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CANZONE X.

Written by: Francesco Petrarch | Biography
 | Quotes (8) |

[Pg 76]

CANZONE X.

Poichè per mio destino.

IN PRAISE OF LAURA'S EYES: IN THEM HE FINDS EVERY GOOD, AND HE CAN NEVER CEASE TO PRAISE THEM.

Since then by destiny
I am compell'd to sing the strong desire,
Which here condemns me ceaselessly to sigh,
May Love, whose quenchless fire
Excites me, be my guide and point the way,
And in the sweet task modulate my lay:
But gently be it, lest th' o'erpowering theme
Inflame and sting me, lest my fond heart may
Dissolve in too much softness, which I deem,
From its sad state, may be:
For in me—hence my terror and distress!
Not now as erst I see
Judgment to keep my mind's great passion less:
Nay, rather from mine own thoughts melt I so,
As melts before the summer sun the snow.
At first I fondly thought
Communing with mine ardent flame to win
Some brief repose, some time of truce within:
This was the hope which brought
Me courage what I suffer'd to explain,
Now, now it leaves me martyr to my pain:
But still, continuing mine amorous song,
Must I the lofty enterprise maintain;
So powerful is the wish that in me glows,
That Reason, which so long
Restrain'd it, now no longer can oppose.
Then teach me, Love, to sing
In such frank guise, that ever if the ear
Of my sweet foe should chance the notes to hear,
Pity, I ask no more, may in her spring.
If, as in other times,
When kindled to true virtue was mankind,
The genius, energy of man could find
Entrance in divers climes,
Mountains and seas o'erpassing, seeking there
Honour, and culling oft its garland fair,
[Pg 77]Mine were such wish, not mine such need would be.
From shore to shore my weary course to trace,
Since God, and Love, and Nature deign for me
Each virtue and each grace
In those dear eyes where I rejoice to place.
In life to them must I
Turn as to founts whence peace and safety swell:
And e'en were death, which else I fear not, nigh,
Their sight alone would teach me to be well.
As, vex'd by the fierce wind,
The weary sailor lifts at night his gaze
To the twin lights which still our pole displays,
So, in the storms unkind
Of Love which I sustain, in those bright eyes
My guiding light and only solace lies:
But e'en in this far more is due to theft,
Which, taught by Love, from time to time, I make
Of secret glances than their gracious gift:
Yet that, though rare and slight,
Makes me from them perpetual model take;
Since first they blest my sight
Nothing of good without them have I tried,
Placing them over me to guard and guide,
Because mine own worth held itself but light.
Never the full effect
Can I imagine, and describe it less
Which o'er my heart those soft eyes still possess!
As worthless I reject
And mean all other joys that life confers,
E'en as all other beauties yield to hers.
A tranquil peace, alloy'd by no distress,
Such as in heaven eternally abides,
Moves from their lovely and bewitching smile.
So could I gaze, the while
Love, at his sweet will, governs them and guides,
—E'en though the sun were nigh,
Resting above us on his onward wheel—
On her, intensely with undazzled eye,
Nor of myself nor others think or feel.
Ah! that I should desire
Things that can never in this world be won,
[Pg 78]Living on wishes hopeless to acquire.
Yet, were the knot undone,
Wherewith my weak tongue Love is wont to bind,
Checking its speech, when her sweet face puts on
All its great charms, then would I courage find,
Words on that point so apt and new to use,
As should make weep whoe'er might hear the tale.
But the old wounds I bear,
Stamp'd on my tortured heart, such power refuse;
Then grow I weak and pale,
And my blood hides itself I know not where;
Nor as I was remain I: hence I know
Love dooms my death and this the fatal blow.
Farewell, my song! already do I see
Heavily in my hand the tired pen move
From its long dear discourse with her I love;
Not so my thoughts from communing with me.
Macgregor.



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