Poems of Correspondence

Dante a Messer Cino Da Pistoia
 
Perch’io non trovo chi meco ragioni
del signor a cui siete voi ed io,
conviemni sodisfare al gran disio
ch’i’ ho di dire i pensamenti boni.
 
Null’altra cosa appo voi m’accagioni            5
del lungo e del noioso tacer mio
se non il loco ov’i’ son, ch’è sì rio
che ‘l ben non trova chi albergo li doni.
 
Donna non ci ha ch’Amor le venga al volto,
né omo ancora che per lui sospiri;              10
e chi ‘l facesse qua sarebbe stolto.
 
Oh, messer Cin, come ‘l tempo è rivolto
a danno nostro e de li nostri diri,
da po’ che ‘l ben è sì poco ricolto.
 
Dante a Messer Cino Da Pistoia
 
Io mi credea del tutto esser partito
da queste nostre rime, messer Cino,
ché si conviene omai altro cammino
a la mia nave più lungi dal lito:
 
ma perch’i’ ho di voi più volte udito               5
che pigliar vi lasciate a ogni uncino,
piacemi di prestare un pocolino
a questa penna lo stancato dito.
 
Chi s’innamora sì come voi fate,
or qua or là, e sè lega e dissolve,               10
mostra ch’Amor leggermente il saetti.
 
Però, se leggier cor così vi volve,
priego che con vertù il correggiate,
si che s’accordi i fatti a’ dolci detti.
 
Dante to Messer Cino Da Pistoia
Because I find no one with whom to talk
about the lord that you and I obey,
I must now quench the great desire I have
to tell you the fine thoughts that in me stay.
 
So, if I have annoyed you with my long,                      5
unworthy silence, let my sole excuse
be nothing but the town in which I dwell—
so bad that what is good is in disuse.
 
No lady’s here, whose- face may welcome Love,
nor is there any man to sigh for him:                          10
should one do so, one would be deemed a fool.
 
Oh, Messer Cino, how our times have changed,
to our worst harm and that of poetry!
How out of fashion every good deed goes!
 
Dante to Messer Cino Da Pistoia
 
I thought I’d said goodbye forevermore,
O Messer Cino, to such rhymes as ours,
for it is time, indeed, that this my ship
took a new journey farther from the shore.
 
But, having more that once heard people say              5
that you let every hook grab all of you,
I like today a tiny bit to lend
to this my pen my weary, weary hand.
 
A man, who, as you do, can fall in love
now here now there, and binds, unbinds himself,        10
proves he is wounded lightly by Love’s dart.
 
Thus, if your heart can turn so easily,
correct it with your virtue, I implore,
so that sweet words and facts may one thing be.

Notes:

Dante to messer Cino da Pistoia
Because I find none with whom to talk / (Perch’io non trovo chi meco ragioni
 
It is highly probable that the present sonnet was written as a reply to Cino’s poem Se tu sapessi ben com’io t’aspetto. Cino reproaches Dante for his silence, which the latter here attributes to the place of residence, a locality whose lack of virtue hinders Pistoia
 
Dante to messer Cino da Pistoia
I thought I’d said goodbye forevermore / (Io mi credea del tutto esser partito)
 
Dante’s reproach to Cino is the same as the previous one (Degno fa voi trovar ogni tesoro), his fickleness in love. It should be as fair and deep as his rhymes, says the poet. “Such rhymes as ours,” alludes to stilnovistic poetry.

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