love and service should be met with scorn,
  • Nor doubt that thus I shall rejoice the more.
  • 10 For ruth is born of prayer;
  • Also, of ruth delicious love is born;
  • And service wrought makes glad the servitor.
  • Behold, I, serving more than others, love
  • One lovely more than all;
  • And, singing and exulting, look for joy
  • There where my homage is for ever paid.
  • And, for I know she does not disapprove
  • If on her grace I call,
  • My soul's good trust I will not yet destroy,
  • 20Though Love's fulfilment stand prohibited.
page: [99]


To the Guelf Faction.
  • Because ye made your backs your shields, it
  • came
  • To pass, ye Guelfs, that these your enemies
  • From hares grew lions: and because your eyes
  • Turn'd homeward, and your spurs e'en did the same,
  • Full many an one who still might win the game
  • In fever'd tracts of exile pines and dies.
  • Ye blew your bubbles as the falcon flies,
  • And the wind broke them up and scatter'd them.
  • This counsel, therefore. Shape your high resolves
  • 10 In good king Robert's humour,* and afresh
  • Accept your shames, forgive, and go your way.
  • And so her peace is made with Pisa! Yea,
  • What cares she for the miserable flesh
  • That in the wilderness has fed the wolves?
Transcribed Footnote (page [99]):

* See what is said in allusion to his government of

Florence by Dante, ( Parad. C.viii.)

page: 100


To the Same.
  • Were ye but constant, Guelfs, in war or
  • peace,
  • As in divisions ye are constant still!
  • There is no wisdom in your stubborn will,
  • Wherein all good things wane, all harms increase.
  • But each upon his fellow looks, and sees
  • And looks again, and likes his favour ill;
  • And traitors rule ye; and on his own sill
  • Each stirs the fire of household enmities.
  • What, Guelfs! and is Monte Catini* quite
  • 10 Forgot,—where still the mothers and sad wives
  • Keep widowhood, and curse the Ghibellins?
  • O fathers, brothers, yea, all dearest kins!
  • Those men of ye that cherish kindred lives,
  • Even once again must set their teeth and fight.
Transcribed Footnote (page 100):

* The battle of Monte Catini was fought and won by the

Ghibelline leader Uguccione della Faggiola against the

Florentines; August 29, 1315.

page: 101


Of Virtue.
  • The flower of Virtue is the heart's content;
  • And fame is Virtue's fruit that she doth bear;
  • And Virtue's vase is fair without and fair
  • Within; and Virtue's mirror brooks no taint;
  • And Virtue by her names is sage and saint;
  • And Virtue hath a steadfast front and clear;
  • And Love is Virtue's constant minister;
  • And Virtue's gift of gifts is pure descent.
  • And Virtue dwells with knowledge, and therein
  • 10 Her cherish'd home of rest is real love;
  • And Virtue's strength is in a suffering will;
  • And Virtue's work is life exempt from sin,
  • With arms that aid; and in the sum hereof,
  • All Virtue is to render good for ill.
page: 102

Twelve Sonnets.

Addressed to a Fellowship of Sienese Nobles.*
  • Unto the blithe and lordly Fellowship,
  • (I know not where, but wheresoe'er, I know,
  • Lordly and blithe,) be greeting; and thereto,
  • Dogs, hawks, and a full purse wherein to dip;
  • Quails struck i' the flight; nags mettled to the whip;
    Transcribed Footnote (page 102):

    * This fellowship or club ( Brigata), so highly approved

    and encouraged by our Folgore, is the same to which, and to

    some of its members by name, scornful allusion is made by

    Dante ( Inferno, C. xxix. l. 130), where he speaks of the

    hair-brained character of the Sienese. Mr. Cayley, in his

    valuable notes on Dante, says of it: “A dozen extravagant

    youths of Siena had put together by equal contributions

    216,000 florins to spend in pleasuring; they were reduced in

    about a twelvemonth to the extremes of poverty. It was

    their practice to give mutual entertainments twice a month;

    at each of which, three tables having been sumptuously

    covered, they would feast at one, wash their hands on

    another, and throw the last out of window.”

    There exists a second curious series of sonnets for the

    months, addressed also to this club, by Cene della Chitarra

    d'Arezzo. Here, however, all sorts of disasters and discom-

    page: 103
    Note: There are two partial fingerprints at the bottom of the page, one of them in the last two lines of text, which are apparent artifacts of the printing process.
    Transcribed Footnote (page 103):

    forts, in the same pursuits of which Folgore treats, are

    imagined for the prodigals; each sonnet, too, being composed

    with the same terminations in its rhymes as the correspond-

    ing one among his. They would seem to have been written

    after the ruin of the club, as a satirical prophecy of the year

    to succeed the golden one. But this second series, though

    sometimes laughable, not having the poetical merit of the

    first, I have not included it.

    My translations of Folgore's sonnets were made from the

    versions given in the forlorn Florentine collection of 1816,

    where editorial incompetence walks naked and not ashamed,

    indulging indeed in gambols as of Punch, and words which

    no voice but his could utter. Not till my book was in the

    printer's hands, did I meet with Nannucci's Manuale del Primo

    (1843), and am sorry that it is too late to avail myself

    of lights cast here and there by him on dark passages through

    which I had groped as I could. Nor is it only in these son-

    nets that his suggestions might have done me service, though

    fortunately the instances are never of much importance.

  • Hart-hounds, hare-hounds, and blood-hounds
  • even so;
  • And o'er that realm, a crown for Niccolò,
  • Whose praise in Siena springs from lip to lip.
  • Tingoccio, Atuin di Togno, and Ancaiàn,
  • 10 Bartolo and Mugaro and Faënot,
  • Who well might pass for children of King Ban,
  • Courteous and valiant more than Lancelot,—
  • To each, God speed! How worthy every man
  • To hold high tournament in Camelot.
page: 104
  • For January I give you vests of skins,
  • And mighty fires in hall, and torches lit;
  • Chambers and happy beds with all things fit;
  • Smooth silken sheets, rough furry counterpanes;
  • And sweetmeats baked; and one that deftly spins
  • Warm arras; and Douay cloth, and store of it;
  • And on this merry manner still to twit
  • The wind, when most his mastery the wind wins.
  • Or issuing forth at seasons in the day,
  • 10 Ye'll fling soft handfuls of the fair white snow
  • Among the damsels standing round, in play:
  • And when you all are tired and all aglow,
  • Indoors again the court shall hold its sway,
  • And the free Fellowship continue so.
page: 105
  • In February I give you gallant sport
  • Of harts and hinds and great wild boars; and all
  • Your company good foresters and tall,
  • With buskins strong, with jerkins close and short;
  • And in your leashes, hounds of brave report;
  • And from your purses, plenteous money-fall,
  • In very spleen of misers' starveling gall,
  • Who at your generous customs snarl and snort.
  • At dusk wend homeward, ye and all your folk
  • 10 All laden from the wilds, to your carouse,
  • With merriment and songs accompanied:
  • And so draw wine and let the kitchen smoke;
  • And so be till the first watch glorious;
  • Then sound sleep to you till the day be wide.
page: 106
  • In March I give you plenteous fisheries
  • Of lamprey and of salmon, eel and trout,
  • Dental and dolphin, sturgeon, all the rout
  • Of fish in all the streams that fill the seas.
  • With fishermen and fishingboats at ease,
  • Sail-barques and arrow-barques and galeons stout,
  • To bear you, while the season lasts, far out,
  • And back, through spring, to any port you please.
  • But with fair mansions see that it be fill'd,
  • 10 With everything exactly to your mind,
  • And every sort of comfortable folk.
  • No convent suffer there, nor priestly guild:
  • Leave the mad monks to preach after their kind
  • Their scanty truth, their lies beyond a joke.
page: 107
  • I give you meadow-lands in April, fair
  • With over-growth of beautiful green grass;
  • There among fountains the glad hours shall pass,
  • And pleasant ladies bring you solace there.
  • With steeds of Spain and ambling palfreys rare;
  • Provençal songs and dances that surpass;
  • And quaint French mummings; and through
  • hollow brass
  • A sound of German music on the air.
  • And gardens ye shall have, that every one
  • 10 May lie at ease about the fragrant place;
  • And each with fitting reverence shall bow down
  • Unto that youth to whom I gave a crown
  • Of precious jewels like to those that grace
  • The Babylonian Kaiser, Prester John.
page: 108
  • I give you horses for your games in May,
  • And all of them well train'd unto the course,—
  • Each docile, swift, erect, a goodly horse;
  • With armour on their chests, and bells at play
  • Between their brows, and pennons fair and gay;
  • Fine nets, and housings meet for warriors,
  • Emblazon'd with the shields ye claim for yours,
  • Gules, argent, or, all dizzy at noonday.
  • And spears shall split, and fruit go flying up
  • 10In merry counterchange for wreaths that drop
  • From balconies and casements far above;
  • And tender damsels with young men and youths
  • Shall kiss together on the cheeks and mouths;
  • And every day be glad with joyful love.
page: 109
  • In June I give you a close-wooded fell,
  • With crowns of thicket coil'd about its head,
  • With thirty villas twelve times turreted,
  • All girdling round a little citadel;
  • And in the midst a springhead and fair well
  • With thousand conduits branch'd and shining
  • speed,
  • Wounding the garden and the tender mead,
  • Yet to the freshen'd grass acceptable.
  • And lemons, citrons, dates, and oranges,
  • 10 And all the fruits whose savour is most rare,
  • Shall shine within the shadow of your trees;
  • And every one shall be a lover there;
  • Until your life, so fill'd with courtesies,
  • Throughout the world be counted debonair.
page: 110
  • For Jùly, in Siena, by the willow-tree,
  • I give you barrels of white Tuscan wine
  • In ice far down your cellars stored supine;
  • And morn and eve to eat in company
  • Of those vast jellies dear to you and me;
  • Of partridges and youngling pheasants sweet,
  • Boil'd capons, sovereign kids: and let their treat
  • Be veal and garlic, with whom these agree.
  • Let time slip by, till by-and-by, all day;
  • 10 And never swelter through the heat at all,
  • But move at ease at home, sound, cool, and gay;
  • And wear sweet-colour'd robes that lightly fall;
  • And keep your tables set in fresh array,
  • Not coaxing spleen to be your seneschal.
page: 111
  • For August, be your dwelling thirty towers
  • Within an Alpine valley mountainous,
  • Where never the sea-wind may vex your house,
  • But clear life separate, like a star, be yours.
  • There horses shall wait saddled at all hours,
  • That ye may mount at morning or at eve:
  • On each hand either ridge ye shall perceive,
  • A mile apart, which soon a good beast scours.
  • So alway, drawing homewards, ye shall tread
  • 10 Your valley parted by a rivulet
  • Which day and night shall flow sedate and
  • smooth.
  • There all through noon ye may possess the shade,
  • And there your open purses shall entreat
  • The best of Tuscan cheer to feed your youth.
page: 112
  • And in September, O what keen delight!
  • Falcons and astors, merlins, sparrowhawks;
  • Decoy-birds that shall lure your game in flocks;
  • And hounds with bells; and gauntlets stout and
  • tight;
  • Wide pouches; crossbows shooting out of sight;
  • Arblasts and javelins; balls and ball-cases;
  • All birds the best to fly at; moulting these,
  • Those rear'd by hand; with finches mean and slight;
  • And for their chase, all birds the best to fly;
  • 10 And each to each of you be lavish still
  • In gifts; and robbery find no gainsaying;
  • And if you meet with travellers going by,
  • Their purses from your purse's flow shall fill;
  • And avarice be the only outcast thing.
page: 113
Sig. I
  • Next, for October, to some shelter'd coign
  • Flouting the winds, I'll hope to find you slunk;
  • Though in bird-shooting (lest all sport be sunk),
  • Your foot still press the turf, the horse your groin.
  • At night with sweethearts in the dance you'll join,
  • And drink the blessed must, and get quite drunk.
  • There's no such life for any human trunk;
  • And that's a truth that rings like golden coin!
  • Then, out of bed again when morning's come,
  • 10 Let your hands drench your face refreshingly,
  • And take your physic roast, with flask and knife.
  • Sounder and snugger you shall feel at home
  • Than lake-fish, river-fish, or fish at sea,
  • Inheriting the cream of Christian life.
page: 114
  • Let baths and wine-butts be November's due,
  • With thirty mule-loads of broad gold-pieces;
  • And canopy with silk the streets that freeze;
  • And keep your drink-horns steadily in view.
  • Let every trader have his gain of you:
  • Clareta shall your lamps and torches send,—
  • Caëta, citron-candies without end;
  • And each shall drink, and help his neighbour to.
  • And let the cold be great, and the fire grand:
  • 10 And still for fowls, and pastries sweetly wrought,
  • For hares and kids, for roast and boil'd, be sure
  • You always have your appetites at hand;
  • And then let night howl and heaven fall, so nought
  • Be miss'd that makes a man's bed-furniture.
page: 115
  • Last, for December, houses on the plain,
  • Ground-floors to live in, logs heap'd moun-
  • tain-high,
  • And carpets stretch'd, and newest games to try,
  • And torches lit, and gifts from man to man:
  • (Your host, a drunkard and a Catalan;)
  • And whole dead pigs, and cunning cooks to ply
  • Each throat with tit-bits that shall satisfy;
  • And wine-butts of Saint Galganus' brave span.
  • And be your coats well-lined and tightly bound,
  • 10 And wrap yourselves in cloaks of strength and
  • weight,
  • With gallant hoods to put your faces through.
  • And make your game of abject vagabond
  • Abandon'd miserable reprobate
  • Misers; don't let them have a chance with you.
page: 116
  • And now take thought, my sonnet, who is he
  • That most is full of every gentleness;
  • And say to him (for thou shalt quickly guess
  • His name) that all his 'hests are law to me.
  • For if I held fair Paris town in fee,
  • And were not call'd his friend, 'twere surely less.
  • Ah! had he but the emperor's wealth, my place
  • Were fitted in his love more steadily
  • Than is Saint Francis at Assisi. Alway
  • 10 Commend me unto him and his,—not least
  • To Caian, held so dear in the blithe band.
  • “Folgore da San Geminiano” (say,)
  • “Has sent me, charging me to travel fast,
  • Because his heart went with you in your hand.”
page: 117

Seven Sonnets.
  • There is among my thoughts the joyous plan
  • To fashion a bright-jewell'd carcanet,
  • Which I upon such worthy brows would set,
  • To say, it suits them fairly as it can.
  • And now I have newly found a gentleman,
  • Of courtesies and birth commensurate,
  • Who better would become the imperial state
  • Than fits the gem within the signet's span.
  • Carlo di Messer Guerra Cavicciuoli,*
  • 10 Of him I speak,—brave, wise, of just award
  • And generous service, let who list command;
  • And lithelier limb'd than ounce or lëopard.
  • He holds not money-bags, as children, holy;
  • For Lombard Esté hath no freer hand.
Transcribed Footnote (page 117):

* That is, according to early Tuscan nomenclature; Carlo,

the son of Messer Guerra Cavicciuoli.

page: 118

The Day of Songs and Love.
  • Now with the moon the day-star Lucifer
  • Departs, and night is gone at last, and day
  • Brings, making all men's spirits strong and gay,
  • A gentle wind to gladden the new air.
  • Lo! this is Monday, the week's harbinger;
  • Let music breathe her softest matin-lay,
  • And let the loving damsels sing to-day,
  • And the sun wound with heat at noontide here.
  • And thou, young lord, arise and do not sleep,
  • 10 For now the amorous day inviteth thee
  • The harvest of thy lady's youth to reap.
  • Let coursers round the door, and palfreys, be,
  • With squires and pages clad delightfully;
  • And Love's commandments have thou heed to keep.
page: 119

The Day of Battles.
  • To a new world on Tuesday shifts my song,
  • Where beat of drum is heard, and trumpet-
  • blast;
  • Where footmen arm'd and horsemen arm'd go past,
  • And bells say ding to bells that answer dong;
  • Where he the first and after him the throng,
  • Arm'd all of them with coats and hoods of steel,
  • Shall see their foes and make their foes to feel,
  • And so in wrack and rout drive them along.
  • Then hither, thither, dragging on the field
  • 10 His master, empty-seated goes the horse,
  • 'Mid entrails strown abroad of soldiers kill'd;
  • Till blow to camp those trumpeters of yours
  • Who noise awhile your triumph and are still'd,
  • And to your tents you come back conquerors.
page: 120

The Day of Feasts.
  • And every Wednesday, as the swift days move,
  • Pheasant and peacock-shooting out of doors
  • You'll have, and multitude of hares to course,
  • And after you come home, good cheer enough;
  • And sweetest ladies at the board above,
  • Children of kings and counts and senators;
  • And comely-favour'd youthful bachelors
  • To serve them, bearing garlands, for true love.
  • And still let cups of gold and silver ware,
  • 10Runlets of vernage-wine and wine of Greece,
  • Comfits and cakes be found at bidding there;
  • And let your gifts of birds and game increase;
  • And let all those who in your banquet share
  • Sit with bright faces perfectly at ease.
page: 121

The Day of Jousts and Tournaments.
  • For Thursday be the tournament prepared,
  • And gentlemen in lordly jousts compete:
  • First man with man, together let them meet,—
  • By fifties and by hundreds afterward.
  • Let arms with housings each be fitly pair'd,
  • And fitly hold your battle to its heat
  • From the third hour to vespers, after meat;
  • Till the best-winded be at last declared.
  • Then back unto your beauties, as ye came:
  • 10 Where upon sovereign beds, with wise control
  • Of leeches, shall your hurts be swathed in bands.
  • The ladies shall assist with their own hands,
  • And each be so well paid in seeing them
  • That on the morrow he be sound and whole.
page: 122

The Day of Hunting.
  • Let Friday be your highest hunting-tide,
  • —No hound nor brach nor mastiff absent
  • thence,—
  • Through a low wood, by many miles of dens,
  • All covert, where the cunning beasts abide:
  • Which now driven forth, at first you scatter wide,—
  • Then close on them, and rip out blood and breath:
  • Till all your huntsmens' horns wind at the death,
  • And you count up how many beasts have died.
  • Then, men and dogs together brought, you'll say:
  • 10 Go fairly greet from us this friend and that,
  • Bid each make haste to blithest wassailings.
  • Might not one vow that the whole pack had
  • wings?
  • What! hither, Beauty, Dian, Dragon, what!
  • I think we held a royal hunt to-day.
page: 123

The Day of Hawking.
  • I've jolliest merriment for Saturday:—
  • The very choicest of all hawks to fly
  • That crane or heron could be stricken by,
  • As up and down you course the steep highway.
  • So shall the wild geese, in your deadly play,
  • Lose at each stroke a wing, a tail, a thigh;
  • And man with man and horse with horse shall vie,
  • Till you all shout for glory and holiday.
  • Then, going home, you'll closely charge the cook:
  • 10 “All this is for to-morrow's roast and stew:
  • Skin, lop, and truss: hang pots on every hook:
  • And we must have fine wine and white bread too,
  • Because this time we mean to feast: so look
  • We do not think your kitchens lost on you.”
page: 124

The Day of Balls and Deeds of Arms in Florence.
  • And on the morrow, at first peep o' the day
  • Which follows, and which men as Sunday
  • spell,—
  • Whom most him liketh, dame or damozel,
  • Your chief shall choose out of the sweet array.
  • So in a palace painted and made gay
  • Shall he converse with her whom he loves best;
  • And what he wishes, his desire express'd
  • Shall bring to presence there, without gainsay.
  • And youths shall dance, and men do feats of arms,
  • 10 And Florence be sought out on every side
  • From orchards and from vineyards and from farms:
  • That they who fill her streets from far and wide
  • In your fine temper may discern such charms
  • As shall from day to day be magnified.
page: [125]

To Love and to his Lady.
  • O Love, who all this while hast urged me on,
  • Shaking the reins, with never any rest,—
  • Slacken for pity somewhat of thy haste;
  • I am oppress'd with languor and foredone,—
  • Having outrun the power of sufferance,—
  • Having much more endured than who, through
  • faith
  • That his heart holds, makes no account of death.
  • Love is assuredly a fair mischance,
  • And well may it be call'd a happy ill:
  • 10 Yet thou, my lady, on this constant sting,
  • So sharp a thing, have thou some pity still,—
  • Howbeit a sweet thing too, unless it kill.
  • O comely-favour'd, whose soft eyes prevail,
  • More fair than is another on this ground,—
  • Lift now my mournful heart out of its stound,
  • Which thus is bound for thee in great travail:
  • For a high gale a little rain may end.
    page: 126
  • Also, my lady, be not anger'd thou
  • That Love should thee enforce, to whom all bow.
  • 20There is but little shame to apprehend
  • If to a higher strength the conquest be;
  • And all the more to Love who conquers all.
  • Why then appal my heart with doubts of thee?
  • Courage and patience triumph certainly.
  • I do not say that with such loveliness
  • Such pride may not beseem; it suits thee well;
  • For in a lovely lady pride may dwell,
  • Lest homage fail and high esteem grow less:
  • Yet pride's excess is not a thing to praise.
  • 30 Therefore, my lady, let thy harshness gain
  • Some touch of pity which may still restrain
  • Thy hand, ere Death cut short these hours and days.
  • The sun is very high and full of light,
  • And the more bright the higher he doth ride:
  • So let thy pride, my lady, and thy height,
  • Stand me in stead and turn to my delight.
  • Still inmostly I love thee, labouring still
  • That others may not know my secret smart.
  • Oh! what a pain it is for the grieved heart
  • 40To hold apart and not to show its ill!
  • Yet by no will the face can hide the soul;
  • And ever with the eyes the heart has need
  • To be in all things willingly agreed.
  • It were a mighty strength that should control
  • The heart's fierce beat, and never speak a word:
    page: 127
  • It were a mighty strength, I say again,
  • To hide such pain, and to be sovran lord
  • Of any heart that had such love to hoard.
  • For Love can make the wisest turn astray;
  • 50 Love, at its most, of measure still has least;
  • He is the maddest man who loves the best;
  • It is Love's jest, to make men's hearts alway
  • So hot that they by coldness cannot cool.
  • The eyes unto the heart bear messages
  • Of the beginnings of all pain and ease:
  • And thou, my lady, in thy hand dost rule
  • Mine eyes and heart which thou hast made thine
  • own.
  • Love rocks my life with tempests on the deep,
  • Even as a ship round which the winds are blown:
  • 60Thou art my pennon that will not go down.
page: [128]

A bitter Song to his Lady.
  • O lady amorous,
  • Merciless lady,
  • Full blithely play'd ye
  • These your beguilings.
  • So with an urchin
  • A man makes merry,—
  • In mirth grows clamorous,
  • Laughs and rejoices,—
  • But when his choice is
  • 10To fall aweary,
  • Cheats him with silence.
  • This is Love's portion:—
  • In much wayfaring
  • With many burdens
  • He loads his servants;
  • But at the sharing,
  • The underservice
  • And overservice
  • Are alike barren.
page: 129
Sig. K
  • 20As my disaster
  • Your jest I cherish,
  • And well may perish.
  • Even so a falcon
  • Is sometimes taken
  • And scantly cautell'd;
  • Till when his master
  • At length to loose him,
  • To train and use him,
  • Is after all gone,—
  • 30The creature's throttled
  • And will not waken.
  • Wherefore, my lady,
  • If you will own me,
  • O look upon me!
  • If I'm not thought on,
  • At least perceive me!
  • O do not leave me
  • So much forgotten!
  • If, lady, truly
  • 40You wish my profit,
  • What follows of it
  • Though still you say so?—
  • For all your well-wishes
  • I still am waiting.
  • I grow unruly,
  • And deem at last I'm
  • Only your pastime.
  • A child will play so,
    page: 130
  • Who greatly relishes
  • 50Sporting and petting
  • With a little wild bird:
  • Unaware he kills it,—
  • Then turns it, feels it,
  • Calls it with a mild word,
  • Is angry after,—
  • Then again in laughter
  • Loud is the child heard.
  • O my delightful
  • My own my lady,
  • 60Upon the Mayday
  • Which brought me to you
  • Was all my haste then
  • But a fool's venture?
  • To have my sight full
  • Of you propitious
  • Truly my wish was,
  • And to pursue you
  • And let love chasten
  • My heart to the centre.
  • 70But warming, lady,
  • May end in burning.
  • Of all this yearning
  • What comes, I beg you?
  • In all your glances
  • What is't a man sees?—
  • Fever and ague.
page: [131]

Of his Love; with the Figures of a Stag, of Water,

and of an Eagle.
  • Lady, with all the pains that I can take,
  • I'll sing my love renew'd, if I may, well,
  • And only in your praise.
  • The stag in his old age seeks out a snake
  • And eats it, and then drinks, (I have heard tell)
  • Fearing the hidden ways
  • Of the snake's poison, and renews his youth.
  • Even such a draught, in truth,
  • Was your sweet welcome, which cast out of me,
  • 10 With whole cure instantly,
  • Whatever pain I felt, for my own good,
  • When first we met that I might be renew'd.
  • A thing that has its proper essence changed
  • By virtue of some powerful influence,
  • As water has by fire,
  • Returns to be itself, no more estranged,
  • So soon as that has ceased which gave offence:
  • Yea, now will more aspire
    page: 132
  • Than ever, as the thing it first was made.
  • 20 Thine advent long delay'd
  • Even thus had almost worn me out of love,
  • Biding so far above:
  • But now that thou hast brought love back for me,
  • It mounts too much,—O lady, up to thee.
  • I have heard tell, and can esteem it true,
  • How that an eagle looking on the sun,
  • Rejoicing for his part
  • And bringing oft his young to look there too,—
  • If one gaze longer than another one,
  • 30 On him will set his heart.
  • So I am made aware that Love doth lead
  • All lovers, by their need,
  • To gaze upon the brightness of their loves;
  • And whosoever moves
  • His eyes the least from gazing upon her,
  • The same shall be Love's inward minister.
page: [133]

For a Renewal of Favours.
  • I play this sweet prelùde
  • For the best heart, and queen
  • Of gentle womanhood,
  • From here unto Messene;
  • Of flowers the fairest one;
  • The star that's next the sun;
  • The brightest star of all.
  • What time I look at her,
  • My thoughts do crowd and stir
  • 10 And are made musical.
  • Sweetest my lady, then
  • Wilt thou not just permit,
  • As once I did, again
  • That I should speak of it?
  • My heart is burning me
  • Within, though outwardly
  • I seem so brave and gay.
  • Ah! dost thou not sometimes
  • Remember the sweet rhymes
  • 20 Our lips made on that day?—
page: 134
  • When I her heart did move
  • By kisses and by vows,
  • Whom I then call'd my love,
  • Fair-hair'd, with silver brows:
  • She sang there as we sat;
  • Nor then withheld she aught
  • Which it were right to give;
  • But said, “Indeed I will
  • Be thine through good and ill
  • 30 As long as I may live.”
  • And while I live, dear love,
  • In gladness and in need
  • Myself I will approve
  • To be thine own indeed.
  • If any man dare blame
  • Our loves,—bring him to shame,
  • O God! and of this year
  • Let him not see the May.
  • Is't not a vile thing, say,
  • 40 To freeze at Midsummer?
page: [135]

Being absent from his Lady, he fears Death.
  • I am afar, but near thee is my heart;
  • Only soliciting
  • That this long absence seem not ill to thee:
  • For, if thou knew'st what pain and evil smart
  • The lack of thy sweet countenance can bring,
  • Thou wouldst remember me compassionately.
  • Even as my case, the stag's is wont to be,
  • Which, thinking to escape
  • His death, escaping whence the pack gives cry,
  • 10 Is wounded and doth die.
  • So, in my spirit imagining thy shape,
  • I would fly Death, and Death o'ermasters me.
  • I am o'erpower'd of Death when, telling o'er
  • Thy beauties in my thought,
  • I seem to have that which I have not: then
  • I am as he who in each meteor,
  • Dazzled and wilder'd sees the thing he sought.
  • In suchwise Love deals with me among men:—
  • Thee whom I have not, yet who dost sustain
    page: 136
  • 20My life, he bringeth in his arms to me
  • Full oft,—yet I approach not unto thee.
  • Ah! if we be not join'd i' the very flesh,
  • It cannot last but I indeed shall die
  • By burden of this love that weigheth so.
  • As an o'erladen bough, while yet 'tis fresh,
  • Breaks, and itself and fruit are lost thereby,—
  • So shall I, love, be lost, alas for woe!
  • And, if this slay indeed that thus doth rive
  • My heart, how then shall I be comforted?
  • 30 Thou, as a lioness
  • Her cub, in sore distress
  • Might'st toil to bring me out of death alive:
  • But couldst thou raise me up, if I were dead?
  • Oh! but an' if thou wouldst, I were more glad
  • Of death than life,—thus kept
  • From thee and the true life thy face can bring.
  • So in nowise could death be harsh or bad;
  • But it should seem to me that I had slept,
  • And was awaken'd with thy summoning.
  • 40 Yet, sith the hope thereof is a vain thing,
  • I, in fast fealty,
  • Can like the Assassin* be,
  • Who, to be subject to his lord in all,
  • Goes and accepts his death and has no heed:
  • Even as he doth so could I do indeed.
  • Nevertheless, this one memorial—
    Transcribed Footnote (page 136):

    * Alluding to the Syrian tribe of Assassins, whose chief

    was the Old Man of the Mountain.

    page: 137
  • The last, I send thee, for Love orders it.
  • He, this last once, wills that thus much be writ
  • In prayer that it may fall 'twixt thee and me
  • 50 After the manner of
  • Two birds that feast their love
  • Even unto anguish, till, if neither quit
  • The other, one must perish utterly.
page: [138]

Of his Love, with the Figure of a sudden Storm.
  • Even as the day when it is yet at dawning
  • Seems mild and kind, being fair to look upon,
  • While the birds carol underneath their awning
  • Of leaves, as if they never would have done;
  • Which on a sudden changes, just at noon,
  • And the broad light is broken into rain
  • That stops and comes again;
  • Even as the traveller, who had held his way
  • Hopeful and glad because of the bright weather,
  • 10 Forgetteth then his gladness altogether;
  • Even so am I, through Love, alas the day!
  • It plainly is through Love that I am so.
  • At first, he let me still grow happier
  • Each day, and made her kindness seem to grow;
  • But now he has quite changed her heart in her.
  • And I, whose hopes throbb'd and were all astir
  • For times when I should call her mine aloud
  • And in her pride be proud
    page: 139
  • Who is more fair than gems are, ye may say,
  • 20 Having that fairness which holds hearts in rule;—
  • I have learnt now to count him but a fool
  • Who before evening says, A goodly day.
  • It had been better not to have begun,
  • Since, having known my error, 'tis too late.
  • This thing from which I suffer, thou hast done,
  • Lady: canst thou restore me my first state?
  • The wound thou gavest canst thou medicate?
  • Not thou, forsooth: thou hast not any art
  • To keep death from my heart.
  • 30O lady! where is now my life's full meed
  • Of peace,—mine once, and which thou took'st
  • away?
  • Surely it cannot now be far from day:
  • Night is already very long indeed.
  • The sea is much more beautiful at rest
  • Than when the tempest tramples over it.
  • Wherefore, to see the smile which has so bless'd
  • This heart of mine, deem'st thou these eyes unfit?
  • There is no maid so lovely, it is writ,
  • That by such stern unwomanly regard
  • 40 Her face may not be marr'd.
  • I therefore pray of thee, my own soul's wife,
  • That thou remember me who am forgot.
  • How shall I stand without thee? Art thou not
  • The pillar of the building of my life?
page: [140]


Of the Making of Master Messerin.
  • When God had finish'd Master Messerin,
  • He really thought it something to have
  • done:
  • Bird, man, and beast had got a chance in one,
  • And each felt flatter'd, it was hoped, therein.
  • For he is like a goose i' the windpipe thin,
  • And like a cameleopard high i' the loins;
  • To which, for manhood, you'll be told, he joins
  • Some kinds of flesh-hues and a callow chin.
  • As to his singing, he affects the crow;
  • 10 As to his learning, beasts in general;
  • And sets all square by dressing like a man.
  • God made him, having nothing else to do;
  • And proved there is not anything at all
  • He cannot make, if that's a thing He can.
page: 141


Of the Safety of Messer Fazio.*
Transcribed Footnote (page 141):

* I have not been able to trace the Fazio to whom this

sonnet refers.

  • Master Bertuccio, you are call'd to account
  • That you guard Fazio's life from poison
  • ill:
  • And every man in Florence tells me still
  • He has no horse that he can safely mount.
  • A mighty war-horse worth a thousand pound
  • Stands in Cremona stabled at his will;
  • Which for his honour'd person should fulfil
  • Its use. Nay, sir, I pray you be not found
  • So poor a steward. For all fame of yours
  • 10 Is cared for best, believe me, when I say:—
  • Our Florence gives Bertuccio charge of one
  • Who rides her own proud spirit like a horse;
  • Whom Cocciolo himself must needs obey;
  • And whom she loves best, being her strongest son.
page: 142


Of Messer Ugolino.*
Transcribed Footnote (page 142):

* The character here drawn certainly suggests Count

Ugolino de'Gherardeschi, though it would seem that Rustico

died nearly twenty years before the tragedy of the Tower of


  • If any one had anything to say
  • To the Lord Ugolino, because he's
  • Not staunch, and never minds his promises,
  • 'Twere hardly courteous, for it is his way.
  • Courteous it were to say such sayings nay:
  • As thus: He's true, sir, only takes his ease
  • And don't care merely if it plague or please,
  • And has good thoughts, no doubt, if they would stay.
  • Now I know he's so loyal every whit
  • 10 And altogether worth such a good word
  • As worst would best and best would worst befit.
  • He'd love his party with a dear accord
  • If only he could once quite care for it,
  • But can't run post for any Law or Lord.
page: [143]

Of Expediency.
  • Pass and let pass,—this counsel I would give,—
  • And wrap thy cloak what way the wind may
  • blow.
  • Who cannot raise himself were wise to know
  • How best, by dint of stooping, he may thrive.
  • Take for ensample this: when the winds drive
  • Against it, how the sapling tree bends low,
  • And, once being prone, abideth even so
  • Till the hard harsh wind cease to rend and rive.
  • Wherefore, when thou behold'st thyself abased,
  • 10 Be blind, deaf, dumb; yet therewith none the less
  • Note thou in peace what thou shalt hear and
  • see,
  • Till from such state by Fortune thou be raised.
  • Then hack, lop, buffet, thrust, and so redress
  • Thine ill that it may not return on thee.
page: [144]

Of his Lady dancing.
  • Among the dancers I beheld her dance,
  • Her who alone is my heart's sustenance.
  • So, as she danced, I took this wound of her;
  • Alas! the flower of flowers, she did not fail.
  • Woe's me! I will be Jew and blasphemer
  • If the good god of Love do not prevail
  • To bring me to thy grace, oh! thou most fair.
  • My lady and my lord! alas for wail!
  • How many days and how much sufferance?
  • 10Oh! would to God that I had never seen
  • Her face, nor had beheld her dancing so!
  • Then had I miss'd this wound which is so keen—
  • Yea, mortal—for I think not to win through
  • Unless her love be my sweet medicine;
  • Whereof I am in doubt, alas for woe!
  • Fearing therein but such a little chance.
page: 145
Sig. L
  • She was apparell'd in a Syrian cloth,
  • My lady:—oh! but she did grace the same,
  • Gladdening all folk, that they were nowise loth
  • 20 At sight of her to put their ills from them.
  • But upon me her power hath had such growth
  • That nought of joy thenceforth, but a live flame,
  • Stirs at my heart,—which is her countenance.
  • Sweet-smelling rose, sweet, sweet to smell and see,
  • Great solace had she in her eyes for all;
  • But heavy woe is mine; for upon me
  • Her eyes, as they were wont, did never fall.
  • Which thing if it were done advisedly,
  • I would choose death, that could no more appal,
  • 30Not caring for my life's continuance.
page: [146]

He is in awe of his Lady.
  • Even as the moon amid the stars doth shed
  • Her lovelier splendour of exceeding light,—
  • Even so my lady seems the queen and head
  • Among all other ladies in my sight.
  • Her human visage, like an angel's made,
  • Is glorious even to beauty's perfect height;
  • And with her simple bearing soft and staid
  • All secret modesties of soul unite.
  • I therefore feel a dread in loving her;
  • 10 Because of thinking on her excellence,
  • The wisdom and the beauty which she has.
  • I pray her for the sake of God,—whereas
  • I am her servant, yet in sore suspense
  • Have held my peace,—to have me in her care.
page: [147]

He is enjoined to pure Love.
  • A spirit of Love, with Love's intelligence,
  • Maketh his sojourn alway in my breast,
  • Maintaining me in perfect joy and rest;
  • Nor could I live an hour, were he gone thence:
  • Through whom my love hath such full permanence
  • That thereby other loves seem dispossess'd.
  • I have no pain, nor am with sighs oppress'd,
  • So calm is the benignant influence.
  • Because this spirit of Love, who speaks to me
  • 10 Of my dear lady's tenderness and worth,
  • Says: “More than thus to love her seek thou
  • not,
  • Even as she loves thee in her wedded thought;
  • But honour her in thy heart delicately:
  • For this is the most blessed joy on earth.”
page: [148]

He solicits a Lady's Favours.
  • Wert thou as prone to yield unto my prayer
  • The thing, sweet virgin, which I ask of
  • thee,
  • As to repeat, with all humility,
  • “Pray you go hence, and of your speech forbear;”—
  • Then unto joy might I my heart prepare,
  • Having my fellows in subserviency;
  • But, for that thou contemn'st and mockest me,
  • Whether of life or death I take no care;
  • Because my heart may not assuage its drouth
  • 10 Nor ever may again rejoice at all
  • Till the sweet face bend to be felt of man,—
  • Till tenderly the beautiful soft mouth
  • I kiss by thy good leave; thenceforth to call
  • Blessing and triumph Love's extremest ban.
page: [149]

A Return to Love.
  • A fresh content of fresh enamouring
  • Yields me afresh, at length, the sense of
  • song,
  • Who had well-nigh forgotten Love so long:
  • But now my homage he will have me bring.
  • So that my life is now a joyful thing,
  • Having new-found desire, elate and strong,
  • In her to whom all grace and worth belong,
  • On whom I now attend for ministering.
  • The countenance remembering, with the limbs,
  • 10 She was all imaged on my heart at once
  • Suddenly by a single look at her:
  • Whom when I now behold, a heat there seems
  • Within, as of a subtle fire that runs
  • Unto my heart, and remains burning there.
page: [150]
Prolonged Sonnet.

When the Troops were returning from Milan.
  • If you could see, fair brother, how dead beat
  • The fellows look who come through Rome to-
  • day,—
  • Black yellow smoke-dried visages,—you'd say
  • They thought their haste at going all too fleet.
  • Their empty victual-waggons up the street
  • Over the bridge dreadfully sound and sway;
  • Their eyes, as hang'd men's, turning the wrong
  • way;
  • And nothing on their backs, or heads, or feet.
  • One sees the ribs and all the skeletons
  • 10 Of their gaunt horses; and a sorry sight
  • Are the torn saddles, cramm'd with straw and stones.
  • They are ashamed, and march throughout the
  • night;
  • Stumbling, for hunger, on their marrowbones;
  • Like barrels rolling, jolting, in this plight.
  • Their arms all gone, not even their swords are saved;
  • And each as silent as a man being shaved.
page: [151]

Blank Verse.*

A Virgin declares her Beauties.
Transcribed Footnote (page [151]):

* Extracted from his long treatise, in unrhymed verse and

in prose, “Of the Government and Conduct of Women;”

( Del Reggimento e dei Costumi delle Donne.)

  • Do not conceive that I shall here recount
  • All my own beauty: yet I promise you
  • That you, by what I tell, shall understand
  • All that befits and that is well to know.
  • My bosom, which is very softly made,
  • Of a white even colour without stain,
  • Bears two fair apples, fragrant, sweetly-savour'd,
  • Gather'd together from the Tree of Life
  • The which is in the midst of Paradise.
  • 10And these no person ever yet has touch'd;
  • For out of nurse's and of mother's hands
  • I was, when God in secret gave them me.
  • These ere I yield I must know well to whom;
  • And for that I would not be robb'd of them,
  • I speak not all the virtue that they have;
  • Yet thus far speaking:—blessed were the man
    page: 152
  • Who once should touch them, were it but a little;—
  • See them I say not, for that might not be.
  • My girdle, clipping pleasure round about,
  • 20 Over my clear dress even unto my knees
  • Hangs down with sweet precision tenderly;
  • And under it Virginity abides.
  • Faithful and simple and of plain belief
  • She is, with her fair garland bright like gold;
  • And very fearful if she overhears
  • Speech of herself; the wherefore ye perceive
  • That I speak soft lest she be made ashamed.
  • Lo! this is she who hath for company
  • The Son of God and Mother of the Son;
  • 30 Lo! this is she who sits with many in heaven;
  • Lo! this is she with whom are few on earth.
page: 153


Of Sloth against Sin.
Transcribed Footnote (page 153):

* This and the three following pieces are extracted from

his “Documents of Love” ( Documenti d' Amore).

  • THERE is a vice which oft
  • I've heard men praise; and divers forms it
  • has;
  • And it is this. Whereas
  • Some, by their wisdom, lordship, or repute,
  • When tumults are afoot,
  • Might stifle them, or at the least allay,—
  • These certain ones will say,
  • “The wise man bids thee fly the noise of men.”
  • One says, “Wouldst thou maintain
  • 10 Worship,—avoid where thou may'st not avail;
  • And do not breed worse ail
  • By adding one more voice to strife begun.”
  • Another, with this one,
  • Avers, “I could but bear a small expense,
  • Or yield a slight defence.”
  • A third says this, “I could but offer words.”
page: 154
  • Or one, whose tongue records
  • Unwillingly his own base heart, will say,
  • “I'll not be led astray
  • 20To bear a hand in others' life or death.”
  • They have it in their teeth!
  • For unto this each man is pledged and bound;
  • And this thing shall be found
  • Enter'd against him at the Judgment Day.
page: 155


Of Sins in Speech.
  • NOW these four things, if thou
  • Consider, are so bad that none are worse.
  • First,—among counsellors
  • To thrust thyself, when not call'd absolutely.
  • And in the other three
  • Many offend by their own evil wit.
  • When men in council sit,
  • One talks because he loves not to be still;
  • And one to have his will;
  • 10 And one for nothing else but only show.
  • These rules were well to know,
  • First for the first, for the others afterward.
  • Where many are repair'd
  • And met together, never go with them
  • Unless thou'rt call'd by name.
  • This for the first: now for the other three.
page: 156
  • What truly thou dost see
  • Turn in thy mind, and faithfully report;
  • And in the plainest sort
  • 20Thy wisdom may, proffer thy counselling.
  • There is another thing
  • Belongs hereto, the which is on this wise.
  • If one should ask advice
  • Of thine for his own need whate'er it be,—
  • This is my word to thee:—
  • Deny it if it be not clearly of use;
  • Or turn to some excuse
  • That may seem fair, and thou shalt have done well.
page: 157


Of Importunities and Troublesome Persons.
  • There is a vice prevails
  • Concerning which I'll set you on your guard;
  • And other four, which hard
  • It were (as may be thought) that I should blame.
  • Some think that still of them
  • Whate'er is said—some ill speech lies beneath;
  • And this to them is death:
  • Whereby we plainly may perceive their sins.
  • And now let others wince.
  • 10 One sort there is, who, thinking that they please,
  • (Because no wit's in these,)
  • Where'er you go, will stick to you all day,
  • And answer, (when you say,
  • “Don't let me tire you out!”) “Oh never mind—
  • Say nothing of the kind,—
  • It's quite a pleasure to be where you are!”
page: 158
  • A second,—when, as far
  • As he could follow you, the whole day long
  • He's sung you his dull song,
  • 20And you for courtesy have borne with it,—
  • Will think you've had a treat.
  • A third will take his special snug delight,—
  • Some day you've come in sight
  • Of some great thought and got it well in view,—
  • Just then to drop on you.
  • A fourth, for any insult you've received
  • Will say he is so grieved,
  • And daily bring the subject up again.
  • So now I would be fain
  • 30 To show you your best course at all such times;
  • And counsel you in rhymes
  • That you yourself offend not in likewise.
  • In these four cases lies
  • This help:—to think upon your own affair,
  • Just showing here and there
  • By just a word that you are listening;
  • And still to the last thing
  • That's said to you attend in your reply,
  • And let the rest go by,—
  • 40It's quite a chance if he remembers them.
page: 159
  • Yet do not, all the same,
  • Deny your ear to any speech of weight.
  • But if importunate
  • The speaker is, and will not be denied,
  • Just turn the speech aside
  • When you can find some plausible pretence;
  • For if you have the sense,
  • By a quick question or a sudden doubt
  • You may so put him out
  • 50 That he shall not remember where he was;
  • And by such means you'll pass
  • Upon your way and be well rid of him.
  • And now it doth beseem
  • I give you the advice I promised you.
  • Before you have to do
  • With men whom you must meet continually,
  • Take notice what they be;
  • And so you shall find readily enough
  • If you can win their love,
  • 60And give yourself for answer Yes or No.
  • And finding Yes, do so
  • That still the love between you may increase.
  • Yet if they be of these
  • Whom sometimes it is hard to understand,
page: 160
  • Let some slight cause be plann'd,
  • And seem to go,—so you shall learn their will;
  • And if but one sit still
  • As 'twere in thought,—then go, unless he call.
  • Lastly, if insult gall
  • 70 Your friend, this is the course that you should
  • take.
  • At first 'tis well you make
  • As much lament thereof as you think fit,—
  • Then speak no more of it,
  • Unless himself should bring it up again;
  • And then no more refrain
  • From full discourse, but say his grief is yours.
page: 161
Sig. M


Of Caution.
  • Say, wouldst thou guard thy son,
  • That sorrow he may shun?
  • Begin at the beginning
  • And let him keep from sinning.
  • Wouldst guard thy house? One door
  • Make to it, and no more.
  • Wouldst guard thine orchard-wall?
  • Be free of fruit to all.
page: [162]


His Portrait of his Lady, Angiola of Verona.
Transcribed Note (page [162]):
Note: In line 16, the capital "A" in "And" is missing.
  • I look at the crisp golden-threaded hair
  • Whereof, to thrall my heart, Love twists a net;
  • Using at times a string of pearls for bait,
  • And sometimes with a single rose therein.
  • I look into her eyes which unaware
  • Through mine own eyes to my heart penetrate;
  • Their splendour, that is excellently great,
  • To the sun's radiance seeming near akin,
  • Yet from herself a sweeter light to win.
  • 10So that I, gazing on that lovely one,
  • Discourse in this wise with my secret thought:—
  • “Woe's me! why am I not,
  • Even as my wish, alone with her alone?—
  • That hair of hers, so heavily uplaid,
  • To shed down braid by braid,
  •  nd make myself two mirrors of her eyes
  • Within whose light all other glory dies.”
page: 163
  • I look at the amorous beautiful mouth,
  • The spacious forehead which her locks enclose,
  • 20 The small white teeth, the straight and shapely
  • nose,
  • And the clear brows of a sweet pencilling.
  • And then the thought within me gains full growth,
  • Saying, “Be careful that thy glance now goes
  • Between her lips, red as an open rose,
  • Quite full of every dear and precious thing;
  • And listen to her gracious answering,
  • Born of the gentle mind that in her dwells,
  • Which from all things can glean the nobler half.
  • Look thou when she doth laugh
  • 30How much her laugh is sweeter than aught else.”
  • Thus evermore my spirit makes avow
  • Touching her mouth; till now
  • I would give anything that I possess,
  • Only to hear her mouth say frankly, “Yes.”
  • I look at her white easy neck, so well
  • From shoulders and from bosom lifted out;
  • And at her round cleft chin, which beyond doubt
  • No fancy in the world could have design'd.
  • And then, with longing grown more voluble,
  • 40 “Were it not pleasant now,” pursues my thought,
  • “To have that neck within thy two arms caught
  • And kiss it till the mark were left behind?”
  • Then, urgently: “The eyelids of thy mind
  • Open thou: if such loveliness be given
  • To sight here,—what of that which she doth hide?
    page: 164
  • Only the wondrous ride
  • Of sun and planets through the visible heaven
  • Tells us that therebeyond is Paradise.
  • Thus, if thou fix thine eyes,
  • 50Of a truth certainly thou must infer
  • That every earthly joy abides in her.”
  • I look at the large arms, so lithe and round,—
  • At the hands, which are white and rosy too,—
  • At the long fingers, clasp'd and woven through,
  • Bright with the ring which one of them doth
  • wear.
  • Then my thought whispers: “Were thy body wound
  • Within those arms, as loving women's do,
  • In all thy veins were born a life made new
  • Which thou couldst find no language to declare.
  • 60 Behold if any picture can compare
  • With her just limbs, each fit in shape and size,
  • Or match her angel's colour like a pearl.
  • She is a gentle girl
  • To see; yet when it needs, her scorn can rise.
  • Meek, bashful, and in all things temperate,
  • Her virtue holds its state;
  • In whose least act there is that gift express'd
  • Which of all reverence makes her worthiest.”
  • Soft as a peacock steps she, or as a stork
  • 70 Straight on herself, taller and statelier:
  • 'Tis a good sight how every limb doth stir
  • For ever in a womanly sweet way.
    page: 165
  • “Open thy soul to see God's perfect work,”
  • (My thought begins afresh,) “and look at her
  • When with some lady-friend exceeding fair
  • She bends and mingles arms and locks in play.
  • Even as all lesser lights vanish away,
  • When the sun moves, before his dazzling face,
  • So is this lady brighter than all these.
  • 80 How should she fail to please,—
  • Love's self being no more than her loveliness?
  • In all her ways some beauty springs to view;
  • All that she loves to do
  • Tends alway to her honour's single scope;
  • And only from good deeds she draws her hope.”
  • Song, thou canst surely say, without pretence,
  • That since the first fair woman ever made,
  • Not one can have display'd
  • More power upon all hearts than this one doth;
  • 90 Because in her are both
  • Loveliness and the soul's true excellence:—
  • And yet (woe's me!) is pity absent thence?
page: 166

Extract from the “Dittamondo.”*

(Lib. iv. Cap. 23.)

Of England, and of its Marvels.
  • Now to Great Britain we must make our way,
  • Unto which kingdom Brutus gave its name
  • What time he won it from the giants' rule.
  • 'Tis thought at first its name was Albion,
  • And Anglia, from a damsel, afterwards.
    Transcribed Footnote (page 166):

    * I am quite sorry (after the foregoing love-song, the

    original of which is not perhaps surpassed by any poem of its

    class in existence) to endanger the English reader's respect

    for Fazio by these extracts from the Dittamondo, or “Song

    of the World,” in which he will find his own country endowed

    with some astounding properties. However, there are a few

    fine characteristic sentences, and the rest is no more absurd

    than other travellers' tales of that day; while the table of our

    Norman line of kings is not without some historical interest.

    It must be remembered that the love-song was the work of

    Fazio's youth, and the Dittamondo that of his old age, when

    we may suppose his powers to have been no longer at their

    best. Besides what I have given relating to Great Britain,

    there is a table of the Saxon dynasty, and some surprising

    facts about Scotland and Ireland; as well as a curious passage

    written in French, and purporting to be an account, given by

    a royal courier, of Edward the Third's invasion of France.

    page: 167
    Transcribed Footnote (page 167):

    I felt half disposed to include these, but was afraid of over-

    loading with such matter a selection made chiefly for the sake

    of poetic beauty. I should mention that the Dittamondo, like

    Dante's great poem, is written in terza rima; but as perfect

    literality was of primary importance in the above extracts, I

    have departed for once from my rule of fidelity to the original


  • The island is so great and rich and fair,
  • It conquers others that in Europe be,
  • Even as the sun surpasses other stars.
  • Many and great sheep-pastures bountifully
  • 10Nature has set there, and herein more bless'd,
  • That they can hold themselves secure from wolves.
  • Black amber* also doth the land enrich,
  • (Whose properties my guide Solinus here
  • Told me, and how its colour comes to it;)
  • And pearls are found in great abundance too.
  • The people are as white and comely-faced
  • As they of Ethiop land are black and foul.
  • Many hot springs and limpid fountain-heads
  • We found about this land, and spacious plains,
  • 20And divers beasts that dwell within thick woods.
  • Plentiful orchards too, and fertile fields
  • It has, and castle-forts, and cities fair
  • With palaces and girth of lofty walls.
  • And proud wide rivers without any fords
  • We saw, and flesh, and fish, and crops enough.
  • Justice is strong throughout those provinces.
Transcribed Footnote (page 167):

* The word is Gagata, which I find described in Alberti's

Dictionary, as “A black, solid, hard, and shining bitumen,

formed within the earth, and called also black amber.” Is

this coal?

page: 168
  • Now this I saw not; but so strange a thing
  • It was to hear, and by all men confirm'd,
  • That it is fit to note it as I heard;—
  • 30To wit, there is a certain islet here
  • Among the rest, where folk are born with tails,
  • Short, as are found in stags and such-like beasts.*
Transcribed Footnote (page 168):

* Mediæval Britons would seem really to have been

credited with this slight peculiarity. At the siege of

Damietta, Cœur-de-Lion's bastard brother is said to have

pointed out the prudence of deferring the assault, and to

have received for rejoinder from the French crusaders, “See

now these faint-hearted English with the tails!” To which

the Englishman replied, “You will need stout hearts to keep

near our tails when the assault is made.”

  • For this I vouch,—that when a child is freed
  • From swaddling bands, the mother without stay
  • Passes elsewhere, and 'scapes the care of it.
  • I put no faith herein; but it is said
  • Among them, how such marvellous trees are there
  • That they grow birds, and this is their sole fruit.†
Transcribed Footnote (page 168):

† This is the Barnacle-tree, often described in old books of

travels and natural history, and which Sir Thomas Browne

classes gravely among his “Vulgar Errors.”

  • Forty times eighty is the circuit ta'en,
  • 40With ten times fifteen, if I do not err,
  • By our miles reckoning its circumference.
  • Here every metal may be dug; and here
  • I found the people to be given to God,
  • Steadfast, and strong, and restive to constraint.
    page: 169
  • Nor is this strange, when one considereth;
  • For courage, beauty, and large-heartedness,
  • Were there, as it is said, in ancient days.
  • North Wales, and Orkney, and the banks of Thames,
  • Land's End, and Stonehenge,* and Northumberland,
  • 50I chose with my companion to behold.
  • We went to London, and I saw the Tower
  • Where Guenevere her honour did defend,
  • With the Thames river which runs close to it.
  • I saw the castle which by force was ta'en
  • With the three shields by gallant Lancelot,
  • The second year that he did deeds of arms.
  • I beheld Camelot despoil'd and waste;
  • And was where one and the other had her birth,
  • The maids of Corbonek and Astolat.
  • 60Also I saw the castle where Geraint
  • Lay with his Enid; likewise Merlin's stone,
  • Which for another's love I joy'd to see.
  • I found the tract where is the pine-tree well
  • Transcribed Footnote (page 169):

    * The words are “Listenois” and “Strangorre,” for which

    I have substituted Land's End and Stonehenge, being unable

    to identify them. What follows relates to the Romances of

    the Round Table. The only allusion here which I cannot

    trace to the Mort d'Arthur is one where “Rech” and “Nida”

    are spoken of: it seems however that, by a perversion hardly

    too corrupt for Fazio, these might be the Geraint and Enid

    whose story occurs in the Mabinogion, and has been used by

    Tennyson in his Idylls of the King. Why Fazio should have

    “joyed to see” Merlin's stone “for another's love” seems

    inscrutable; unless indeed the words “per amor altrui” are

    a mere idiom, and Merlin himself is the person meant.

    page: 170
  • And where of old the knight of the black shield
  • With weeping and with laughter kept the pass,
  • What time the pitiless and bitter dwarf
  • Before Sir Gawaine's eyes discourteously
  • With many heavy stripes led him away.
  • I saw the valley which Sir Tristram won
  • 70When having slain the giant hand to hand
  • He set the stranger knights from prison free.
  • And last I view'd the field, at Salisbury,
  • Of that great martyrdom which left the world
  • Empty of honour, valour, and delight.
  • So, compassing that Island round and round,
  • I saw and hearken'd many things and more
  • Which might be fair to tell but which I hide.
page: 171

Extract from the “Dittamondo”

(Lib. iv. Cap. 25.)

Of the Dukes of Normandy, and thence of the Kings

of England, from William the First to Edward

the Third.
  • THOU well hast heard that Rollo had two sons,
  • One William Longsword, and the other
  • Richard,
  • Whom thou now know'st to the marrow, as I do.*
  • Daring and watchful, as a leopard is,
  • Was William, fair in body and in face,
  • Ready at all times, never slow to act.
  • He fought great battles, but at last was slain
  • By the earl of Flanders; so that in his place
  • Richard his son was o'er the people set.
  • 10And next in order, lit with blessed flame
  • Of the Holy Spirit, his son follow'd him
  • Who justly lived 'twixt more and less midway,—
  • His father's likeness, as in shape in name.
    Transcribed Footnote (page 171):

    * The speaker here is the poet's guide Solinus (a histori-

    cal and geographical writer of the third century,) who bears

    the same relation to him which Virgil bears to Dante in the


    page: 172
  • So unto him succeeded as his heir
  • Robert the Frank, high-counsell'd and august:
  • And thereon following, I proceed to tell
  • How William, who was Robert's son, did make
  • The realm of England his co-heritage.
  • The same was brave and courteous certainly,
  • 20Generous and gracious, humble before God,
  • Master in war and versed in counsel too.
  • He with great following came from Normandy
  • And fought with Harold, and so left him slain,
  • And took the realm and held it at his will.
  • Thus did this kingdom change its signiory;
  • And know that all the kings it since has had
  • Only from this man take their origin.
  • Therefore, that thou may'st quite forget its past,
  • I say this happen'd when, since our Lord's Love,
  • 30Some thousand years and sixty were gone by.
  • While the fourth Henry ruled as emperor,
  • This king of England fought in many wars
  • And wax'd through all in honour and account.
  • And William Rufus next succeeded him;
  • Tall, strong, and comely-limb'd, but therewith proud
  • And grasping, and a killer of his kind.
  • In body he was like his father much,
  • But was in nature more his contrary
  • Than fire and water when they come together;
  • 40Yet so far good that he won fame in arms,
  • And by himself risk'd many an enterprise
  • All which he brought with honour to an end.
    page: 173
  • Also if he were bad, he gat great ill;
  • For, chasing once the deer within a wood,
  • And having wander'd from his company,
  • Him by mischance a servant of his own
  • Hit with an arrow, that he fell and died.
  • And after him Henry the First was king,
  • His brother, but therewith the father's like,
  • 50Being well with God and just in peace and war.
  • Next Stephen, on his death, the kingdom seized,
  • But with sore strife; of whom thus much be said,
  • That he was frank and good is told of him.
  • And after him another Henry reign'd,
  • Who, when the war in France was waged and done,
  • Pass'd beyond seas with the first Frederick.
  • Then Richard came, who, after heavy toil
  • At sea, was captive made in Germany,
  • Leaving the Sepulchre to join his host.
  • 60Who being dead, full heavy was the wrath
  • Of John his brother; and so well he took
  • Revenge, that still a moan is made of it.
  • This John in kingly largesse and in war
  • Delighted, when the kingdom fell to him;
  • Hunting and riding ever in hot haste.
  • Handsome in body and most poor in heart,
  • Henry his son and heir succeeded him,
  • Of whom to speak I count it wretchedness.
  • Yet there's some good to say of him, I grant;
  • 70Because of him was the good Edward born,
  • Whose valour still is famous in the world.
  • The same was he who, being without dread
    page: 174
  • Of the Old Man's Assassins, captured them,
  • And who repaid the jester if he lied.*
  • The same was he who over seas wrought scathe
  • So many times to Malekdar, and bent
  • Unto the Christian rule whole provinces.
  • He was a giant of his body, and great
  • And proud to view, and of such strength of soul
  • 80As never saddens with adversity.
Transcribed Footnote (page 174):

* This may either refer to some special incident or merely mean generally that he would not suffer lying even in a jester.

  • His reign was long; and when his death befell,
  • The second Edward mounted to the throne,
  • Who was of one kind with his grandfather.
  • I say from what report still says of him,
  • That he was evil, of base intellect,
  • And would not be advised by any man.
  • Conceive, good heart! that how to thatch a roof
  • With straw,—conceive!—he held himself expert,
  • And therein constantly would take delight!
  • 90By fraud he seized the Earl of Lancaster,
  • And what he did with him I say not here,
  • But that he left him neither town nor tower.
  • And thiswise, step by step, thou may'st perceive
  • That I to the third Edward have advanced,
  • Who now lives strong and full of enterprise,
  • And who already has grown manifest
  • For the best Christian known of in the world.
  • Thus I have told, as thou wouldst have me tell,
  • The race of William even unto the end.
page: [175]


His Talk with certain Peasant-girls.
  • “Ye graceful peasant-girls and mountain-
  • maids,
  • Whence come ye homeward through these evening
  • shades?”
  • “We come from where the forest skirts the hill;
  • A very little cottage is our home,
  • Where with our father and our mother still
  • We live, and love our life, nor wish to roam.
  • Back every evening from the field we come
  • And bring with us our sheep from pasturing there.”
  • “Where, tell me, is the hamlet of your birth,
  • 10 Whose fruitage is the sweetest by so much?
  • Ye seem to me as creatures worship-worth,
  • The shining of your countenance is such.
  • No gold about your clothes, coarse to the touch,
  • Nor silver; yet with such an angel's air!
page: 176
  • “I think your beauties might make great complaint
  • Of being thus shown over mount and dell;
  • Because no city is so excellent
  • But that your stay therein were honorable.
  • In very truth, now, does it like ye well
  • 20To live so poorly on the hill-side here?”
  • “Better it liketh one of us, pardiè,
  • Behind her flock to seek the pasture-stance,
  • Far better than it liketh one of ye
  • To ride unto your curtain'd rooms and dance.
  • We seek no riches neither golden chance
  • Save wealth of flowers to weave into our hair.”
  • Ballad, if I were now as once I was,
  • I'd make myself a shepherd on some hill,
  • And, without telling any one, would pass
  • 30 Where these girls went, and follow at their will;
  • And “Mary” and “Martin” we would murmur
  • still,
  • And I would be for ever where they were.
page: 177
Sig. N


On a Fine Day.
  • “Be stirring, girls! we ought to have a run:
  • Look, did you ever see so fine a day?
  • Fling spindles right away,
  • And rocks and reels and wools:
  • Now don't be fools,—
  • To-day your spinning's done.
  • Up with you, up with you!” So, one by one,
  • They caught hands, catch who can,
  • Then singing, singing, to the river they ran,
  • 10 They ran, they ran
  • To the river, the river;
  • And the merry-go-round
  • Carries them at a bound
  • To the mill o'er the river.
  • “Miller, miller, miller,
  • Weigh me this lady
  • And this other. Now, steady!”
  • “You weigh a hundred, you,
  • And this one weighs two.”
  • 20 “Why, dear, you do get stout!”
  • “You think so, dear, no doubt:
    page: 178
  • Are you in a decline?”
  • “Keep your temper, and I'll keep mine.”
  • “Come, girls,” (“O thank you, miller!”)
  • “We'll go home when you will.”
  • So, as we cross'd the hill,
  • A clown came in great grief
  • Crying, “Stop thief! stop thief!
  • O what a wretch I am!”
  • 30“Well, fellow, here's a clatter!
  • Well, what's the matter?”
  • “O Lord, O Lord, the wolf has got my lamb!”
  • Now at that word of woe,
  • The beauties came and clung about me so
  • That if wolf had but shown himself, may be
  • I too had caught a lamb that fled to me.
page: 179


On a Wet Day.
  • As I walk'd thinking through a little grove,
  • Some girls that gather'd flowers kept passing
  • me,
  • Saying, “Look here! look there!” delightedly.
  • “Oh here it is!” “What's that?” “A lily, love.”
  • “And there are violets!”
  • “Further for roses! Oh the lovely pets—
  • The darling beauties! Oh the nasty thorn!
  • Look here, my hand's all torn!”
  • “What's that that jumps?” “Oh don't! it's a
  • grasshopper!”
  • 10“Come run, come run,
  • Here's bluebells!” “Oh what fun!”
  • “Not that way! Stop her!”
  • “Yes, this way!” “Pluck them, then!”
  • “Oh, I've found mushrooms! Oh look here!” “Oh,
  • I'm
  • Quite sure that further on we'll get wild thyme.”
  • “Oh we shall stay too long, it's going to rain!
  • There's lightning, oh there's thunder!”
  • “Oh shan't we hear the vesper-bell, I wonder?”
    page: 180
  • “Why, it's not nones, you silly little thing;
  • 20And don't you hear the nightingales that sing
  • Fly away O die away?
  • “I feel so funny! Hush!”
  • “Why, where? what is it then?” “Ah! in that
  • bush!”
  • So every girl here knocks it, shakes and shocks it,
  • Till with the stir they make
  • Out skurries a great snake.
  • “O Lord! O me! Alack! Ah me! alack!”
  • They scream, and then all run and scream again,
  • And then in heavy drops down comes the rain.
  • 30Each running at the other in a fright,
  • Each trying to get before the other, and crying
  • And flying, stumbling, tumbling, wrong or right;
  • One sets her knee
  • There where her foot should be;
  • One has her hands and dress
  • All smother'd up with mud in a fine mess;
  • And one gets trampled on by two or three.
  • What's gather'd is let fall
  • About the wood and not pick'd up at all.
  • 40The wreaths of flowers are scatter'd on the ground;
  • And still as screaming hustling without rest
  • They run this way and that and round and round,
  • She thinks herself in luck who runs the best.
  • I stood quite still to have a perfect view,
  • And never noticed till I got wet through.
page: [181]


A Lady laments for her lost Lover, by similitude

of a Falcon.
  • Alas for me, who loved a falcon well!
  • So well I loved him, I was nearly dead:
  • Ever at my low call he bent his head,
  • And ate of mine, not much, but all that fell.
  • Now he has fled, how high I cannot tell,
  • Much higher now than ever he has fled,
  • And is in a fair garden housed and fed;
  • Another lady, alas! shall love him well.
  • O my own falcon whom I taught and rear'd!
  • 10 Sweet bells of shining gold I gave to thee
  • That in the chase thou shouldst not be afeard.
  • Now thou hast risen like the risen sea,
  • Broken thy jesses loose, and disappear'd,
  • As soon as thou wast skill'd in falconry.
page: 182


One speaks of the Beginning of his Love.
  • This fairest one of all the stars, whose flame,
  • For ever lit, my inner spirit fills,
  • Came to me first one day between the hills.
  • I wonder'd very much; but God the Lord
  • Said, “From Our Virtue, lo! this light is pour'd.”
  • So in a dream it seem'd that I was led
  • By a great Master to a garden spread
  • With lilies underfoot and overhead.
page: 183
Note: There are a few barely legible lines of print in a larger typeface visible on the page.


One speaks of his False Lady.
  • When the last greyness dwells throughout
  • the air
  • And the first star appears,
  • Appear'd to me a lady very fair.
  • I seem'd to know her well by her sweet air;
  • And, gazing, I was hers.
  • To honour her, I follow'd her: and then. . . .
  • Ah! what thou givest, God give thee again,
  • Whenever thou remain'st as I remain.
page: 184


One speaks of his Feigned and Real Love.
  • For no love borne by me,
  • Neither because I care
  • To find that thou art fair,—
  • To give another pain I gaze on thee.
  • And now, lest such as thought that thou couldst
  • move
  • My heart, should read this verse,
  • I will say here, another has my love.
  • An angel of the spheres
  • She seems, and I am hers;
  • 10 Who has more gentleness
  • And owns a fairer face
  • Than any woman else,—at least, to me.
  • Sweeter than any, more in all at ease,
  • Lighter and lovelier.
  • Not to disparage thee; for whoso sees
  • May like thee more than her.
  • This vest will one prefer
    page: 185
  • And one another vest.
  • To me she seems the best,
  • 20And I am hers, and let what will be, be.
  • For no love borne by me,
  • Neither because I care
  • To find that thou art fair,—
  • To give another pain, I gaze on thee.
page: 186


Of True and False Singing.
  • A little wild bird sometimes at my ear
  • Sings his own little verses very clear:
  • Others sing louder that I do not hear.
  • For singing loudly is not singing well;
  • But ever by the song that's soft and low
  • The master-singer's voice is plain to tell.
  • Few have it, and yet all are masters now,
  • And each of them can trill out what he calls
  • His ballads, canzonets, and madrigals.
  • 10The world with masters is so cover'd o'er,
  • There is no room for pupils any more.
page: 187

page: [188]
Note: blank page
page: [189]
In the second division of this volume are included

all the poems I could find which seemed to have

value as being personal to the circle of Dante's friends,

and as illustrating their intercourse with each other.

Those who know the Italian collections from which I

have drawn these pieces (many of them most obscure)

will perceive how much which is in fact elucidation

is here attempted to be embodied in themselves, as

to their rendering, arrangement, and heading: since

the Italian editors have never yet paid any of them,

except of course those by Dante, any such attention;

but have printed and reprinted them in a jumbled

and disheartening form, by which they can serve little

purpose except as testi di lingua—dead stock by

whose help the makers of dictionaries may smother

the language with decayed words. Appealing now

I believe for the first time, though in a new idiom,

from their once living writers to such living readers

as they may find, they require some preliminary

The Vita Nuova (or Autobiography of Dante's

youth till about his twenty-seventh year) is already

well known to many in the original, or by means of

essays and of English versions partial or entire;
page: 190
though I believe there is not one of the latter which

has been published in any full sense of the word. It

is, therefore, and on all accounts, unnecessary to say

much more of it here than it says for itself. Wedded

to its exquisite and intimate beauties are personal

peculiarities which excite wonder and conjecture, best

replied to in the words which Beatrice herself is made

to utter in the Commedia: “Questi fù tal nella sua

vita nuova.”* Thus then young Dante was. All

that seemed possible to be done here for the work

was to translate it in as free and clear a form as was

consistent with fidelity to its meaning; to ease it, as

far as possible, from notes and encumbrances; and to

accompany it for the first time with those poems from

Dante's own lyrical series which have reference to its

events, as well as with such native commentary (so

to speak) as might be afforded by the writings of those

with whom its author was at that time in familiar

intercourse. Not chiefly to Dante, then, of whom

so much is known to all or may readily be found

written, but to the various other members of his

circle, these few pages should be devoted.
It may be noted here, however, how necessary

a knowledge of the Vita Nuova is to the full

comprehension of the part borne by Beatrice in the

Commedia. Moreover, it is only from the perusal of

its earliest and then undivulged self-communings

that we can divine the whole bitterness of wrong

to such a soul as Dante's, its poignant sense of

abandonment, or its deep and jealous refuge in

memory. Above all, it is here that we find the first

manifestations of that wisdom of obedience, that

natural breath of duty, which afterwards, in the
Transcribed Footnote (page 190):

* Purgatorio, C. xxx.

page: 191
Commedia, lifted up a mighty voice for warning and

testimony. Throughout the Vita Nuova there is a

strain like the first falling murmur which reaches

the ear in some remote meadow, and prepares us to

look upon the sea.
Boccaccio, in his Life of Dante, tells us that the

great poet, in later life, was ashamed of this work

of his youth. Such a statement hardly seems

reconcilable with the allusions to it made or implied

in the Commedia; but it is true that the Vita Nuova

is a book which only youth could have produced,

and which must chiefly remain sacred to the young;

to each of whom the figure of Beatrice, less lifelike

than lovelike, will seem the friend of his own heart.

Nor is this, perhaps, its least praise. To tax its

author with effeminacy on account of the extreme

sensitiveness evinced by this narrative of his love,

would be manifestly unjust, when we find that, though

love alone is the theme of the Vita Nuova, war

already ranked among its author's experiences at the

period to which it relates. In the year 1289, the

one preceding the death of Beatrice, Dante served

with the foremost cavalry in the great battle of

Campaldino, on the eleventh of June, when the

Florentines defeated the people of Arezzo. In the

autumn of the next year, 1290, when for him, by the

death of Beatrice, the city as he says “sat solitary,”

such refuge as he might find from his grief was

sought in action and danger: for we learn from the

Commedia ( Hell, C. xxi.) that he served in the war

then waged by Florence upon Pisa, and was present

at the surrender of Caprona. He says, using the

reminiscence to give life to a description, in his

great way:—
page: 192
  • “I've seen the troops out of Caprona go
  • On terms, affrighted thus, when on the spot
  • They found themselves with foemen compass'd so.”
(Cayley's Translation.)
A word should be said here of the title of Dante's

autobiography. The adjective Nuovo, nuova, or

Novello, novella, literally New, is often used by Dante

and other early writers in the sense of young. This

has induced some editors of the Vita Nuova to explain

the title as meaning Early Life. I should be glad

on some accounts to adopt this supposition, as every-

thing is a gain which increases clearness to the modern

reader; but on consideration I think the more mystical

interpretation of the words, as New Life, (in reference

to that revulsion of his being which Dante so minutely

describes as having occurred simultaneously with

his first sight of Beatrice,) appears the primary one,

and therefore the most necessary to be given in a

translation. The probability may be that both were

meant, but this I cannot convey.*
Transcribed Footnote (page 192):

* I must hazard here (to relieve the first page of my

translation from a long note) a suggestion as to the meaning

of the most puzzling passage in the whole Vita Nuova,—that

sentence just at the outset which says, “La gloriosa donna della

mia mente, la quale fù chiamata da molti Beatrice, i quali non

sapeano che si chiamare.” On this passage all the commentators

seem helpless, turning it about and sometimes adopting altera-

tions not to be found in any ancient manuscript of the work.

The words mean literally, “The glorious lady of my mind who

was called Beatrice by many who knew not how she was

called.” This presents the obvious difficulty that the lady's

name really was Beatrice, and that Dante throughout uses

that name himself. In the text of my version I have adopted,

as a rendering, the one of the various compromises which

seemed to give the most beauty to the meaning. But it occurs

to me that a less irrational escape out of the difficulty than

any I have seen suggested may possibly be found by linking

page: 193
Sig. O
Transcribed Footnote (page 193):

this passage with the close of the sonnet at page 275 of the

Vita Nuova, beginning, “I felt a spirit of Love begin to stir,”

in the last line of which sonnet Love is made to assert that the

name of Beatrice is Love. Dante appears to have dwelt

on this fancy with some pleasure, from what is said in an

earlier sonnet (page 233) about “Love in his proper form” (by

which Beatrice seems to be meant) bending over a dead lady.

And it is in connection with the sonnet where the name of

Beatrice is said to be Love, that Dante, as if to show us that

the Love he speaks of is only his own emotion, enters into an

argument as to Love being merely an accident in substance,—

in other words, “Amore e il cor gentil son una cosa.” This

conjecture may be pronounced extravagant; but the Vita

Nuova, when examined, proves so full of intricate and fantastic

analogies, even in the mere arrangement of its parts, (much

more than appears on any but the closest scrutiny,) that it

seems admissible to suggest even a whimsical solution of a

difficulty which remains unconquered.

Among the poets of Dante's circle, the first in

order, the first in power, and the one whom Dante

has styled his “first friend,” is Guido Cavalcanti,

born about 1250, and thus Dante's senior by some

fifteen years. It is therefore probable that there is

some inaccuracy about the statement, often repeated,

that he was Dante's fellow-pupil under Brunetto

Latini; though it seems certain that they both

studied, probably Guido before Dante, with the same

teacher. The Cavalcanti family was among the most

ancient in Florence; and its importance may be

judged by the fact that in 1280, on the occasion of

one of the various missions sent from Rome with the

view of pacifying the Florentine factions, the name

of “Guido the son of Messer Cavalcante de' Caval-

canti” appears as one of the sureties offered by the

city, for the quarter of San Piero Scheraggio. His

father must have been notoriously a sceptic in matters

of religion, since we find him placed by Dante in the

sixth circle of Hell, in one of the fiery tombs of the
page: 194
unbelievers. That Guido shared this heresy was the

popular belief, as is plain from an anecdote in

Boccaccio which I shall give; and some corroboration

of such reports, at any rate as applied to Guido's

youth, seems capable of being gathered from an

extremely obscure poem which I have translated on

that account (at page 373) as clearly as I found

possible. It must be admitted, however, that there

is to the full as much devotional as sceptical tendency

implied here and there in his writings; while the

presence of either is very rare. We may also set

against such a charge the fact that Dino Compagni

refers, as will be seen, to his having undertaken a

religious pilgrimage. But indeed he seems to have

been in all things of that fitful and vehement nature

which would impress others always strongly, but often

in opposite ways. Self-reliant pride gave its colour to

all his moods; making his exploits as a soldier

frequently abortive through the headstrong ardour of

partisanship, and causing the perversity of a logician

to prevail in much of his amorous poetry. The

writings of his contemporaries, as well as his own,

tend to show him rash in war, fickle in love, and

presumptuous in belief; but also, by the same con-

current testimony, he was distinguished by great

personal beauty, high accomplishments of all kinds,

and daring nobility of soul. Not unworthy, for all

the weakness of his strength, to have been the object

of Dante's early emulation, the first friend of his

youth, and his precursor and fellow-labourer in the

creation of Italian Poetry.
In the year 1267, when Guido cannot have been

much more than seventeen years of age, a last attempt

was made in Florence to reconcile the Guelfs and
page: 195

Ghibellines. With this view several alliances were

formed between the leading families of the two fac-

tions; and among others, the Guelf Cavalcante de'

Cavalcanti wedded his son Guido to a daughter of

the Ghibelline Farinata degli Uberti. The peace

was of short duration; the utter expulsion of the

Ghibellines (through French intervention solicited

by the Guelfs) following almost immediately. In

the subdivision, which afterwards took place, of the

victorious Guelfs into so-called “Blacks” and

“Whites,” Guido embraced the White party, which

tended strongly to Ghibellinism, and whose chief was

Vieri de' Cerchi, while Corso Donati headed the

opposite faction. Whether his wife was still living

at the time when the events of the Vita Nuova oc-

curred, is probably not ascertainable; but about that

time Dante tells us that Guido was enamoured of a

lady named Giovanna or Joan, and whose Christian

name is absolutely all that we know of her. How-

ever, on the occasion of his pilgrimage to Thoulouse,

recorded by Dino Compagni, he seems to have con-

ceived a fresh passion for a lady of that city named

Mandetta, who first attracted him by a striking re-

semblance to his Florentine mistress. Thoulouse

had become a place of pilgrimage from its laying

claim to the possession of the body, or part of the

body, of Saint James the Apostle; though the same

supposed distinction had already made the shrine of

Compostella in Gallicia one of the most famous

throughout all Christendom. That this devout jour-

ney of Guido's had other results besides a new love,

will be seen by the passage from Compagni's Chro-

nicle. He says:—
“A young and noble knight named Guido, son of Messer
page: 196
Cavalcante Cavalcanti,—full of courage and courtesy, but

disdainful, solitary, and devoted to study,—was a foe to

Messer Corso (Donati) and had many times cast about to

do him hurt. Messer Corso feared him exceedingly, as

knowing him to be of a great spirit, and sought to assassi-

nate him on a pilgrimage which Guido made to the shrine

of St. James; but he might not compass it. Wherefore,

having returned to Florence and being made aware of this,

Guido incited many youths against Messer Corso, and these

promised to stand by him. Who being one day on horseback

with certain of the house of the Cerchi, and having a javelin

in his hand, spurred his horse against Messer Corso, think-

ing to be followed by the Cerchi that so their companies

might engage each other; and he running in on his horse

cast the javelin, which missed its aim. And with Messer

Corso were Simon his son, a strong and daring youth, and

Cecchino de' Bardi, who with many others pursued Guido

with drawn swords; but not overtaking him they threw

stones after him, and also others were thrown at him from

the windows, whereby he was wounded in the hand. And

by this matter hate was increased. And Messer Corso

spoke great scorn of Messer Vieri, calling him the Ass of

the Gate; because, albeit a very handsome man, he was

but of blunt wit and no great speaker. And therefore

Messer Corso would say often, ‘To-day the Ass of the

Gate has brayed,’ and so greatly disparage him; and

Guido he called Cavicchia.* And thus it was spread abroad

of the jongleurs; and especially one named Scampolino

reported worse things than were said, that so the Cerchi

might be provoked to engage the Donati.”
Transcribed Footnote (page 196):

* A nickname chiefly chosen, no doubt, for its resemblance

to Cavalcanti. The word cavicchia, cavicchio, or caviglia means

a wooden peg or pin. A passage in Boccaccio says, “He had

tied his ass to a strong wooden pin,” ( caviglia.) Thus Guido,

from his mental superiority, might be said to be the Pin to

which the Ass, Messer Vieri, was tethered at the Gate, (that

is, the Gate of San Pietro, near which he lived.) However,

it seems quite as likely that the nickname was founded on a

popular phrase by which one who fails in any undertaking is

said “to run his rear on a peg,” ( dare del culo in un cavicchio.)

The haughty Corso Donati himself went by the name of

Malefammi or “Do-me-harm.” For an account of his death

in 1307, which proved in keeping with his turbulent life, see

Dino Compagni's Chronicle, or the Pecorone of (Gior. xxiv Nov. 2.)

page: 197
The praise which Compagni, his contemporary,

awards to Guido at the commencement of the fore-

going extract, receives additional value when viewed

in connection with the sonnet addressed to him by

the same writer (see page 355), where we find that

he could tell him of his faults.
Such scenes as the one related above had become

common things in Florence, which kept on its course

from bad to worse till Pope Boniface VIII resolved

on sending a legate to propose certain amendments

in its scheme of government by Priori or represen-

tatives of the various arts and companies. These

proposals, however, were so ill received, that the

legate, who arrived in Florence in the month of

June, 1300, departed shortly afterwards greatly in-

censed, leaving the city under a papal interdict. In

the ill-considered tumults which ensued we again

hear of Guido Cavalcanti.
“It happened (says Giovanni Villani in his History of

Florence) that in the month of December (1300) Messer

Corso Donati with his followers, and also those of the house

of the Cerchi and their followers, going armed to the funeral

of a lady of the Frescobaldi family, this party defying that

by their looks would have assailed one another; whereby

all those who were at the funeral having risen up tumul-

tuously and fled each to his house, the whole city got

under arms, both factions assembling in great numbers, at

their respective houses. Messer Gentile de' Cerchi, Guido

Cavalcanti, Baldinuccio and Corso Adimari, Baschiero

della Tosa and Naldo Gherardini, with their comrades and

adherents on horse and on foot, hastened to St. Peter's

Gate to the house of the Donati. Not finding them

there they went on to San Pier Maggiore, where Messer

Corso was with his friends and followers; by whom they

were encountered and put to flight, with many wounds and

with much shame to the party of the Cerchi and to their

By this time we may conjecture as probable that
page: 198

Dante, in the arduous position which he then filled

as chief of the nine Priori on whom the government

of Florence devolved, had resigned for far other

cares the sweet intercourse of thought and poetry

which he once held with that first friend of his who

had now become so factious a citizen. Yet it is

impossible to say how much of the old feeling may

still have survived in Dante's mind when, at the close

of the year 1300 or beginning of 1301, it became

his duty, as a faithful magistrate of the republic, to

add his voice to those of his colleagues in pronounc-

ing a sentence of banishment on the heads of both

the Black and White factions, Guido Cavalcanti

being included among the latter. The Florentines

had been at last provoked almost to demand this

course from their governors, by the discovery of a

conspiracy, at the head of which was Corso Donati,

(while among its leading members was Simone de'

Bardi, once the husband of Beatrice Portinari), for

the purpose of inducing the Pope to subject the re-

public to a French peace-maker ( Paciere) and so

shamefully free it from its intestine broils. It ap-

pears therefore that the immediate cause of the exile

to which both sides were subjected lay entirely with

the “Black” party, the leaders of which were

banished to the Castello della Pieve in the wild dis-

trict of Massa Trabœria, while those of the “White”

faction were sent to Sarzana, probably (for more

than one place bears the name) in the Genovesato.

“But this party” (writes Villani) “remained a less

time in exile, being recalled on account of the un-

healthiness of the place, which made that Guido

Cavalcanti returned with a sickness, whereof he

died. And of him was a great loss; seeing that he
page: 199
was a man, as in philosophy, so in many things

deeply versed; but therewithal too fastidious and

prone to take offence.” His death apparently took

place in 1301.
When the discords of Florence ceased, for Guido,

in death, Dante also had seen their native city for

the last time. Before Guido's return he had under-

taken that embassy to Rome which bore him the

bitter fruit of unjust and perpetual exile: and it will

be remembered that a chief accusation against him

was that of favour shown to the White party on the

banishment of the factions.
Besides the various affectionate allusions to Guido

in the Vita Nuova, Dante has unmistakeably re-

ferred to him in at least two passages of the Com-

media. One of these references is to be found in

those famous lines of the Purgatory (C. xi.) where

he awards him the palm of poetry over Guido

Guinicelli (though also of the latter he speaks else-

where with high praise,) and implies at the same

time, it would seem, a consciousness of his own su-

premacy over both.
  • “Lo, Cimabue thought alone to tread
  • The lists of painting; now doth Giotto gain
  • The praise, and darkness on his glory shed.
  • Thus hath one Guido from another ta'en
  • The praise of speech, and haply one hath pass'd
  • Through birth, who from their nest will chase the
  • twain.”—
Cayley's Translation. The other mention of Guido is in that pathetic

passage of the Hell (C. x.) where Dante meets

among the lost souls Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti:—
  • “All roundabout he look'd, as though he had
  • Desire to see if one was with me else.
  • But after his surmise was all extinct,
    page: 200
  • He weeping said: ‘If through this dungeon blind
  • Thou goest by loftiness of intellect,—
  • Where is my son, and wherefore not with thee?’
  • And I to him: ‘Of myself come I not:
  • He who there waiteth leads me thoro' here,
  • Whom haply in disdain your Guido had.’*

  • Raised upright of a sudden, cried he: ‘How
  • Did'st say He had? Is he not living still?
  • Doth not the sweet light strike upon his eyes?’
  • When he perceived a certain hesitance
  • Which I was making ere I should reply,
  • He fell supine, and forth appear'd no more.”
Transcribed Footnote (page 200):

* Virgil, Dante's guide through Hell. Any prejudice

which Guido entertained against Virgil depended, no doubt,

only on his strong desire to see the Latin language give place,

in poetry and literature, to a perfected Italian idiom.

Dante, however, conveys his answer afterwards to the

spirit of Guido's father, through another of the con-

demned also related to Guido, Farinata degli Uberti,

with whom he has been speaking meanwhile:—
  • “Then I, as in compunction for my fault,
  • Said: ‘Now then shall ye tell that fallen one
  • His son is still united with the quick.
  • And, if I erst was dumb to the response,
  • I did it, make him know, because I thought
  • Yet on the error you have solved for me.’”
( Translated byW.M. Rossetti.)†
Transcribed Footnote (page 200):

† These passages are extracted from a literal blank verse

translation of the Inferno made by my brother, which is as yet

in MS., but which I trust may before long see the light; as I

believe such a work not to be superfluous even now, notwith-

standing the many existing versions of the Commedia. It is

long since Mr. Cary led the way with a good but rather free

rendering, more perhaps in the spirit of that day than of this,

and accompanied by notes and other editorial matter which

are among the clearest and most complete that Dante's work

has ever received. Mr. Cayley's version, of much more recent

date, seems to me to have now occupied (and that without

much likelihood of its being superseded) the post which is

the first in all such cases,—that of a fine English poem render-

ing a great foreign one in its own metre, with all essential

page: 201
Transcribed Footnote (page 201):

fidelity, for the use of English readers who read for the sake

of poetry. Dr. Carlyle's prose translation takes other ground,

that of word-for-word literality, for which it presupposes prose

to be indispensable. I will venture to assert that my brother's

work yields nothing to his, however, in minute precision of

this kind; and if so, it can hardly be doubtful that its being

in blank verse is a great gain, even as adding the last refine-

ment to exactness by showing the division of the lines; but

of course also on the higher poetic ground. I do not forget

that a version already exists, by Mr. Pollock, professing a like

aim with my brother's; and must again express a hope that

publicity will shortly afford to all an opportunity of judging

the claims of the new attempt. I may here also acknowledge

my obligations to my brother for valuable suggestions and

assistance in the course of my present work.

The date which Dante fixes for his vision is Good

Friday of the year 1300. A year later, his answer

must have been different. The love and friendship

of his Vita Nuova had then both left him. For ten

years Beatrice Portinari had been dead, or (as Dante

says in the Convito) “lived in heaven with the

angels and on earth with his soul.” And now, dis-

tant and probably estranged from him, Guido Caval-

canti was gone too.
Among the Tales of Franco Sacchetti, and in

the Decameron of Boccaccio, are two anecdotes re-

lating to Guido. Sacchetti tells us how, one day

that he was intent on a game at chess, Guido (who

is described as “one who perhaps had not his equal

in Florence”) was disturbed by a child playing

about, and threatened punishment if the noise con-

tinued. The child, however, managed slily to nail

Guido's coat to the chair on which he sat, and so

had the laugh against him when he rose soon after-

wards to fulfil his threat. This may serve as an

amusing instance of Guido's hasty temper, but

is rather a disappointment after its magniloquent
page: 202

heading, which sets forth how “Guido Cavalcanti,

being a man of great valour and a philosopher, is

defeated by the cunning of a child.”
The ninth Tale of the sixth Day of the Decameron

relates a repartee of Guido's, which has all the pro-

found platitude of mediæval wit. As the anecdote,

however, is interesting on other grounds, I translate

it here.
“You must know that in past times there were in our

city certain goodly and praiseworthy customs no one of

which is now left, thanks to avarice which has so increased

with riches that it has driven them all away. Among the

which was one whereby the gentlemen of the outskirts

were wont to assemble together in divers places through-

out Florence, and to limit their fellowships to a certain

number, having heed to compose them of such as could

fitly discharge the expense. Of whom to-day one, and to-

morrow another, and so all in turn, laid tables each on

his own day for all the fellowship. And in such wise

often they did honour to strangers of worship and also to

citizens. They all dressed alike at least once in the year,

and the most notable among them rode together through

the city; also at seasons they held passages of arms, and

specially on the principal feast-days, or whenever any

news of victory or other glad tidings had reached the city.

And among these fellowships was one headed by Messer

Betto Brunelleschi, into the which Messer Betto and his

companions had often intrigued to draw Guido di Messer

Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti; and this not without cause,

seeing that not only he was one of the best logicians that

the world held, and a surpassing natural philosopher, (for the

which things the fellowship cared little,) but also he ex-

ceeded in beauty and courtesy, and was of great gifts as a

speaker; and everything that it pleased him to do, and

that best became a gentleman, he did better than any

other; and was exceeding rich and knew well to solicit

with honourable words whomsoever he deemed worthy.

But Messer Betto had never been able to succeed in enlist-

ing him; and he and his companions believed that this

was through Guido's much pondering which divided him

from other men. Also because he held somewhat of the

opinion of the Epicureans, it was said among the vulgar
page: 203

sort, that his speculations were only to cast about whether

he might find that there was no God. Now on a certain

day Guido having left Or San Michele, and held along the

Corso degli Adimari as far as San Giovanni (which often-

times was his walk); and coming to the great marble

tombs which now are in the Church of Santa Reparata,

but were then with many others in San Giovanni; he

being between the porphyry columns which are there

among those tombs, and the gate of San Giovanni which

was locked;—it so chanced that Messer Betto and his

fellowship came riding up by the Piazza di Santa Repa-

rata, and seeing Guido among the sepulchres, said, ‘Let

us go and engage him.’ Whereupon, spurring their

horses in the fashion of a pleasant assault, they were on

him almost before he was aware, and began to say to him,

‘Thou, Guido, wilt none of our fellowship; but lo now!

when thou shalt have found that there is no God, what

wilt thou have done?’ To whom Guido, seeing himself

hemmed in among then, readily replied, ‘Gentlemen, ye

are at home here, and may say what ye please to me.’

Wherewith, setting his hand on one of those high tombs,

being very light of his person, he took a leap and was

over on the other side; and so having freed himself

from them, went his way. And they all remained bewil-

dered, looking on one another; and began to say that he

was but a shallow-witted fellow, and that the answer he

had made was as though one should say nothing; seeing

that where they were, they had not more to do than other

citizens, and Guido not less than they. To whom Messer

Betto turned and said thus: ‘Ye yourselves are shallow-

witted if ye have not understood him. He has civilly and

in few words said to us the most uncivil thing in the

world; for if ye look well to it, these tombs are the homes

of the dead, seeing that in them the dead are set to dwell;

and here he says that we are at home; giving us to know

that we and all other simple unlettered men, in comparison

of him and the learned, are even as dead men; wherefore,

being here, we are at home.’ Thereupon each of them

understood what Guido had meant, and was ashamed;

nor ever again did they set themselves to engage him.

Also from that day forth they held Messer Betto to be a

subtle and understanding knight.”
In the above story mention is made of Guido

Cavalcanti's wealth, and there seems no doubt that
page: 204

at that time the family was very rich and powerful.

On this account I am disposed to question whether

the Canzone at page 370 (where the author speaks of

his poverty) can really be Guido's work, though I

have included it as being interesting if rightly attri-

buted to him; and it is possible that, when exiled,

he may have suffered for the time in purse as well as

person. About three years after his death, on the

10th June, 1304, the Black party plotted together

and set fire to the quarter of Florence chiefly held

by their adversaries. In this conflagration the

houses and possessions of the Cavalcanti were almost

entirely destroyed; the flames in that neighbourhood

(as Dino Compagni records) gaining rapidly in con-

sequence of the great number of waxen images in

the Virgin's shrine at Or San Michele; one of which,

no doubt, was the very image resembling his lady to

which Guido refers in a sonnet (see page 333.)

After this, their enemies succeeded in finally expel-

ling from Florence the Cavalcanti family,* greatly

impoverished by this monstrous fire in which nearly

two thousand houses were consumed.
Guido appears, by various evidence, to have written,

besides his poems, a treatise on Philosophy and another

on Oratory, but his poems only have survived to our

day. As a poet, he has more individual life of his

own than belongs to any of his predecessors; by far
Transcribed Footnote (page 204):

* With them were expelled the still more powerful Ghe-

rardini, also great sufferers by the conflagration; who, on

being driven from their own country, became the founders of

the ancient Geraldine family in Ireland. The Cavalcanti re-

appear now and then in later European history; and espe-

cially we hear of a second Guido Cavalcanti, who also culti-

vated poetry, and travelled to collect books for the Ambrosian

Library; and who, in 1563, visited England as Ambassador

to the court of Elizabeth from Charles IX. of France.

page: 205

the best of his pieces being those which relate to him-

self, his loves and hates. The best known, however,

and perhaps the one for whose sake the rest have

been preserved, is the metaphysical canzone on the

Nature of Love, beginning, “Donna mi priega,”

and intended, it is said, as an answer to a sonnet by

Guido Orlandi, written as though coming from a lady,

and beginning, “Onde si muove e donde nasce

Amore?” On this canzone of Guido's there are

known to exist no fewer than eight commentaries,

some of them very elaborate and written by prominent

learned men of the middle ages and renaissance;

the earliest being that by Egidio Colonna, a beatified

churchman who died in 1316; while most of the too

numerous Academic writers on Italian literature

speak of this performance with great admiration as

Guido's crowning work. A love-song which acts as

such a fly-catcher for priests and pedants looks very

suspicious; and accordingly, on examination, it proves

to be a poem beside the purpose of poetry, filled with

metaphysical jargon, and perhaps the very worst of

Guido's productions. Its having been written by a

man whose life and works include so much that is

impulsive and real, is easily accounted for by scholastic

pride in those early days of learning. I have not

translated it, as being of little true interest; but was

pleased lately, nevertheless, to meet with a remarkably

complete translation of it by the Rev. Charles T. Brooks

of Cambridge, United States.* The stiffness and

cold conceits which prevail in this poem may be found
Transcribed Footnote (page 205):

* This translation occurs in the Appendix to an Essay on

the Vita Nuova of Dante, including extracts, by my friend

Mr. Charles E. Norton, of Cambridge, U.S.,—a work of high

delicacy and appreciation which originally appeared by por-

page: 206
Transcribed Footnote (page 206):

tions in the Atlantic Monthly, but has since been augmented

by the author and privately printed in a volume which is a

beautiful specimen of American typography.

disfiguring much of what Guido Cavalcanti has left,

while much besides is blunt, obscure, and abrupt:

nevertheless, if it need hardly be said how far he falls

short of Dante in variety and personal directness, it

may be admitted that he worked worthily at his side,

and perhaps before him, in adding those qualities to

Italian poetry. That Guido's poems dwelt in the

mind of Dante is evident by his having appropriated

lines from them, (as well as from those of Guinicelli,)

with little alteration, more than once, in the Com-

media. I should not forget to state in conclusion

that a portrait of Guido (of which there is an engrav-

ing, I should think badly rendered) exists in the

gallery of Florence.
Towards the close of his life, Dante, in his Latin

treatise De Vulgari Eloquio, again speaks of him-

self as the friend of a poet,—this time of Cino da

Pistoia. In an early passage of that work he says

that “those who have most sweetly and subtly written

poems in modern Italian are Cino da Pistoia and a

friend of his.” This friend we afterwards find to be

Dante himself; as among the various poetical examples

quoted are several by Cino followed in three instances

by lines from Dante's own lyrics, the author of the

latter being again described merely as “Amicus ejus.”

In immediate proximity to these, or coupled in two

instances with examples from Dante alone, are various

quotations taken from Guido Cavalcanti; but in none

of these cases is anything said to connect Dante

with him who was once “the first of his friends.”*
Transcribed Footnote (page 206):

* It is also noticeable that in this treatise Dante speaks of

Guido Guinicelli on one occasion as Guido Maximus, thus

page: 207
Transcribed Footnote (page 207):

seeming to contradict the preference of Cavalcanti which is

usually supposed to be implied in the passage I have quoted

from the Purgatory. It has been sometimes surmised (per-

haps for this reason) that the two Guidos there spoken of may

be Guittone d'Arezzo and Guido Guinicelli, the latter being

said to surpass the former, of whom Dante elsewhere in the

Purgatory has expressed a low opinion. But I should think

it doubtful whether the name Guittone, which (if not a nick-

name, as some say) is substantially the same as Guido, could

be so absolutely identified with it: at that rate Cino da

Pistoia even might be classed as one Guido, his full name,

Guittoncino, being the diminutive of Guittone. I believe it

more probable that Guinicelli and Cavalcanti were then really

meant, and that Dante afterwards either altered his opinion,

or may (conjecturably) have chosen to imply a change of

preference in order to gratify Cino da Pistoia whom he so

markedly distinguishes as his friend throughout the treatise,

and between whom and Cavalcanti some jealousy appears to

have existed, as we may gather from one of Cino's sonnets

(at page 393); nor is Guido mentioned anywhere with praise

by Cino, as other poets are.

As commonly between old and new, the change of

Guido's friendship for Cino's seems doubtful gain.

Cino's poetry, like his career, is for the most part

smoother than that of Guido, and in some instances

it rises into truth and warmth of expression; but it

conveys no idea of such powers, for life or for work,

as seem to have distinguished the “Cavicchia” of

Messer Corso Donati. However, his one talent

(reversing the parable) appears generally to be made

the most of, while Guido's two or three remain un-

certain through the manner of their use.
Cino's Canzone addressed to Dante on the death

of Beatrice, as well as his answer to the first sonnet

of the Vita Nuova, indicate that the two poets must

have become acquainted in youth, though there is no

earlier mention of Cino in Dante's writings than

those which occur in his treatise on the Vulgar

Tongue. To their younger days also we may pro-
page: 208

bably ascribe the two sonnets [ sonnet 1, sonnet 2] translated at pages

319-20 of this volume. It might perhaps be infer-

red with some plausibility that their acquaintance

was revived after an interruption by the sonnet and

answer at pages 321-22, and that they afterwards

corresponded as friends till the period of Dante's

death when Cino wrote his elegy. Of the two son-

nets in which Cino expresses disapprobation of what

he thinks the partial judgments of Dante's Commedia,

the first seems written before the great poet's death,

but I should think that the second dated after that

event, as the Paradise, to which it refers, cannot have

become fully known in its author's lifetime. An-

other sonnet sent to Dante elicited a Latin epistle in

reply, where we find Cino addressed as “frater caris-

sime.” Among Cino's lyrical poems are a few more

written in correspondence with Dante, which I have

not translated as being of little personal interest.
Guittoncino de' Sinibuldi (for such was Cino's full

name) was born in Pistoia, of a distinguished

family, in the year 1270. He devoted himself early

to the study of law, and in 1307 was Assessor of

Civil Causes in his native city. In this year, and

in Pistoia, the endless contest of the “Black” and

“White” factions first sprang into activity; the

“Blacks” and Guelfs of Florence and Lucca driving

out the “Whites” and Ghibellines, who had ruled

in the city since 1300. With their accession to

power came many iniquitous laws in favour of their

own party; so that Cino, as a lawyer of Ghibelline

opinions, soon found it necessary or advisable to

leave Pistoia, for it seems uncertain whether his

removal was voluntary or by proscription. He di-

rected his course towards Lombardy, on whose con-
page: 209
Sig. P

fines the chief of the “White” party in Pistoia,

Filippo Vergiolesi, still held the fortress of Pitecchio.

Hither Vergiolesi had retreated with his family and

adherents when resistance in the city became no

longer possible; and it may be supposed that Cino

came to join him not on account of political sympathy

alone; as Selvaggia Vergiolesi, his daughter, is the

lady celebrated throughout the poet's compositions.

Three years later, the Vergiolesi and their followers,

finding Pitecchio untenable, fortified themselves on

the Monte della Sambuca, a lofty peak of the Apen-

nines; which again they were finally obliged to

abandon, yielding it to the Guelfs of Pistoia at the

price of eleven thousand lire. Meanwhile the bleak

air of the Sambuca had proved fatal to the lady

Selvaggia, who remained buried there, or, as Cino

expresses it in one of his poems,
  • “Cast out upon the steep path of the mountains,
  • Where Death had shut her in between hard stones.”
Over her cheerless tomb Cino bent and mourned,

as he has told us, when, after a prolonged absence

spent partly in France, he returned through Tuscany

on his way to Rome. He had not been with Sel-

vaggia's family at the time of her death; and it is

probable that, on his return to the Sambuca, the

fortress was already surrendered, and her grave

almost the only record left there of the Vergiolesi.
Cino's journey to Rome was on account of his

having received a high office under Louis of Savoy,

who preceded the Emperor Henry VII. when he

went thither to be crowned in 1310. In another

three years the last blow was dealt to the hopes of

the exiled and persecuted Ghibellines, by the death

of the Emperor, attributed sometimes to poison.
page: 210

This death Cino has lamented in a Canzone. It pro-

bably determined him to abandon a cause which

seemed dead, and return, when possible, to his na-

tive city. This he succeeded in doing before 1319,

as in that year we find him deputed together with

six other citizens, by the Government of Pistoia, to

take possession of a stronghold recently yielded to

them. He had now been for some time married to

Margherita degli Ughi, of a very noble Pistoiese

family, who bore him a son named Mino, and four

daughters, Diamante, Beatrice, Giovanna, and Lom-

barduccia. Indeed, this marriage must have taken

place before the death of Selvaggia in 1310, as in

1325-26, his son Mino was one of those by whose

aid from within, the Ghibelline Castruccio Antelmi-

nelli obtained possession of Pistoia, which he held

in spite of revolts till his death some two or three

years afterwards, when it again reverted to the

After returning to Pistoia, Cino's whole life was

devoted to the attainment of legal and literary fame.

In these pursuits he reaped the highest honours,

and taught at the universities of Siena, Perugia, and

Florence; having for his disciples men who after-

wards became celebrated, among whom rumour has

placed Petrarch, though on examination this seems

very doubtful. A sonnet by Petrarch exists, how-

ever, commencing “Piangete donne e con voi pianga

Amore,” written as a lament on Cino's death and

bestowing the highest praise on him. He and his

Selvaggia are also coupled with Dante and Beatrice

in the same poet's Trionfi d'Amore, (cap. 4.)
Though established again in Pistoia, Cino re-

sided there but little till about the time of his death,
page: 211

which occurred in 1336-7. His monument, where

he is represented as a professor among his disciples,

still exists in the Cathedral of Pistoia, and is a

mediæval work of great interest. Messer Cino de'

Sinibuldi was a prosperous man, of whom we have

ample records, from the details of his examinations

as a student, to the inventory of his effects after

death, and the curious items of his funeral expenses.

Of his claims as a poet it may be said that he filled

creditably the interval which elapsed between the

death of Dante and the full blaze of Petrarch's suc-

cess. Most of his poems in honour of Selvaggia are

full of an elaborate and mechanical tone of complaint

which hardly reads like the expression of a real love;

nevertheless there are some, and especially the son-

net on her tomb (at page 390), which display feeling

and power. The finest, as well as the most interest-

ing, of all his pieces, is the very beautiful canzone in

which he attempts to console Dante for the death of

Beatrice. Though I have found much fewer among

Cino's poems than among Guido's which seemed to

call for translation, the collection of the former is a

larger one. Cino produced legal writings also, of

which the chief one that has survived is a Com-

mentary on the Statutes of Pistoia, said to have

great merit, and whose production in the short space

of two years was accounted an extraordinary achieve-

Having now spoken of the chief poets of this

division, it remains to notice the others of whom less

is known.
Dante da Maiano (Dante being, as with Ali-

ghieri, the short of Durante, and Maiano in the

neighbourhood of Fiesole) had attained some repu-
page: 212

tation as a poet before the career of his great name-

sake began; his lady Nina going by the then un-

equivocal title of “La Nina di Dante.” This also

appears to have been the case from the contemptuous

answer sent by him to Dante Alighieri's dream-

sonnet in the Vita Nuova (see page 396). All the

writers on early Italian poetry seem to agree in

specially censuring this poet's rhymes as coarse and

trivial in manner; nevertheless, they are sometimes

distinguished by a careless force not to be despised,

and even by snatches of real beauty. Of Dante da

Maiano's life no record whatever has come down to

Most literary circles have their prodigal, or what

in modern phrase might be called their “scamp;”

and among our Danteans, this place is indisputably

filled by Cecco Angiolieri, of Siena. Nearly all

his sonnets (and no other pieces by him have been

preserved) relate either to an unnatural hatred of his

father, or to an infatuated love for the daughter of a

shoemaker, a certain married Becchina. It would

appear that Cecco was probably enamoured of her

before her marriage as well as afterwards, and we

may surmise that his rancour against his father may

have been partly dependent, in the first instance, on

the disagreements arising from such a connection.

However, from an amusing and lifelike story in the

Decameron (Gior. ix. Nov. 4.) we learn that on one

occasion Cecco's father paid him six months' allow-

ance in advance, in order that he might proceed to

the Marca d'Ancona and join the suite of a Papal

Legate who was his patron; which looks, after all, as

if the father had some care of his graceless son.

The story goes on to relate how Cecco (whom Boc-
page: 213

caccio describes as a handsome and well-bred man)

was induced to take with him as his servant a fellow-

gamester with whom he had formed an intimacy

purely on account of the hatred which each of the two

bore his own father, though in other respects they

had little in common. The result was that this fellow,

during the journey, while Cecco was asleep at Buon-

convento, took all his money and lost it at the gaming-

table, and afterwards managed by an adroit trick to

get possession of his horse and clothes, leaving him

nothing but his shirt. Cecco then, ashamed to return

to Siena, made his way, in a borrowed suit and

mounted on his servant's sorry hack, to Corsignano

where he had relations; and there he stayed till his

father once more (surely much to his credit) made

him a remittance of money. Boccaccio seems to say

in conclusion that Cecco ultimately had his revenge

on the thief.
Many both of Cecco's love-sonnets and hate-son-

nets are very repulsive from their display of powers

perverted often to base uses; while it is impossible

not to feel some pity for the indications they contain

of self-sought poverty, unhappiness, and natural bent

to ruin. Altogether they have too much curious

individuality to allow of their being omitted here.

Their humour is sometimes strong, if not well chosen;

their passion always forcible from its evident reality:

nor indeed is the sonnet which stands fourth among

my translations devoid of a certain delicacy. This

quality is also to be discerned in other pieces which I

have not included as having less personal interest; but

it must be confessed that for the most part the sen-

timents expressed in Cecco's poetry are either impious

or licentious. Most of the sonnets of his which are
page: 214

in print are here given;* the selections concluding

with an extraordinary one in which he proposes a

sort of murderous crusade against all those who hate

their fathers. This I have placed last (exclusive of

the sonnet to Dante in exile) in order to give the

writer the benefit of the possibility that it was written

last, and really expressed a still rather blood-thirsty

contrition; belonging at best, I fear, to the content of

self-indulgence when he came to enjoy his father's

inheritance. But most likely it is to be received as

the expression of impudence alone, unless perhaps of

Cecco Angiolieri seems to have had poetical inter-

course with Dante early as well as later in life;

but even from the little that remains, we may gather

that Dante soon put an end to any intimacy which

may have existed between them. That Cecco already

poetized at the time to which the Vita Nuova relates

is evident from a date given in one of his sonnets,—

the 20th June, 1291, and from his sonnet raising

objections to the one at the close of Dante's auto-

biography. When the latter was written he was

probably on good terms with the young Alighieri;

but within no great while afterwards they had dis-

covered that they could not agree, as is shown by a

sonnet in which Cecco can find no words bad enough

for Dante, who has remonstrated with him about
Transcribed Footnote (page 214):

* It may be mentioned (as proving how much of the poetry

of this period still remains in MS.) that Ubaldini, in his

Glossary to Barberino, published in 1640, cites as grammati-

cal examples no fewer than twenty-two short fragments from

Cecco Angiolieri, one of which alone is to be found among the

sonnets which I have seen, and which I believe are the only

ones in print. Ubaldini quotes them from the Strozzi MSS.

page: 215

Becchina.* Much later, as we may judge, he again

addresses Dante in an insulting tone, apparently

while the latter was living in exile at the court of

Can Grande della Scala. No other reason can well

be assigned for saying that he had “turned Lom-

bard;” while some of the insolent allusions seem

also to point to the time when Dante learnt by ex-

perience “how bitter is another's bread and how

steep the stairs of his house.”
Why Cecco in this sonnet should describe himself

as having become a Roman, is more puzzling.

Boccaccio certainly speaks of his luckless journey to

join a papal legate, but does not tell us whether fresh

clothes and the wisdom of experience served him in

the end to become so far identified with the Church

of Rome. However, from the sonnet on his father's

death he appears (though the allusion is desperately

obscure) to have been then living at an abbey; and

also, from the one mentioned above, we may infer

that he himself, as well as Dante, was forced to sit

at the tables of others: coincidences which almost

seem to afford a glimpse of the phenomenal fact that

the bosom of the church was indeed for a time the

refuge of this shorn lamb. If so, we may further

conjecture that the wonderful crusade-sonnet was

an amende honorable then imposed on him, accom-

panied probably with more fleshly penance.
It must be remarked, however, that if Guido Ca-

valcanti's sonnet at page 362, should happen really

to have been addressed to Cecco, (a possibility there
Transcribed Footnote (page 215):

* Of this sonnet I have seen two printed versions, in both

of which the text is so corrupt as to make them very contra-

dictory in important points; but I believe that by comparing

the two I have given its meaning correctly. (See page 411 .)

page: 216

suggested in a foot-note,) he must have become a

rich man before the period of Dante's exile, as the

death of Guido immediately preceded that event. At

the same time, there is of course nothing likelier than

that he may have found himself poor again before

long, and may then (who knows?) have fled to Rome

for good, whether with sacred or profane views.
Though nothing indicates the time of Cecco An-

giolieri's death, I will venture to surmise that he

outlived the writing and revision of Dante's Inferno,

if only by the token that he is not found lodged in

one of its meaner circles. It is easy to feel sure that

no sympathy can ever have existed for long between

Dante and a man like Cecco; however arrogantly

the latter, in his verses, might attempt to establish a

likeness and even an equality. We may accept the

testimony of so reverent a biographer as Boccaccio,

that the Dante of later years was far other than the

silent and awe-struck lover of the Vita Nuova; but

he was still (as he proudly called himself) “the

singer of Rectitude,” and his that “disdainful soul”

which made blessed the mother who had borne him.*
Leaving to his fate (whatever that may have been)

the Scamp of Dante's Circle, I must risk the charge

of a confirmed taste for slang by describing Guido

Orlandi as its Bore. No other word could present

him so fully. Very few pieces of his exist besides

the five I have given. In one of these,† he rails

against his political adversaries; in three,‡falls foul

of his brother poets; and in the remaining one,§
Transcribed Footnote (page 216):
  • * “Alma sdegnosa,
  • Benedetta colei che in te s'incinse!”
( Inferno, C.viii.)
Transcribed Footnote (page 216):

Page 423.

Transcribed Footnote (page 216):

‡ Pages 334, 351, 398.

Transcribed Footnote (page 216):

§ Page 357.

page: 217

seems somewhat appeased (I think) by a judicious

morsel of flattery. I have already referred to a

sonnet of his which is said to have led to the com-

position of Guido Cavalcanti's Canzone on the Nature

of Love. He has another sonnet beginning, “Per

troppa sottiglianza il fil si rompe,”* in which he is

certainly enjoying a fling at somebody, and I sus-

pect at Cavalcanti in rejoinder to the very poem

which he himself had instigated. If so, this stamps

him a master-critic of the deepest initiation. Of

his life nothing is recorded; but no wish perhaps

need be felt to know much of him, as one would pro-

bably have dropped his acquaintance. We may be

obliged to him, however, for his character of Guido

Cavalcanti (at page 351) which is boldly and vividly

Next follow three poets of whom I have given one

specimen apiece. By Bernardo da Bologna

( page 353) no other is known to exist, nor can any-

thing be learnt of his career. Gianni Alfani was

a noble and distinguished Florentine, a much graver

man, it would seem, than one could judge from this

sonnet of his ( page 352), which belongs rather to the

school of Sir Pandarus of Troy.
Dino Compagni, the chronicler of Florence, is

represented here by a sonnet addressed to Guido

Cavalcanti,† which is all the more interesting, as

the same writer's historical work furnishes so much

of the little known about Guido. Dino, though one
Transcribed Footnote (page 217):

* This sonnet, as printed, has a gap in the middle; let us

hope (in so immaculate a censor) from unfitness for publication.

Transcribed Footnote (page 217):

† Crescimbeni ( Ist. d. Volg. Poes.) gives this sonnet from

a MS., where it is headed, “To Guido Guinicelli;” but he

surmises, and I have no doubt correctly, that Cavalcanti is

really the person addressed in it.

page: 218

of the noblest citizens of Florence, was devoted to

the popular cause, and held successively various high

offices in the state. The date of his birth is not

fixed, but he must have been at least thirty in 1289,

as he was one of the Priori in that year, a post which

could not be held by a younger man. He died at

Florence in 1323. Dino has rather lately assumed

for the modern reader a much more important

position than he occupied before among the early

Italian poets. I allude to the valuable discovery, in

the Magliabecchian Library at Florence, of a poem

by him in nona rima containing 309 stanzas. It is

entitled “L' Intelligenza,” and is of an allegorical

nature with romantic episodes.*
I have placed Lapo Gianni in this second division

on account of the sonnet by Dante (page 340) in

which he seems undoubtedly to be the Lapo re-

ferred to. It has been supposed by some that Lapo

degli Uberti (father of Fazio, and brother-in-law of

Guido Cavalcanti) is meant; but this is hardly

possible. Dante and Guido seem to have been in

familiar intercourse with the Lapo of the sonnet at

the time when it and others were written; whereas

no Uberti can have been in Florence after the year

1267, when the Ghibellines were expelled; the

Uberti family (as I have mentioned elsewhere) being

the one of all others which was most jealously kept

afar and excluded from every amnesty. The only

information which I can find respecting Lapo Gianni

is the statement that he was a notary by profession.

I have also seen it somewhere asserted (though where
Transcribed Footnote (page 218):

* See Documents inédits pour servir à l'histoire littéraire de

l'Italie, &c. par A.F. Ozanam, ( Paris,1850,) where the poem

is printed entire.

page: 219

I cannot recollect, and am sure no authority was

given) that he was a cousin of Dante. We may

equally infer him to have been the Lapo mentioned

by Dante in his treatise on the Vulgar Tongue, as

being one of the few who up to that time had written

verses in pure Italian.
Dino Frescobaldi's claim to the place given him

here will not be disputed when it is remembered that

by his pious care the seven first cantos of Dante's

Hell were restored to him in exile, after the Casa

Alighieri in Florence had been given up to pillage;

by which restoration Dante was enabled to resume

his work. This sounds strange when we reflect that

a world without Dante would almost be a poorer

planet. But for Dino Frescobaldi, too, what labour

might not have been spared to how many generations

of the bonders and bottlers of Dante, the dealers in

foreign wind and words!* Meanwhile, beyond this

great fact of Dino's life, which perhaps hardly occu-

pied a day of it, there is no news to be gleaned of

Giotto falls by right into Dante's circle, as one

great man comes naturally to know another. But

he is said actually to have lived in great intimacy

with Dante, who was about twelve years older than

himself; Giotto having been born in or near the year

1276, at Vespignano, fourteen miles from Florence.

He died in 1336, fifteen years after Dante. On the

authority of Benvenuto da Imola, (an early commen-

tator on the Commedia,) of Vasari, and others, it is said
Transcribed Footnote (page 219):

* Of course the allusion is only to the floods of empty

eloquence and philological acumen which have been lavished

upon Dante: no historical labours connected with him can

ever be deemed useless.

page: 220

that Dante visited Giotto while he was painting at

Padua; that the great poet furnished the great

painter with the conceptions of a series of subjects

from the Apocalypse, which he painted at Naples;

and that Giotto, finally, passed some time with Dante

in the exile's last refuge at Ravenna. There is a

tradition that Dante also studied drawing with

Giotto's master Cimabue; and that he practised it

in some degree is evident from the passage in the

Vita Nuova, where he speaks of his drawing an

angel. The reader will not need to be reminded of

Giotto's portrait of the youthful Dante, painted in

the Bargello at Florence, then the chapel of the

Podestà. This is the author of the Vita Nuova.

That other portrait shown us in the posthumous

mask,—a face dead in exile after the death of hope,—

should front the first page of the Sacred Poem to

which Heaven and earth had set their hands; but

which might never bring him back to Florence,

though it had made him haggard for many years.*
Giotto's Canzone on the doctrine of voluntary

poverty,—the only poem we have of his,—is a pro-

test against a perversion of gospel teaching which

had gained ground in his day to the extent of be-

coming a popular frenzy. People went literally mad

upon it; and to the reaction against this madness

may also be assigned (at any rate partly) Caval-

canti's poem on Poverty, which, as we have seen,

is otherwise not easily explained, if authentic.

Giotto's canzone is all the more curious when we re-
Transcribed Footnote (page 220):
  • * “Se mai continga che il poema sacro
  • Al quale ha posto mano e cielo e terra,
  • Sì che m'ha fatto per più anni macro,
  • Vinca la crudeltà che fuor mi serra,” &c.
( Parad. C. xxv.)
page: 221

member his noble fresco at Assisi, of Saint Francis

wedded to Poverty.* It would really almost seem as

if the poem had been written as a sort of safety-valve

for the painter's true feelings, during the composition

of the picture. At any rate, it affords another proof

of the strong common sense and turn for humour

which all accounts attribute to Giotto.
I have next introduced, as not inappropriate to

the series of poems connected with Dante, Simone

dall' Antella's fine sonnet relating to the last

enterprises of Henry of Luxembourg, and to his

then approaching end,—that death-blow to the

Ghibelline hopes which Dante so deeply shared.

This one sonnet is all we know of its author, besides

his name.
Giovanni Quirino is another name which stands

forlorn of any personal history. Fraticelli (in his

well-known and valuable edition of Dante's Minor

) says that there lived about 1250 a bishop

of that name, belonging to a Venetian family. But

the tone of the sonnet which I give (and which is the

only one attributed to this author) seems foreign at

least to the confessions of bishops. It might seem

credibly thus ascribed, however, from the fact that

Dante's sonnet probably dates from Ravenna, and

that his correspondent writes from some distance;

while the poet might well have formed a friendship

with a Venetian bishop at the court of Verona.
For me Quirino's sonnet has great value; as

Dante's answer†to it enables me to wind up this
Transcribed Footnote (page 221):

* See Dante's reverential treatment of this subject, ( Parad.

C. xi.)

Transcribed Footnote (page 221):

† In the case of the above two sonnets, and of all others

interchanged between two poets, I have thought it best to

page: 222
Transcribed Footnote (page 222):

place them together among the poems of one or the other

correspondent, wherever they seemed to have most biographi-

cal value; and the same with several epistolary sonnets which

have no answer.

series with the name of its great chief; and, indeed,

with what would almost seem to have been his last

utterance in poetry, at that supreme juncture when he
  • “Slaked in his heart the fervour of desire,”
as at last he neared the very home
  • “Of Love which sways the sun and all the stars.”*
I am sorry to see that this necessary introduction

to my second division is longer than I could have

wished. Among the severely-edited books which

had to be consulted in forming this collection, I have

often suffered keenly from the buttonholders of

learned Italy who will not let one go on one's way; and

have contracted a horror of those editions where the

text, hampered with numerals for reference, struggles

through a few lines at the top of the page, only to

stick fast at the bottom in a slough of verbal analysis.

It would seem unpardonable to make a book which

should be even as these; and I have thus found my-

self led on to what I fear forms, by its length, an

awkward intermezzo to the volume, in the hope of

saying at once the most of what was to say; that so

the reader may not find himself perpetually worried

with footnotes during the consideration of something

which may require a little peace. The glare of too

many tapers is apt to render a picture confused and

inharmonious, even when their smoke does not ob-

scure or deface it.
Transcribed Footnote (page 222):

* The last line of the Paradise (CAYLEY'S Translation).

page: [223]

In that part of the book of my memory before

the which is little that can be read, there is a

rubric, saying, Incipit Vita Nova.* Under such

rubric I find written many things; and among

them the words which I purpose to copy into this

little book; if not all of them, at the least their

Nine times already since my birth had the heaven

of light returned to the selfsame point almost, as

concerns its own revolution, when first the glorious

Lady of my mind was made manifest to mine eyes;

even she who was called Beatrice by many who

knew not wherefore.† She had already been in
Transcribed Footnote (page [223]):

* “Here beginneth the new life.”

Transcribed Footnote (page [223]):

† In reference to the meaning of the name, “She who

confers blessing.” We learn from Boccaccio that this first

meeting took place at a May Feast, given in the year 1274

by Folco Portinari, father of Beatrice, who ranked among the

principal citizens of Florence: to which feast Dante accom-

panied his father, Alighiero Alighieri.

page: 224

this life for so long as that, within her time, the

starry heaven had moved towards the Eastern

quarter one of the twelve parts of a degree: so that

she appeared to me at the beginning of her ninth

year almost, and I saw her almost at the end of my

ninth year. Her dress, on that day, was of a most

noble colour, a subdued and goodly crimson, girdled

and adorned in such sort as best suited with her

very tender age. At that moment, I say most

truly that the spirit of life, which hath its dwelling

in the secretest chamber of the heart, began to

tremble so violently that the least pulses of my

body shook therewith; and in trembling it said these

words: Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens domina-

bitur mihi.* At that moment the animate spirit,

which dwelleth in the lofty chamber whither all the

senses carry their perceptions, was filled with won-

der, and speaking more especially unto the spirits of

the eyes, said these words: Apparuit jam beatitudo

vestra.† At that moment the natural spirit, which

dwelleth there where our nourishment is adminis-

tered, began to weep, and in weeping said these

words: Heu miser! quia frequenter impeditus ero

I say that, from that time forward, Love quite
Transcribed Footnote (page 224):

* “Here is a deity stronger than I; who, coming, shall

rule over me.”

Transcribed Footnote (page 224):

† “Your beatitude hath now been made manifest unto


Transcribed Footnote (page 224):

‡ “Alas! how often shall I be disturbed from this time


page: 225
Sig. Q

governed my soul; which was immediately espoused

to him, and with so safe and undisputed a lordship,

(by virtue of strong imagination) that I had nothing

left for it but to do all his bidding continually.

He oftentimes commanded me to seek if I might see

this youngest of the Angels: wherefore I in my

boyhood often went in search of her, and found her

so noble and praiseworthy that certainly of her

might have been said those words of the poet

Homer, “She seemed not to be the daughter of a

mortal man, but of God.”* And albeit her image,

that was with me always, was an exultation of Love

to subdue me, it was yet of so perfect a quality that

it never allowed me to be overruled by Love with-

out the faithful counsel of reason, whensoever such

counsel was useful to be heard. But seeing that

were I to dwell overmuch on the passions and doings

of such early youth, my words might be counted

something fabulous, I will therefore put them aside;

and passing many things that may be conceived by

the pattern of these, I will come to such as are

writ in my memory with a better distinctness.
After the lapse of so many days that nine years

exactly were completed since the above-written ap-

pearance of this most gracious being, on the last of

those days it happened that the same wonderful

lady appeared to me dressed all in pure white,
Transcribed Footnote (page 225):
  • * Οὐδὲ ἐῴκει
  • Ἀνδρός γε θνητοϋ παϊς ἔμμεναι, ἀλλὰ θεοϊο.
( Iliad, xxiv. 58.)
page: 226
Transcribed Footnote (page 226):

* “I am thy master.”

between two gentle ladies elder than she. And

passing through a street, she turned her eyes

thither where I stood sorely abashed: and by her

unspeakable courtesy, which is now guerdoned in the

Great Cycle, she saluted me with so virtuous a bear-

ing that I seemed then and there to behold the very

limits of blessedness. The hour of her most sweet

salutation was certainly the ninth of that day; and

because it was the first time that any words from

her reached mine ears, I came into such sweetness

that I parted thence as one intoxicated. And be-

taking me to the loneliness of mine own room, I fell

to thinking of this most courteous lady, thinking of

whom I was overtaken by a pleasant slumber,

wherein a marvellous vision was presented to me:

for there appeared to be in my room a mist of the

colour of fire, within the which I discerned the

figure of a lord of terrible aspect to such as should

gaze upon him, but who seemed therewithal to re-

joice inwardly that it was a marvel to see. Speak-

ing he said many things, among the which I could

understand but few; and of these, this: Ego domi-

nus tuus.* In his arms it seemed to me that a

person was sleeping, covered only with a blood-

coloured cloth; upon whom looking very attentively,

I knew that it was the lady of the salutation who

had deigned the day before to salute me. And he

who held her held also in his hand a thing that was

burning in flames; and he said to me, Vide cor
page: 227
tuum.* But when he had remained with me a little

while, I thought that he set himself to awaken her

that slept; after the which he made her to eat that

thing which flamed in his hand; and she ate as one

fearing. Then, having waited again a space, all his

joy was turned into most bitter weeping; and as he

wept he gathered the lady into his arms, and it

seemed to me that he went with her up towards

heaven: whereby such a great anguish came upon

me that my light slumber could not endure through

it, but was suddenly broken. And immediately

having considered, I knew that the hour wherein

this vision had been made manifest to me was the

fourth hour (which is to say, the first of the nine last

hours) of the night.
Then, musing on what I had seen, I proposed to

relate the same to many poets who were famous in

that day: and for that I had myself in some sort the

art of discoursing with rhyme, I resolved on making

a sonnet, in the which, having saluted all such as

are subject unto Love, and entreated them to expound

my vision, I should write unto them those things

which I had seen in my sleep. And the sonnet I

made was this:—
  • To every heart which the sweet pain doth move,
  • And unto which these words may now be brought
  • For true interpretation and kind thought,
  • Be greeting in our Lord's name, which is Love.
  • Transcribed Footnote (page 227):

    * “Behold thy heart.”

    page: 228
  • Of those long hours wherein the stars, above,
  • Wake and keep watch, the third was almost
  • nought
  • When Love was shown me with such terrors
  • fraught
  • As may not carelessly be spoken of.
  • He seem'd like one who is full of joy, and had
  • 10 My heart within his hand, and on his arm
  • My lady, with a mantle round her, slept;
  • Whom (having waken'd her) anon he made
  • To eat that heart; she ate, as fearing harm.
  • Then he went out; and as he went, he wept.
This sonnet is divided into two parts. In the

first part I give greeting, and ask an answer; in the

second, I signify what thing has to be answered to.

The second part commences here: “Of those long

To this sonnet I received many answers, convey-

ing many different opinions; of the which, one was

sent by him whom I now call the first among my

friends; and it began thus, “Unto my thinking thou

beheld'st all worth.”* And indeed, it was when he

learned that I was he who had sent those rhymes to

him, that our friendship commenced. But the true

meaning of that vision was not then perceived by any

one, though it be now evident to the least skilful.
Transcribed Footnote (page 228):

* The friend of whom Dante here speaks was Guido Ca-

valcanti. For his answer, and those of Cino da Pistoia and

Dante da Maiano, see their poems further on.

page: 229
From that night forth, the natural functions of my

body began to be vexed and impeded, for I was given

up wholly to thinking of this most gracious creature:

whereby in short space I became so weak and so re-

duced that it was irksome to many of my friends to

look upon me; while others, being moved by spite,

went about to discover what it was my wish should

be concealed. Wherefore I,(perceiving the drift of

their unkindly questions,) by Love's will, who di-

rected me according to the counsels of reason, told

them how it was Love himself who had thus dealt

with me: and I said so, because the thing was so

plainly to be discerned in my countenance that there

was no longer any means of concealing it. But

when they went on to ask, “And by whose help hath

Love done this?” I looked in their faces smiling,

and spake no word in return.
Now it fell on a day, that this most gracious

creature was sitting where words were to be heard of

the Queen of Glory;* and I was in a place whence

mine eyes could behold their beatitude: and betwixt

her and me, in a direct line, there sat another lady

of a pleasant favour; who looked round at me many

times, marvelling at my continued gaze which seemed

to have her for its object. And many perceived that

she thus looked: so that departing thence, I heard

it whispered after me, “Look you to what a pass

such a lady hath brought him;” and in saying this

they named her who had been midway between the
Transcribed Footnote (page 229):

* i.e. in a church.

page: 230

most gentle Beatrice, and mine eyes. Therefore I

was reassured, and knew that for that day my secret

had not become manifest. Then immediately it came

into my mind that I might make use of this lady as

a screen to the truth: and so well did I play my part

that the most of those who had hitherto watched and

wondered at me, now imagined they had found me

out. By her means I kept my secret concealed till

some years were gone over; and for my better se-

curity, I even made divers rhymes in her honour;

whereof I shall here write only as much as concern-

eth the most gentle Beatrice, which is but a very

little. Moreover, about the same time while this lady

was a screen for so much love on my part, I took the

resolution to set down the name of this most gracious

creature accompanied with many other women's

names, and especially with hers whom I spake of.

And to this end I put together the names of sixty the

most beautiful ladies in that city where God had

placed mine own lady; and these names I intro-

duced in an epistle in the form of a sirvent, which it

is not my intention to transcribe here. Neither

should I have said anything of this matter, did I not

wish to take note of a certain strange thing, to wit:

that having written the list, I found my lady's name

would not stand otherwise than ninth in order among

the names of these ladies.
Now it so chanced with her by whose means I had

thus long time concealed my desire, that it behoved

her to leave the city I speak of, and to journey afar:
page: 231
wherefore I, being sorely perplexed at the loss of so

excellent a defence, had more trouble than even I

could before have supposed. And thinking that if I

spoke not somewhat mournfully of her departure, my

former counterfeiting would be the more quickly

perceived, I determined that I would make a grievous

sonnet* thereof; the which I will write here, because

it hath certain words in it whereof my lady was the

immediate cause, as will be plain to him that under-

stands. And the sonnet was this:—
  • All ye that pass along Love's trodden way,
  • Pause ye awhile and say
  • If there be any grief like unto mine:
  • I pray you that you hearken a short space
  • Patiently, if my case
  • Be not a piteous marvel and a sign.
  • Love (never, certes, for my worthless part,
  • But of his own great heart,)
  • Vouchsafed to me a life so calm and sweet
  • 10That oft I heard folk question as I went
  • What such great gladness meant:—
  • They spoke of it behind me in the street.
Transcribed Footnote (page 231):

* It will be observed that this poem is not what we now

call a sonnet. Its structure, however, is analogous to that of

the sonnet, being two sextetts followed by two quattrains,

instead of two quattrains followed by two triplets. Dante

applies the term sonnet to both these forms of composition,

and to no other.

page: 232
  • But now that fearless bearing is all gone
  • Which with Love's hoarded wealth was given me;
  • Till I am grown to be
  • So poor that I have dread to think thereon.
  • And thus it is that I, being like as one
  • Who is ashamed and hides his poverty,
  • Without seem full of glee,
  • 20And let my heart within travail and moan.
This poem has two principal parts; for, in the

first, I mean to call the Faithful of Love in those

words of Jeremias the Prophet, “O vos omnes qui

transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est dolor

sicut dolor meus,” and to pray them to stay and

hear me. In the second I tell where Love had placed

me, with a meaning other than that which the last

part of the poem shows, and I say what I have lost.

The second part begins here: “Love, (never, certes).”
A certain while after the departure of that lady,

it pleased the Master of the Angels to call into His

glory a damsel, young and of a gentle presence,

who had been very lovely in the city I speak of: and

I saw her body lying without its soul among many

ladies, who held a pitiful weeping. Whereupon,

remembering that I had seen her in the company

of excellent Beatrice, I could not hinder myself from

a few tears; and weeping, I conceived to say some-

what of her death, in guerdon of having seen her

somewhile with my lady; which thing I spake of in
page: 233
the latter end of the verses that I writ in this matter,

as he will discern who understands. And I wrote

two sonnets, which are these:—
  • Weep, Lovers, sith Love's very self doth weep,
  • And sith the cause for weeping is so great;
  • When now so many dames, of such estate
  • In worth, show with their eyes a grief so deep:
  • For Death the churl has laid his leaden sleep
  • Upon a damsel who was fair of late,
  • Defacing all our earth should celebrate,—
  • Yea all save virtue, which the soul doth keep.
  • Now hearken how much Love did honour her.
  • 10 I myself saw him in his proper form
  • Bending above the motionless sweet dead,
  • And often gazing into Heaven; for there
  • The soul now sits which when her life was warm
  • Dwelt with the joyful beauty that is fled.
This first sonnet is divided into three parts. In

the first, I call and beseech the Faithful of Love to

weep; and I say that their Lord weeps, and that

they, hearing the reason why he weeps, shall be more

minded to listen to me. In the second, I relate this

reason. In the third, I speak of honour done by

Love to this Lady. The second part begins here:

“When now so many dames;” the third here:

“Now hearken.”
page: 234
  • Death, alway cruel, Pity's foe in chief,
  • Mother who brought forth grief,
  • Merciless judgment and without appeal!
  • Since thou alone hast made my heart to feel
  • This sadness and unweal,
  • My tongue upbraideth thee without relief.
  • And now (for I must rid thy name of ruth)
  • Behoves me speak the truth
  • Touching thy cruelty and wickedness:
  • 10 Not that they be not known; but ne'ertheless
  • I would give hate more stress
  • With them that feed on love in very sooth.
  • Out of this world thou hast driven courtesy,
  • And virtue, dearly prized in womanhood;
  • And out of youth's gay mood
  • The lovely lightness is quite gone through thee.
  • Whom now I mourn, no man shall learn from me
  • Save by the measures of these praises given.
  • Whoso deserves not Heaven
  • 20May never hope to have her company.*
Transcribed Footnote (page 234):

* The commentators assert that the last two lines here do

not allude to the dead lady, but to Beatrice. This would

make the poem very clumsy in construction; yet there must

be some covert allusion to Beatrice, as Dante himself inti-

mates. The only form in which I can trace it consists in the

implied assertion that such person as had enjoyed the dead

page: 235
Transcribed Footnote (page 235):

lady's society was worthy of heaven, and that person was

Beatrice. Or indeed the allusion to Beatrice might be in the

first poem, where he says that Love “ in forma vera” (that is,

Beatrice,) mourned over the corpse; as he afterwards says of

Beatrice, “ Quella ha nome Amor.” Most probably both al-

lusions are intended.

This poem is divided into four parts. In the first

I address Death by certain proper names of hers. In

the second, speaking to her, I tell the reason why I

am moved to denounce her. In the third, I rail

against her. In the fourth, I turn to speak to

a person undefined, although defined in my own

conception. The second part commences here, “Since

thou alone;” the third here, “And now (for I

must);” the fourth here, “Whoso deserves not.”
Some days after the death of this lady, I had

occasion to leave the city I speak of, and to go

thitherwards where she abode who had formerly been

my protection; albeit the end of my journey reached

not altogether so far. And notwithstanding that I

was visibly in the company of many, the journey was

so irksome that I had scarcely sighing enough to

ease my heart's heaviness; seeing that as I went, I

left my beatitude behind me. Wherefore it came

to pass that he who ruled me by virtue of my most

gentle lady was made visible to my mind, in the light

habit of a traveller, coarsely fashioned. He appeared

to me troubled, and looked always on the ground;

saving only that sometimes his eyes were turned to-

wards a river which was clear and rapid, and which

flowed along the path I was taking. And then I
page: 236
thought that Love called me and said to me these

words: “I come from that lady who was so long

thy surety; for the matter of whose return, I know

that it may not be. Wherefore I have taken that

heart which I made thee leave with her, and do bear

it unto another lady, who, as she was, shall be thy

surety;” (and when he named her, I knew her well.)

“And of these words I have spoken, if thou shouldst

speak any again, let it be in such sort as that none

shall perceive thereby that thy love was feigned for

her, which thou must now feign for another.” And

when he had spoken thus, all my imagining was

gone suddenly, for it seemed to me that Love be-

came a part of myself: so that, changed as it were

in mine aspect, I rode on full of thought the whole

of that day, and with heavy sighing. And the day

being over, I wrote this sonnet:—
  • A day agone, as I rode sullenly
  • Upon a certain path that liked me not,
  • I met Love midway while the air was hot,
  • Clothed lightly as a wayfarer might be.
  • And for the cheer he show'd, he seem'd to me
  • As one who hath lost lordship he had got;
  • Advancing tow'rds me full of sorrowful thought,
  • Bowing his forehead so that none should see.
  • Then as I went, he call'd me by my name,
  • 10 Saying: “I journey since the morn was dim
  • Thence where I made thy heart to be: which
  • now
  • page: 237
  • I needs must bear unto another dame.”
  • Wherewith so much pass'd into me of him
  • That he was gone, and I discern'd not how.
This sonnet has three parts. In the first part, I

tell how I met Love, and of his aspect. In the

second, I tell what he said to me, although not in

full, through the fear I had of discovering my secret.

In the third, I say how he disappeared. The second

part commences here, “Then as I went;” the third

here, “Wherewith so much.”
On my return, I set myself to seek out that lady

whom my master had named to me while I jour-

neyed sighing. And because I would be brief, I will

now narrate that in a short while I made her my

surety, in such sort that the matter was spoken of

by many in terms scarcely courteous; through the

which I had oftenwhiles many troublesome hours.

And by this it happened (to wit: by this false

and evil rumour which seemed to misfame me of

vice) that she who was the destroyer of all evil and

the queen of all good, coming where I was, denied

me her most sweet salutation, in the which alone

was my blessedness.
And here it is fitting for me to depart a little from

this present matter, that it may be rightly under-

stood of what surpassing virtue her salutation was to

me. To the which end I say that when she ap-

peared in any place, it seemed to me, by the hope of

her excellent salutation, that there was no man mine
page: 238

enemy any longer; and such warmth of charity

came upon me that most certainly in that moment

I would have pardoned whosoever had done me an

injury; and if one should then have questioned me

concerning any matter, I could only have said unto

him “Love,” with a countenance clothed in humble-

ness. And what time she made ready to salute me,

the spirit of Love, destroying all other perceptions,

thrust forth the feeble spirits of my eyes, saying,

“Do homage unto your mistress,” and putting itself

in their place to obey: so that he who would, might

then have beheld Love, beholding the lids of mine

eyes shake. And when this most gentle lady gave

her salutation, Love, so far from being a medium

beclouding mine intolerable beatitude, then bred in

me such an overpowering sweetness that my body,

being all subjected thereto, remained many times

helpless and passive. Whereby it is made manifest

that in her salutation alone was there any beatitude

for me, which then very often went beyond my en-

And now, resuming my discourse, I will go on to

relate that when, for the first time, this beatitude

was denied me, I became possessed with such grief

that parting myself from others, I went into a lonely

place to bathe the ground with most bitter tears:

and when, by this heat of weeping, I was somewhat

relieved, I betook myself to my chamber, where I

could lament unheard. And there, having prayed

to the Lady of all Mercies, and having said also,
page: 239
“O Love, aid thou thy servant;” I went suddenly

asleep like a beaten sobbing child. And in my

sleep, towards the middle of it, I seemed to see in

the room, seated at my side, a youth in very white

raiment, who kept his eyes fixed on me in deep

thought. And when he had gazed some time, I

thought that he sighed and called to me in these

words: “ Fili mi, tempus est ut prætermittantur

simulata nostra.”* And thereupon I seemed to know

him; for the voice was the same wherewith he had

spoken at other times in my sleep. Then looking

at him, I perceived that he was weeping piteously,

and that he seemed to be waiting for me to speak.

Wherefore, taking heart, I began thus: “Why

weepest thou, Master of all honour?” And he made

answer to me: “ Ego tanquam centrum circuli, cui

simili modo se habent circumferentiæ partes: tu

autem non sic.”* And thinking upon his words, they

seemed to me obscure; so that again compelling my-
Transcribed Footnote (page 239):

* “My son, it is time for us to lay aside our counterfeiting.”

Transcribed Footnote (page 239):

† “I am as the centre of a circle, to the which all parts of

the circumference bear an equal relation: but with thee it is

not thus.” This phrase seems to have remained as obscure

to commentators as Dante found it at the moment. No one,

as far as I know, has even fairly tried to find a meaning for

it. To me the following appears a not unlikely one. Love

is weeping on Dante's account, and not on his own. He says,

“I am the centre of a circle ( Amor che muove il sole e le altre

stelle): therefore all loveable objects, whether in heaven or

earth, or any part of the circle's circumference, are equally

near to me. Not so thou, who wilt one day lose Beatrice

when she goes to heaven.” The phrase would thus contain

page: 240
Transcribed Footnote (page 240):

an intimation of the death of Beatrice, accounting for Dante

being next told not to inquire the meaning of the speech,—

“Demand no more than may be useful to thee.”

self unto speech, I asked of him: “What thing is

this, Master, that thou hast spoken thus darkly?”

To the which he made answer in the vulgar tongue:

“Demand no more than may be useful to thee.”

Whereupon I began to discourse with him concern-

ing her salutation which she had denied me; and

when I had questioned him of the cause, he said

these words: “Our Beatrice hath heard from cer-

tain persons, that the lady whom I named to thee

while thou journeyedst full of sighs, is sorely dis-

quieted by thy solicitations: and therefore this most

gracious creature, who is the enemy of all disquiet,

being fearful of such disquiet, refused to salute thee.

For the which reason (albeit, in very sooth, thy

secret must needs have become known to her by

familiar observation) it is my will that thou compose

certain things in rhyme, in the which thou shalt set

forth how strong a mastership I have obtained over

thee, through her; and how thou wast hers even

from thy childhood. Also do thou call upon him

that knoweth these things to bear witness to them,

bidding him to speak with her thereof; the which I,

who am he, will do willingly. And thus she shall

be made to know thy desire; knowing which, she

shall know likewise that they were deceived who

spake of thee to her. And so write these things,

that they shall seem rather to be spoken by a third
page: 241
Sig. R
person; and not directly by thee to her, which is

scarce fitting. After the which, send them, not with-

out me, where she may chance to hear them; but

have them fitted with a pleasant music, into the

which I will pass whensoever it needeth.” With

this speech he was away, and my sleep was broken up.
Whereupon, remembering me, I knew that I had

beheld this vision during the ninth hour of the day;

and I resolved that I would make a ditty, before I

left my chamber, according to the words my master

had spoken. And this is the ditty that I made:—
  • Song, 'tis my will that thou do seek out Love,
  • And go with him where my dear lady is;
  • That so my cause, the which thy harmonies
  • Do plead, his better speech may clearly prove.
  • Thou goest, my Song, in such a courteous kind,
  • That even companionless
  • Thou may'st rely on thyself anywhere.
  • And yet, an' thou wouldst get thee a safe mind,
  • First unto Love address
  • 10Thy steps; whose aid, mayhap, 'twere ill to
  • spare:
  • Seeing that she to whom thou mak'st thy prayer
  • Is, as I think, ill-minded unto me,
  • And that if Love do not companion thee,
  • Thou'lt have perchance small cheer to tell me of.
  • With a sweet accent, when thou com'st to her,
  • Begin thou in these words,
  • page: 242
  • First having craved a gracious audience:
  • “He who hath sent me as his messenger,
  • Lady, thus much records,
  • 20 An' thou but suffer him, in his defence.
  • Love, who comes with me, by thine influence
  • Can make this man do as it liketh him:
  • Wherefore, if this fault is or doth but seem
  • Do thou conceive: for his heart cannot move.”
  • Say to her also: “Lady, his poor heart
  • Is so confirm'd in faith
  • That all its thoughts are but of serving thee:
  • 'Twas early thine, and could not swerve apart.”
  • Then, if she wavereth,
  • 30 Bid her ask Love, who knows if these things be.
  • And in the end, beg of her modestly
  • To pardon so much boldness: saying too:—
  • “If thou declare his death to be thy due,
  • The thing shall come to pass, as doth behove.”
    Note: The indentation of line 31 is likely a typographical error. In the other stanzas the seventh line is always aligned with the sixth, and in 1911 this line conforms to that same pattern.
  • Then pray thou of the Master of all ruth,
  • Before thou leave her there,
  • That he befriend my cause and plead it well.
  • “In guerdon of my sweet rhymes and my truth”
  • (Entreat him) “Stay with her;
  • 40 Let not the hope of thy poor servant fail;
  • And if with her thy pleading should prevail,
  • Let her look on him and give peace to him.”
  • Gentle my Song, if good to thee it seem,
  • Do this: so worship shall be thine and love.
page: 243
This ditty is divided into three parts. In the

first, I tell it whither to go, and I encourage it, that it

may go the more confidently, and I tell it whose com-

pany to join if it would go with confidence and

without any danger. In the second, I say that which

it behoves the ditty to set forth. In the third, I give

it leave to start when it pleases, recommending its

course to the arms of Fortune. The second part be-

gins here, “With a sweet accent;” the third here,

“Gentle my Song.” Some might contradict me, and

say that they understand not whom I address in the

second person, seeing that the ditty is merely the

very words I am speaking. And therefore I say

that this doubt I intend to solve and clear up in this

little book itself, at a more difficult passage, and

then let him understand who now doubts, or would

now contradict as aforesaid.
After this vision I have recorded, and having

written those words which Love had dictated to me,

I began to be harassed with many and divers

thoughts, by each of which I was sorely tempted;

and in especial, there were four among them that

left me no rest. The first was this: “Certainly the

lordship of Love is good; seeing that it diverts the

mind from all mean things.” The second was this:

“Certainly the lordship of Love is evil; seeing that

the more homage his servants pay to him, the more

grievous and painful are the torments wherewith he

torments them.” The third was this: “The name of

Love is so sweet in the hearing that it would not seem
page: 244
possible for its effects to be other than sweet; seeing

that the name must needs be like unto the thing

named: as it is written: Nomina sunt consequentia

rerum.”* And the fourth was this: “The lady whom

Love hath chosen out to govern thee is not as other

ladies, whose hearts are easily moved.”
And by each one of these thoughts I was so sorely

assailed that I was like unto him who doubteth which

path to take, and wishing to go, goeth not. And

if I bethought myself to seek out some point at the

which all these paths might be found to meet, I dis-

cerned but one way, and that irked me; to wit, to

call upon Pity, and to commend myself unto her.

And it was then that, feeling a desire to write some-

what thereof in rhyme, I wrote this sonnet:—
  • All my thoughts always speak to me of Love,
  • Yet have between themselves such difference
  • That while one bids me bow with mind and sense,
  • A second saith, “Go to: look thou above;”
  • The third one, hoping, yields me joy enough;
  • And with the last come tears, I scarce know
  • whence:
  • All of them craving pity in sore suspense,
  • Trembling with fears that the heart knoweth of.
  • And thus, being all unsure which path to take,
  • 10 Wishing to speak I know not what to say,
  • And lose myself in amorous wanderings:
  • Transcribed Footnote (page 244):

    * “Names are the consequents of things.”

    page: 245
  • Until, (my peace with all of them to make,)
  • Unto mine enemy I needs must pray,
  • My lady Pity, for the help she brings.
This sonnet may be divided into four parts. In

the first, I say and propound that all my thoughts

are concerning Love. In the second, I say that they

are diverse, and I relate their diversity. In the

third, I say wherein they all seem to agree. In the

fourth, I say that, wishing to speak of Love, I know

not from which of these thoughts to take my argu-

ment; and that if I would take it from all, I shall

have to call upon mine enemy, my Lady Pity.

“Lady” I say as in a scornful mode of speech.

The second begins here, “Yet have between them-

selves;” the third, “All of them craving;” the

fourth, “And thus.”
After this battling with many thoughts, it chanced

on a day that my most gracious lady was with a

gathering of ladies in a certain place; to the which

I was conducted by a friend of mine; he thinking to

do me a great pleasure by showing me the beauty of

so many women. Then I, hardly knowing where-

unto he conducted me, but trusting in him (who yet

was leading his friend to the last verge of life), made

question: “To what end are we come among these

ladies?” and he answered: “To the end that they

may be worthily served.” And they were assembled

around a gentlewoman who was given in marriage

on that day; the custom of the city being that these
page: 246
should bear her company when she sat down for the

first time at table in the house of her husband.

Therefore I, as was my friend's pleasure, resolved to

stay with him and do honour to those ladies.
But as soon as I had thus resolved, I began to feel

a faintness and a throbbing at my left side, which

soon took possession of my whole body. Whereupon

I remember that I covertly leaned my back unto a

painting that ran round the walls of that house;

and being fearful lest my trembling should be dis-

cerned of them, I lifted mine eyes to look on those

ladies, and then first perceived among them the ex-

cellent Beatrice. And when I perceived her, all my

senses were overpowered by the great lordship that

Love obtained, finding himself so near unto that most

gracious being, until nothing but the spirits of sight

remained to me; and even these remained driven

out of their own instruments because Love entered

in that honoured place of theirs, that so he might

the better behold her. And although I was other

than at first, I grieved for the spirits so expelled

which kept up a sore lament, saying: “If he had

not in this wise thrust us forth, we also should behold

the marvel of this lady.” By this, many of her

friends, having discerned my confusion, began to

wonder; and together with herself, kept whispering

of me and mocking me. Whereupon my friend, who

knew not what to conceive, took me by the hands,

and drawing me forth from among them, required to

know what ailed me. Then, having first held me at
page: 247
quiet for a space until my perceptions were come

back to me, I made answer to my friend: “Of a

surety I have now set my feet on that point of life,

beyond the which he must not pass who would re-

Afterwards, leaving him, I went back to the room

where I had wept before; and again weeping and

ashamed, said: “If this lady but knew of my con-

dition, I do not think that she would thus mock at

me; nay, I am sure that she must needs feel some

pity.” And in my weeping I bethought me to write

certain words in the which, speaking to her, I should

signify the occasion of my disfigurement, telling her

also how I knew that she had no knowledge thereof:

which, if it were known, I was certain must move

others to pity. And then, because I hoped that

peradventure it might come into her hearing, I wrote

this sonnet.
  • Even as the others mock, thou mockest me;
  • Not dreaming, noble lady, whence it is
  • Transcribed Footnote (page 247):

    * It is difficult not to connect Dante's agony at this wed-

    ding-feast with our knowledge that in her twenty-first year

    Beatrice was wedded to Simone de' Bardi. That she herself

    was the bride on this occasion might seem out of the question

    from the fact of its not being in any way so stated: but on

    the other hand, Dante's silence throughout the Vita Nuova

    as regards her marriage (which must have brought deep sor-

    row even to his ideal love) is so startling, that we might al-

    most be led to conceive in this passage the only intimation of

    it which he thought fit to give.

    page: 248
  • That I am taken with strange semblances,
  • Seeing thy face which is so fair to see:
  • For else, compassion would not suffer thee
  • To grieve my heart with such harsh scoffs as
  • these.
  • Lo! Love, when thou art present, sits at ease,
  • And bears his mastership so mightily,
  • That all my troubled senses he thrusts out,
  • 10 Sorely tormenting some, and slaying some,
  • Till none but he is left and has free range
  • To gaze on thee. This makes my face to
  • change
  • Into another's; while I stand all dumb,
  • And hear my senses clamour in their rout.
This sonnet I divide not into parts, because a di-

vision is only made to open the meaning of the thing

divided: and this, as it is sufficiently manifest

through the reasons given, has no need of division.

True it is that, amid the words whereby is shown

the occasion of this sonnet, dubious words are to be

found; namely, when I say that Love kills all my

spirits, but that the visual remain in life, only out-

side of their own instruments. And this difficulty

it is impossible for any to solve who is not in equal

guise liege unto Love; and, to those who are so, that

is manifest which would clear up the dubious words.

And therefore it were not well for me to expound

this difficulty, inasmuch as my speaking would be

either fruitless or else superfluous.
page: 249
A while after this strange disfigurement, I became

possessed with a strong conception which left me but

very seldom, and then to return quickly. And it

was this: “Seeing that thou comest into such scorn

by the companionship of this lady, wherefore seekest

thou to behold her? If she should ask thee this

thing, what answer couldst thou make unto her?

yea, even though thou wert master of all thy faculties,

and in no way hindered from answering.” Unto the

which, another very humble thought said in reply:

“If I were master of all my faculties, and in no way

hindered from answering, I would tell her that no

sooner do I image to myself her marvellous beauty

than I am possessed with the desire to behold her, the

which is of so great strength that it kills and destroys

in my memory all those things which might oppose

it; and it is therefore that the great anguish I have

endured thereby is yet not enough to restrain me

from seeking to behold her.” And then, because of

these thoughts, I resolved to write somewhat, wherein,

having pleaded mine excuse, I should tell her of what

I felt in her presence. Whereupon I wrote this

  • The thoughts are broken in my memory,
  • Thou lovely Joy, whene'er I see thy face;
  • When thou art near me, Love fills up the space,
  • Often repeating, “If death irk thee, fly.”
  • My face shows my heart's colour, verily,
  • Which, fainting, seeks for any leaning-place;
  • page: 250
  • Till, in the drunken terror of disgrace,
  • The very stones seem to be shrieking, “Die!”
  • It were a grievous sin, if one should not
  • 10 Strive then to comfort my bewilder'd mind
  • (Though merely with a simple pitying)
  • For the great anguish which thy scorn has wrought
  • In the dead sight o' the eyes grown nearly blind,
  • Which look for death as for a blessed thing.
This sonnet is divided into two parts. In the

first, I tell the cause why I abstain not from coming

to this lady. In the second, I tell what befalls me

through coming to her; and this part begins here,

“When thou art near.” And also this second part

divides into five distinct statements. For, in the first,

I say what Love, counselled by Reason, tells me when

I am near the lady. In the second, I set forth the

state of my heart by the example of the face. In

the third, I say how all ground of trust fails me.

In the fourth, I say that he sins who shows not pity

of me, which would give me some comfort. In the

last, I say why people should take pity; namely,

for the piteous look which comes into mine eyes;

which piteous look is destroyed, that is, appeareth

not unto others, through the jeering of this lady, who

draws to the like action those who peradventure

would see this piteousness. The second part begins

here, “My face shows;” the third, “Till, in the

drunken terror;” the fourth, “It were a grievous

sin;” the fifth, “For the great anguish.”
page: 251
Thereafter, this sonnet bred in me desire to write

down in verse four other things touching my con-

dition, the which things it seemed to me that I had

not yet made manifest. The first among these was

the grief that possessed me very often, remember-

ing the strangeness which Love wrought in me;

the second was, how Love many times assailed me so

suddenly and with such strength that I had no other

life remaining except a thought which spake of my

lady: the third was, how when Love did battle with

me in this wise, I would rise up all colourless, if so

I might see my lady, conceiving that the sight of her

would defend me against the assault of Love, and

altogether forgetting that which her presence brought

unto me; and the fourth was, how when I saw her,

the sight not only defended me not, but took away

the little life that remained to me. And I said these

four things in a sonnet, which is this:—
  • At whiles (yea oftentimes) I muse over
  • The quality of anguish that is mine
  • Through Love: then pity makes my voice to pine
  • Saying, “Is any else thus, anywhere?”
  • Love smiteth me, whose strength is ill to bear;
  • So that of all my life is left no sign
  • Except one thought; and that, because 'tis thine,
  • Leaves not the body but abideth there.
  • And then if I, whom other aid forsook,
  • 10 Would aid myself, and innocent of art
  • Would fain have sight of thee as a last hope,
  • page: 252
  • No sooner do I lift mine eyes to look
  • Than the blood seems as shaken from my heart,
  • And all my pulses beat at once and stop.
This sonnet is divided into four parts, four things

being therein narrated; and as these are set forth

above, I only proceed to distinguish the parts by

their beginnings. Wherefore I say that the second

part begins, “Love smiteth me;” the third, “And

then if I;” the fourth, “No sooner do I lift.”
After I had written these three last sonnets, wherein

I spake unto my lady, telling her almost the whole

of my condition, it seemed to me that I should be

silent, having said enough concerning myself. But

albeit I spake not to her again, yet it behoved me

afterward to write of another matter, more noble than

the foregoing. And for that the occasion of what I

then wrote may be found pleasant in the hearing, I

will relate it as briefly as I may.
Through the sore change in mine aspect, the

secret of my heart was now understood of many.

Which thing being thus, there came a day when

certain ladies to whom it was well known (they

having been with me at divers times in my trouble)

were met together for the pleasure of gentle company.

And as I was going that way by chance, (but I think

rather by the will of fortune,) I heard one of them

call unto me, and she that called was a lady of very

sweet speech. And when I had come close up with

them, and perceived that they had not among them
page: 253
mine excellent lady, I was reassured; and saluted

them, asking of their pleasure. The ladies were

many; divers of whom were laughing one to another,

while divers gazed at me as though I should speak

anon. But when I still spake not, one of them, who

before had been talking with another, addressed me

by my name, saying, “To what end lovest thou

this lady, seeing that thou canst not support her

presence? Now tell us this thing, that we may know

it: for certainly the end of such a love must be worthy

of knowledge.” And when she had spoken these

words, not she only, but all they that were with her,

began to observe me, waiting for my reply. Where-

upon, I said thus unto them:—“Ladies, the end

and aim of my Love was but the salutation of that

lady of whom I conceive that ye are speaking;

wherein alone I found that beatitude which is the

goal of desire. And now that it hath pleased her to

deny me this, Love, my Master, of his great goodness,

hath placed all my beatitude there where my hope

will not fail me.” Then those ladies began to talk

closely together; and as I have seen snow fall among

the rain, so was their talk mingled with sighs. But

after a little, that lady who had been the first to

address me, addressed me again in these words: “We

pray thee that thou wilt tell us wherein abideth this

thy beatitude.” And answering, I said but thus

much: “In those words that do praise my lady.”

To the which she rejoined, “If thy speech were

true, those words that thou didst write concerning
page: 254
thy condition would have been written with another

Then I, being almost put to shame because of her

answer, went out from among them; and as I walked,

I said within myself: “Seeing that there is so much

beatitude in those words which do praise my lady,

wherefore hath my speech of her been different?”

And then I resolved that thenceforward I would

choose for the theme of my writings only the praise

of this most gracious being. But when I had thought

exceedingly, it seemed to me that I had taken to

myself a theme which was much too lofty, so that I

dared not begin; and I remained during several

days in the desire of speaking, and the fear of be-

ginning. After which it happened, as I passed one

day along a path which lay beside a stream of very

clear water, that there came upon me a great desire

to say somewhat in rhyme; but when I began think-

ing how I should say it, methought that to speak of

her were unseemly, unless I spoke to other ladies in

the second person; which is to say, not to any other

ladies; but only to such as are so called because they

are gentle, let alone for mere womanhood. Where-

upon I declare that my tongue spake as though by

its own impulse, and said, “Ladies that have in-

telligence in love.” These words I laid up in my

mind with great gladness, conceiving to take them

as my commencement. Wherefore, having returned

to the city I spake of, and considered thereof during

certain days, I began a poem with this beginning,
page: 255
constructed in the mode which will be seen below in

its division. The poem begins here:—
  • Ladies that have intelligence in love,
  • Of mine own lady I would speak with you;
  • Not that I hope to count her praises through,
  • But telling what I may, to ease my mind.
  • And I declare that when I speak thereof
  • Love sheds such perfect sweetness over me
  • That if my courage fail'd not, certainly
  • To him my listeners must be all resign'd.
  • Wherefore I will not speak in such large kind
  • 10That mine own speech should foil me, which were
  • base;
  • But only will discourse of her high grace
  • In these poor words, the best that I can find,
  • With you alone, dear dames and damozels:
  • 'Twere ill to speak thereof with any else.
  • An Angel, of his blessed knowledge, saith
  • To God: “Lord, in the world that Thou hast made,
  • A miracle in action is display'd
  • By reason of a soul whose splendors fare
  • Even hither: and since Heaven requireth
  • 20 Nought saving her, for her it prayeth Thee,
  • Thy Saints crying aloud continually.”
  • Yet Pity still defends our earthly share
  • In that sweet soul; God answering thus the
  • prayer:
  • page: 256
  • “My well-belovèd, suffer that in peace
  • Your hope remain, while so My pleasure is,
  • There where one dwells who dreads the loss of her;
  • And who in Hell unto the doom'd shall say,
  • “I have look'd on that for which God's chosen pray.”
  • My lady is desired in the high Heaven:
  • 30 Wherefore, it now behoveth me to tell,
  • Saying: Let any maid that would be well
  • Esteem'd keep with her: for as she goes by,
  • Into foul hearts a deathly chill is driven
  • By Love, that makes ill thought to perish there;
  • While any who endures to gaze on her
  • Must either be made noble, or else die.
  • When one deserving to be raised so high
  • Is found, 'tis then her power attains its proof,
  • Making his heart strong for his soul's behoof
  • 40 With the full strength of meek humility.
  • Also this virtue owns she, by God's will:
  • Who speaks with her can never come to ill.
  • Love saith concerning her: “How chanceth it
  • That flesh, which is of dust, should be thus pure?”
  • Then, gazing always, he makes oath: “Forsure,
  • This is a creature of God till now unknown.”
  • She hath that paleness of the pearl that's fit
  • In a fair woman, so much and not more;
  • She is as high as Nature's skill can soar;
  • 50 Beauty is tried by her comparison.
  • Whatever her sweet eyes are turn'd upon,
    page: 257
    Sig. S
  • Spirits of love do issue thence in flame,
  • Which through their eyes who then may look on
  • them
  • Pierce to the heart's deep chamber every one.
  • And in her smile Love's image you may see;
  • Whence none can gaze upon her steadfastly.
  • Dear Song, I know thou wilt hold gentle speech
  • With many ladies, when I send thee forth:
  • Wherefore, (being mindful that thou hadst thy
  • birth
  • 60 From Love, and art a modest, simple child,)
  • Whomso thou meetest, say thou this to each:
  • “Give me good speed! To her I wend along
  • In whose much strength my weakness is made
  • strong.”
  • And if, i' the end, thou wouldst not be beguiled
  • Of all thy labour, seek not the defiled
  • And common sort; but rather choose to be
  • Where man and woman dwell in courtesy.
  • So to the road thou shalt be reconciled,
  • And find the lady, and with the lady, Love.
  • 70Commend thou me to each, as doth behove.
This poem, that it may be better understood, I

will divide more subtly than the others preceding;

and therefore I will make three parts of it. The

first part is a proem to the words following. The

second is the matter treated of. The third is, as it
page: 258
were, a handmaid to the preceding words. The se-

cond begins here, “An angel;” the third here, “Dear

Song, I know.” The first part is divided into four.

In the first, I say to whom I mean to speak of my

lady, and wherefore I will so speak. In the second, I

say what she appears to myself to be when I reflect

upon her excellence, and what I would utter if I lost

not courage. In the third, I say what it is I pur-

pose to speak, so as not to be impeded by faint-

heartedness. In the fourth, repeating to whom I

purpose speaking, I tell the reason why I speak to

them. The second begins here, “And I declare;”

the third here, “Wherefore I will not speak;” the

fourth here, “With you alone.” Then, when I say

“An Angel,” I begin treating of this lady: and

this part is divided into two. In the first, I tell

what is understood of her in heaven. In the second,

I tell what is understood of her on earth: here, “My

lady is desired.” This second part is divided into

two; for, in the first, I speak of her as regards the

nobleness of her soul, relating some of her virtues

proceeding from her soul; in the second, I speak of

her as regards the nobleness of her body, narrating

some of her beauties: here, “Love saith concerning

her.” This second part is divided into two; for,

in the first, I speak of certain beauties which belong

to the whole person; in the second, I speak of certain

beauties which belong to a distinct part of the per-

son: here, “Whatever her sweet eyes.” This second

part is divided into two; for, in the one, I speak of
page: 259
the eyes, which are the beginning of love; in the

second, I speak of the mouth, which is the end of

love. And, that every vicious thought may be dis-

carded herefrom, let the reader remember that it is

above written that the greeting of this lady, which

was an act of her mouth, was the goal of my desires,

while I could receive it. Then, when I say, “Dear

Song, I know,” I add a stanza as it were hand-

maid to the others, wherein I say what I desire from

this my poem. And because this last part is easy

to understand, I trouble not myself with more divi-

sions. I say, indeed, that the further to open the

meaning of this poem, more minute divisions ought

to be used; but nevertheless he who is not of wit

enough to understand it by these which have been

already made is welcome to leave it alone; for certes

I fear I have communicated its sense to too many by

these present divisions, if it so happened that many

should hear it.
When this song was a little gone abroad, a certain

one of my friends, hearing the same, was pleased to

question me, that I should tell him what thing love

is; it may be, conceiving from the words thus heard

a hope of me beyond my desert. Wherefore I,

thinking that after such discourse it were well to say

somewhat of the nature of Love, and also in accord-

ance with my friend's desire, proposed to myself to

write certain words in the which I should treat of

this argument. And the sonnet that I then made

is this:—
page: 260
  • Love and the gentle heart are one same thing,
  • Even as the wise man* in his ditty saith.
  • Each, of itself, would be such life in death
  • As rational soul bereft of reasoning.
  • 'Tis Nature makes them when she loves: a king
  • Love is, whose palace where he sojourneth
  • Is call'd the Heart; there draws he quiet breath
  • At first, with brief or longer slumbering.
  • Then beauty seen in virtuous womankind
  • 10 Will make the eyes desire, and through the heart
  • Send the desiring of the eyes again;
  • Where often it abides so long enshrined
  • That Love at length out of his sleep will start.
  • And women feel the same for worthy men.
This sonnet is divided into two parts. In the

first, I speak of him according to his power. In the

second, I speak of him according as his power trans-

lates itself into act. The second part begins here,

“Then beauty seen.” The first is divided into two.

In the first, I say in what subject this power exists.

In the second, I say how this subject and this power

are produced together, and how the one regards the

other, as form does matter. The second begins here,

“'Tis Nature.” Afterwards when I say, “Then

beauty seen in virtuous womankind,” I say how this

power translates itself into act; and, first, how it so

translates itself in a man, then how it so translates

itself in a woman: here, “And women feel.”
Transcribed Footnote (page 260):

* Guido Guinicelli, in the canzone which begins, “Within

the gentle heart Love shelters him.” (see antè, p. 24.)

page: 261
Having treated of love in the foregoing, it ap-

peared to me that I should also say something in

praise of my lady, wherein it might be set forth how

love manifested itself when produced by her; and

how not only she could awaken it where it slept, but

where it was not she could marvellously create it.

To the which end I wrote another sonnet; and it is

  • My lady carries love within her eyes;
  • All that she looks on is made pleasanter;
  • Upon her path men turn to gaze at her;
  • He whom she greeteth feels his heart to rise,
  • And droops his troubled visage, full of sighs,
  • And of his evil heart is then aware:
  • Hate loves, and pride becomes a worshipper.
  • O women, help to praise her in somewise.
  • Humbleness, and the hope that hopeth well,
  • 10 By speech of hers into the mind are brought,
  • And who beholds is blessed oftenwhiles.
  • The look she hath when she a little smiles
  • Cannot be said, nor holden in the thought;
  • 'Tis such a new and gracious miracle.
This sonnet has three sections. In the first, I say

how this lady brings this power into action by those

most noble features, her eyes: and, in the third, I say

this same as to that most noble feature, her mouth.

And between these two sections is a little section, which

asks, as it were, help for the previous section and
page: 262
the subsequent; and it begins here, “O women, help.”

The third begins here, “Humbleness.” The first is

divided into three; for, in the first, I say how she

with power makes noble that which she looks upon;

and this is as much as to say that she brings Love,

in power, thither where he is not. In the second, I

say how she brings Love, in act, into the hearts of

all those whom she sees. In the third, I tell what

she afterwards, with virtue, operates upon their

hearts. The second begins, “Upon her path;” the

third, “He whom she greeteth.” Then, when I say,

“O women, help,” I intimate to whom it is my in-

tention to speak, calling on women to help me to

honour her. Then, when I say, “Humbleness,” I

say that same which is said in the first part, regard-

ing two acts of her mouth, one whereof is her most

sweet speech, and the other her marvellous smile.

Only, I say not of this last how it operates upon the

hearts of others, because memory cannot retain this

smile, nor its operation.
Not many days after this, (it being the will of the

most High God, who also from Himself put not

away death,) the father of wonderful Beatrice, going

out of this life, passed certainly into glory. There-

by it happened, as of very sooth it might not be

otherwise, that this lady was made full of the bitter-

ness of grief: seeing that such a parting is very

grievous unto those friends who are left, and that no

other friendship is like to that between a good parent

and a good child; and furthermore considering that
page: 263
this lady was good in the supreme degree, and her

father (as by many it hath been truly averred) of

exceeding goodness. And because it is the usage

of that city that men meet with men in such a grief,

and women with women, certain ladies of her com-

panionship gathered themselves unto Beatrice, where

she kept alone in her weeping: and as they passed

in and out, I could hear them speak concerning her,

how she wept. At length two of them went by me,

who said: “Certainly she grieveth in such sort that

one might die for pity, beholding her.” Then,

feeling the tears upon my face, I put up my hands

to hide them: and had it not been that I hoped to

hear more concerning her, (seeing that where I sat,

her friends passed continually in and out,) I should

assuredly have gone thence to be alone, when I felt

the tears come. But as I still sat in that place,

certain ladies again passed near me, who were say-

ing among themselves: “Which of us shall be joy-

ful any more, who have listened to this lady in her

piteous sorrow?” And there were others who said

as they went by me: “He that sitteth here could

not weep more if he had beheld her as we have be-

held her;” and again: “He is so altered that he

seemeth not as himself.” And still as the ladies

passed to and fro, I could hear them speak after this

fashion of her and of me.
Wherefore afterwards, having considered and per-

ceiving that there was herein matter for poesy, I

resolved that I would write certain rhymes in the
page: 264
which should be contained all that those ladies had

said. And because I would willingly have spoken

to them if it had not been for discreetness, I made

in my rhymes as though I had spoken and they had

answered me. And thereof I wrote two sonnets; in

the first of which I addressed them as I would fain

have done; and in the second related their answer,

using the speech that I had heard from them, as

though it had been spoken unto myself. And the

sonnets are these:—
  • You that thus wear a modest countenance
  • With lids weigh'd down by the heart's heaviness,
  • Whence come you, that among you every face
  • Appears the same, for its pale troubled glance?
  • Have you beheld my lady's face, perchance,
  • Bow'd with the grief that Love makes full of grace?
  • Say now, “This thing is thus;” as my heart says,
  • Marking your grave and sorrowful advance.
  • And if indeed you come from where she sighs
  • 10 And mourns, may it please you (for his heart's
  • relief)
  • To tell how it fares with her unto him
  • Who knows that you have wept, seeing your eyes,
  • And is so grieved with looking on your grief
  • That his heart trembles and his sight grows
  • dim.
This sonnet is divided into two parts. In the
page: 265
first, I call and ask these ladies whether they come

from her, telling them that I think they do, because

they return the nobler. In the second, I pray them

to tell me of her: and the second begins here, “And

if indeed.”
  • Canst thou indeed be he that still would sing
  • Of our dear lady unto none but us?
  • For though thy voice confirms that it is thus,
  • Thy visage might another witness bring.
  • And wherefore is thy grief so sore a thing
  • That grieving thou mak'st others dolorous?
  • Hast thou too seen her weep, that thou from us
  • Canst not conceal thine inward sorrowing?
  • Nay, leave our woe to us: let us alone:
  • 10 'Twere sin if one should strive to soothe our woe,
  • For in her weeping we have heard her speak:
  • Also her look's so full of her heart's moan
  • That they who should behold her, looking so,
  • Must fall aswoon, feeling all life grow weak.
This sonnet has four parts, as the ladies in whose

person I reply had four forms of answer. And,

because these are sufficiently shown above, I stay not

to explain the purport of the parts, and therefore I

only discriminate them. The second begins here,

“And wherefore is thy grief;” the third here,

“Nay, leave our woe;” the fourth, “Also her

page: 266
A few days after this, my body became afflicted

with a painful infirmity, whereby I suffered bitter

anguish for many days, which at last brought me

unto such weakness that I could no longer move.

And I remember that on the ninth day, being over-

come with intolerable pain, a thought came into my

mind concerning my lady: but when it had a little

nourished this thought, my mind returned to its

brooding over mine enfeebled body. And then per-

ceiving how frail a thing life is, even though health

keep with it, the matter seemed to me so pitiful that

I could not choose but weep; and weeping I said

within myself: “Certainly it must some time come

to pass that the very gentle Beatrice will die.” Then,

feeling bewildered, I closed mine eyes; and my

brain began to be in travail as the brain of one frantic,

and to have such imaginations as here follow.
And at the first, it seemed to me that I saw cer-

tain faces of women with their hair loosened, which

called out to me, “Thou shalt surely die;” after

the which, other terrible and unknown appearances

said unto me, “Thou art dead.” At length, as my

phantasy held on in its wanderings, I came to be I

knew not where, and to behold a throng of dishevelled

ladies wonderfully sad, who kept going hither and

thither weeping. Then the sun went out, so that

the stars showed themselves, and they were of such

a colour that I knew they must be weeping: and it

seemed to me that the birds fell dead out of the sky,

and that there were great earthquakes. With that,
page: 267
while I wondered in my trance, and was filled with

a grievous fear, I conceived that a certain friend

came unto me and said: “Hast thou not heard?

She that was thine excellent lady hath been taken

out of life.” Then I began to weep very piteously;

and not only in mine imagination, but with mine

eyes, which were wet with tears. And I seemed to

look towards Heaven, and to behold a multitude of

angels who were returning upwards, having before

them an exceedingly white cloud: and these angels

were singing together gloriously, and the words of

their song were these; “ Osanna in excelsis:” and

there was no more that I heard. Then my heart

that was so full of love said unto me: “It is true

that our lady lieth dead:” and it seemed to me that

I went to look upon the body wherein that blessed

and most noble spirit had had its abiding-place.

And so strong was this idle imagining, that it made

me to behold my lady in death; whose head certain

ladies seemed to be covering with a white veil; and

who was so humble of her aspect that it was as

though she had said, “I have attained to look on

the beginning of peace.” And therewithal I came

unto such humility by the sight of her, that I cried

out upon Death, saying: “Now come unto me, and

be not bitter against me any longer: surely, there

where thou hast been, thou hast learned gentleness.

Wherefore come now unto me who do greatly desire

thee: seest thou not that I wear thy colour already?”

And when I had seen all those offices performed that
page: 268
are fitting to be done unto the dead, it seemed to me

that I went back unto mine own chamber, and looked

up towards heaven. And so strong was my phantasy,

that I wept again in very truth, and said with my

true voice: “O excellent soul! how blessed is he

that now looketh upon thee!”
And as I said these words, with a painful anguish

of sobbing and another prayer unto Death, a young

and gentle lady, who had been standing beside me

where I lay, conceiving that I wept and cried out

because of the pain of mine infirmity, was taken with

trembling and began to shed tears. Whereby other

ladies, who were about the room, becoming aware of

my discomfort by reason of the moan that she made,

(who indeed was of my very near kindred,) led her

away from where I was, and then set themselves to

awaken me, thinking that I dreamed, and saying:

“Sleep no longer, and be not disquieted.”
Then, by their words, this strong imagination was

brought suddenly to an end, at the moment that I

was about to say, “O Beatrice! peace be with thee.”

And already I had said, “O Beatrice!” when being

aroused, I opened mine eyes, and knew that it had

been a deception. But albeit I had indeed uttered

her name, yet my voice was so broken with sobs,

that it was not understood by these ladies; so that

in spite of the sore shame that I felt, I turned to-

wards them by Love's counselling. And when they

beheld me, they began to say, “He seemeth as one

dead,” and to whisper among themselves, “Let us
page: 269
strive if we may not comfort him.” Whereupon they

spake to me many soothing words, and ques-

tioned me moreover touching the cause of my fear.

Then I, being somewhat reassured, and having per-

ceived that it was a mere phantasy, said unto them,

“This thing it was that made me afeard;” and

told them of all that I had seen, from the beginning

even unto the end, but without once speaking the

name of my lady. Also, after I had recovered from

my sickness, I bethought me to write these things in

rhyme; deeming it a lovely thing to be known.

Whereof I wrote this poem:—
  • A very pitiful lady, very young,
  • Exceeding rich in human sympathies,
  • Stood by, what time I clamour'd upon Death;
  • And at the wild words wandering on my tongue
  • And at the piteous look within mine eyes
  • She was affrighted, that sobs choked her breath.
  • So by her weeping where I lay beneath,
  • Some other gentle ladies came to know
  • My state, and made her go:
  • 10 Afterward, bending themselves over me,
  • One said, “Awaken thee!”
  • And one, “What thing thy sleep disquieteth?”
  • With that, my soul woke up from its eclipse,
  • The while my lady's name rose to my lips:
  • But utter'd in a voice so sob-broken,
  • So feeble with the agony of tears,
  • page: 270
  • That I alone might hear it in my heart;
  • And though that look was on my visage then
  • Which he who is ashamed so plainly wears,
  • 20 Love made that I through shame held not apart,
  • But gazed upon them. And my hue was such
  • That they look'd at each other and thought of death;
  • Saying under their breath
  • Most tenderly, “Oh, let us comfort him:”
  • Then unto me: “What dream
  • Was thine, that it hath shaken thee so much?”
  • And when I was a little comforted,
  • “This, ladies, was the dream I dreamt,” I said.
  • “I was a-thinking how life fails with us
  • 30 Suddenly after a little while;
  • When Love sobb'd in my heart, which is his
  • home.
  • Whereby my spirit wax'd so dolorous
  • That in myself I said, with sick recoil:
  • ‘Yea, to my lady too this Death must come.’
  • And therewithal such a bewilderment
  • Possess'd me, that I shut mine eyes for peace;
  • And in my brain did cease
  • Order of thought, and every healthful thing.
  • Afterwards, wandering
  • 40 Amid a swarm of doubts that came and went,
  • Some certain women's faces hurried by,
  • And shriek'd to me, ‘Thou too shalt die, shalt die!’
  • “Then saw I many broken hinted sights
  • In the uncertain state I stepp'd into.
    page: 271
  • Meseem'd to be I know not in what place,
  • Where ladies through the street, like mournful
  • lights,
  • Ran with loose hair, and eyes that frighten'd you
  • By their own terror, and a pale amaze:
  • The while, little by little, as I thought,
  • 50The sun ceased, and the stars began to gather,
  • And each wept at the other;
  • And birds dropp'd in mid-flight out of the sky;
  • And earth shook suddenly;
  • And I was 'ware of one, hoarse and tired out,
  • Who ask'd of me: ‘Hast thou not heard it said? . . .
  • Thy lady, she that was so fair, is dead.’
  • “Then lifting up mine eyes, as the tears came,
  • I saw the Angels, like a rain of manna,
  • In a long flight flying back Heavenward;
  • 60Having a little cloud in front of them,
  • After the which they went and said, ‘Hosanna!’
  • And if they had said more, you should have
  • heard.
  • Then Love spoke thus: ‘Now all shall be
  • made clear:
  • Come and behold our lady where she lies.’
  • These idle phantasies
  • Then carried me to see my lady dead:
  • And standing at her head
  • Her ladies put a white veil over her;
  • And with her was such very humbleness
  • 70That she appeared to say, ‘I am at peace.’
page: 272
  • And I became so humble in my grief,
  • Seeing in her such deep humility,
  • That I said: ‘Death, I hold thee passing good
  • Henceforth, and a most gentle sweet relief,
  • Since my dear love has chosen to dwell with thee:
  • Pity, not hate, is thine, well understood.
  • Lo! I do so desire to see thy face
  • That I am like as one who nears the tomb;
  • My soul entreats thee, Come.’
  • 80 Then I departed, having made my moan;
  • And when I was alone
  • I said, and cast my eyes to the High Place:
  • ‘Blessed is he, fair soul, who meets thy glance!’
  • . . . . . . Just then you woke me, of your complai-
  • saùnce.”
    Note: The indentation of line 77 is a typographical error. In the other stanzas the seventh line is aligned with the sixth, and in 1911 this line conforms to that same pattern.
This poem has two parts. In the first, speaking

to a person undefined, I tell how I was aroused from

a vain phantasy by certain ladies, and how I pro-

mised them to tell what it was. In the second, I say

how I told them. The second part begins here, “I

was a-thinking.” The first part divides into two.

In the first, I tell that which certain ladies, and

which one singly, did and said because of my phan-

tasy, before I had returned into my right senses.

In the second, I tell what these ladies said to me after

I had left off this wandering: and it begins here,

“But uttered in a voice.” Then, when I say, “I

was a-thinking,” I say how I told them this my

imagination; and concerning this I have two parts.
page: 273
Sig. T
In the first, I tell, in order, this imagination. In

the second, saying at what time they called me, I

covertly thank them: and this part begins here,

“Just then you woke me.”
After this empty imagining, it happened on a day,

as I sat thoughtful, that I was taken with such a

strong trembling at the heart, that it could not have

been otherwise in the presence of my lady. Whereupon

I perceived that there was an appearance of Love

beside me, and I seemed to see him coming from my

lady; and he said, not aloud but within my heart:

“Now take heed that thou bless the day when I

entered into thee; for it is fitting that thou shouldst

do so.” And with that my heart was so full of glad-

ness, that I could hardly believe it to be of very truth

mine own heart and not another.
A short while after these words which my heart

spoke to me with the tongue of Love, I saw coming

towards me a certain lady who was very famous for

her beauty, and of whom that friend whom I have

already called the first among my friends had long

been enamoured. This lady's right name was Joan;

but because of her comeliness (or at least it was so

imagined) she was called of many Primavera

(Spring), and went by that name among them.

Then looking again, I perceived that the most noble

Beatrice followed after her. And when both these

ladies had passed by me, it seemed to me that Love

spake again in my heart, saying: “She that came

first was called Spring, only because of that which
page: 274
was to happen on this day. And it was I myself

who caused that name to be given her; seeing that

as the Spring cometh first in the year, so should she

come first on this day,* when Beatrice was to show

herself after the vision of her servant. And even if

thou go about to consider her right name, it is also

as one should say, “She shall come first;” inasmuch

as her name, Joan, is taken from that John who

went before the True Light, saying: “ Ego vox

clamantis in deserto: ‘Parate viam Domini.’”† And

also it seemed to me that he added other words, to

wit: “He who should inquire delicately touching

this matter, could not but call Beatrice by mine own

name, which is to say, Love; beholding her so like

unto me.”
Then I, having thought of this, imagined to write

it with rhymes and send it unto my chief friend; but

setting aside certain words‡ which seemed proper to

be set aside, because I believed that his heart still

regarded the beauty of her that was called Spring.

And I wrote this sonnet:—
Transcribed Footnote (page 274):

* There is a play in the original upon the words Primavera

(Spring) and prima verrà (she shall come first), to which I

have given as near an equivalent as I could.

Transcribed Footnote (page 274):

† “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Pre-

pare ye the way of the Lord.’”

Transcribed Footnote (page 274):

‡ That is (as I understand it), suppressing, from delicacy

towards his friend, the words in which Love describes Joan

as merely the forerunner of Beatrice. And perhaps in the

latter part of this sentence a reproach is gently conveyed to

the fickle Guido Cavalcanti, who may already have transferred

his homage (though Dante had not then learned it) from Joan

to Mandetta. (See his Poems.)

page: 275
  • I felt a spirit of love begin to stir
  • Within my heart, long time unfelt till then;
  • And saw Love coming towards me, fair and fain,
  • (That I scarce knew him for his joyful cheer,)
  • Saying, “Be now indeed my worshipper!”
  • And in his speech he laugh'd and laugh'd again.
  • Then, while it was his pleasure to remain,
  • I chanced to look the way he had drawn near,
  • And saw the Ladies Joan and Beatrice
  • 10 Approach me, this the other following,
  • One and a second marvel instantly.
  • And even as now my memory speaketh this,
  • Love spake it then: “The first is christen'd
  • Spring;
  • The second Love, she is so like to me.”
This sonnet has many parts: whereof the first

tells how I felt awakened within my heart the ac-

customed tremor, and how it seemed that Love ap-

peared to me joyful from afar. The second says

how it appeared to me that Love spake within my

heart, and what was his aspect. The third tells

how, after he had in such wise been with me a space,

I saw and heard certain things. The second part

begins here, “Saying, ‘Be now;’” the third here,

“Then, while it was his pleasure.” The third part

divides into two. In the first, I say what I saw.

In the second, I say what I heard: and it begins

here, “Love spake it then.”
It might be here objected unto me, (and even by
page: 276
one worthy of controversy,) that I have spoken of

Love as though it were a thing outward and visible:

not only a spiritual essence, but as a bodily substance

also. The which thing, in absolute truth, is a fallacy;

Love not being of itself a substance, but an accident

of substance. Yet that I speak of Love as though

it were a thing tangible and even human, appears by

three things which I say thereof. And firstly, I say

that I perceived Love coming towards me; whereby,

seeing that to come bespeaks locomotion, and seeing

also how philosophy teacheth us that none but a cor-

poreal substance hath locomotion, it seemeth that I

speak of Love as of a corporeal substance. And

secondly, I say that Love smiled; and thirdly, that

Love spake; faculties (and especially the risible

faculty) which appear proper unto man: whereby it

further seemeth that I speak of Love as of a man.

Now that this matter may be explained, (as is fitting,)

it must first be remembered that anciently they who

wrote poems of Love wrote not in the vulgar tongue,

but rather certain poets in the Latin tongue. I

mean, among us, although perchance the same may

have been among others, and although likewise, as

among the Greeks, they were not writers of spoken

language, but men of letters, treated of these things.*
Transcribed Footnote (page 276):

* On reading Dante's treatise De Vulgari Eloquio, it will

be found that the distinction which he intends here is not

between one language, or dialect, and another; but between

“vulgar speech” (that is, the language handed down from

mother to son without any conscious use of grammar or syn-

tax,) and language as regulated by grammarians and the

page: 277
Transcribed Footnote (page 277):

laws of literary composition, and which Dante calls simply

“Grammar.” A great deal might be said on the bearings of

the present passage, but it is no part of my plan to enter on

such questions.

And indeed it is not a great number of years since

poetry began to be made in the vulgar tongue; the

writing of rhymes in spoken language corresponding

to the writing in metre of Latin verse, by a certain

analogy. And I say that it is but a little while,

because if we examine the language of oco and the

language of * we shall not find in those tongues

any written thing of an earlier date than the last

hundred and fifty years. Also the reason why certain

of a very mean sort obtained at the first some fame

as poets is, that before them no man had written

verses in the language of sì: and of these, the first

was moved to the writing of such verses by the wish

to make himself understood of a certain lady, unto

whom Latin poetry was difficult. This thing is

against such as rhyme concerning other matters than

love; that mode of speech having been first used

for the expression of love alone.† Wherefore, see-
Transcribed Footnote (page 277):

* i.e. the languages of Provence and Tuscany.

Transcribed Footnote (page 277):

† It strikes me that this curious passage furnishes a reason,

hitherto (I believe) overlooked, why Dante put such of his

lyrical poems as relate to philosophy into the form of love-

poems. He liked writing in Italian rhyme rather than Latin

metre; he thought Italian rhyme ought to be confined to

love-poems; therefore whatever he wrote (at this age) had

to take the form of a love-poem. Thus any poem by Dante

not concerning love is later than his twenty-seventh year

(1291-2), when he wrote the prose of the Vita Nuova; the

poetry having been written earlier, at the time of the events

referred to.

page: 278
ing that poets have a licence allowed them that is

not allowed unto the writers of prose, and seeing also

that they who write in rhyme are simply poets in the

vulgar tongue, it becomes fitting and reasonable that

a larger licence should be given to these than to

other modern writers; and that any metaphor or

rhetorical similitude which is permitted unto poets,

should also be counted not unseemly in the rhymers

of the vulgar tongue. Thus, if we perceive that

the former have caused inanimate things to speak

as though they had sense and reason, and to dis-

course one with another; yea, and not only actual

things, but such also as have no real existence, (see-

ing that they have made things which are not, to

speak; and oftentimes written of those which are

merely accidents as though they were substances and

things human;) it should therefore be permitted to

the latter to do the like; which is to say, not incon-

siderately, but with such sufficient motive as may

afterwards be set forth in prose.
That the Latin poets have done thus, appears

through Virgil, where he saith that Juno (to wit, a

goddess hostile to the Trojans) spake unto Æolus,

master of the Winds; as it is written in the first book

of the Æneid, Æole, namque tibi, etc.; and that this

master of the Winds made reply: Tuus, o regina,

quid optes—Explorare labor, mihi jussa capessere

fas est. And through the same poet, the inanimate

thing speaketh unto the animate, in the third book

of the Æneid, where it is written: Dardanidæ duri,
page: 279
etc. With Lucan, the animate thing speaketh to

the inanimate; as thus: Multum, Roma, tamen

debes civilibus armis. In Horace man is made to

speak to his own intelligence as unto another person;

(and not only hath Horace done this but herein he

followeth the excellent Homer,) as thus in his Poetics:

Dic mihi, Musa, virum, etc. Through Ovid, Love

speaketh as a human creature, in the beginning of

his discourse De Remediis Amoris: as thus: Bella

mihi video, bella parantur, ait. By which ensamples

this thing shall be made manifest unto such as may

be offended at any part of this my book. And lest some

of the common sort should be moved to jeering hereat,

I will here add, that neither did these ancient poets

speak thus without consideration, nor should they who

are makers of rhyme in our day write after the same

fashion, having no reason in what they write; for it

were a shameful thing if one should rhyme under the

semblance of metaphor or rhetorical similitude, and

afterwards, being questioned thereof, should be un-

able to rid his words of such semblance, unto their

right understanding. Of whom, (to wit, of such as

rhyme thus foolishly,) myself and the first among

my friends do know many.
But returning to the matter of my discourse. This

excellent lady, of whom I spake in what hath gone

before, came at last into such favour with all men,

that when she passed anywhere folk ran to behold

her; which thing was a deep joy to me: and when

she drew near unto any, so much truth and simple-
page: 280
ness entered into his heart, that he dared neither to

lift his eyes nor to return her salutation: and unto

this, many who have felt it can bear witness. She

went along crowned and clothed with humility, show-

ing no whit of pride in all that she heard and saw:

and when she had gone by, it was said of many,

“This is not a woman, but one of the beautiful angels

of Heaven,” and there were some that said: “This

is surely a miracle; blessed be the Lord, who hath

power to work thus marvellously.” I say, of very

sooth, that she showed herself so gentle and so full

of all perfection, that she bred in those who looked

upon her a soothing quiet beyond any speech; neither

could any look upon her without sighing immediately.

These things, and things yet more wonderful, were

brought to pass through her miraculous virtue.

Wherefore I, considering thereof and wishing to

resume the endless tale of her praises, resolved to

write somewhat wherein I might dwell on her sur-

passing influence; to the end that not only they who

had beheld her, but others also, might know as much

concerning her as words could give to the under-

standing. And it was then that I wrote this sonnet:—
  • My lady looks so gentle and so pure
  • When yielding salutation by the way,
  • That the tongue trembles and has nought to say,
  • And the eyes, which fain would see, may not endure.
  • And still, amid the praise she hears secure,
  • She walks with humbleness for her array;
  • page: 281
  • Seeming a creature sent from Heaven to stay
  • On earth, and show a miracle made sure.
  • She is so pleasant in the eyes of men
  • 10That through the sight the inmost heart doth gain
  • A sweetness which needs proof to know it by:
  • And from between her lips there seems to move
  • A soothing spirit that is full of love,
  • Saying for ever to the soul, “O sigh!”
This sonnet is so easy to understand, from what

is afore narrated, that it needs no division: and there-

fore, leaving it, I say also that this excellent lady

came into such favour with all men, that not only

she herself was honoured and commended; but

through her companionship, honour and commenda-

tion came unto others. Wherefore I, perceiving

this and wishing that it should also be made manifest

to those that beheld it not, wrote the sonnet here

following; wherein is signified the power which her

virtue had upon other ladies:—
  • For certain he hath seen all perfectness
  • Who among other ladies hath seen mine:
  • They that go with her humbly should combine
  • To thank their God for such peculiar grace.
  • So perfect is the beauty of her face
  • That it begets in no wise any sign
  • Of envy, but draws round her a clear line
  • Of love, and blessed faith, and gentleness.
  • Merely the sight of her makes all things bow:
  • page: 282
  • 10 Not she herself alone is holier
  • Than all; but hers, through her, are raised
  • above.
  • From all her acts such lovely graces flow
  • That truly one may never think of her
  • Without a passion of exceeding love.
This sonnet has three parts. In the first, I say

in what company this lady appeared most wondrous.

In the second, I say how gracious was her society.

In the third, I tell of the things which she, with

power, worked upon others. The second begins here,

“They that go with her;” the third here, “So per-

fect.” This last part divides into three. In the

first, I tell what she operated upon women, that is,

by their own faculties. In the second, I tell what

she operated in them through others. In the third,

I say how she not only operated in women, but in

all people; and not only while herself present, but,

by memory of her, operated wondrously. The

second begins here, “Merely the sight;” the third

here, “From all her acts.”
Thereafter on a day, I began to consider that

which I had said of my lady: to wit, in these two

sonnets aforegone: and becoming aware that I had

not spoken of her immediate effect on me at that

especial time, it seemed to me that I had spoken

defectively. Whereupon I resolved to write some-

what of the manner wherein I was then subject to

her influence, and of what her influence then was.
page: 283
And conceiving that I should not be able to say these

things in the small compass of a sonnet, I began

therefore a poem with this beginning:—
  • Love hath so long possess'd me for his own
  • And made his lordship so familiar
  • That he, who at first irk'd me, is now grown
  • Unto my heart as its best secrets are.
  • And thus, when he in such sore wise doth mar
  • My life that all its strength seems gone from it,
  • Mine inmost being then feels throughly quit
  • Of anguish, and all evil keeps afar.
  • Love also gathers to such power in me
  • 10 That my sighs speak, each one a grievous thing,
  • Always soliciting
  • My lady's salutation piteously.
  • Whenever she beholds me, it is so,
  • Who is more sweet than any words can show.

Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo! facta

est quasi vidua domina gentium.*

I was still occupied with this poem, (having com-

posed thereof only the above-written stanza,) when

the Lord God of justice called my most gracious

lady unto Himself, that she might be glorious under
Transcribed Footnote (page 283):

* “How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people!

how is she become as a widow, she that was great among the

nations!”— Lamentations of Jeremiah,c. i. v. 1.

page: 284
the banner of that blessed Queen Mary, whose name

had always a deep reverence in the words of holy

Beatrice. And because haply it might be found

good that I should say somewhat concerning her de-

parture, I will herein declare what are the reasons

which make that I shall not do so.
And the reasons are three. The first is, that such

matter belongeth not of right to the present argu-

ment, if one consider the opening of this little book.

The second is, that even though the present argu-

ment required it, my pen doth not suffice to write in

a fit manner of this thing. And the third is, that

were it both possible and of absolute necessity, it

would still be unseemly for me to speak thereof,

seeing that thereby it must behove me to speak also

mine own praises: a thing that in whosoever doeth

it is worthy of blame. For the which reasons, I will

leave this matter to be treated of by some other than

Nevertheless, as the number nine, which number

hath often had mention in what hath gone before,

(and not, as it might appear, without reason,) seems

also to have borne a part in the manner of her death:

it is therefore right that I should say somewhat

thereof. And for this cause, having first said what

was the part it bore herein, I will afterwards point

out a reason which made that this number was so

closely allied unto my lady.
I say, then, that according to the division of time

in Italy, her most noble spirit departed from among
page: 285
us in the first hour of the ninth day of the month;

and according to the division of time in Syria, in the

ninth month of the year: seeing that Tismim, which

with us is October, is there the first month. Also

she was taken from among us in that year of our

reckoning (to wit, of the years of our Lord) in which

the perfect number was nine times multiplied within

that century wherein she was born into the world:

which is to say, the thirteenth century of Christians.*
And touching the reason why this number was so

closely allied unto her, it may peradventure be this.

According to Ptolemy, (and also to the Christian

verity,) the revolving heavens are nine; and accord-

ing to the common opinion among astrologers, these

nine heavens together have influence over the earth.

Wherefore it would appear that this number was

thus allied unto her for the purpose of signifying

that, at her birth, all these nine heavens were at

perfect unity with each other as to their influence.

This is one reason that may be brought: but more

narrowly considering, and according to the infallible

truth, this number was her own self: that is to say

by similitude. As thus. The number three is the

root of the number nine; seeing that without the
Transcribed Footnote (page 285):

* Beatrice Portinari will thus be found to have died during

the first hour of the 9th of June, 1290. And from what Dante

says at the commencement of this work, (viz. that she was

younger than himself by eight or nine months,) it may also

be gathered that her age, at the time of her death, was twenty-

four years and three months. The “perfect number” men-

tioned in the present passage is the number ten.

page: 286
interposition of any other number, being multiplied

merely by itself, it produceth nine, as we manifestly

perceive that three times three are nine. Thus, three

being of itself the efficient of nine, and the Great

Efficient of Miracles being of Himself Three Persons

(to wit: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit),

which, being Three, are also One:—this lady was

accompanied by the number nine to the end that men

might clearly perceive her to be a nine, that is, a

miracle, whose only root is the Holy Trinity. It

may be that a more subtile person would find for this

thing a reason of greater subtilty: but such is the

reason that I find, and that liketh me best.
After this most gracious creature had gone out

from among us, the whole city came to be as it were

widowed and despoiled of all dignity. Then I, left

mourning in this desolate city, wrote unto the prin-

cipal persons thereof, in an epistle, concerning its

condition; taking for my commencement those words

of Jeremias: Quomodo sedet sola civitas! etc. And

I make mention of this, that none may marvel

wherefore I set down these words before, in begin-

ning to treat of her death. Also if any should blame

me, in that I do not transcribe that epistle whereof

I have spoken, I will make it mine excuse that I

began this little book with the intent that it should

be written altogether in the vulgar tongue; where-

fore, seeing that the epistle I speak of is in Latin,

it belongeth not to mine undertaking: more especially

as I know that my chief friend, for whom I write
page: 287
this book, wished also that the whole of it should be

in the vulgar tongue.
When mine eyes had wept for some while, until

they were so weary with weeping that I could no

longer through them give ease to my sorrow, I be-

thought me that a few mournful words might stand

me instead of tears. And therefore I proposed to

make a poem, that weeping I might speak therein

of her for whom so much sorrow had destroyed my

spirit; and I then began “The eyes that weep.”
That this poem may seem to remain the more

widowed at its close, I will divide it before writing

it; and this method I will observe henceforward.

I say that this poor little poem has three parts. The

first is a prelude. In the second, I speak of her.

In the third I speak pitifully to the poem. The

second begins here, “Beatrice is gone up;” the

third here, “Weep, pitiful Song of mine.” The first

divides into three. In the first, I say what moves

me to speak. In the second, I say to whom I mean

to speak. In the third, I say of whom I mean to

speak. The second begins here, “And because often,

thinking;” the third here, “And I will say.”

Then, when I say, “Beatrice is gone up,” I speak

of her; and concerning this I have two parts. First,

I tell the cause why she was taken away from us:

afterwards, I say how one weeps her parting; and

this part commences here, “Wonderfully.” This

part divides into three. In the first, I say who it

is that weeps her not. In the second, I say who it
page: 288
is that doth weep her. In the third, I speak of my

condition. The second begins here, “But sighing

comes, and grief;” the third, “With sighs.” Then,

when I say, “Weep, pitiful Song of mine,” I speak

to this my song, telling it what ladies to go to, and

stay with.
  • The eyes that weep for pity of the heart
  • Have wept so long that their grief languisheth
  • And they have no more tears to weep withal:
  • And now, if I would ease me of a part
  • Of what, little by little, leads to death,
  • It must be done by speech, or not at all.
  • And because often, thinking, I recall
  • How it was pleasant, ere she went afar,
  • To talk of her with you, kind damozels,
  • 10 I talk with no one else,
  • But only with such hearts as women's are.
  • And I will say,—still sobbing as speech fails,—
  • That she hath gone to Heaven suddenly,
  • And hath left Love below, to mourn with me.
  • Beatrice is gone up into high Heaven,
  • The kingdom where the angels are at peace;
  • And lives with them; and to her friends is dead.
  • Not by the frost of winter was she driven
  • Away, like others; nor by summer-heats;
  • 20 But through a perfect gentleness, instead.
  • For from the lamp of her meek lowlihead
  • Such an exceeding glory went up hence
  • page: 289
    Sig. U
  • That it woke wonder in the Eternal Sire,
  • Until a sweet desire
  • Enter'd Him for that lovely excellence,
  • So that He bade her to Himself aspire:
  • Counting this weary and most evil place
  • Unworthy of a thing so full of grace.
  • Wonderfully out of the beautiful form
  • 30 Soar'd her clear spirit, waxing glad the while;
  • And is in its first home, there where it is.
  • Who speaks thereof, and feels not the tears warm
  • Upon his face, must have become so vile
  • As to be dead to all sweet sympathies.
  • Out upon him! an abject wretch like this
  • May not imagine anything of her,—
  • He needs no bitter tears for his relief.
  • But sighing comes, and grief,
  • And the desire to find no comforter,
  • 40 (Save only Death, who makes all sorrow brief,)
  • To him who for a while turns in his thought
  • How she hath been among us, and is not.
  • With sighs my bosom always laboureth
  • On thinking, as I do continually,
  • Of her for whom my heart now breaks apace;
  • And very often when I think of death,
  • Such a great inward longing comes to me
  • That it will change the colour of my face;
  • And, if the idea settles in its place,
  • 50All my limbs shake as with an ague-fit;
    page: 290
  • Till, starting up in wild bewilderment,
  • I do become so shent
  • That I go forth, lest folk misdoubt of it.
  • Afterward, calling with a sore lament
  • On Beatrice, I ask, “Canst thou be dead?”
  • And calling on her, I am comforted.
  • Grief with its tears, and anguish with its sighs,
  • Come to me now whene'er I am alone;
  • So that I think the sight of me gives pain.
  • 60And what my life hath been, that living dies,
  • Since for my lady the New Birth's begun,
  • I have not any language to explain.
  • And so, dear ladies, though my heart were fain,
  • I scarce could tell indeed how I am thus.
  • All joy is with my bitter life at war;
  • Yea, I am fallen so far
  • That all men seem to say, “Go out from us,”
  • Eyeing my cold white lips, how dead they are.
  • But she, though I be bow'd unto the dust,
  • 70Watches me; and will guerdon me, I trust.
  • Weep, piteous Song of mine, upon thy way,
  • To the dames going, and the damozels,
  • For whom, and for none else,
  • Thy sisters have made music many a day.
  • Thou, that art very sad and not as they,
  • Go dwell thou with them as a mourner dwells.
After I had written this poem, I received the visit
page: 291
of a friend whom I counted as second unto me in the

degrees of friendship, and who, moreover, had been

united by the nearest kindred to that most gracious

creature. And when we had a little spoken together,

he began to solicit me that I would write somewhat

in memory of a lady who had died; and he disguised

his speech, so as to seem to be speaking of another

who was but lately dead: wherefore I, perceiving

that his speech was of none other than that blessed

one herself, told him that it should be done as he

required. Then afterwards, having thought thereof,

I imagined to give vent in a sonnet to some part of

my hidden lamentations: but in such sort that it

might seem to be spoken by this friend of mine, to

whom I was to give it. And the sonnet saith thus:

“Stay now with me,” &c.
This sonnet has two parts. In the first, I call the

Faithful of Love to hear me. In the second, I re-

late my miserable condition. The second begins

here, “Mark how they force.”
  • Stay now with me, and listen to my sighs,
  • Ye piteous hearts, as pity bids ye do.
  • Mark how they force their way out and press
  • through:
  • If they be once pent up, the whole life dies.
  • Seeing that now indeed my weary eyes
  • Oftener refuse than I can tell to you,
  • (Even though my endless grief is ever new,)
  • To weep, and let the smother'd anguish rise.
  • page: 292
  • Also in sighing ye shall hear me call
  • 10 On her whose blessed presence doth enrich
  • The only home that well befitteth her:
  • And ye shall hear a bitter scorn of all
  • Sent from the inmost of my spirit in speech
  • That mourns its joy and its joy's minister.
But when I had written this sonnet, bethinking

me who he was to whom I was to give it, that it

might appear to be his speech, it seemed to me that

this was but a poor and barren gift for one of her so

near kindred. Wherefore, before giving him this

sonnet, I wrote two stanzas of a poem: the first be-

ing written in very sooth as though it were spoken

by him, but the other being mine own speech, albeit,

unto one who should not look closely, they would

both seem to be said by the same person. Never-

theless, looking closely, one must perceive that it is

not so, inasmuch as one does not call this most gra-

cious creature his lady, and the other does, as is

manifestly apparent. And I gave the poem and the

sonnet unto my friend, saying that I had made them

only for him.
The poem begins, “Whatever while,” and has two

parts. In the first, that is, in the first stanza, this

my dear friend, her kinsman, laments. In the se-

cond, I lament; that is, in the other stanza, which

begins, “For ever.” And thus it appears that in

this poem two persons lament, of whom one laments

as a brother, the other as a servant.
page: 293
  • Whatever while the thought comes over me
  • That I may not again
  • Behold that lady whom I mourn for now,
  • About my heart my mind brings constantly
  • So much of extreme pain
  • That I say, Soul of mine, why stayest thou?
  • Truly the anguish, soul, that we must bow
  • Beneath, until we win out of this life,
  • Gives me full oft a fear that trembleth:
  • 10 So that I call on Death
  • Even as on Sleep one calleth after strife,
  • Saying, Come unto me. Life showeth grim
  • And bare; and if one dies, I envy him.
  • For ever, among all my sighs which burn,
  • There is a piteous speech
  • That clamours upon death continually:
  • Yea, unto him doth my whole spirit turn
  • Since first his hand did reach
  • My lady's life with most foul cruelty.
  • 20 But from the height of woman's fairness, she,
  • Going up from us with the joy we had,
  • Grew perfectly and spiritually fair;
  • That so she spreads even there
  • A light of Love which makes the Angels glad,
  • And even unto their subtle minds can bring
  • A certain awe of profound marvelling.
On that day which fulfilled the year since my lady

had been made of the citizens of eternal life, remem-
page: 294
bering me of her as I sat alone, I betook myself to

draw the resemblance of an angel upon certain

tablets. And while I did thus, chancing to turn my

head, I perceived that some were standing beside

me to whom I should have given courteous welcome,

and that they were observing what I did: also I

learned afterwards that they had been there a while

before I perceived them. Perceiving whom, I arose

for salutation, and said: “Another was with me.”*
Afterwards, when they had left me, I set myself

again to mine occupation, to wit, to the drawing figures

of angels: in doing which, I conceived to write of

this matter in rhyme, as for her anniversary, and to

address my rhymes unto those who had just left me.

It was then that I wrote the sonnet which saith,

“That lady:” and as this sonnet hath two com-

mencements, it behoveth me to divide it with both of

them here.
I say that, according to the first, this sonnet has

three parts. In the first, I say that this lady was

then in my memory. In the second, I tell what Love

therefore did with me. In the third, I speak of the

effects of Love. The second begins here, “Love

knowing;” the third here, “Forth went they.”

This part divides into two. In the one, I say that

all my sighs issued speaking. In the other, I say

how some spoke certain words different from the
Transcribed Footnote (page 294):

* Thus according to some texts. The majority, however,

add the words, “And therefore was I in thought;” but the

shorter speech is perhaps the more forcible and pathetic.

page: 295
others. The second begins here, “And still.” In

this same manner is it divided with the other begin-

ning, save that, in the first part, I tell when this lady

had thus come into my mind, and this I say not in

the other.
  • That lady of all gentle memories
  • Had lighted on my soul;—whose new abode
  • Lies now, as it was well ordain'd of God,
  • Among the poor in heart, where Mary is.
  • Love, knowing that dear image to be his,
  • Woke up within the sick heart sorrow-bow'd,
  • Unto the sighs which are its weary load,
  • Saying, “Go forth.” And they went forth, I wis;
  • Forth went they from my breast that throbb'd and
  • ached;
  • 10 With such a pang as oftentimes will bathe
  • Mine eyes with tears when I am left alone.
  • And still those sighs which drew the heaviest
  • breath
  • Came whispering thus: “O noble intellect!
  • It is a year to-day that thou art gone.”
Second Commencement.
  • That lady of all gentle memories
  • Had lighted on my soul;—for whose sake flow'd
  • The tears of Love; in whom the power abode
  • Which led you to observe while I did this.
  • Love, knowing that dear image to be his, &c.
page: 296
Then, having sat for some space sorely in thought

because of the time that was now past, I was so filled

with dolorous imaginings that it became outwardly

manifest in mine altered countenance. Whereupon,

feeling this and being in dread lest any should have

seen me, I lifted mine eyes to look; and then per-

ceived a young and very beautiful lady, who was

gazing upon me from a window with a gaze full of

pity, so that the very sum of pity appeared gathered

together in her. And seeing that unhappy persons,

when they beget compassion in others, are then most

moved unto weeping, as though they also felt pity

for themselves, it came to pass that mine eyes began

to be inclined unto tears. Wherefore, becoming

fearful lest I should make manifest mine abject con-

dition, I rose up, and went where I could not be seen

of that lady; saying afterwards within myself:

“Certainly with her also must abide most noble

Love.” And with that, I resolved upon writing a

sonnet, wherein, speaking unto her, I should say all

that I have just said. And as this sonnet is very

evident, I will not divide it.
  • Mine eyes beheld the blessed pity spring
  • Into thy countenance immediately
  • A while agone, when thou beheld'st in me
  • The sickness only hidden grief can bring;
  • And then I knew thou wast considering
  • How abject and forlorn my life must be;
  • And I became afraid that thou shouldst see
  • page: 297
  • My weeping, and account it a base thing.
  • Therefore I went out from thee; feeling how
  • 10 The tears were straightway loosen'd at my heart
  • Beneath thine eyes' compassionate control.
  • And afterwards I said within my soul:
  • “Lo! with this lady dwells the counterpart
  • Of the same Love who holds me weeping now.”
It happened after this, that whensoever I was seen

of this lady, she became pale and of a piteous coun-

tenance, as though it had been with love; whereby

she remembered me many times of my own most

noble lady, who was wont to be of a like paleness.

And I know that often, when I could not weep nor

in any way give ease unto mine anguish, I went to

look upon this lady, who seemed to bring the tears

into my eyes by the mere sight of her. Of the which

thing I bethought me to speak unto her in rhyme,

and then made this sonnet: which begins, “Love's

pallor,” and which is plain without being divided, by

its exposition aforesaid.
  • Love's pallor and the semblance of deep ruth
  • Were never yet shown forth so perfectly
  • In any lady's face, chancing to see
  • Grief's miserable countenance uncouth,
  • As in thine, lady, they have sprung to soothe,
  • When in mine anguish thou hast look'd on me;
  • Until sometimes it seems as if, through thee,
  • My heart might almost wander from its truth.
  • page: 298
  • Yet so it is, I cannot hold mine eyes
  • 10 From gazing very often upon thine
  • In the sore hope to shed those tears they
  • keep;
  • And at such time, thou mak'st the pent tears rise
  • Even to the brim, till the eyes waste and pine;
  • Yet cannot they, while thou art present,
  • weep.
At length, by the constant sight of this lady, mine

eyes began to be gladdened overmuch with her com-

pany; through which thing many times I had much

unrest, and rebuked myself as a base person: also,

many times I cursed the unsteadfastness of mine eyes,

and said to them inwardly: “Was not your grievous

condition of weeping wont one while to make others

weep? And will ye now forget this thing because

a lady looketh upon you? who so looketh merely in

compassion of the grief ye then showed for your own

blessed lady. But whatso ye can, that do ye, accursed

eyes! many a time will I make you remember it!

for never, till death dry you up, should ye make an

end of your weeping.” And when I had spoken thus

unto mine eyes, I was taken again with extreme and

grievous sighing. And to the end that this inward

strife which I had undergone might not be hidden

from all saving the miserable wretch who endured it,

I proposed to write a sonnet, and to comprehend in

it this horrible condition. And I wrote this which

begins, “The very bitter weeping.”
page: 299
The sonnet has two parts. In the first, I speak

to my eyes, as my heart spoke within myself. In

the second, I remove a difficulty, showing who it is

that speaks thus: and this part begins here, “So

far.” It well might receive other divisions also;

but this would be useless, since it is manifest by the

preceding exposition.
  • “The very bitter weeping that ye made
  • So long a time together, eyes of mine,
  • Was wont to make the tears of pity shine
  • In other eyes full oft, as I have said.
  • But now this thing were scarce rememberèd
  • If I, on my part, foully would combine
  • With you, and not recall each ancient sign
  • Of grief, and her for whom your tears were shed.
  • It is your fickleness that doth betray
  • 10 My mind to fears, and makes me tremble thus
  • What while a lady greets me with her eyes.
  • Except by death, we must not any way
  • Forget our lady who is gone from us.”
  • So far doth my heart utter, and then sighs.
The sight of this lady brought me into so unwonted

a condition that I often thought of her as of one too

dear unto me; and I began to consider her thus:

“This lady is young, beautiful, gentle, and wise:

perchance it was Love himself who set her in my

path, that so my life might find peace.” And there

were times when I thought yet more fondly, until my
page: 300
heart consented unto its reasoning. But when it had

so consented, my thought would often turn round

upon me, as moved by reason, and cause me to say

within myself: “What hope is this which would

console me after so base a fashion, and which hath

taken the place of all other imagining?” Also there

was another voice within me, that said: “And wilt

thou, having suffered so much tribulation through

Love, not escape while yet thou mayest from so much

bitterness? Thou must surely know that this thought

carries with it the desire of Love, and drew its life

from the gentle eyes of that lady who vouchsafed thee

so much pity.” Wherefore I, having striven sorely

and very often with myself, bethought me to say some-

what thereof in rhyme. And seeing that in the bat-

tle of doubts, the victory most often remained with

such as inclined towards the lady of whom I speak,

it seemed to me that I should address this sonnet

unto her: in the first line whereof, I call that thought

which spake of her a gentle thought, only because it

spoke of one who was gentle; being of itself most

Transcribed Footnote (page 300):

* Boccaccio tells us that Dante was married to Gemma

Donati about a year after the death of Beatrice. Can Gemma

then be “the lady of the window,” his love for whom Dante so

contemns? Such a passing conjecture (when considered to-

gether with the interpretation of this passage in Dante's later

work, the Convito) would of course imply an admission of what

I believe to lie at the heart of all true Dantesque commentary;

that is, the existence always of the actual events even where

the allegorical superstructure has been raised by Dante him-


page: 301
In this sonnet I make myself into two, according

as my thoughts were divided one from the other.

The one part I call Heart, that is, appetite; the

other, Soul, that is, reason; and I tell what one

saith to the other. And that it is fitting to call the

appetite Heart, and the reason Soul, is manifest

enough to them to whom I wish this to be open.

True it is that, in the preceding sonnet, I take the

part of the Heart against the Eyes; and that appears

contrary to what I say in the present; and there-

fore I say that, there also, by the Heart I mean

appetite, because yet greater was my desire to re-

member my most gentle lady than to see this other,

although indeed I had some appetite towards her,

but it appeared slight: wherefrom it appears that

the one statement is not contrary to the other. This

sonnet has three parts. In the first, I begin to say

to this lady how my desires turn all towards her.

In the second, I say how the Soul, that is, the reason,

speaks to the Heart, that is, to the appetite. In the

third, I say how the latter answers. The second

begins here, “And what is this?” the third here,

“And the heart answers.”
  • A gentle thought there is will often start,
  • Within my secret self, to speech of thee;
  • Also of Love it speaks so tenderly
  • That much in me consents and takes its part.
  • “And what is this,” the soul saith to the heart,
  • “That cometh thus to comfort thee and me,
  • page: 302
  • And thence where it would dwell, thus potently
  • Can drive all other thoughts by its strange art?”
  • And the heart answers: “Be no more at strife
  • 10 'Twixt doubt and doubt: this is Love's messenger
  • And speaketh but his words, from him received;
  • And all the strength it owns and all the life
  • It draweth from the gentle eyes of her
  • Who, looking on our grief, hath often grieved.”
But against this adversary of reason, there rose

up in me on a certain day, about the ninth hour, a

strong visible phantasy, wherein I seemed to behold

the most gracious Beatrice, habited in that crimson

raiment which she had worn when I had first beheld

her; also she appeared to me of the same tender

age as then. Whereupon I fell into a deep thought

of her: and my memory ran back according to the

order of time, unto all those matters in the which she

had borne a part; and my heart began painfully to

repent of the desire by which it had so basely let

itself be possessed during so many days, contrary to

the constancy of reason.
And then, this evil desire being quite gone from

me, all my thoughts turned again unto their excellent

Beatrice. And I say most truly that from that hour

I thought constantly of her with the whole humbled

and ashamed heart; the which became often manifest

in sighs, that had among them the name of that most

gracious creature, and how she departed from us.

Also it would come to pass very often, through the
page: 303
bitter anguish of some one thought, that I forgot both

it, and myself, and where I was. By this increase of

sighs, my weeping, which before had been somewhat

lessened, increased in like manner; so that mine eyes

seemed to long only for tears and to cherish them, and

came at last to be circled about with red as though they

had suffered martyrdom; neither were they able to

look again upon the beauty of any face that might

again bring them to shame and evil: from which

things it will appear that they were fitly guerdoned

for their unsteadfastness. Wherefore I, (wishing

that mine abandonment of all such evil desires and

vain temptations should be certified and made mani-

fest, beyond all doubts which might have been sug-

gested by the rhymes aforewritten,) proposed to write

a sonnet, wherein I should express this purport.

And I then wrote, “Woe's me!”
I said, “Woe's me!” because I was ashamed of

the trifling of mine eyes. This sonnet I do not divide,

since its purport is manifest enough.
  • Woe's me! by dint of all these sighs that come
  • Forth of my heart, its endless grief to prove,
  • Mine eyes are conquer'd, so that even to move
  • Their lids for greeting is grown troublesome.
  • They wept so long that now they are grief's home
  • And count their tears all laughter far above:
  • They wept till they are circled now by Love
  • With a red circle in sign of martyrdom.
  • These musings, and the sighs they bring from me,
  • page: 304
  • 10 Are grown at last so constant and so sore
  • That Love swoons in my spirit with faint breath;
  • Hearing in those sad sounds continually
  • The most sweet name that my dead lady bore,
  • With many grievous words touching her death.
About this time, it happened that a great number of

persons undertook a pilgrimage, to the end that they

might behold that blessed portraiture bequeathed unto

us by our Lord Jesus Christ as the image of his beauti-

ful countenance,* (upon which countenance my dear

lady now looketh continually.) And certain among

these pilgrims, who seemed very thoughtful, passed

by a path which is wellnigh in the midst of the city

where my most gracious lady was born, and abode,

and at last died.
Then I, beholding them, said within myself:

“These pilgrims seem to be come from very far; and

I think they cannot have heard speak of this lady, or

know anything concerning her. Their thoughts are
Transcribed Footnote (page 304):

* The Veronica ( Vera icon, or true image); that is, the

napkin with which a woman was said to have wiped our

Saviour's face on his way to the cross, and which miracu-

lously retained its likeness. Dante makes mention of it also

in the Commedia (Parad. xxi. 103), where he says:—

  • “Qual è colui che forse di Croazia
  • Viene a veder la Veronica nostra,
  • Che per l'antica fama non si sazia
  • Ma dice nel pensier fin che si mostra:
  • Signor mio Gesù Cristo, Iddio verace,
  • Or fu sì fatta la sembianza vostra?” etc.

page: 305
Sig. X
not of her, but of other things; it may be, of their

friends who are far distant, and whom we, in our

turn, know not.” And I went on to say: “I know

that if they were of a country near unto us, they would

in some wise seem disturbed, passing through this

city which is so full of grief.” And I said also:

“If I could speak with them a space, I am certain

that I should make them weep before they went

forth of this city; for those things that they would

hear from me must needs beget weeping in any.”
And when the last of them had gone by me, I

bethought me to write a sonnet, showing forth mine

inward speech; and that it might seem the more

pitiful, I made as though I had spoken it indeed unto

them. And I wrote this sonnet, which beginneth:

“Ye pilgrim-folk.” I made use of the word pilgrim

for its general signification; for “pilgrim” may be

understood in two senses, one general, and one special.

General, so far as any man may be called a pilgrim

who leaveth the place of his birth; whereas, more

narrowly speaking, he only is a pilgrim who goeth

towards or frowards the House of St. James. For

there are three separate denominations proper unto

those who undertake journeys to the glory of God.

They are called Palmers who go beyond the seas

eastward, whence often they bring palm-branches.

And Pilgrims, as I have said, are they who journey

unto the holy House of Gallicia; seeing that no

other apostle was buried so far from his birth-place

as was the blessed Saint James. And there is a
page: 306
third sort who are called Romers; in that they go

whither these whom I have called pilgrims went:

which is to say, unto Rome.
This sonnet is not divided, because its own words

sufficiently declare it.
  • Ye pilgrim-folk, advancing pensively
  • As if in thought of distant things, I pray,
  • Is your own land indeed so far away
  • As by your aspect it would seem to be,—
  • That nothing of our grief comes over ye
  • Though passing through the mournful town mid-
  • way;
  • Like unto men that understand to-day
  • Nothing at all of her great misery?
  • Yet if ye will but stay, whom I accost,
  • 10 And listen to my words a little space,
  • At going ye shall mourn with a loud voice.
  • It is her Beatrice that she hath lost;
  • Of whom the least word spoken holds such grace
  • That men weep hearing it, and have no choice.
A while after these things, two gentle ladies sent

unto me, praying that I would bestow upon them

certain of these my rhymes. And I, (taking into

account their worthiness and consideration,) resolved

that I would write also a new thing, and send it

them together with those others, to the end that their

wishes might be more honourably fulfilled. There-

fore I made a sonnet, which narrates my condition,
page: 307
and which I caused to be conveyed to them, accom-

panied with the one preceding, and with that other

which begins, “Stay now with me and listen to my

sighs.” And the new sonnet is, “Beyond the

This sonnet comprises five parts. In the first, I

tell whither my thought goeth, naming the place by

the name of one of its effects. In the second, I say

wherefore it goeth up, and who makes it go thus.

In the third, I tell what it saw, namely, a lady

honoured. And I then then call it a “Pilgrim

Spirit,” because it goes up spiritually, and like a

pilgrim who is out of his known country. In the

fourth, I say how the spirit sees her such (that is, in

such quality) that I cannot understand her; that is to

say, my thought rises into the quality of her in a degree

that my intellect cannot comprehend, seeing that our

intellect is, towards those blessed souls, like our eye

weak against the sun; and this the Philosopher says

in the Second of the Metaphysics. In the fifth, I

say that, although I cannot see there whither my

thought carries me—that is, to her admirable essence—

I at least understand this, namely, that it is a thought

of my lady, because I often hear her name therein.

And, at the end of this fifth part, I say, “Ladies

mine,” to show that they are ladies to whom I speak.

The second part begins, “A new perception;” the

third, “When it hath reached;” the fourth, “It

sees her such;” the fifth, “And yet I know.” It

might be divided yet more nicely, and made yet
Note: The repetition of the word "then" in the eleventh line is a typographical error.
page: 308
clearer; but this division may pass, and therefore

I stay not to divide it further.
  • Beyond the sphere which spreads to widest space
  • Now soars the sigh that my heart sends above:
  • A new perception born of grieving Love
  • Guideth it upward the untrodden ways.
  • When it hath reach'd unto the end, and stays,
  • It sees a lady round whom splendours move
  • In homage; till, by the great light thereof
  • Abash'd, the pilgrim spirit stands at gaze.
  • It sees her such, that when it tells me this
  • 10 Which it hath seen, I understand it not,
  • It hath a speech so subtile and so fine.
  • And yet I know its voice within my thought
  • Often remembereth me of Beatrice:
  • So that I understand it, ladies mine.
After writing this sonnet, it was given unto me to

behold a very wonderful vision;* wherein I saw

things which determined me that I would say nothing

further of this most blessed one, until such time as

I could discourse more worthily concerning her.

And to this end I labour all I can; as she well
Transcribed Footnote (page 308):

* This we may believe to have been the Vision of Hell,

Purgatory, and Paradise, which furnished the triple argument

of the “Divina Commedia.” The Latin words ending the

Vita Nuova are almost identical with those at the close of the

letter in which Dante, on concluding the Paradise, and ac-

complishing the hope here expressed, dedicates his great work

to Can Grande della Scala.

page: 309
knoweth. Wherefore if it be His pleasure through

whom is the life of all things, that my life continue

with me a few years, it is my hope that I shall yet

write concerning her what hath not before been

written of any woman. After the which, may it

seem good unto Him who is the Master of Grace,

that my spirit should go hence to behold the glory

of its lady: to wit, of that blessed Beatrice who now

gazeth continually on His countenance qui est per

omnia sæcula benedictus.* Laus Deo.
Transcribed Footnote (page 309):

* “Who is blessed throughout all ages.”

page: 310



Sent with the Vita Nuova.
  • Master Brunetto, this my little maid
  • Is come to spend her Easter-tide with
  • you;
  • Not that she reckons feasting as her due,—
  • Whose need is hardly to be fed, but read.
  • Not in a hurry can her sense be weigh'd,
  • Nor mid the jests of any noisy crew:
  • Ah! and she wants a little coaxing too
  • Before she'll get into another's head.
  • But if you do not find her meaning clear,
  • 10 You've many Brother Alberts* hard at hand,
  • Whose wisdom will respond to any call.
  • Consult with them and do not laugh at her;
  • And if she still is hard to understand,
  • Apply to Master Giano last of all.
Transcribed Footnote (page 310):

* Probably in allusion to Albert of Cologne. Giano (Janus),

which follows, was in use as an Italian name, as for instance

Giano della Bella; but it seems possible that Dante is merely

playfully advising his preceptor to avail himself of the two-

fold insight of Janus the double-faced.

page: 311


Of Beatrice de' Portinari, on All Saints' Day.
Transcribed Footnote (page 311):

* This and the five following pieces seem so certainly to

have been written at the same time as the poetry of the Vita

Nuova, that it becomes difficult to guess why they were omitted

from that work. Other poems in Dante's Canzoniere refer in

a more general manner to his love for Beatrice, but each among

those I have selected bears the impress of some special occa-


  • Last All Saints' holy-day, even now gone by,
  • I met a gathering of damozels:
  • She that came first, as one doth who excels,
  • Had Love with her, bearing her company:
  • A flame burn'd forward through her steadfast eye,
  • As when in living fire a spirit dwells:
  • So, gazing with the boldness which prevails
  • O'er doubt, I saw an angel visibly.
  • As she pass'd on, she bow'd her mild approof
  • 10 And salutation to all men of worth,
  • Lifting the soul to solemn thoughts aloof.
  • In Heaven itself that lady had her birth,
  • I think, and is with us for our behoof:
  • Blessed are they who meet her on the earth.
page: 312


To certain Ladies; when Beatrice was lamenting

her Father's Death.*
Transcribed Footnote (page 312):

* See the Vita Nuova, at page 263.

  • Whence come you, all of you so sorrowful?
  • An' it may please you, speak for courtesy.
  • I fear for my dear lady's sake, lest she
  • Have made you to return thus fill'd with dule.
  • O gentle ladies, be not hard to school
  • In gentleness, but to some pause agree,
  • And something of my lady say to me,
  • For with a little my desire is full.
  • Howbeit it be a heavy thing to hear:
  • 10 For love now utterly has thrust me forth,
  • With hand for ever lifted, striking fear.
  • See if I be not worn unto the earth:
  • Yea, and my spirit must fail from me here,
  • If, when you speak, your words are of no worth.
page: 313


To the same Ladies; with their Answer.
  • “Ye ladies, walking past me piteous-eyed,
  • Who is the lady that lies prostrate here?
  • Can this be even she my heart holds dear?
  • Nay, if it be so, speak, and nothing hide.
  • Her very aspect seems itself beside,
  • And all her features of such alter'd cheer
  • That to my thinking they do not appear
  • Hers who makes others seem beatified.”
  • “If thou forget to know our lady thus,
  • 10 Whom grief o'ercomes, we wonder in no wise,
  • For also the same thing befalleth us.
  • Yet if thou watch the movement of her eyes,
  • Of her thou shalt be straightway conscious.
  • O weep no more! thou art all wan with sighs.”
page: 314


He will gaze upon Beatrice.
  • Because mine eyes can never have their fill
  • Of looking at my lady's lovely face,
  • I will so fix my gaze
  • That I may become bless'd, beholding her.
  • Even as an angel, up at his great height
  • Standing amid the light,
  • Becometh bless'd by only seeing God:—
  • So, though I be a simple earthly wight,
  • Yet none the less I might,
  • 10 Beholding her who is my heart's dear load,
  • Be bless'd, and in the spirit soar abroad.
  • Such power abideth in that gracious one;
  • Albeit felt of none
  • Save of him who, desiring, honours her.
page: 315


He beseeches Death for the Life of Beatrice.
  • Death, since I find not one with whom to
  • grieve,
  • Nor whom this grief of mine may move to tears,
  • Whereso I be or whitherso I turn:
  • Since it is thou who in my soul wilt leave
  • No single joy, but chill'st it with just fears
  • And makest it in fruitless hopes to burn:
  • Since thou, Death, and thou only, canst discern
  • Wealth to my life, or want, at thy free choice:—
  • It is to thee that I lift up my voice,
  • 10 Bowing my face that's like a face just dead.
  • I come to thee, as to one pitying,
  • In grief for that sweet rest which nought can bring
  • Again, if thou but once be enterèd
  • Into her life whom my heart cherishes
  • Even as the only portal of its peace.—
  • Death, how most sweet the peace is that thy grace
  • Can grant to me, and that I pray thee for,
  • Thou easily mayst know by a sure sign,
  • If in mine eyes thou look a little space
    page: 316
  • 20 And read in them the hidden dread they store,—
  • If upon all thou look which proves me thine.
  • Since the fear only maketh me to pine
  • After this sort,—what will mine anguish be
  • When her eyes close, of dreadful verity,
  • In whose light is the light of mine own eyes?
  • But now I know that thou wouldst have my life
  • As hers, and joy'st thee in my fruitless strife.
  • Yet I do think this which I feel implies
  • That soon, when I would die to flee from pain,
  • 30I shall find none by whom I may be slain.
  • Death, if indeed thou smite this gentle one,
  • Whose outward worth but tells the intellect
  • How wondrous is the miracle within,—
  • Thou biddest Virtue rise up and begone,
  • Thou dost away with Mercy's best effect,
  • Thou spoil'st the mansion of God's sojourning;
  • Yea, unto naught her beauty thou dost bring
  • Which is above all other beauties, even
  • In so much as befitteth one whom Heaven
  • 40 Sent upon earth in token of its own.
  • Thou dost break through the perfect trust which hath
  • Been alway her companion in Love's path:
  • The light once darken'd which was hers alone,
  • Love needs must say to them he ruleth o'er,
  • “I have lost the noble banner that I bore.”
  • Death, have some pity then for all the ill
  • Which cannot choose but happen if she die,
    page: 317
  • And which will be the sorest ever known.
  • Slacken the string, if so it be they will,
  • 50 That the sharp arrow leave it not,—thereby
  • Sparing her life, which if it flies is flown.
  • O Death, for God's sake, be some pity shown!
  • Restrain within thyself, even at its height,
  • The cruel wrath which moveth thee to smite
  • Her in whom God hath set so much of grace.
  • Show now some ruth if 'tis a thing thou hast!
  • I seem to see Heaven's gate, that is shut fast,
  • Open, and angels filling all the space
  • About me,—come to fetch her soul whose laud
  • 60Is sung by saints and angels before God.