Poems of Correspondence

Messer Cino Da Pistoia a Dante
 
Dante, quando per caso s’abbandona
lo disio amoroso de la speme
che nascer fanno gli occhi del bel seme
di quel piacer che dentro si ragiona,
 
i’ dico, poi se morte le perdona                   5
e Amore tienla più de le due estreme,
che l’alma sola, la qual più non teme,
si può ben trasformar d’altra persona.
 
E ciò mi fa dir quella ch’è maestra
di tutte cose, per quel ch’i’ sent’anco         10
entrato, lasso, per la mia fenestra.
 
Ma prima che m’uccida il nero e il bianco,
da te, che sei stato dentro ed extra,
vorre’ saper se ‘l mi’ creder è manco.
 
Dante A Cino
 
Io sono stato con Amore insieme
da la circulazion del sol mia nona,
e so com’egli affrena e come sprona,
e come sotto lui si ride e geme.
 
Chi ragione o virtù contra gli sprieme,          5
fa come que’ che ‘n la tempesta sona,
credendo far colà dove si tona
esser le guerre de’ vapori sceme.
 
Però nel cerchio de la sua palestra
Liber arbitrio già mai non fu franco,             10
sì che consiglio invan vi si balestra.
 
Ben può con nuovi spron’ punger lo fianco,
e qual che sia ‘l piacer ch’ora n’addestra,
seguitar si convien, se l’altro è stanco.
 
Messer Cino Da Pistoia To Dante
 
Dante, if we perchance relinquish all
the amorous desires of our hope,
which make the eyes of that fair seed appear—
the pleasure that converses with our heart;
 
if death should spare that hope, and Love, in turn,   5
should keep it hanging from the two extremes,
being no more afraid, only the soul
could in some other be restored again.
 
Instructed by the teacher of all things,
I say all this, and also spurred by one                    10
who entered through my window, hapless me!
 
Oh, but before I’m slain by black and white,
from you, who were in love and out of it.
I wish to know if I am wrong or right.
 
Dante’s Reply To Messer Cino
 
I’ve been with Love, and Love has been with me
since the ninth revolution of my sun;
I therefore know how he restricts and goads,
and how beneath his yoke men laugh and moan.
 
One who against him places worth or reason           5
is like a man who, singing in the storm,
believes that there, where thunderclaps explode,
the warring vapors to his song will listen.
 
Thus in the circle of its training field
never was man’s free will so really free                  10
as to let prudence exercise along.
 
With newer spurs he still our side can prick,
and so whatever pleasure we may learn
we fondly follow, if the other’s weak.

Notes:

Messer Cino da Pistoia to Dante
Dante, if we perchance relinquish all / (Dante quando per caso s’abbandona)
Dante’s Reply to Messer Cino
I’ve been with Love, and Love has been with me / (Io sono stato con Amore insieme)

Cino de’ Sigibuldi da Pistoia (c.1270-1326), one of the most prominent jurists of his times, dedicated most of his poetry to one Lady Selvaggia. He was most admired by Dante and later by Petrarch. This poetic correspondence is noteworthy because it shows both Cino’s and Dante’s equal concept of love. 

“Since the ninth revolution of my sun,” my ninth year, as in Vita Nuova II. These poems were written after both Cino and Dante were exiled from their respective cities (c.1303-1306). Dante’s reply to Cino suggests that he should accept his new love if the old one has lost its sparkle. Love is not obstructed by free will.


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