Poems of Correspondence

Ignoto a Dante
 
Dante Alleghier, d’ogni senno pregiato
che in corpo d’om si potesse trovare,
un tuo amico di debile affare
da la tua parte s’era richiamato
 
a una donna, che l’ha sì incolpato               5
con fini spade di sottil tagliare,
che in nulla guisa ne pensa scampare,
però che’ colpi han già il cor toccato;
 
onde a te cade farne alta vendetta
di quella che l’ha sì forte conquiso              10
che null’altra mai non se ne inframetta.
 
Delle sue condizioni io vi diviso,
ch’ell’è una leggiadra giovinetta
che porta propiamente Amor nel viso.
 
Risposta di Dante
 
Io Dante a te, che m’hai così chiamato
rispondo brieve con poco pensare,
però che più non posso soprastare,
tanto m’ha ‘l tuo pensier forte affannato.
 
Ma ben vorrei saper dove e in qual lato        5
ti richiamasti, per me ricordare:
forse che per mia lettera mandare
saresti d’ogni colpo risanato.
 
Ma s’ella è donna che porti anco vetta,
sì ‘n ogni parte mi pare esser fiso               10
ch’ella verrà a farti gran disdetta.
 
Secondo detto m’hai ora, m’avviso
che ella è sì d’ogni peccato netta
come angelo che stia in paradiso.
 
A Friend to Dante
 
O Dante Alighier, whose wisdom is
the ultimate that might in man be found,
an unimportant, humble friend of yours
remembers you, and comes to beg your aid
 
now that a woman has so wounded him                    5
with many a sharp and finely pointed sword,
that in no way can he now save his life,
so deep already has his heart been pierced.
 
It falls upon you to avenge him, then,
against the one who has so vanquished him             10
no other woman can now stand between.
 
I want you all her qualities to know:
she is a youthful maiden full of grace,
and Love himself is on her face aglow.
 
Dante’s Reply
 
I am that Dante whom you called by name,
briefly, with no delay answering you,
for not a minute more can here I stay,
so strongly by your thought am I distressed.
 
Yet I would only like to know from where,                  5
remembering my name, you wrote to me—
you, who, by sending here your ardent plea,
hope that you might of Love’s each blow be healed.
 
But if she wears, being a woman, wimples,
I am of all details so well aware,                              10
I know she will be back to hurt you more.
 
Judging by what you have just told me, this
is clear to me: of sin she is as free
as any angel dwelling in God’s bliss.

Notes:

A Friend to Dante
O Dante Alighier, whose wisdom is / (Dante Alleghier, d’ogni senno pregiato)
Dante’s Reply
I am that Dante whom you called by name / (Io Dante a te che m’hai così chiamato)

We do not know who this friend of Dante is. The woman bears a stilnovistic appearance. Most critics believe that the verse “ch’ella verrà a farti gran disdetta” means that she will take back her words and “unsay” what she said. This translator interprets it otherwise Stone who will hurt the poet more also because she is married, interpreting “vetta” as the band of a married woman.


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