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Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem


The eyes, the face, the limbs of heavenly mold,
So long the theme of my impassioned lay,
Charms which so stole me from myself away,
That strange to other men the course I hold;
The crisped locks of pure and lucid gold,
The lightning of the angelic smile, whose ray
To earth could all of paradise convey,
A little dust are now -- to feeling cold.
And yet I live -- but that I live bewail,
Sunk the loved light that through the tempest led
My shattered bark, bereft of mast and sail:
Hushed be for aye the song that breathed love's fire!
Lost is the theme on which my fancy fed,
And turned to mourning my once tuneful lyre.

Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem



Vergine bella che di sol vestita.


Beautiful Virgin! clothed with the sun,
Crown'd with the stars, who so the Eternal Sun
Well pleasedst that in thine his light he hid;
Love pricks me on to utter speech of thee,
And—feeble to commence without thy aid—
Of Him who on thy bosom rests in love.
Her I invoke who gracious still replies
To all who ask in faith,
Virgin! if ever yet
The misery of man and mortal things
To mercy moved thee, to my prayer incline;
Help me in this my strife,
Though I am but of dust, and thou heaven's radiant Queen!
Wise Virgin! of that lovely number one
Of Virgins blest and wise,
Even the first and with the brightest lamp:
O solid buckler of afflicted hearts!
'Neath which against the blows of Fate and Death,
Not mere deliverance but great victory is;
Relief from the blind ardour which consumes
Vain mortals here below!
Virgin! those lustrous eyes,
Which tearfully beheld the cruel prints
In the fair limbs of thy beloved Son,
Ah! turn on my sad doubt,
Who friendless, helpless thus, for counsel come to thee!
[Pg 319]O Virgin! pure and perfect in each part,
Maiden or Mother, from thy honour'd birth,
This life to lighten and the next adorn;
O bright and lofty gate of open'd heaven!
By thee, thy Son and His, the Almighty Sire,
In our worst need to save us came below:
And, from amid all other earthly seats,
Thou only wert elect,
Virgin supremely blest!
The tears of Eve who turnedst into joy;
Make me, thou canst, yet worthy of his grace,
O happy without end,
Who art in highest heaven a saint immortal shrined.
O holy Virgin! full of every good,
Who, in humility most deep and true,
To heaven art mounted, thence my prayers to hear,
That fountain thou of pity didst produce,
That sun of justice light, which calms and clears
Our age, else clogg'd with errors dark and foul.
Three sweet and precious names in thee combine,
Of mother, daughter, wife,
Virgin! with glory crown'd,
Queen of that King who has unloosed our bonds,
And free and happy made the world again,
By whose most sacred wounds,
I pray my heart to fix where true joys only are!
Virgin! of all unparallel'd, alone,
Who with thy beauties hast enamour'd Heaven,
Whose like has never been, nor e'er shall be;
For holy thoughts with chaste and pious acts
To the true God a sacred living shrine
In thy fecund virginity have made:
By thee, dear Mary, yet my life may be
Happy, if to thy prayers,
O Virgin meek and mild!
Where sin abounded grace shall more abound!
With bended knee and broken heart I pray
That thou my guide wouldst be,
And to such prosperous end direct my faltering way.
[Pg 320]Bright Virgin! and immutable as bright,
O'er life's tempestuous ocean the sure star
Each trusting mariner that truly guides,
Look down, and see amid this dreadful storm
How I am tost at random and alone,
And how already my last shriek is near,
Yet still in thee, sinful although and vile,
My soul keeps all her trust;
Virgin! I thee implore
Let not thy foe have triumph in my fall;
Remember that our sin made God himself,
To free us from its chain,
Within thy virgin womb our image on Him take!
Virgin! what tears already have I shed,
Cherish'd what dreams and breathed what prayers in vain
But for my own worse penance and sure loss;
Since first on Arno's shore I saw the light
Till now, whate'er I sought, wherever turn'd,
My life has pass'd in torment and in tears,
For mortal loveliness in air, act, speech,
Has seized and soil'd my soul:
O Virgin! pure and good,
Delay not till I reach my life's last year;
Swifter than shaft and shuttle are, my days
'Mid misery and sin
Have vanish'd all, and now Death only is behind!
Virgin! She now is dust, who, living, held
My heart in grief, and plunged it since in gloom;
She knew not of my many ills this one,
And had she known, what since befell me still
Had been the same, for every other wish
Was death to me and ill renown for her;
But, Queen of Heaven, our Goddess—if to thee
Such homage be not sin—
Virgin! of matchless mind,
Thou knowest now the whole; and that, which else
No other can, is nought to thy great power:
Deign then my grief to end,
Thus honour shall be thine, and safe my peace at last!
[Pg 321]Virgin! in whom I fix my every hope,
Who canst and will'st assist me in great need,
Forsake me not in this my worst extreme,
Regard not me but Him who made me thus;
Let his high image stamp'd on my poor worth
Towards one so low and lost thy pity move:
Medusa spells have made me as a rock
Distilling a vain flood;
Virgin! my harass'd heart
With pure and pious tears do thou fulfil,
That its last sigh at least may be devout,
And free from earthly taint,
As was my earliest vow ere madness fill'd my veins!
Virgin! benevolent, and foe of pride,
Ah! let the love of our one Author win,
Some mercy for a contrite humble heart:
For, if her poor frail mortal dust I loved
With loyalty so wonderful and long,
Much more my faith and gratitude for thee.
From this my present sad and sunken state
If by thy help I rise,
Virgin! to thy dear name
I consecrate and cleanse my thoughts, speech, pen,
My mind, and heart with all its tears and sighs;
Point then that better path,
And with complacence view my changed desires at last.
The day must come, nor distant far its date,
Time flies so swift and sure,
O peerless and alone!
When death my heart, now conscience struck, shall seize:
Commend me, Virgin! then to thy dear Son,
True God and Very Man,
That my last sigh in peace may, in his arms, be breathed!
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem



Occhi miei, oscurato è 'l nostro sole.


Mine eyes! our glorious sun is veil'd in night,
Or set to us, to rise 'mid realms of love;
There we may hail it still, and haply prove
It mourn'd that we delay'd our heavenward flight.
Mine ears! the music of her tones delight
Those, who its harmony can best approve;
My feet! who in her track so joy'd to move.
Ye cannot penetrate her regions bright!
But wherefore should your wrath on me descend?
No spell of mine hath hush'd for ye the joy
Of seeing, hearing, feeling, she was near:
Go, war with Death—yet, rather let us bend
To Him who can create—who can destroy—
And bids the ready smile succeed the tear.
O my sad eyes! our sun is overcast,—
Nay, rather borne to heaven, and there is shining,
Waiting our coming, and perchance repining
At our delay; there shall we meet at last:
And there, mine ears, her angel words float past,
Those who best understand their sweet divining;
Howe'er, my feet, unto the search inclining,
Ye cannot reach her in those regions vast.
Why, then, do ye torment me thus, for, oh!
It is no fault of mine, that ye no more
[Pg 242]Behold, and hear, and welcome her below;
Blame Death,—or rather praise Him and adore,
Who binds and frees, restrains and letteth go,
And to the weeping one can joy restore.
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem



Stiamo, Amor, a veder la gloria nostra.


Here stand we, Love, our glory to behold—
How, passing Nature, lovely, high, and rare!
Behold! what showers of sweetness falling there!
What floods of light by heaven to earth unroll'd!
How shine her robes, in purple, pearls, and gold,
So richly wrought, with skill beyond compare!
How glance her feet!—her beaming eyes how fair
Through the dark cloister which these hills enfold!
The verdant turf, and flowers of thousand hues
Beneath yon oak's old canopy of state,
Spring round her feet to pay their amorous duty.
The heavens, in joyful reverence, cannot choose
But light up all their fires, to celebrate
Her praise, whose presence charms their awful beauty.
Here tarry, Love, our glory to behold;
Nought in creation so sublime we trace;
Ah! see what sweetness showers upon that face,
Heaven's brightness to this earth those eyes unfold!
See, with what magic art, pearls, purple, gold,
That form transcendant, unexampled, grace:
Beneath the shadowing hills observe her pace,
Her glance replete with elegance untold!
The verdant turf, and flowers of every hue,
Clustering beneath yon aged holm-oak's gloom,
For the sweet pressure of her fair feet sue;
The orbs of fire that stud yon beauteous sky,
Cheer'd by her presence and her smiles, assume
Superior lustre and serenity.
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem


[Pg 322]


Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem



Amor, se vuoi ch' i' torni al giogo antico.


If thou wouldst have me, Love, thy slave again,
One other proof, miraculous and new,
Must yet be wrought by you,
Ere, conquer'd, I resume my ancient chain—
Lift my dear love from earth which hides her now,
For whose sad loss thus beggar'd I remain;
Once more with warmth endow
That wise chaste heart where wont my life to dwell;
And if as some divine, thy influence so,
From highest heaven unto the depths of hell,
Prevail in sooth—for what its scope below,
'Mid us of common race,
Methinks each gentle breast may answer well—
Rob Death of his late triumph, and replace
Thy conquering ensign in her lovely face!
Relume on that fair brow the living light,
Which was my honour'd guide, and the sweet flame.
Though spent, which still the same
Kindles me now as when it burn'd most bright;
For thirsty hind with such desire did ne'er
Long for green pastures or the crystal brook,
As I for the dear look,
Whence I have borne so much, and—if aright
I read myself and passion—more must bear:
This makes me to one theme my thoughts thus bind,
An aimless wanderer where is pathway none,
With weak and wearied mind
[Pg 237]Pursuing hopes which never can be won.
Hence to thy summons answer I disdain,
Thine is no power beyond thy proper reign.
Give me again that gentle voice to hear,
As in my heart are heard its echoes still,
Which had in song the skill
Hate to disarm, rage soften, sorrow cheer,
To tranquillize each tempest of the mind,
And from dark lowering clouds to keep it clear;
Which sweetly then refined
And raised my verse where now it may not soar.
And, with desire that hope may equal vie,
Since now my mind is waked in strength, restore
Their proper business to my ear and eye,
Awanting which life must
All tasteless be and harder than to die.
Vainly with me to your old power you trust,
While my first love is shrouded still in dust.
Give her dear glance again to bless my sight,
Which, as the sun on snow, beam'd still for me;
Open each window bright
Where pass'd my heart whence no return can be;
Resume thy golden shafts, prepare thy bow,
And let me once more drink with old delight
Of that dear voice the sound,
Whence what love is I first was taught to know.
And, for the lures, which still I covet so,
Were rifest, richest there my soul that bound,
Waken to life her tongue, and on the breeze
Let her light silken hair,
Loosen'd by Love's own fingers, float at ease;
Do this, and I thy willing yoke will bear,
Else thy hope faileth my free will to snare.
Oh! never my gone heart those links of gold,
Artlessly negligent, or curl'd with grace,
Nor her enchanting face,
Sweetly severe, can captive cease to hold;
These, night and day, the amorous wish in me
Kept, more than laurel or than myrtle, green,
When, doff'd or donn'd, we see
Of fields the grass, of woods their leafy screen.
[Pg 238]And since that Death so haughty stands and stern
The bond now broken whence I fear'd to flee,
Nor thine the art, howe'er the world may turn,
To bind anew the chain,
What boots it, Love, old arts to try again?
Their day is pass'd: thy power, since lost the arms
Which were my terror once, no longer harms.
Thy arms were then her eyes, unrivall'd, whence
Live darts were freely shot of viewless flame;
No help from reason came,
For against Heaven avails not man's defence;
Thought, Silence, Feeling, Gaiety, Wit, Sense,
Modest demeanour, affable discourse,
In words of sweetest force
Whence every grosser nature gentle grew,
That angel air, humble to all and kind,
Whose praise, it needs not mine, from all we find;
Stood she, or sat, a grace which often threw
Doubt on the gazer's mind
To which the meed of highest praise was due—
O'er hardest hearts thy victory was sure,
With arms like these, which lost I am secure.
The minds which Heaven abandons to thy reign,
Haply are bound in many times and ways,
But mine one only chain,
Its wisdom shielding me from more, obeys;
Yet freedom brings no joy, though that he burst.
Rather I mournful ask, "Sweet pilgrim mine,
Alas! what doom divine
Me earliest bound to life yet frees thee first:
God, who has snatch'd thee from the world so soon,
Only to kindle our desires, the boon
Of virtue, so complete and lofty, gave
Now, Love, I may deride
Thy future wounds, nor fear to be thy slave;
In vain thy bow is bent, its bolts fall wide,
When closed her brilliant eyes their virtue died.
"Death from thy every law my heart has freed;
She who my lady was is pass'd on high,
Leaving me free to count dull hours drag by,
To solitude and sorrow still decreed.
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem



Mia benigna fortuna e 'l viver lieto.


My favouring fortune and my life of joy,
My days so cloudless, and my tranquil nights,
The tender sigh, the pleasing power of song,
Which gently wont to sound in verse and rhyme,
[Pg 289]Suddenly darken'd into grief and tears,
Make me hate life and inly pray for death!
O cruel, grim, inexorable Death!
How hast thou dried my every source of joy,
And left me to drag on a life of tears,
Through darkling days and melancholy nights.
My heavy sighs no longer meet in rhyme,
And my hard martyrdom exceeds all song!
Where now is vanish'd my once amorous song?
To talk of anger and to treat with death;
Where the fond verses, where the happy rhyme
Welcomed by gentle hearts with pensive joy?
Where now Love's communings that cheer'd my nights?
My sole theme, my one thought, is now but tears!
Erewhile to my desire so sweet were tears
Their tenderness refined my else rude song,
And made me wake and watch the livelong nights;
But sorrow now to me is worse than death,
Since lost for aye that look of modest joy,
The lofty subject of my lowly rhyme!
Love in those bright eyes to my ready rhyme
Gave a fair theme, now changed, alas! to tears;
With grief remembering that time of joy,
My changed thoughts issue find in other song,
Evermore thee beseeching, pallid Death,
To snatch and save me from these painful nights!
Sleep has departed from my anguish'd nights,
Music is absent from my rugged rhyme,
Which knows not now to sound of aught but death;
Its notes, so thrilling once, all turn'd to tears,
Love knows not in his reign such varied song,
As full of sadness now as then of joy!
Man lived not then so crown'd as I with joy,
Man lives not now such wretched days and nights;
And my full festering grief but swells the song
Which from my bosom draws the mournful rhyme;
I lived in hope, who now live but in tears,
Nor against death have other hope save death!
[Pg 290]Me Death in her has kill'd; and only Death
Can to my sight restore that face of joy,
Which pleasant made to me e'en sighs and tears,
Balmy the air, and dewy soft the nights,
Wherein my choicest thoughts I gave to rhyme
While Love inspirited my feeble song!
Would that such power as erst graced Orpheus' song
Were mine to win my Laura back from death,
As he Eurydice without a rhyme;
Then would I live in best excess of joy;
Or, that denied me, soon may some sad night
Close for me ever these twin founts of tears!
Love! I have told with late and early tears,
My grievous injuries in doleful song;
Not that I hope from thee less cruel nights;
And therefore am I urged to pray for death,
Which hence would take me but to crown with joy,
Where lives she whom I sing in this sad rhyme!
If so high may aspire my weary rhyme,
To her now shelter'd safe from rage and tears,
Whose beauties fill e'en heaven with livelier joy,
Well would she recognise my alter'd song,
Which haply pleased her once, ere yet by death
Her days were cloudless made and dark my nights!
O ye, who fondly sigh for better nights,
Who listen to love's will, or sing in rhyme,
Pray that for me be no delay in death,
The port of misery, the goal of tears,
But let him change for me his ancient song,
Since what makes others sad fills me with joy!
Ay! for such joy, in one or in few nights,
I pray in rude song and in anguish'd rhyme,
That soon my tears may ended be in death!
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem



Qual ventura mi fu, quando dall' uno.


Strange, passing strange adventure! when from one
Of the two brightest eyes which ever were,
Beholding it with pain dis urb'd and dim,
Moved influence which my own made dull and weak.
I had return'd, to break the weary fast
Of seeing her, my sole care in this world,
Kinder to me were Heaven and Love than e'en
If all their other gifts together join'd,
When from the right eye—rather the right sun—
Of my dear Lady to my right eye came
The ill which less my pain than pleasure makes;
As if it intellect possess'd and wings
It pass'd, as stars that shoot along the sky:
Nature and pity then pursued their course.
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem



Quando fra l' altre donne ad ora ad ora.


Throned on her angel brow, when Love displays
His radiant form among all other fair,
Far as eclipsed their choicest charms appear,
I feel beyond its wont my passion blaze.
And still I bless the day, the hour, the place,
When first so high mine eyes I dared to rear;
And say, "Fond heart, thy gratitude declare,
That then thou had'st the privilege to gaze.
'Twas she inspired the tender thought of love,
Which points to heaven, and teaches to despise
The earthly vanities that others prize:
She gave the soul's light grace, which to the skies
Bids thee straight onward in the right path move;
Whence buoy'd by hope e'en, now I soar to worlds above.
[Pg 12] When Love, whose proper throne is that sweet face,
At times escorts her 'mid the sisters fair,
As their each beauty is than hers less rare,
So swells in me the fond desire apace.
I bless the hour, the season and the place,
So high and heavenward when my eyes could dare;
And say: "My heart! in grateful memory bear
This lofty honour and surpassing grace:
From her descends the tender truthful thought,
Which follow'd, bliss supreme shall thee repay,
Who spurn'st the vanities that win the crowd:
From her that gentle graceful love is caught,
To heaven which leads thee by the right-hand way,
And crowns e'en here with hopes both pure and proud.
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem



Mai non fu' in parte ove sì chiar' vedessi.


Nowhere before could I so well have seen
Her whom my soul most craves since lost to view;
Nowhere in so great freedom could have been
Breathing my amorous lays 'neath skies so blue;
Never with depths of shade so calm and green
A valley found for lover's sigh more true;
[Pg 245]Methinks a spot so lovely and serene
Love not in Cyprus nor in Gnidos knew.
All breathes one spell, all prompts and prays that I
Like them should love—the clear sky, the calm hour,
Winds, waters, birds, the green bough, the gay flower—
But thou, beloved, who call'st me from on high,
By the sad memory of thine early fate,
Pray that I hold the world and these sweet snares in hate.
Never till now so clearly have I seen
Her whom my eyes desire, my soul still views;
Never enjoy'd a freedom thus serene;
Ne'er thus to heaven breathed my enamour'd muse,
As in this vale sequester'd, darkly green;
Where my soothed heart its pensive thought pursues,
And nought intrusively may intervene,
And all my sweetly-tender sighs renews.
To Love and meditation, faithful shade,
Receive the breathings of my grateful breast!
Love not in Cyprus found so sweet a nest
As this, by pine and arching laurel made!
The birds, breeze, water, branches, whisper love;
Herb, flower, and verdant path the lay symphonious move.
Capel Lofft.