Oh! that my cheeks were taught
By the fond, wasting thought
To wear such hues as could its influence speak;
Then the dear, scornful fair
Might all my ardour share;
And where Love slumbers now he might awake!
Less oft the hill and mead
My wearied feet should tread;
[Pg 115]Less oft, perhaps, these eyes with tears should stream;
If she, who cold as snow,
With equal fire would glow—
She who dissolves me, and converts to flame.
Since Love exerts his sway,
And bears my sense away,
I chant uncouth and inharmonious songs:
Nor leaves, nor blossoms show,
Nor rind, upon the bough,
What is the nature that thereto belongs.
Love, and those beauteous eyes,
Beneath whose shade he lies,
Discover all the heart can comprehend:
When vented are my cares
In loud complaints, and tears;
These harm myself, and others those offend.
Sweet lays of sportive vein,
Which help'd me to sustain
Love's first assault, the only arms I bore;
This flinty breast say who
Shall once again subdue,
That I with song may soothe me as before?
Some power appears to trace
Within me Laura's face,
Whispers her name; and straight in verse I strive
To picture her again,
But the fond effort's vain:
Me of my solace thus doth Fate deprive.
E'en as some babe unties
Its tongue in stammering guise,
Who cannot speak, yet will not silence keep:
So fond words I essay;
And listen'd be the lay
By my fair foe, ere in the tomb I sleep!
But if, of beauty vain,
She treats me with disdain;
Do thou, O verdant shore, attend my sighs:
Let them so freely flow,
That all the world may know,
My sorrow thou at least didst not despise!
[Pg 116]And well art thou aware,
That never foot so fair
The soil e'er press'd as that which trod thee late;
My sunk soul and worn heart
Now seek thee, to impart
The secret griefs that on my passion wait.
If on thy margent green,
Or 'midst thy flowers, were seen
Some traces of her footsteps lingering there.
My wearied life 'twould cheer,
Bitter'd with many a tear:
Ah! now what means are left to soothe my care?
Where'er I bend mine eye,
What sweet serenity
I feel, to think here Laura shone of yore.
Each plant and scented bloom
I gather, seems to come
From where she wander'd on the custom'd shore:
Ofttimes in this retreat
A fresh and fragrant seat
She found; at least so fancy's vision shows:
And never let truth seek
Th' illusion dear to break—
O spirit blest, from whom such magic flows!
To thee, my simple song,
No polish doth belong;
Thyself art conscious of thy little worth!
Solicit not renown
Throughout the busy town,
But dwell within the shade that gave thee birth.
More Poems by Francesco Petrarch
Comments, Analysis, and Meaning on CANZONE XIII
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