S' il dissi mai, ch' i' venga in odio a quella.
HE VEHEMENTLY REBUTS THE CHARGE OF LOVING ANOTHER.
Perdie! I said it not,
Nor never thought to do:
As well as I, ye wot
I have no power thereto.
And if I did, the lot
That first did me enchain
May never slake the knot,
But strait it to my pain.
And if I did, each thing
That may do harm or woe,
[Pg 184]Continually may wring
My heart, where so I go!
Report may always ring
Of shame on me for aye,
If in my heart did spring
The words that you do say.
And if I did, each star
That is in heaven above,
May frown on me, to mar
The hope I have in love!
And if I did, such war
As they brought unto Troy,
Bring all my life afar
From all his lust and joy!
And if I did so say,
The beauty that me bound
Increase from day to day,
More cruel to my wound!
With all the moan that may
To plaint may turn my song;
My life may soon decay,
Without redress, by wrong!
If I be clear from thought,
Why do you then complain?
Then is this thing but sought
To turn my heart to pain.
Then this that you have wrought,
You must it now redress;
Of right, therefore, you ought
Such rigour to repress.
And as I have deserved,
So grant me now my hire;
You know I never swerved,
You never found me liar.
For Rachel have I served,
For Leah cared I never;
And her I have reserved
Within my heart for ever.
[Pg 185] If I said so, may I be hated by
Her on whose love I live, without which I should die—
If I said so, my days be sad and short,
May my false soul some vile dominion court.
If I said so, may every star to me
Be hostile; round me grow
Pale fear and jealousy;
And she, my foe,
As cruel still and cold as fair she aye must be.
If I said so, may Love upon my heart
Expend his golden shafts, on her the leaden dart;
Be heaven and earth, and God and man my foe,
And she still more severe if I said so:
If I said so, may he whose blind lights lead
Me straightway to my grave,
Trample yet worse his slave,
Nor she behave
Gentle and kind to me in look, or word, or deed.
If I said so, then through my brief life may
All that is hateful block my worthless weary way:
If I said so, may the proud frost in thee
Grow prouder as more fierce the fire in me:
If I said so, no more then may the warm
Sun or bright moon be view'd,
Nor maid, nor matron's form,
But one dread storm
Such as proud Pharaoh saw when Israel he pursued.
If I said so, despite each contrite sigh,
Let courtesy for me and kindly feeling die:
If I said so, that voice to anger swell,
Which was so sweet when first her slave I fell:
If I said so, I should offend whom I,
E'en from my earliest breath
Until my day of death,
Would gladly take,
Alone in cloister'd cell my single saint to make.
But if I said not so, may she who first,
In life's green youth, my heart to hope so sweetly nursed,
Deign yet once more my weary bark to guide
With native kindness o'er the troublous tide;
[Pg 186]And graceful, grateful, as her wont before,
When, for I could no more,
My all, myself I gave,
To be her slave,
Forget not the deep faith with which I still adore.
I did not, could not, never would say so,
For all that gold can give, cities or courts bestow:
Let truth, then, take her old proud seat on high,
And low on earth let baffled falsehood lie.
Thou know'st me, Love! if aught my state within
Belief or care may win,
Tell her that I would call
Him blest o'er all
Who, doom'd like me to pine, dies ere his strife begin.
Rachel I sought, not Leah, to secure,
Nor could I this vain life with other fair endure,
And, should from earth Heaven summon her again,
Myself would gladly die
For her, or with her, when
Elijah's fiery car her pure soul wafts on high.
More Poems by Francesco Petrarch
Comments, Analysis, and Meaning on CANZONE XIX
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