Manuscript Addition: WNKK* / 19752.
Editorial Description: Written in pencil, by unknown hand, in upper left corner of an otherwise blank
THE EARLY ITALIAN POETS.
THE EARLY ITALIAN POETS
FROM CIULLO D'ALCAMO TO
IN THE ORIGINAL METRES
TOGETHER WITH DANTE'S VITA NUOVA
TRANSLATED BY D. G. ROSSETTI
Part I. Poets chiefly before Dante.
Part II. Dante and his Circle
D. G. R.
WHATEVER IS MINE IN THIS BOOK
IS INSCRIBED TO MY WIFE.
I need not dilate here on the characteristics of
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
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
obscurity, as well as to its monotony in the use of
frequent substitution of assonances. But
to compensate for much that is
incomplete and in-
experienced, these poems possess, in their
beauties of a kind which can never again exist in art;
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
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
find a not illegitimate use in the case of poems which
come down to us in such a form as do these early
Struggling originally with corrupt
dialect and imperfect expression, and
alive through centuries of neglect, they have reached
last and worst state in which the
has almost been dealt them by clumsy transcription
superstructure. At this stage the task
of talking much more about them in
is hardly to be entered upon; and a translation
volving, as it does, the necessity of settling many
discussion,) remains perhaps the most
direct form of commentary.
The life-blood of rhymed translation is this,—that
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
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
—not fidelity, which is
by no means the same thing.
When literality can be combined with what is
the primary condition of success, the translator is
must strive his utmost to unite them;
when such object can only be attained
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
arrangement and descriptive heading as is
indispensable to old and especially to “occasional”
poetry, has here been bestowed on these poets for the
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
case), that I may safely leave them in other hands.
has probably a wider scope than some
readers might look for, and includes
now and then
(though I believe in rare instances) matter which
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
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
elements to the exclusion of others equally belonging
Of the difficulties I have had to encounter,—the
imperfections for which I have no other
excuse,—it is the
reader's best privilege to remain
ignorant; but I may perhaps be pardoned
referring to such among these as concern the exi-
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
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
ture but for his author's cadence: often the beautiful
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
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
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
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
that his old lamp has been exchanged for a new
glittering indeed to the eye, but scarcely of the
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
are connected with my father's devoted studies,
which, from his own point of
view, have done so
much towards the general investigation of
writings. Thus, in those early days, all around me
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
from this the reader may place more confidence in a
carelessly undertaken, though produced in
the spare-time of other pursuits
more closely followed.
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
deration and revision; and that on the score of care,
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
outstripped and the ensigns which are grown strange.
The feeling of
self-doubt inseparable from such an
attempt has been admirably expressed by
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!....”
Robert 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.
- I. Poeti del primo secolo della Lingua
liana. 2 vol. (Firenze.
- II. Raccolta di Rime antiche
Toscane. 4 vol.
- III. Manuale della Letteratura del primo
del Prof. V. Nannucci. 3 vol.
- IV. Poesie Italiane inedite di dugento
raccolte da Francesco Trucchi. 4 vol.
- V. Opere Minori di Dante. Edizione
di P. I.
Fraticelli. (Firenze. 1843,
- VI. Rime di Guido Cavalcanti;
raccolte da A.
- VII. Vita e Poesie di Messer Cino da
Edizione di S. Ciampi. (Pisa.
- VIII. Documenti d'Amore; di
Barberino. Annotati da F.
- IX. Del Reggimento e dei Costumi delle
di Francesco da Barberino.
- 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
PART II. DANTE AND HIS CIRCLE.
Introduction to Part II. . . . . . . . . .
Sonnet (to Dante Alighieri).
Dante's Dream, related in the first Sonnet of the
Vita Nuova . . . . . . . . . . . 328
To his Lady Joan, of
. . . . 329
He compares all things
with his Lady, and
finds them wanting . . . . . . . . . 330
A Rapture concerning his
. . . 331
Of his Lady among other
. . . 332
Sonnet (to Guido Orlandi).
Image resembling his Lady . . . . . . .
Of the Eyes of a certain
Mandetta, of Thou-
louse, which resemble those of his Lady Joan of
Florence . . . . . . . . . . . . . 336
He reveals, in a
Dialogue, his increasing
love for Mandetta . . . . . . . . . .
Sonnet (to Dante Alighieri).
foregoing Sonnet (by Dante), speaking with
shame of his changed Love . . . . . . .
Sonnet (to Dante Alighieri).
reports, in a
feigned Vision, the successful issue of Lapo
Gianni's Love . . . . . . . . . . . 342
Sonnet (to Dante Alighieri).
love of Lapo Gianni . . . . . . . . . .
On the Detection of a
. . 344
He speaks of a third
Love of his
. . . 345
Of a continual Death in
. . . . 346
To a Friend who does not
pity his Love
He perceives that his
highest Love is gone
from him . . . . . . . . . . . . . 348
Of his Pain from a new
. . . . 350
Sonnet (to Bernardo da Bologna).
Bernardo, commending Pinella, and saying
that the Love he can offer her is already shared by
many noble Ladies . . . . . . . . . .
Sonnet (to Guido Orlandi).
Praise of Guido
Orlandi's Lady . . . . . . . . . . . 356
Sonnet (to Dante Alighieri).
for his way of Life after the Death of
. . . . 359
Of an ill-favoured
. . . . . . 361
To a newly-enriched Man;
of the wants of the Poor . . . . . . . .
Sonnet (to Pope Boniface VIII).
Pope's Interdict, when the Great Houses were
leaving Florence . . . . . . . . . . 363
In Exile at
. . . . . . . 364
A Song of Fortune
. . . . . . . 366
A Song against
. . . . . 370
He laments the
Presumption and Incon-
tinence of his Youth . . . . . . . . .
A Dispute with
. . . . . . 377
CIULLO D'ALCAMO, 1172-78.
II. Folcachiero de' Folcachieri, Knight of
Ciullo is a popular form of the name Vin-
cenzo, and Alcamo
an Arab fortress some miles
from Palermo. The Dialogue which is
known production of this poet holds here the
generally accorded to it as the earliest Italian
(exclusive of one or two dubious inscriptions)
has been preserved to our day. Arguments
sometimes been brought to prove that it must be
signed to a later date than the poem by
which follows it in this volume; thus ascribing
first honours of Italian poetry to Tuscany, and not
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
between 1172 and 1178,—chiefly from the
the fame of Saladin, to whom this poet alludes,
most in men's mouths during that interval. At
sight, any casual reader of the original would
pose that this poem must be unquestionably the
of all, as its language is far the most un-
difficult; but much of this might, of course,
be dependent on the inferior dialect of Sicily,
however in this instance (as far as I can judge)
III. Lodovico della Vernaccia, 1200.
The above date has been assigned with probabi-
Folcachiero's Canzone, on account of its first
line where the
whole world is said to be “living
war;” an assertion which seems to refer
production to the period of the celebrated peace
Venice between Frederick Barbarossa
and Pope Alexander III.
IV. Saint Francis of Assisi; born, 1182,
V. Frederick II., Emperor; born, 1194,
His baptismal name was Giovanni, and his father
Bernardone Moriconi, whose mercantile pur-
suits he shared till
the age of twenty-five; after
which his life underwent the
which resulted in his canonization, by
three years after his death, and in the formation
the Religious Order called Franciscans.
VI. Enzo, King of Sardinia; born, 1225,
The life of Frederick II., and his excommunica-
deposition from the Empire by Innocent
IV., to whom, however, he
did not succumb, are
matters of history which need no
tellectually, he was in all ways a highly-gifted
accomplished prince; and lovingly cultivated the
language, in preference to the many others
with which he was familiar. The poem of his which
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
in bondage by the Pope.
VII. Guido Guinicelli, 1220.
The unfortunate Enzo was a natural son of Fre-
and was born at Palermo. By his own
warlike enterprise, at an
early age (it is said at
fifteen!) he subjugated the Island of
was made King of it by his father. Afterwards
joined Frederick in his war against the Church,
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.
died in prison at Bologna, after a confinement of
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
VIII. Guerzo di Montecanti, 1220.
This poet, certainly the greatest of his time, be-
to a noble and even princely Bolognese family.
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
two years afterwards. The highest praise has
bestowed by Dante on Guinicelli, in the
(Purg. C. xxvi.) in the
Convito, and in the
Vulgari Eloquio; and many instances might be
cited in which the works of
the great Florentine
contain reminiscences of his Bolognese
especially the third canzone of Dante's
be compared with Guido's most famous one
IX. Inghilfredi, Siciliano, 1220.
X. Rinaldo d'Aquino, 1250.
XI. Jacopo da Lentino, 1250.
I have placed this poet, belonging to a Neapoli-
family, under the date usually assigned to him;
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
- “Lo Imperadore con pace
- Tutto il mondo mantene.”
If so, the mistake would be easily accounted for, as
seem to have been various members of the
family named Rinaldo,
at different dates.
XII. Mazzeo di Ricco, da Messina, 1250.
This Sicilian poet is generally called “the
tary of Lentino.” The low estimate expressed of
as well as of Bonaggiunta and Guittone, by
(Purg. C. xxiv.), must be understood as referring in
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
. However, Dante also
attributes his own superiority to the
fact of his writing
only when love (or natural impulse) really prompted
him,—the highest certainly of all laws relating
- “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
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
and feeling. There is a peculiar charm in the
net which stands first among my specimens.
XIII. Pannuccio dal Bagno, Pisano,
XIV. Giacomino Pugliesi, Knight of Prato,
XV. Fra Guittone d'Arezzo, 1250.
Of this poet there seems nothing to be learnt;
deserves special notice as possessing rather
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.
XVI. Bartolomeo di Sant' Angelo, 1250.
Guittone was not a monk, but derived the prefix
name from the fact of his belonging to the
military order of
denti. He seems to have enjoyed a greater
reputation than almost any writer of his day;
certainly his poems, of which many have been
cannot be said to possess merit of a pro-
minent kind; and Dante
shows by various allusions
that he considered them much over-rated. The sonnet
given is somewhat remarkable, from Petrarch's
transplanted its last line into his
III). Guittone is the author of
series of Italian letters to various eminent
which are the earliest known epistolary writings
XVII. Saladino da Pavia, 1250.
XVIII. Bonaggiunta Urbiciani, da
XIX. Meo Abbracciavacca, da
XX. Ubaldo di Marco, 1250.
XXI. Simbuono Giudice, 1250.
XXII. Masolino da Todi, 1250.
XXIII. Onesto di Boncima,
XXIV. Terino da Castel Fiorentino, 1250.
Onesto was a doctor of laws, and an early friend
da Pistoia. He was living as late as 1301,
though his career as
a poet may be fixed somewhat
XXV. Maestro Migliore, da
XXVI. Dello da Signa, 1250.
XXVII. Folgore da San Geminiano, 1260.
XXVIII. Guido delle Colonne, 1250.
XXIX. Pier Moronelli, di Fiorenza, 1250.
This Sicilian poet has few equals among his
temporaries, and is ranked high by Dante in
. He visited England
and wrote in Latin a
Historia de regibus et rebus
Angliæ, as well as a
Historia destructionis Trojæ.
XXX. Ciuncio Fiorentino, 1250.
XXXI. Ruggieri di Amici, Siciliano,
XXXII. Carnino Ghiberti, da
XXXIII. Prinzivalle Doria, 1250.
XXXIV. Rustico di Filippo; born about
Prinzivalle commenced by writing Italian poetry,
afterwards composed verses entirely in Provençal,
the love of Beatrice, Countess of Provence. He
wrote also, in
Provençal prose, a treatise “On the
of Love,” and another “On the
Charles, King of Naples, against the
Manfredi.” He held various high offices, and died
Naples in 1276.
1200, died, 1270.
XXXV. Pucciarello di Fiorenza, 1260.
The writings of this Tuscan poet (called also
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
he, though a Ghibelline, received the dedication of
Tesoretto from the Guelf Brunetto Latini, who
there pays him
unqualified homage for surpassing
worth in peace and war. It is strange that more
be known regarding this doubtless re-
markable man. His
compositions have sometimes
much humour, and on the whole convey
pression of an active and energetic nature.
over, Trucchi pronounces some of them to be as pure
language as the poems of Dante or Guido Caval-
written thirty or forty years earlier.
XXXVI. Albertuccio della Viola, 1260.
XXXVII. Tommaso Buzzuola, da
XXXVIII. Noffo Bonaguida, 1280.
XXXIX. Lippo Paschi de' Bardi, 1280.
XL. Ser Pace, Notaio da Fiorenza,
XLI. Niccolò degli Albizzi,
XLII. Francesco da Barberino;
The noble Florentine family of Albizzi produced
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
gave rise to it.
1264, died, 1348.
XLIII. Fazio Degli Uberti, 1326-60.
With the exception of Brunetto Latini, (whose
neither very poetical nor well adapted for
da Barberino shows by far the
most sustained productiveness
among the poets who
preceded Dante, or were contemporaries of
Though born only one year in advance of Dante,
seems to have undertaken, if not com-
pleted, his two long
poetic treatises, some years be-
fore the commencement of the
This poet was born at Barberino di Valdelsa, of a
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
the same purpose, and became one of the
distinguished disciples of Brunetto Latini, who
bably had more influence than any other one man
forming the youth of his time to the great things
accomplished. After this he travelled in France
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
and discharged them honourably. He was
married, the name of his second wife being Barna
Tano, and had several children. At the age of
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
Del Reggimento e dei Costumi delle Donne,
“Of the Government and Conduct of
They may be described, in the main, as
good breeding, or social chivalry, the one for
and the other for women. Mixed with
tediousness, and not seldom with artless
they contain much simple wisdom, much curious
cord of manners, and (as my specimens show) occa-
Note: In line 11, the word "anecdotes" is misspelled.
sional poetic sweetness or power, though these last
from being their most prominent merits.
treatise, however, has much more
of such qualities than the
second; and contains,
moreover, passages of homely humour which
by their truth as if written yesterday. At the
time, the second book is quite as well worth
for the sake of its authoritative minuteness in
ters which ladies, now-a-days, would probably
sider their own undisputed region; and also for
quaint gravity of certain surprising prose ancedotes
real life, with which it is interspersed. Both
remained long unprinted, the first edi-
tion of the
Documenti d'Amore being that edited
by Ubaldini in 1640, at which time he
to be only possessed by his
“in name and in desire.” This treatise
afterwards brought to light, but never printed
1815. I should not forget to state that
attained some knowledge of drawing, and
Ubaldini had seen his original MS. of the
menti, containing, as he says, skilful miniatures by
Barberino never appears to have taken a very
in politics, but he inclined to the Imperial
party. This contributes with other
things to render it rather
singular that we find no
poetic correspondence or apparent
any kind between him and his many great
contemporaries of his long life, and with whom
had more than one bond of sympathy. His career
from Dante, Guido Cavalcanti, and Cino
da Pistoia, to Petrarca
and Boccaccio; yet only in
one respectful but not enthusiastic
notice of him by
the last-named writer (
), do we
ever meet with an allusion to him by any of
greatest men of his time. Nor in his own writings,
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,
very easy to tackle in the mass, would afford
excellent field for selection and summary.
XLIV. Franco Sacchetti; born, 1335, died
The dates of this poet's birth and death are
ascertainable, but I have set against his name two
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
was ever afterwards specially excluded by name
the various amnesties offered from time to time to
exiled Florentines. His grandfather was Farinata
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), 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
nese lady named Angiola, and was afterwards
but whether to her or not is again among
Certain it is that he had a son
named Leopardo, who, after his
father's death at
Verona, settled in Venice, where his
maintained an honourable rank for the space of two
succeeding centuries. Though Fazio appears to have
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
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
tributed to Dante, so that it is to be found in
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,
(as Monti was the first to point out) is more
ticularizing than accords with the practice of
while, though certainly more perfect than any
poem by Fazio, its manner is quite his;
especially a strong resemblance throughout in
ture to one canzone, where he speaks of his love
minute reference to the seasons of the year.
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
would deserve to receive his prize at the hands of
peerless Queen of Beauty, for never was beauty
described. I believe we may decide that
the triumph belongs by
right to Fazio.
An exile by inheritance, Fazio seems to have
restless tastes; and in the latter years of
his life (which was
prolonged to old age), he tra-
velled over a great part of Europe, and composed
Il Dittamondo,—“The Song
of the World,”
or, more exactly, “Words of the
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
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
he did for the other. At Fazio's death it
unfinished, but I should think by very little;
plan of the work seeming in the main accomplished.
whole earth (or rather all that was then known
of it) is
traversed,—its surface and its
ing with the Holy Land, and thus
world as near as may be to God's; that is, to
point at which Dante's office begins. No
could well be nobler, or worthier even now of
dealt with by a great master. To the work of such
man, Fazio's work might afford such first materials
have usually been furnished beforehand to the
poets by some unconscious steward.
shortly after 1400.
XLV. Anonymous Poems.
This excellent writer is the only member of my
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
tion was irresistible, but also because he is the
Italian poet with whom playfulness is the chief
characteristic; for even with Boccaccio, in his
this is hardly the case. However, Franco
wrote poems also on political subjects; and had
belonged more strictly to the period of which I
there is no one who would better have
abundant selection. Besides his poetry, he is
author of a well-known series of three hundred
and Trucchi gives a list of prose works by
him which are still
in MS., and whose subjects are
natural-historical, and even
theological. He was a prolific
writer, and one who
well merits complete and careful
pieces which I have translated, like many
his, are written for music.
Franco Sacchetti was a Florentine noble by birth,
the son of Benci di Uguccione Sacchetti.
Between this family and
the Alighieri there had
long standing (spoken of here in
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.
years passed in study, Franco devoted himself
commerce, like many nobles of the republic, and for
purpose spent some time in Sclavonia, whose
influences he has recorded in an amusing
poem. As his literary
fame increased, he was
called to many important offices, was one
Priori in 1383, and for some time was deputed to
government of Faenza, in the absence of its
Manfredi. He was three times mar-
ried; to Felice degli Strozzi,
to Ghita Gherardini,
and to Nannina di Santi Bruni.
- 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.
- 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,
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- God grant that I may die before
- Any such end do come,—
- Before the sight of a chaste maid
60 Seem to be troublesome!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If thou unto the cloister fly,
- Thou cruel lady and cold,
- Unto the cloister I will come
- And by the cloister hold;
- 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?
- 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!
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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?
- 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
- 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,
- Saying, “Even for the love of us,
- Love thou this worthless
- Thou shouldst not have the thing that thou dost hope.
160No, verily; not for the realm o' the Pope.
- 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!
- 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.
- Thou sayest truly, saying that
- I have not any friend:
- A landless stranger, lady mine,
180 None but his sword defend.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- For Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
- Three times I cross myself.
- Thou art no godless heretic,
- Nor Jew, whose God's his pelf:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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,
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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,
- 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.
- Think a brief while on the most marvellous
- 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.
- 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 ):
* This speech occurs in a long poem on Divine Love,
ecstatic, half scholastic, and hardly appreciable now.
passage stands well by itself, and is the only one
- 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.
- 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.
- “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?’
- “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.
- 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
- 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
- For surely sorrow might be bred from this
- Where some man's patient love abides its growth.
- Within the gentle heart Love shelters him,
- As birds within the green shade of the
- 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.
next-to-last line ("And Love hath...") and last line ("Within
the middle...") of the first 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.
- In gentle heart Love for like reason is
- For which the lamp's high flame is fann'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
- 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
- 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
- (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.”
- 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
- No man could think base thoughts who
- on her.
- I hold him, verily, of mean emprise,
- Whose rashness tempts a strength too great
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Perchance, for whom I speak not in this
- Strive what ye can; and if ye cannot all,
- Yet should not your hearts fall:
30 The fruit commends the flower in God's
- (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
- 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
- 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.
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
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Therefore have knowledge of me from this
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
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!
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
- 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;
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Transcribed Footnote (page 49):
* Madonna mia.
- 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.
- 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.
Her face has made my life most proud and
- 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.
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!)
- 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!
- 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.
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
- And all the more, thy scorn being never less.
- Yet is this comfort heard,—
- That underneath the water fire doth brood,
- 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,
- 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.
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.”
- 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,
- 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.
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,
him, yet know'st not what
I think of
- 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
- 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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
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.”
- But when I turn'd about
- Saying, “God keep you
- 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.
To see the re-yerduring
- To stream-side, garden, and meadow,—
- To hear the birds answering,
- (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.
- 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.
Death, why hast thou made life so hard to
- 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,
- 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
- Her eyes, her mouth, and the dear way she
- Her courteous bending—her most noble
- 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.
- 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.
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
- 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.
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
- No thief will ever steal thereof, God wot.
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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
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
- 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
- And if in truth, against my will constrain'd,
- To turn my steps essay'd,
- 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.
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.
- 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 Footnote (page 80):
* The lady was probably called Diamante, Margherita, or
Note: The indentation of line 15 has errantly slid to the right.
- 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,
- 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.
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.
Whoso abandons peace for war-seeking,
- 'Tis of all reason he should bear the
- 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.
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
- 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,
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
- 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,
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
20 Within my heart—(oh hurt no skill can
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- But rather makes my grief the bitterer:
10 For I have neither ford nor bridge—no
- 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.
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
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.
Because ye made your backs your shields, it
- 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
- 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 ):
* See what is said in allusion to his government of
Parad. C. viii.)
Were ye but constant, Guelfs, in war or
- 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
- 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
leader Uguccione della Faggiola against the
- 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.
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 (
and encouraged by our Folgore, is the
same to which, and to
some of its members by name,
scornful allusion is made by
Inferno, C. xxix. l. 130), where he speaks
hair-brained character of the Sienese. Mr.
Cayley, in his
valuable notes on Dante, says of it:
“A dozen extravagant
Siena had put together by equal
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
they would feast at one, wash their hands
another, and throw the last out of
There exists a second curious series of sonnets for
months, addressed also to this club, by Cene della
d'Arezzo. Here, however, all sorts of disasters
- Hart-hounds, hare-hounds, and
- even so;
- And o'er that realm, a crown for Niccolo,
- 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 Pan,
- Courteous and valiant more than
- To each, God speed! How worthy every man
- To hold high tournament in Camelot.
Transcribed Footnote (page 103):
forts, in the same pursuits of which Folgore treats,
imagined for the prodigals; each sonnet, too, being
with the same terminations in its rhymes as the
one among his. They would seem to have been
after the ruin of the club, as a satirical prophecy
of the year
to succeed the golden one. The two series follow
another in the Florentine collection of 1816; but the
though sometimes laughable, not having the poetical
if the first, I have not translated it.
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 coverings;
- 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
- 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.
- In February I give you gallant sport
- Of harts and hinds and great wild boars; and
- 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
- 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
- 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
I give you meadow-lands in April, fair
- With over-growth of beautiful green grass;
- There among fountains the glad hours shall
- And pleasant ladies bring you solace there.
- With steeds of Spain and ambling palfreys rare;
- Provençal songs and dances that
- And quaint French mummings; and
- 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.
I give you horses for your games in May,
- And all of them well train'd unto the
- 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.
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
- 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.
For Jùly, in Siena, by the
- 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
- 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
- And keep your tables set in fresh array,
- Not coaxing spleen to be your seneschal.
- 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
- There all through noon ye may possess the shade,
- And there your open purses shall entreat
- The best of Tuscan cheer to feed your
And in September, O what keen delight!
- Falcons and astors, merlins, sparrowhawks;
- Decoy-birds that shall lure your game in
- And hounds with bells; and gauntlets stout and
- 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
- And avarice be the only outcast thing.
Next, for October, to some shelter'd coign
- Flouting the winds, I'll hope to find you
- Though in bird-shooting (lest all sport be
- 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
- 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
- Sounder and snugger you shall feel at home
- Than lake-fish, river-fish, or fish at sea,
- Inheriting the cream of Christian life.
- 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
- 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
- For hares and kids, for roast and boil'd, be
- You always have your appetites at hand;
- And then let night howl and heaven fall, so
- Be miss'd that makes a man's
Last, for December, houses on the plain,
- Ground-floors to live in, logs heap'd
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- To Caian, held so dear in the blithe band.
- “Folgore da San Geminiano” (say,)
- “Has sent me, charging me to travel
- Because his heart went with you in your
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
- 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
Transcribed Footnote (page 117):
* That is, according to early Tuscan nomenclature; Carlo,
the son of Messer Guerra Cavicciuoli.
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
- 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.
- To a new world on Tuesday shifts my song,
- Where beat of drum is heard, and
- 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
- Shall see their foes and make their foes to
- 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
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.
For Thursday be the tournament prepared,
- And gentlemen in lordly jousts compete:
- First man with man, together let them
- 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
- 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.
Let Friday be your highest hunting-tide,
- —No hound nor brach nor
- Through a low wood, by many miles of dens,
- All covert, where the cunning beasts abide:
- Which now driven forth, at first you scatter
- Then close on them, and rip out blood and
- Till all your huntsmens' horns wind at the
- 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
- What! hither, Beauty, Dian, Dragon, what!
- I think we held a royal hunt to-day.
I've jolliest merriment for
- 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
- 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
- Skin, lop, and truss: hang pots on every hook:
- And we must have fine wine and white bread
- Because this time we mean to feast: so look
- We do not think your kitchens lost on
- And on the morrow, at first peep o' the day
- Which follows, and which men as Sunday
- 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
- In your fine temper may discern such charms
- As shall from day to day be magnified.
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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:
- 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
- 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.
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.
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,
- 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.
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
- 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.
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?—
- 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?
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
- Thee whom I have not, yet who dost sustain
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
- 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?
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
- Who is more fair than gems are, ye may say,
20 Having that fairness which holds hearts in
- 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
- 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?
When God had finish'd Master Messerin,
- He really thought it something to have
- 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.
- Master Bertuccio, you are call'd to account
- That you guard Fazio's life from poison
- 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
- 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.
Transcribed Footnote (page 141):
* I have not been able to trace the Fazio to whom this
- 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.
Transcribed Footnote (page 142):
* The character here drawn certainly suggests Count
Gherardeschi, though it would seem that Rustico
twenty years before the tragedy of the Tower of
Pass and let pass,—this counsel I would
- And wrap thy cloak what way the wind may
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Unless her love be my sweet medicine;
- Whereof I am in doubt, alas for woe!
- Fearing therein but such a little chance.
- She was apparell'd in a Syrian cloth,
- My lady:—oh! but she did grace the
- 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.
Even as the moon amid the stars doth shed
- Her lovelier splendour of exceeding
- 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.
- 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
- Even as she loves thee in her wedded thought;
- But honour her in thy heart delicately:
- For this is the most blessed joy on
Wert thou as prone to yield unto my prayer
- The thing, sweet virgin, which I ask of
- As to repeat, with all humility,
- “Pray you go hence, and of your speech
- 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
- Till tenderly the beautiful soft mouth
- I kiss by thy good leave; thenceforth to call
- Blessing and triumph Love's extremest ban.
- A fresh content of fresh enamouring
- Yields me afresh, at length, the sense of
- 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.
If you could see, fair brother, how dead beat
- The fellows look who come through Rome to-
- Black yellow smoke-dried visages,—you'd
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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 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.
Transcribed Footnote (page 152):
* Extracted from his long treatise, in unrhymed verse and
prose, “Of the Government and Conduct
Del Reggimento e dei Costumi
- There is a vice which oft
- I've heard men praise; and divers forms it
- And it is this. Whereas
- Some, by their wisdom, lordship, or repute,
- When tumults are afoot,
- Might stifle them, or at the least
- These certain ones will say,
- “The wise man bids thee fly the noise of
- One says, “Wouldst thou maintain
10 Worship,—avoid where thou may'st not
- 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
- Or yield a slight defence.”
- A third says this, “I could but offer
Transcribed Footnote (page 153):
* This and the three following pieces are extracted from
Documenti d' Amore).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Whate'er is said—some ill speech lies
- 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!”
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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,
- Let some slight cause be plann'd,
- And seem to go,—so you shall learn
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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
- “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.”
- I look at the amorous beautiful mouth,
- The spacious forehead which her locks enclose,
20 The small white teeth, the straight and
- And the clear brows of a sweet pencilling.
- And then the thought within me gains full growth,
- Saying, “Be careful that thy glance now
- 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,
- 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
- And kiss it till the mark were left
- Then, urgently: “The eyelids of thy
- Open thou: if such loveliness be given
- To sight here,—what of that which she
- 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
- At the long fingers, clasp'd and woven through,
- Bright with the ring which one of them
- 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.
- “Open thy soul to see God's perfect
- (My thought begins afresh,) “and look
- 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?
- 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,
original of which is not perhaps surpassed by any poem
class in existence) to endanger the English reader's
for Fazio by these extracts from the
Dittamondo, or “Song
of the World,” in
which he will find his own country endowed
astounding properties. However, there are a few
characteristic sentences, and the rest is no more
than other travellers' tales of that day; while the
table of our
Norman line of kings is not without some
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.
- 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):
I felt half disposed to include these, but was afraid of
loading with such matter a selection made chiefly for the
of poetic beauty. I should mention that the
Dante's great poem, is written in
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
Transcribed Footnote (page 167):
* The word is
Gagata, which I find described in Alberti's
“A black, solid, hard, and shining bitumen,
within the earth, and called also black amber.”
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Transcribed Footnote (page 168):
* Mediæval Britons would seem really to have
credited with this slight peculiarity. At the siege
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
now these faint-hearted English
with the tails!” To which
the Englishman replied,
“You will need stout hearts to keep
tails when the assault is made.”
Transcribed Footnote (page 168):
† This is the Barnacle-tree, often described in old
travels and natural history, and which Sir Thomas
classes gravely among his “Vulgar
- 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
I have substituted Land's End and Stonehenge, being
to identify them. What follows relates to the
the Round Table. The only allusion here which I
trace to the
is one where “Rech” and
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
. Why Fazio should have
see” Merlin's stone “for another's
inscrutable; unless indeed the words
a mere idiom, and Merlin
himself is the person meant.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
Transcribed Footnote (page 174):
* This may either refer to some special incident or merely
generally that he would not suffer lying even in a
- “Ye graceful
peasant-girls and mountain-
- Whence come ye homeward through these evening
- “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
- “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!
- “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
- And I would be for ever where they were.
- “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
- “You think so, dear, no doubt:
- Are you in a decline?”
- “Keep your temper, and I'll keep
- “Come, girls,” (“O thank you,
- “We'll go home when you
- 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
- 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.
- As I walk'd thinking through a little grove,
- Some girls that gather'd flowers kept passing
- Saying, “Look here! look there!”
- “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
10“Come run, come run,
- Here's bluebells!” “Oh what
- “Not that way! Stop her!”
- “Yes, this way!” “Pluck them,
- “Oh, I've found mushrooms! Oh look
- Quite sure that further on we'll get wild
- “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
- “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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
I. DANTE ALIGHIERI.
II. GUIDO CAVALCANTI.
III. CINO DA PISTOIA.
IV. DANTE DA MAIANO.
V. CECCO ANGIOLIERI.
VI. GUIDO ORLANDI.
VII. BERNARDO DA BOLOGNA.
VIII. GIANNI ALFANI.
IX. DINO COMPAGNI.
X. LAPO GIANNI.
XI. DINO FRESCOBALDI.
XII. GIOTTO DI BONDONE.
XIII. SIMONE DALL' ANTELLA.
XIV. GIOVANNI QUIRINO.
In the second division of this volume are
all the poems I could find which seemed to have
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
will perceive how much which is in fact elucidation
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
but have printed and reprinted them in a jumbled
disheartening form, by which they can serve little
purpose except as
testi di lingua—dead stock by
whose help the makers of dictionaries may
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
(or Autobiography of Dante's
youth till about his twenty-seventh
year) is already
well known to many in the original, or by means
essays and of English versions partial or entire;
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
much more of it here than it says for itself. Wedded
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
vita nuova.”* Thus then young Dante
that seemed possible to be done here for the
was to translate it in as free and clear a form as
consistent with fidelity to its meaning; to ease it, 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
to speak) as might be afforded by the writings of those
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
written, but to the various other members of his
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
. Moreover, it is only from the perusal of
its earliest and then
that we can divine the whole bitterness of
to such a soul as Dante's, its poignant sense of
or its deep and jealous refuge in
memory. Above all, it is here that we
find the first
manifestations of that wisdom of obedience,
natural breath of duty, which afterwards, in the
Transcribed Footnote (page 190):
* Purgatorio, C. xxx.
Commedia, lifted up a mighty voice for warning and
the Vita Nuova there is a
strain like the first falling murmur which
the ear in some remote meadow, and prepares us to
Boccaccio, in his Life of Dante, tells us that the
great poet, in later life, was ashamed of
of his youth. Such a statement hardly seems
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
to each of whom the figure of Beatrice, less lifelike
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
sensitiveness evinced by this narrative of his love,
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
period to which it relates. In the year 1289, the
the death of Beatrice, Dante served
with the foremost cavalry in the
great battle of
Campaldino, on the eleventh of June, when
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
.) that he served in the war
by Florence upon Pisa, and was present
at the surrender of Caprona. He
says, using the
reminiscence to give life to a description, in
- “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.”
A word should be said here of the title of Dante's
New, is often used by Dante
early writers in the sense of
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
thing is a gain which increases clearness to the
reader; but on consideration I think the more
interpretation of the words, as
New Life, (in
to that revulsion of his being which Dante so
describes as having occurred simultaneously with
sight of Beatrice,) appears the primary one,
and therefore the most
necessary to be given in a
probability may be that both were
meant, but this I cannot
Transcribed Footnote (page 192):
* I must hazard here (to relieve the first page of my
from a long note) a suggestion as to the meaning
of the most
puzzling passage in the whole
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
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
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,
1250, and thus Dante's senior by some
fifteen years. It is therefore
probable that there is
some inaccuracy about the statement, often
that he was Dante's fellow-pupil under Brunetto
though it seems certain that they both
studied, probably Guido before
Dante, with the same
teacher. The Cavalcanti family was among the
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
of “Guido the son of Messer Cavalcante de'
canti” appears as one of the sureties offered by
city, for the quarter of San Piero Scheraggio. His
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
Transcribed Footnote (page 193):
this passage with the close of the
Vita Nuova, beginning, “I felt a spirit of Love begin to
in the last line of which sonnet Love is made to
assert that the
name of Beatrice is
Dante appears to have dwelt
on this fancy with some pleasure,
from what is said in an
about “Love in his proper form”
which Beatrice seems to be meant) bending over a dead
And it is in connection with the sonnet where the name
Beatrice is said to be Love, that Dante, as if to show us
the Love he speaks of is only his own emotion, enters into
argument as to Love being merely an accident in
in other words, “Amore e il cor gentil son una
conjecture may be pronounced
extravagant; but the Vita
Nuova, when examined, proves so full of intricate and
analogies, even in the mere arrangement of its parts,
more than appears on any but the closest scrutiny,) that
seems admissible to suggest even a whimsical solution of
difficulty which remains unconquered.
unbelievers. That Guido
shared this heresy was the
popular belief, as is plain from an anecdote
Boccaccio which I shall give; and some corroboration
reports, at any rate as applied to Guido's
youth, seems capable of being
gathered from an
which I have translated on
that account (at page 373) as clearly as I
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
against such a charge the fact that Dino Compagni
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
which would impress others always strongly, but often
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
to prevail in much of his amorous poetry. The
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
current testimony, he was distinguished by great
beauty, high accomplishments of all kinds,
and daring nobility of soul.
Not unworthy, for all
the weakness of his strength, to have been the
of Dante's early emulation, the first friend of his
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
Ghibellines. With this view several alliances were
the leading families of the two fac-
tions; and among others, the Guelf
Cavalcanti wedded his son Guido to a daughter of
Ghibelline Farinata degli Uberti. The peace
was of short duration; the
utter expulsion of the
Ghibellines (through French intervention
by the Guelfs) following almost immediately. In
subdivision, which afterwards took place, of the
victorious Guelfs into
so-called “Blacks” and
“Whites,” Guido embraced the White party,
tended strongly to Ghibellinism, and whose chief was
Cerchi, while Corso Donati headed the
opposite faction. Whether his wife
was still living
at the time when the events of the Vita Nuova
curred, is probably not ascertainable; but about that
tells us that Guido was enamoured of a
or Joan, and whose Christian
name is absolutely all that
we know of her. How-
ever, on the occasion of his pilgrimage to
recorded by Dino Compagni, he seems to have con-
fresh passion for a lady of that city named
Mandetta, who first
attracted him by a striking re-
semblance to his Florentine mistress.
had become a place of pilgrimage from its laying
the possession of the body, or part of the
body, of Saint James the
Apostle; though the same
supposed distinction had already made the
Compostella in Gallicia one of the most famous
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
nicle. He says:—
“A young and noble knight named Guido, son of Messer
Cavalcanti,—full of courage and courtesy, but
solitary, and devoted to study,—was a foe to
(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
having returned to Florence and being made aware
Guido incited many youths against Messer Corso, and
promised to stand by him. Who being one day on
with certain of the house of the Cerchi, and having a
in his hand, spurred his horse against Messer Corso,
ing to be followed by the Cerchi that so their
might engage each other; and he running in on his
cast the javelin, which missed its aim. And with
Corso were Simon his son, a strong and daring youth,
Cecchino de' Bardi, who with many others pursued
with drawn swords; but not overtaking him they
stones after him, and also others were thrown at him
the windows, whereby he was wounded in the hand. And
this matter hate was increased. And Messer Corso
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;
Guido he called
.* And thus it was spread abroad
one named Scampolino
reported worse things than were said, that
so the Cerchi
might be provoked to engage the
Transcribed Footnote (page 196):
* A nickname chiefly chosen, no doubt, for its resemblance
Cavalcanti. The word
cavicchia, cavicchio, or
a wooden peg or pin. A passage in Boccaccio says,
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,
is, the Gate of San Pietro, near which he lived.)
it seems quite as likely that the nickname was founded on
popular phrase by which one who fails in any undertaking
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
Chronicle, or the
Pecorone of Giovanni
Fiorentino (Gior. xxiv. Nov. 2.)
The praise which Compagni, his contemporary,
awards to Guido at the
commencement of the fore-
going extract, receives additional value when
in connection with the
addressed to him by
the same writer (see page 355), where we find
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
on sending a legate to propose certain amendments
its scheme of government by
Priori or represen-
tatives of the various arts and companies.
proposals, however, were so ill received, that the
arrived in Florence in the month of
June, 1300, departed shortly
afterwards greatly in-
censed, leaving the city under a papal interdict.
the ill-considered tumults which ensued we again
hear of Guido
“It happened (says Giovanni Villani in his History of
Florence) that in the month of December (1300)
Corso Donati with his followers, and also those of the
of the Cerchi and their followers, going armed to the
of a lady of the Frescobaldi family, this party defying
by their looks would have assailed one another;
all those who were at the funeral having risen up
tuously and fled each to his house, the whole city
under arms, both factions assembling in great numbers,
their respective houses. Messer Gentile de' Cerchi,
Cavalcanti, Baldinuccio and Corso Adimari,
della Tosa and Naldo Gherardini, with their comrades
adherents on horse and on foot, hastened to St.
Gate to the house of the Donati. Not finding
there they went on to San Pier Maggiore, where
Corso was with his friends and followers; by whom
were encountered and put to flight, with many wounds
with much shame to the party of the Cerchi and to
By this time we may conjecture as probable that
Dante, in the arduous position which he then filled
as chief of the
on whom the government
of Florence devolved, had resigned for far
cares the sweet intercourse of thought and poetry
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
still have survived in Dante's mind when, at the close
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
ing a sentence of banishment on the heads of both
Black and White factions, Guido Cavalcanti
being included among the
latter. The Florentines
had been at last provoked almost to demand
course from their governors, by the discovery of a
at the head of which was Corso Donati,
(while among its leading members
was Simone de'
Bardi, once the husband of Beatrice Portinari),
the purpose of inducing the Pope to subject the re-
public to a
French peace-maker (
) and so
shamefully free it from its intestine broils. It
pears therefore that the immediate cause of the exile
both sides were subjected lay entirely with
the “Black” party, the
leaders of which were
banished to the Castello della Pieve in the wild
trict of Massa Trabœria, while those of the “White”
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
healthiness of the place, which made that
Cavalcanti returned with a sickness, whereof he
of him was a great loss; seeing that he
was a man, as in
philosophy, so in many things
deeply versed; but therewithal too
prone to take offence.” His death apparently
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
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
banishment of the factions.
Besides the various affectionate allusions to Guido
, Dante has unmistakeably re-
ferred to him in at least two
passages of the
. 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
where with high praise,) and implies at the same
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
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,
- 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.”
Dante, however, conveys his answer afterwards to the
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.’”
W. M. Rossetti.)†
Transcribed Footnote (page 200):
* Virgil, Dante's guide through Hell. Any prejudice
entertained against Virgil depended, no doubt,
only on his
strong desire to see the Latin language give place,
and literature, to a perfected Italian idiom.
Transcribed Footnote (page 200):
† These passages are extracted from a literal blank
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
rendering, more perhaps in the spirit of that day
than of this,
and accompanied by notes and other editorial
are among the clearest and most complete that
has ever received. Mr. Cayley's version, of much
date, seems to me to have now occupied (and that
much likelihood of its being superseded) the post which
the first in all such cases,—that of a fine English poem
ing a great foreign one in its own metre, with all
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
of his Vita Nuova had then both left him. For
years Beatrice Portinari had been dead, or (as Dante
says in the
) “lived in heaven with the
angels and on earth with his
soul.” And now, dis-
tant and probably estranged from him,
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,
that he was intent on a game at chess, Guido (who
described as “one who perhaps had not his equal
Florence”) was disturbed by a child playing
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
had the laugh against him when he rose soon after-
fulfil his threat. This may serve as an
amusing instance of Guido's
hasty temper, but
is rather a disappointment after its magniloquent
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
that of word-for-word literality, for which it
to be indispensable. I will venture to assert
that my brother's
work yields nothing to his, however, in minute
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
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
the claims of the new attempt. I may here also
my obligations to my brother for valuable
assistance in the course of my present work.
heading, which sets forth how “Guido Cavalcanti,
being a man
of great valour and a philosopher, is
defeated by the cunning of a
The ninth Tale of the sixth Day of the Decameron
relates a repartee of Guido's, which has all the pro-
platitude of mediæval wit. As the anecdote,
however, is interesting on
other grounds, I translate
“You must know that in past times there were in
city certain goodly and praiseworthy customs no one
which is now left, thanks to avarice which has so
with riches that it has driven them all away. Among
which was one whereby the gentlemen of the
were wont to assemble together in divers places
out Florence, and to limit their fellowships to a
number, having heed to compose them of such as
fitly discharge the expense. Of whom to-day one, and
morrow another, and so all in turn, laid tables each
his own day for all the fellowship. And in such
often they did honour to strangers of worship and also
citizens. They all dressed alike at least once in the
and the most notable among them rode together
the city; also at seasons they held passages of arms,
specially on the principal feast-days, or whenever
news of victory or other glad tidings had reached the
And among these fellowships was one headed by
Betto Brunelleschi, into the which Messer Betto and
companions had often intrigued to draw Guido di
Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti; and this not without
seeing that not only he was one of the best logicians
the world held, and a surpassing natural philosopher, (for
which things the fellowship cared little,) but also he
ceeded in beauty and courtesy, and was of great gifts as
speaker; and everything that it pleased him to do,
that best became a gentleman, he did better than
other; and was exceeding rich and knew well to
with honourable words whomsoever he deemed
But Messer Betto had never been able to succeed in
ing him; and he and his companions believed that
was through Guido's much pondering which divided
from other men. Also because he held somewhat of
opinion of the Epicureans, it was said among the vulgar
sort, that his speculations were only to cast about
he might find that there was no God. Now on a
day Guido having left Or San Michele, and held along
Corso degli Adimari as far as San Giovanni (which
times was his walk); and coming to the great
tombs which now are in the Church of Santa
but were then with many others in San Giovanni;
being between the porphyry columns which are there
those tombs, and the gate of San Giovanni which
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,
horses in the fashion of a pleasant assault, they
him almost before he was aware, and began to say to
‘Thou, Guido, wilt none of our fellowship; but lo
when thou shalt have found that there is no God,
wilt thou have done?’ To whom Guido, seeing
hemmed in among then, readily replied, ‘Gentlemen,
are at home here, and may say what ye please to
Wherewith, setting his hand on one of those high
being very light of his person, he took a leap and
over on the other side; and so having freed himself
them, went his way. And they all remained bewil-
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
witted if ye have not understood him. He has
in few words said to us the most uncivil thing in
world; for if ye look well to it, these tombs are the
of the dead, seeing that in them the dead are set to
and here he says that we are at home; giving us to
that we and all other simple unlettered men, in
of him and the learned, are even as dead men;
being here, we are at home.’ Thereupon each of
understood what Guido had meant, and was ashamed;
ever again did they set themselves to engage him.
Also from that
day forth they held Messer Betto to be a
In the above story mention is made of Guido
and there seems no doubt that
at that time the family was very rich and powerful.
On this account
I am disposed to question whether
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
he may have suffered for the time in purse as well
person. About three years after his death, on the
1304, the Black party plotted together
and set fire to the quarter of
Florence chiefly held
by their adversaries. In this conflagration
houses and possessions of the Cavalcanti were almost
destroyed; the flames in that neighbourhood
(as Dino Compagni records)
gaining rapidly in con-
sequence of the great number of waxen images
the Virgin's shrine at Or San Michele; one of which,
was the very image resembling his lady to
which Guido refers in a
(see page 333.)
After this, their enemies succeeded in finally
ling from Florence the Cavalcanti family,*
impoverished by this monstrous fire in which nearly
thousand houses were consumed.
Guido appears, by various evidence, to have written,
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
own than belongs to any of his predecessors; by far
Transcribed Footnote (page 204):
* With them were expelled the still more powerful Ghe-
also great sufferers by the conflagration; who, on
from their own country, became the founders of
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.
the best of his pieces being those which relate to him-
loves and hates. The best known, however,
and perhaps the one for whose
sake the rest have
been preserved, is the metaphysical canzone on
Nature of Love, beginning, “Donna mi priega,”
and intended, it is said, as an answer to a sonnet
Guido Orlandi, written as though coming from a lady,
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
learned men of the middle ages and
the earliest being that by Egidio Colonna, a beatified
who died in 1316; while most of the too
numerous Academic writers on
speak of this performance with great admiration
Guido's crowning work. A love-song which acts as
fly-catcher for priests and pedants looks very
accordingly, on examination, it proves
to be a poem beside the purpose
of poetry, filled with
metaphysical jargon, and perhaps the very worst
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
complete translation of it by the Rev. Charles T.
of Cambridge, United States.* The stiffness
cold conceits which prevail in this poem may be found
Transcribed Footnote (page 205):
* This translation occurs in the Appendix to an Essay on
Vita Nuova of Dante, including extracts, by my friend
E. Norton, of Cambridge, U.S.,—a work of high
appreciation which originally appeared by por-
disfiguring much of what Guido Cavalcanti has left,
besides is blunt, obscure, and abrupt:
nevertheless, if it need hardly
be said how far he falls
short of Dante in variety and personal
may be admitted that he worked worthily at his
and perhaps before him, in adding those qualities to
poetry. That Guido's poems dwelt in the
mind of Dante is evident by his
lines from them, (as well as from those of
with little alteration, more than once, in the
. 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
De Vulgari Eloquio
, again speaks of him-
self as the friend of a poet,—this time of
Pistoia. In an early passage of that work he
that “those who have most sweetly and subtly
poems in modern Italian are Cino da Pistoia and a
of his.” This friend we afterwards find to
Dante himself; as among the various poetical examples
several by Cino followed in three instances
by lines from Dante's own
lyrics, the author of the
latter being again described merely as
In immediate proximity to these, or coupled in
instances with examples from Dante alone, are
quotations taken from Guido Cavalcanti; but in none
these cases is anything said to connect Dante
with him who was once
“the first of his friends.”*
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
Transcribed Footnote (page 206):
* It is also noticeable that in this treatise Dante speaks
Guido Guinicelli on one occasion as
Guido Maximus, thus
As commonly between old and new, the change of
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
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
Messer Corso Donati. However, his one talent
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.
addressed to Dante on the
of Beatrice, as well as his
the first sonnet
of the Vita Nuova, indicate that the two poets
have become acquainted in youth, though there is no
mention of Cino in Dante's writings than
those which occur in his treatise on the
Tongue. To their younger days also we may pro-
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
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
doubtful whether the name Guittone, which (if not a nick-
as some say) is substantially the same as Guido, could
absolutely identified with it: at that rate Cino da
even might be classed as one Guido, his full name,
being the diminutive of Guittone. I believe it
that Guinicelli and Cavalcanti were then really
meant, and that
Dante afterwards either altered his opinion,
(conjecturably) have chosed to imply a change of
order to gratify Cino da Pistoia whom he so
distinguishes as his friend throughout the treatise,
between whom and Cavalcanti some jealousy appears to
existed, as we may gather from one of Cino's sonnets
page 393); nor is Guido mentioned
anywhere with praise
by Cino, as other poets are.
bably ascribe the two sonnets [
] translated at
319-20 of this volume. It might perhaps be infer-
some plausibility that their acquaintance
was revived after an
interruption by the
at pages 321-22, and that they
corresponded as friends till the period of Dante's
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
seems written before the
great poet's death,
but I should think that the
dated after that
event, as the
, to which it refers, cannot have
become fully known in its
author's lifetime. An-
other sonnet sent to Dante elicited a Latin
reply, where we find Cino addressed as “frater caris-
sime.” Among Cino's lyrical poems are a few more
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
to the study of law, and in 1307 was Assessor of
Causes in his native city. In this year, and
in Pistoia, the endless
contest of the “Black” and
“White” factions first sprang into activity;
“Blacks” and Guelfs of Florence and Lucca driving
“Whites” and Ghibellines, who had ruled
in the city since 1300. With
their accession to
power came many iniquitous laws in favour of
own party; so that Cino, as a lawyer of Ghibelline
soon found it necessary or advisable to
leave Pistoia, for it seems
uncertain whether his
removal was voluntary or by proscription. He
rected his course towards Lombardy, on whose con-
fines the chief of the “White” party in Pistoia,
Vergiolesi, still held the fortress of Pitecchio.
Hither Vergiolesi had
retreated with his family and
adherents when resistance in the city
longer possible; and it may be supposed that Cino
join him not on account of political sympathy
alone; as Selvaggia
Vergiolesi, his daughter, is the
lady celebrated throughout the poet's
Three years later, the Vergiolesi and their
finding Pitecchio untenable, fortified themselves on
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
price of eleven thousand
. Meanwhile the
air of the Sambuca had proved fatal to the lady
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
on his way to Rome. He had not been with
vaggia's family at the time of her death; and it is
that, on his return to the Sambuca, the
fortress was already
surrendered, and her grave
almost the only record left there of the
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.
went thither to be crowned in 1310. In another
the last blow was dealt to the hopes of
the exiled and persecuted
Ghibellines, by the death
of the Emperor, attributed sometimes to poison.
This death Cino has lamented in a Canzone. It pro-
him to abandon a cause which
seemed dead, and return, when possible, to
tive city. This he succeeded in doing before 1319,
that year we find him deputed together with
six other citizens, by the
Government of Pistoia, to
take possession of a stronghold recently
them. He had now been for some time married to
degli Ughi, of a very noble Pistoiese
family, who bore him a son named
Mino, and four
daughters, Diamante, Beatrice, Giovanna, and
barduccia. Indeed, this marriage must have taken
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
nelli obtained possession of Pistoia, which he held
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
and taught at the universities of Siena, Perugia,
Florence; having for his disciples men who after-
celebrated, among whom rumour has
placed Petrarch, though on examination
very doubtful. A sonnet by Petrarch exists, how-
commencing “Piangete donne e con voi pianga
Amore,” written as a lament on Cino's death and
highest praise on him. He and his
Selvaggia are also coupled with Dante
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,
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
Sinibuldi was a prosperous man, of whom we have
from the details of his examinations
as a student, to the inventory of
his effects after
death, and the curious items of his funeral
Of his claims as a poet it may be said that he
creditably the interval which elapsed between the
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
which hardly reads like the expression of a real
nevertheless there are some, and especially the son-
her tomb (at
), which display
and power. The finest, as well as the most interest-
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
Cino's poems than among Guido's which seemed to
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
mentary on the Statutes of Pistoia, said to have
and whose production in the short space
of two years was accounted an
Having now spoken of the chief poets of this
division, it remains
to notice the others of whom less
Dante da Maiano (Dante being, as with Ali-
the short of Durante, and Maiano in the
neighbourhood of Fiesole) had
attained some repu-
tation as a poet before the career of his great name-
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
answer sent by him to Dante Alighieri's dream-
). All the
early Italian poetry seem to agree in
specially censuring this poet's
rhymes as coarse and
trivial in manner; nevertheless, they are
distinguished by a careless force not to be despised,
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
phrase might be called their “scamp;”
and among our Danteans, this place
filled by Cecco Angiolieri, of Siena.
his sonnets (and no other pieces by him have
preserved) relate either to an unnatural hatred of his
or to an infatuated love for the daughter of a
shoemaker, a certain
married Becchina. It would
appear that Cecco was probably enamoured of
before her marriage as well as afterwards, and we
that his rancour against his father may
have been partly dependent, in
the first instance, on
the disagreements arising from such a
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-
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,
if the father had some care of his graceless son.
The story goes
on to relate how Cecco (whom Boc-
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
purely on account of the hatred which each of the
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
table, and afterwards managed by an adroit trick to
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
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
in conclusion that Cecco ultimately had his revenge
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
of self-sought poverty, unhappiness, and natural bent
ruin. Altogether they have too much curious
individuality to allow of
their being omitted here.
Their humour is sometimes strong, if not well
their passion always forcible from its evident reality:
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
have not included as having less personal interest; but
must be confessed that for the most part the sen-
timents expressed in
Cecco's poetry are either impious
Most of the sonnets of his which are
in print are here given;* the selections
with an extraordinary one in which he proposes a
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
writer the benefit of the possibility that it was written
and really expressed a still rather blood-thirsty
at best, I fear, to the content of
self-indulgence when he came to enjoy
inheritance. But most likely it is to be received
the expression of impudence alone, unless perhaps of
Cecco Angiolieri seems to have had poetical inter-
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
may have existed between them. That Cecco already
the time to which the
is evident from a date given in one of his
the 20th June, 1291, and from his sonnet
objections to the one at the close of Dante's
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
for Dante, who has remonstrated with him about
Transcribed Footnote (page 214):
* It may be mentioned (as proving how much of the poetry
this period still remains in MS.) that Ubaldini, in
Glossary to Barberino, published in 1640, cites as
cal examples no fewer than twenty-two short
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.
Becchina.* Much later, as we may judge, he
addresses Dante in an insulting tone, apparently
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
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
join a papal legate, but does not tell us whether
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
obscure) to have been then living at an abbey; and
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
seem to afford a glimpse of the phenomenal fact that
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
amende honorable then imposed on him, accom-
panied probably with more fleshly
It must be remarked, however, that if Guido Ca-
sonnet at page 362
, should happen really
have been addressed to Cecco, (a possibility there
Transcribed Footnote (page 215):
* Of this sonnet I have seen two printed versions, in both
which the text is so corrupt as to make them very
dictory in important points; but I believe that by
the two I have given its meaning correctly. (See
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
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
Though nothing indicates the time of Cecco An-
giolieri's death, I
will venture to surmise that he
outlived the writing and revision of
if only by the token that he is not found lodged in
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
the latter, in his verses, might attempt to establish
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)
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
Orlandi as its Bore. No other word could present
so fully. Very few pieces of his exist besides
the five I have given.
In one of these,† he rails
political adversaries; in three,‡ falls
of his brother poets; and in the remaining
Transcribed Footnote (page 216):
- * “Alma sdegnosa,
- Benedetta colei che in te s'incinse!”
, C. viii.)
Transcribed Footnote (page 216):
Transcribed Footnote (page 216):
Transcribed Footnote (page 216):
seems somewhat appeased (I think) by a judicious
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
of Love. He has another sonnet beginning,
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
which he himself had instigated. If so, this stamps
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
bably have dropped his acquaintance. We may be
him, however, for his
Cavalcanti (at page 351) which is boldly and vividly
Next follow three poets of whom I have given one
By Bernardo da Bologna
) no other is known to exist, nor
thing be learnt of his career. Gianni Alfani
a noble and distinguished Florentine, a much graver
would seem, than one could judge from this
sonnet of his (
), which belongs rather to
school of Sir Pandarus of Troy.
Dino Compagni, the chronicler of Florence,
represented here by a
addressed to Guido
Cavalcanti,† which is
all the more interesting, as
the same writer's historical work furnishes
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
(in so immaculate a censor) from unfitness for publication.
Transcribed Footnote (page 217):
† Crescimbeni (
Ist. d. Volg.
) 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
of the noblest citizens of Florence, was devoted to
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
as he was one of the
in that year, a post which
could not be held by a younger man. He
Florence in 1323. Dino has rather lately assumed
modern reader a much more important
position than he occupied before
among the early
Italian poets. I allude to the valuable discovery,
the Magliabecchian Library at Florence, of a poem
by him in
containing 309 stanzas. It is
entitled “L' Intelligenza,” and is of an allegorical
nature with romantic
I have placed Lapo Gianni in this second
on account of the
sonnet by Dante
(page 340) in
which he seems undoubtedly to be the Lapo re-
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
possible. Dante and Guido seem to have been in
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
1267, when the Ghibellines were expelled; the
Uberti family (as
I have mentioned elsewhere) being
the one of all others which was most
afar and excluded from every amnesty. The
information which I can find respecting Lapo Gianni
statement that he was a notary by profession.
I have also seen it
somewhere asserted (though where
Transcribed Footnote (page 218):
Documents inédits pour servir à l'histoire
A.F. Ozanam, (
where the poem
is printed entire.
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
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
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
by which restoration Dante was enabled to resume
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
of the bonders and bottlers of Dante, the dealers
foreign wind and words!* Meanwhile, beyond
great fact of Dino's life, which perhaps hardly occu-
day of it, there is no news to be gleaned of
Giotto falls by right into Dante's circle, as
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
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
and philological acumen which have been lavished
upon Dante: no
historical labours connected with him can
ever be deemed
that Dante visited Giotto while he was painting at
Padua; that the
great poet furnished the great
painter with the conceptions of a series
from the Apocalypse, which he painted at Naples;
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
Giotto's master Cimabue; and that he practised it
degree is evident from the passage in the
, 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
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
mask,—a face dead in exile after the death of
should front the first page of the Sacred Poem to
Heaven and earth had set their hands; but
which might never bring
him back to Florence,
though it had made him haggard for many
on the doctrine of
poverty,—the only poem we have of his,—is a pro-
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
upon it; and to the reaction against this madness
may also be
assigned (at any rate partly) Caval-
, which, as we have seen,
is otherwise not easily
explained, if authentic.
Giotto's canzone is all the more curious when we
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.
. C. xxv.)
member his noble fresco at Assisi, of Saint Francis
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
of the strong common sense and turn for humour
accounts attribute to Giotto.
I have next introduced, as not inappropriate to
the series of
poems connected with Dante, Simone
dall' Antella's fine
relating to the last
enterprises of Henry of Luxembourg, and to
then approaching end,—that death-blow to the
which Dante so deeply shared.
This one sonnet is all we know of its
Giovanni Quirino is another name which stands
of any personal history. Fraticelli (in his
well-known and valuable
) says that there lived about 1250 a bishop
of that name,
belonging to a Venetian family. But
the tone of the
which I give (and which is the
one attributed to this author) seems foreign at
least to the confessions
of bishops. It might seem
credibly thus ascribed, however, from the fact
Dante's sonnet probably dates from Ravenna, and
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
answer† to it enables me to wind up this
Transcribed Footnote (page 221):
* See Dante's reverential treatment of this subject, (
Transcribed Footnote (page 221):
† In the case of the above two sonnets, and of all
interchanged between two poets, I have thought it best to
series with the name of its great chief; and, indeed,
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
I am sorry to see that this necessary introduction
to my second
division is longer than I could have
wished. Among the severely-edited
had to be consulted in forming this collection, I
often suffered keenly from the buttonholders of
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,
through a few lines at the top of the page, only to
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,
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
with footnotes during the consideration of something
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
scure or deface it.
Transcribed Footnote (page 222):
place them together among the poems of one or the
correspondent, wherever they seemed to have most
cal value; and the same with several epistolary sonnets
have no answer.
Transcribed Footnote (page 222):
* The last line of the
In that part of the book of my memory
the which is little that can be read, there is
Incipit Vita Nova.* Under such
rubric I find written many things;
them the words which I purpose to copy into
little book; if not all of them, at the least
Nine times already since my birth had the
of light returned to the selfsame point almost,
concerns its own revolution, when first the glorious
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 ):
* “Here beginneth the new life.”
Transcribed Footnote (page ):
† In reference to the meaning of the name, “She who
blessing.” We learn from Boccaccio that this first
took place at a May Feast, given in the year 1274
Portinari, father of Beatrice, who ranked among
principal citizens of Florence: to which feast Dante
panied his father, Alighiero Alighieri.
this life for so long as that, within her time, the
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
year almost, and I saw her almost at the end of my
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
very tender age. At that moment, I say most
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
body shook therewith; and in trembling it said these
Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens domina-
.* 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
the eyes, said these words:
Apparuit jam beatitudo
.† At that moment the natural spirit, which
where our nourishment is adminis-
tered, began to weep, and in
weeping said these
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
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
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
He oftentimes commanded me to seek if I might
this youngest of the Angels: wherefore I in my
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
mortal man, but of God.”* And albeit her
that was with me always, was an exultation of Love
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,
counsel was useful to be heard. But seeing
were I to dwell overmuch on the passions and doings
early youth, my words might be counted
something fabulous, I will
therefore put them aside;
and passing many things that may be
the pattern of these, I will come to such as
writ in my memory with a better distinctness.
After the lapse of so many days that nine years
completed since the above-written ap-
pearance of this most gracious
being, on the last of
those days it happened that the same
lady appeared to me dressed all in pure white,
Transcribed Footnote (page 225):
- * Οὐδὲ ἐῴκει
- Ἀνδρός γε θνητοϋ παϊς ἔμμεναι, ἀλλὰ
, xxiv. 58.)
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
Great Cycle, she saluted me with so virtuous a bear-
that I seemed then and there to behold the very
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
her reached mine ears, I came into such sweetness
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
wherein a marvellous vision was presented to me:
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
joice inwardly that it was a marvel to see. Speak-
said many things, among the which I could
understand but few; and of
.* In his arms it seemed to me that a
person was sleeping,
covered only with a blood-
coloured cloth; upon whom looking very
I knew that it was the lady of the salutation
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,
Transcribed Footnote (page 226):
* “I am thy master.”
.* 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
fearing. Then, having waited again a space, all his
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
heaven: whereby such a great anguish came upon
my light slumber could not endure through
it, but was suddenly
broken. And immediately
having considered, I knew that the hour
this vision had been made manifest to me was the
hour (which is to say, the first of the nine last
hours) of the
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
a sonnet, in the which, having saluted all such as
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
made was this:—
- To every heart which the sweet pain doth
- 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.”
- Of those long hours wherein the stars, above,
- Wake and keep watch, the third was
- When Love was shown me with such
- 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-
different opinions; of the which, one was
sent by him whom I now call the first among my
it began thus, “Unto my thinking thou
worth.”* And indeed, it was when he
learned that I was he
who had sent those rhymes to
him, that our friendship commenced. But
meaning of that vision was not then perceived by
one, though it be now evident to the least skilful.
Transcribed Footnote (page 228):
* The friend of whom Dante here speaks was Guido Ca-
his answer, and those of
Cino da Pistoia and
Dante da Maiano, see their poems further
From that night forth, the natural functions of my
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
look upon me; while others, being moved by spite,
to discover what it was my wish should
be concealed. Wherefore I,
(perceiving the drift of
their unkindly questions,) by Love's will,
rected me according to the counsels of reason, told
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
was no longer any means of concealing it. But
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
creature was sitting where words were to be heard
the Queen of Glory;* and I was in a place whence
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
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
they named her who had been midway between the
Transcribed Footnote (page 229):
i.e. in a church.
most gentle Beatrice, and mine eyes. Therefore I
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
a screen to the truth: and so well did I play my part
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
some years were gone over; and for my better
curity, I even made divers rhymes in her honour;
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
was a screen for so much love on my part, I took
resolution to set down the name of this most
creature accompanied with many other women's
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
placed mine own lady; and these names I intro-
duced in an
epistle in the form of a
, which it
is not my intention to transcribe here.
should I have said anything of this matter, did I
wish to take note of a certain strange thing, to wit:
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:
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
spoke not somewhat mournfully of her departure, my
counterfeiting would be the more quickly
perceived, I determined that I would make a grievous
thereof; the which I will write here, because
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
a sonnet. Its structure, however, is analogous to that
the sonnet, being two sextetts followed by two
instead of two quattrains followed by two
applies the term sonnet to both these forms
and to no other.
- 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
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,
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
I saw her body lying without its soul among many
who held a pitiful weeping. Whereupon,
remembering that I had seen
her in the company
of excellent Beatrice, I could not hinder myself
a few tears; and weeping, I conceived to say some-
her death, in guerdon of having seen her
somewhile with my lady;
which thing I spake of in
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
- 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
- Dwelt with the joyful beauty that is
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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
allude to the dead lady, but to Beatrice. This would
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
that such person as
had enjoyed the dead
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
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
not altogether so far. And notwithstanding that I
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
to pass that he who ruled me by virtue of my most
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
saving only that sometimes his eyes were turned
wards a river which was clear and rapid, and which
along the path I was taking. And then I
Transcribed Footnote (page 235):
lady's society was worthy of heaven, and that person
Beatrice. Or indeed the allusion to Beatrice might be in
first poem, where he says that Love “
in forma vera” (that is,
Beatrice,) mourned over the corpse; as he
afterwards says of
Quella ha nome Amor.” Most probably
thought that Love
called me and said to me these
words: “I come from that lady who was
thy surety; for the matter of whose return, I know
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
“And of these words I have spoken, if thou shouldst
any again, let it be in such sort as that none
thereby that thy love was feigned for
her, which thou must now feign
for another.” And
when he had spoken thus, all my imagining
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
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:
- 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
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
surety, in such sort that the matter was spoken of
by many in
terms scarcely courteous; through the
which I had oftenwhiles many
And by this it happened (to wit: by this
and evil rumour which seemed to misfame me of
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
was my blessedness.
And here it is fitting for me to depart a little from
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-
in any place, it seemed to me, by the hope of
salutation, that there was no man mine
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
concerning any matter, I could only have said unto
“Love,” with a countenance clothed in humble-
ness. And what time
she made ready to salute me,
the spirit of Love, destroying all
thrust forth the feeble spirits of my eyes,
“Do homage unto your mistress,” and putting itself
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
beclouding mine intolerable beatitude, then bred in
such an overpowering sweetness that my body,
being all subjected
thereto, remained many times
helpless and passive. Whereby it is
that in her salutation alone was there any
for me, which then very often went beyond my
And now, resuming my discourse, I will go on to
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
and when, by this heat of weeping, I was
relieved, I betook myself to my chamber, where I
lament unheard. And there, having prayed
to the Lady of all Mercies,
and having said also,
“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
the room, seated at my side, a youth in very white
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
Fili mi, tempus est ut
.”* 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
and that he seemed to be waiting for me to
Wherefore, taking heart, I began thus: “Why
Master of all honour?” And he made
answer to me:
Ego tanquam centrum circuli, cui
simili modo se habent circumferentiæ
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
Transcribed Footnote (page 239):
† “I am as the centre of a circle, to the which all parts
the circumference bear an equal relation: but with thee
not thus.” This phrase seems to have remained as
to commentators as Dante found it at the moment. No
as far as I know, has even fairly tried to find a
it. To me the following appears a not unlikely
is weeping on Dante's account, and not on his own.
“I am the centre of a circle (
Amor che muove il sole e le
stelle): therefore all loveable objects, whether in heaven
earth, or any part of the circle's circumference, are
near to me. Not so thou, who wilt one day lose
when she goes to heaven.” The phrase would thus
self unto speech, I asked of him: “What thing is
that thou hast spoken thus darkly?”
To the which he made answer in
the vulgar tongue:
“Demand no more than may be useful to
Whereupon I began to discourse with him concern-
salutation which she had denied me; and
when I had questioned him of
the cause, he said
these words: “Our Beatrice hath heard from
tain persons, that the lady whom I named to thee
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
For the which reason (albeit, in very sooth,
secret must needs have become known to her by
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
from thy childhood. Also do thou call upon him
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
be made to know thy desire; knowing which, she
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
Transcribed Footnote (page 240):
an intimation of the death of Beatrice, accounting for
being next told not to inquire the meaning of the
“Demand no more than may be useful to thee.”
person; and not directly by thee to her, which
scarce fitting. After the which, send them, not with-
where she may chance to hear them; but
have them fitted with a
pleasant music, into the
which I will pass whensoever it needeth.”
this speech he was away, and my sleep was broken up.
Whereupon, remembering me, I knew that I had
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
had spoken. And this is the ditty that I made:—
- Song, 'tis my will that thou do seek out
- 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
- 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
- With a sweet accent, when thou com'st to her,
- Begin thou in these words,
- 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
- Do thou conceive: for his heart cannot
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
words which Love had dictated to me,
I began to be harassed with
many and divers
thoughts, by each of which I was sorely
and in especial, there were four among them that
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
the more homage his servants pay to him, the more
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
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
.”* And the fourth was this: “The lady whom
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
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
cerned but one way, and that irked me; to wit, to
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
- 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.”
- 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
do me a great pleasure by showing me the beauty
so many women. Then I, hardly knowing where-
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
ladies?” and he answered: “To the end that they
be worthily served.” And they were assembled
around a gentlewoman
who was given in marriage
on that day; the custom of the city being
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
stay with him and do honour to those ladies.
But as soon as I had thus resolved, I began to feel
faintness and a throbbing at my left side, which
possession of my whole body. Whereupon
I remember that I covertly
leaned my back unto a
painting that ran round the walls of that
and being fearful lest my trembling should be dis-
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
Love obtained, finding himself so near unto that
gracious being, until nothing but the spirits of
remained to me; and even these remained driven
their own instruments because Love entered
in that honoured place of
theirs, that so he might
the better behold her. And although I was
than at first, I grieved for the spirits so expelled
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
friends, having discerned my confusion, began to
and together with herself, kept whispering
of me and mocking me.
Whereupon my friend, who
knew not what to conceive, took me by the
and drawing me forth from among them, required to
what ailed me. Then, having first held me at
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
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
me; nay, I am sure that she must needs feel some
in my weeping I bethought me to write
certain words in the which,
speaking to her, I should
signify the occasion of my disfigurement,
also how I knew that she had no knowledge
which, if it were known, I was certain must move
to pity. And then, because I hoped that
peradventure it might come
into her hearing, I wrote
- 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
ding-feast with our knowledge that in her
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
as regards her marriage (which must have brought deep
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
A while after this strange disfigurement, I became
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
by the companionship of this lady, wherefore seekest
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
and in no way hindered from answering.” Unto
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
than I am possessed with the desire to behold her,
which is of so great strength that it kills and destroys
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
these thoughts, I resolved to write somewhat, wherein,
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;
- 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
- Which look for death as for a blessed
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.”
Thereafter, this sonnet bred in me desire to write
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
the grief that possessed me very often, remember-
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
life remaining except a thought which spake of my
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,
altogether forgetting that which her presence brought
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
- 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,
- 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
unto my lady, telling her almost the whole
of my condition, it
seemed to me that I should be
silent, having said enough concerning
albeit I spake not to her again, yet it behoved
afterward to write of another matter, more noble than
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
certain ladies to whom it was well known (they
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
call unto me, and she that called was a lady of very
speech. And when I had come close up with
them, and perceived that
they had not among them
mine excellent lady,
I was reassured; and saluted
them, asking of their pleasure. The
many; divers of whom were laughing one to
while divers gazed at me as though I should speak
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
this lady, seeing that thou canst not support her
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
words, not she only, but all they that were with
began to observe me, waiting for my reply. Where-
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
wherein alone I found that beatitude which is the
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
closely together; and as I have seen snow fall among
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
thy beatitude.” And answering, I said but thus
those words that do praise my lady.”
To the which she rejoined, “If
thy speech were
true, those words that thou didst write concerning
thy condition would
have been written with another
Then I, being almost put to shame because of her
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
wherefore hath my speech of her been different?”
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
exceedingly, it seemed to me that I had taken to
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
ginning. After which it
happened, as I passed one
day along a path which lay beside a stream
clear water, that there came upon me a great desire
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
ladies; but only to such as are so
called because they
are gentle, let alone for mere womanhood.
upon I declare that my tongue spake as though by
impulse, and said, “Ladies that have in-
telligence in love.” These
words I laid up in my
mind with great gladness, conceiving to take
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,
constructed in the
mode which will be seen below in
its division. The poem begins
- 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
- 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
- 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
- “My well-belovèd, suffer that in peace
- Your hope remain, while so My pleasure is,
- There where one dwells who dreads the loss of
- 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:
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
- 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
- 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,
- Spirits of love do issue thence in flame,
- Which through their eyes who then may
- 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
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
- And if, i' the end, thou wouldst not be
- 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
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
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
a hope of me beyond my desert. Wherefore I,
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
this argument. And the sonnet that I then made
- Love and the gentle heart are one same thing,
- Even as the wise man* in his ditty
- 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
- At first, with brief or longer slumbering.
- Then beauty seen in virtuous womankind
10 Will make the eyes desire, and through the
- Send the desiring of the eyes again;
- Where often it abides so long enshrined
- That Love at length out of his sleep will
- 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
gentle heart Love shelters him.” (see
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;
how not only she could awaken it where it slept, but
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
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 h