Poems of Correspondence

Dante Da Maiano a Dante Alighieri
Amor mi fa sì fedelmente amare
e sì distretto m’àve en suo disire,
che solo un’ora non poria partire
lo core mio da lo suo pensare.
 
D’Ovidio ciò mi son miso a provare                     5
che disse per lo mal d’Amor guarire,
e ciò ver me non val mai che mentire;
per ch’eo mi rendo a sol merzè chiamare.
 
E ben conosco omai veracemente
che ‘nverso Amor non val forza ned arte,            10
ingegno né leggenda c’omo trovi,
 
mai che merzede ed esser sofferente
e ben servir: così n’àve omo parte.
Provedi, amico saggio, se l’approvi.
 
Dante Alighieri a Dante Da Maiano
 
Savere e cortesia, ingegno ed arte,
nobilitate, bellezza e riccore,
fortezza e umiltate e largo core,
prodezza ed eccellenza, giunte e sparte,
 
este grazie e vertuti in onne parte                       5
con lo piacer di lor vincono Amore:
una più ch’altra ben ha più valore
inverso lui, ma ciascun n’ha parte.
 
Onde se voli, amico, che ti vaglia
vertute naturale od accidente,                            10
con lealtà in piacer d’Amor l’adovra.
 
E non a contastar sua graziosa ovra:
ché nulla cosa gli è incontro possente,
volendo prender om con lui battaglia.
 
Dante Da Maiano To Dante Alighieri
Love causes me to love so faithfully,
and has so bound me to his every whim,
that not a single hour can I detach
this heart of mine from thinking but of him.
 
What Ovid said I wished to test and see—        5
he wrote that he was cured of Love’s disease;
but such a lie does not apply to me,
who, therefore, beg for pity constantly.
 
Well through my own experience I know
that neither force nor art can conquer Love,      10
nor intellect nor tale that man may write.
 
We can but ask for mercy, suffer more,
and serve too well, for such is human life.
Now tell me, learned friend, if I am right.
 
Dante Alighieri to Dante Da Maiano
 
Knowledge and kindness, intellect and art,
riches and beauty and nobility,
strength and humility and bounteous heart,
valor and glory, joint or separate—
 
such virtues and such graces everywhere          5
can conquer Love with their own sweet delight:
though some excel for more efficiency,
all men are valiant in this even fight.
 
Therefore, my friend, if for your benefit
natural worth or accident you need,                  10
sincerely use them both in pleasing Love,
 
never in fighting his delightful deed:
for if man wants to wage his war on him,
no arm against him ever will succeed.

Notes:

Dante da Maiano to Dante Alighieri:  Love causes me to love so faithfully / (Amor mi fa sí fedelmente amare)

Dante Alighieri's Reply:  Knowledge and kindness, intellect and art / (Savere e cortesia, ingengo ed arte)

Ovid in De Remediis Amoris held that one could overcome the power of love and be cured of it. Dante da Maiano disagrees and requests Dante’s opinion. The latter’s reply, more philosophical and encompassing, establishes a direct rapport between virtue and Love, for the former can conquer the latter. He agrees, however, that no one will succeed against the power of Love. This sonnet is noteworthy for its pre-stilnovistic position that virtue is inherent in Love.


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