Poems from Canzoniere

Dante Da Maiano a diversi rimatori
 
Provedi, saggio, ad esta visione,
e per mercé ne trai vera sentenza.
Dico: una donna di bella fazone,
di cu’ el meo cor gradir molto s’agenza,
 
mi fé d’una ghirlanda donagione,                      5
verde, fronzuta, con bella accoglienza:
appresso mi trovai per vestigione
camicia di suo dosso, a mia parvenza.
 
Allor di tanto, amico, mi francai,
che dolcemente presila abbracciare:                10
non sì contese, ma ridea la bella.
 
Così ridendo, molto la baciai:
del più non dico, ché mi fè giurare.
E morta, ch’è mia madre, era con ella.
 
Dante Alighieri a Dante Da Maiano
 
Savete giudicar vostra ragione,
o om che pregio di saver portate;
per che, vitando aver con voi quistion,
com so rispondo a le parole ornate.
 
Disio verace, u’ rado fin si pone,                      5
che mosse di valore o di bieltate,
imagina l’amica oppinïone
significasse il don che pria narrate.
 
Lo vestimento, aggiate vera spene
che fia, da lei cui desiate, amore;                    10
e ‘n ciò provide vostro spirto bene:
 
dico, pensando l’ovra sua d’allore.
La figura che già morta sorvene
è la fermezza ch’averà nel core.
 
Dante Da Maiano to Several Poets
 
Pay heed, O wise one, to this dream of mine,
and tell me your true thought, I beg of you.
Hear this: a lady of most lovely ways,
whose grace this heart of mine tries to obtain,
 
gave me a little garland as a gift—                  5
leafy, and green, and gathered daintily.
Soon I was wearing, so it seemed to me,
her very dress as if it were my own.
 
My friend, I at that moment felt so free,
I threw my arms around her happily,               10
and she (O lovely!) laughed, and did not fight.
 
And, laughing as she was, I kissed her much:
I won’t say more, for I was forced to swear.
But my dead mother was beside her there.
 
Dante Alighieri’s Reply
 
Let your own reason be the judge of this,
O man whose wisdom everywhere is known;
therefore, avoiding any quarrel with you,
I’ll do my best to answer your fine verse.
 
A true desire, wherein we seldom find             5
a goal inspired by beauty or by worth,
is that which this my friendly thought can see
in the symbolic gift you have described.
 
The dress you mention truly means your hope
that she, you love so much, may love you too, 10
and of all this your spirit took great care,
 
imagining, I say, the thing she did.
And the dead image standing at her side
means she’ll forever in your heart abide.

Notes:

Pay heed, O wise one, to this dream of mine / (Provedi, saggio, ad esta visione)

Let your reason be the judge of this / “(Savete giudicar vostra ragione)

These poems of correspondence between Dante da Maiano and Dante Alighieri represent the latter’s earliest attempt at versification. Several poets answered Da Maiano’s sonnet. The three items in question are part of the courtly love tradition. Dante’s interpretation of the green garland (desire of love), the dress-shirt (love’s recompense) and the poet’s dead mother (loyalty and firmness of his love) is highly idealistic.


Return to previous poem

Home

Next poem