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[Pg 67]


Lasso me, ch i' non so in qual parte pieghi.


Me wretched! for I know not whither tend
The hopes which have so long my heart betray'd:
If none there be who will compassion lend,
Wherefore to Heaven these often prayers for aid?
But if, belike, not yet denied to me
That, ere my own life end,
These sad notes mute shall be,
Let not my Lord conceive the wish too free,
Yet once, amid sweet flowers, to touch the string,
"Reason and right it is that love I sing.
Reason indeed there were at last that I
Should sing, since I have sigh'd so long and late,
But that for me 'tis vain such art to try,
Brief pleasures balancing with sorrows great;
Could I, by some sweet verse, but cause to shine
Glad wonder and new joy
Within those eyes divine,
Bliss o'er all other lovers then were mine!
But more, if frankly fondly I could say,
"My lady asks, I therefore wake the lay.
Delicious, dangerous thoughts! that, to begin
A theme so high, have gently led me thus,
You know I ne'er can hope to pass within
Our lady's heart, so strongly steel'd from us;
She will not deign to look on thing so low,
Nor may our language win
Aught of her care: since Heaven ordains it so,
And vainly to oppose must irksome grow,
Even as I my heart to stone would turn,
"So in my verse would I be rude and stern.
What do I say? where am I?—My own heart
And its misplaced desires alone deceive!
Though my view travel utmost heaven athwart
No planet there condemns me thus to grieve:
Why, if the body's veil obscure my sight,
Blame to the stars impart.
[Pg 68]Or other things as bright?
Within me reigns my tyrant, day and night,
Since, for his triumph, me a captive took
"Her lovely face, and lustrous eyes' dear look.
While all things else in Nature's boundless reign
Came good from the Eternal Master's mould,
I look for such desert in me in vain:
Me the light wounds that I around behold;
To the true splendour if I turn at last,
My eye would shrink in pain,
Whose own fault o'er it cast
Such film, and not the fatal day long past,
When first her angel beauty met my view,
"In the sweet season when my life was new.
Written by: Francesco Petrarch