Poems of Correspondence

Messer Cino Da Pistoia al Marchese Moroello Malaspina
 
Cercando di trovar minera in oro
di quel valor cui gentilezza inchina,
punto m’ha ‘l cor, marchese, mala spina
in guisa che, versando il sangue, i’ moro.
 
E più per quel ched i’ non trovo ploro           5
che per la vita natural che fina:
cotal pianeta, lasso, mi destina
che dov’io perdo volentier dimoro.
 
E più le pene mie vi farie conte,
se non ched i’ non vo che troppa gioia         10
vo’ concepiate di ciò che m’è noia.
 
Ben poria il mio segnor, anzi ch’io moia,
far convertir in oro duro monte,
c’ha fatto già di marmo nascer fonte.
 
Dante a Cino
 
Degno fa voi trovare ogni tesoro
la voce vostra sì dolce e latina,
ma volgibile cor ven disvicina,
ove stecco d’Amor mai non fé foro.
 
Io, che trafitto sono in ogni poro                  5
del prun che con sospir’ si medicina,
pur trovo la minera in cui s’affina
quella virtù per cui mi discoloro.
 
Non è colpa del sol se l’orba fronte
nol vede quando scende e quando poia,      10
a de la condizion malvagia e croia.
 
S’i’ vi vedesse uscir de gli occhi ploia
per prova fare a le parole conte,
non mi porreste di sospetto in ponte.
 
Messer Cino Da Pistoia To Marquis Moroello Malaspina
 
As I was searching in a mine for gold—
that precious wealth a gentle spirit craves—
a wicked thorn, dear Sir, pricked so my heart
that I am bleeding and about to die.
 
And more for what I cannot find I cry                          5
than for this natural life abating fast.
Alas, my planet has decreed my fate—
I gladly live where everything I lose.
 
About my griefs I now would tell you more;
only I do not want you to receive                               10
too much enjoyment from what makes me grieve.
 
Maybe, before I die, my lord will turn
into bright gold the hardness of a mountain,
who once made marble pour a living fountain.
 
Dante’s Reply on Behalf of Marquis Moroello
 
It is your voice, so Tuscan and so sweet,
makes you most worthy still of striking gold;
but then your fickle heart takes you away
where Love’s own stick has never dug a hole.
 
I, who have been transfixed in every pore                    5
by that sour thorn-bush only sighs can cure,
never the less that very mine can find
where this tormenting power is refined.
 
The sun is not at fault if, being blind,
we don’t see when it rises, when it sets:                   10
our cruel state, instead, is to be blamed.
 
Even if I should see a rain of tears
fall from your eyes to bear your bright words out,
you could not place me on the verge of doubt

Notes:

Messer Cino da Pistoia to Marquis Moroello Malaspina
As I was searching in a mine of gold— / (Cercando di trovar minera in oro)
Dante’s reply on Behalf of Marquis Moroello
It is your voice, so Tuscan and so sweet / (“Degno fa voi trovare ogni tesoro”)
 
Moroello Malaspina, a Guelph of the Black faction, was tied with friendship to both Dante and Cino. Dante, a guest of Moroello, was charged with certain duties, one of which was to write epistles on Moroello’s behalf. This poem is part of that duty. 
 
In Inferno 24:125 Moroello is alluded to as “vapor di Val di Magra.” Dante was at the court of the Malaspina in Lunigiana between 1306 and 1307. Cino’s new love is “the wicked thorn,” mala spina, a pun on the name. The perfect woman is “a mine of gold”. Dante reproaches Cino for his volubility concerning love, a subject he treats so well in his rhymes.

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