Poems from the Convivio

Voi che ‘ntendendo il terzo ciel movete
Voi che ‘ntendendo il terzo ciel movete,
udite il ragionar ch’ nel mio core,
ch’io nol so dire altrui, si mi par novo.
El ciel che segue lo vostro valore,
gentili creature che voi sete,                         5
mi tragge ne lo stato ov’io mi trovo.
Onde ‘l parlar de la vita ch’io provo,
par che si drizzi degnamente a vui:
per vi priego che lo mi ‘ntendiate.
Io vi dir del cor la novitate,                          10
come l’anima trista piange in lui,
e come un spirto contra lei favella,
che vien pe’ raggi de la vostra stella.
Suol esser vita de lo cor dolente
un soave penser, che se ne ga                    15
molte fiate a’ pie, del nostro Sire,
ove una donna gloriar vedia,
di cui parlava me s dolcemente
che l’anima dicea: “Io men vo’ gire”.
Or apparisce chi lo fa fuggire                       20
e segnoreggia me di tal virtute,
che ‘l cor ne trema che di fuori appare.
Questi mi face una donna guardare,
e dice: “Chi veder vuol la salute,
faccia che li occhi d’esta donna miri,            25
sed e’ non teme angoscia di sospiri”.
Trova contraro tal che lo distrugge
l’umil pensero, che parlar mi sole
d’un’angela che ‘n cielo coronata.
L’anima piange, s ancor len dole,                30
e dice: “Oh lassa a me, come si fugge
questo piatoso che m’ha consolata!”
De li occhi miei dice questa affannata:
“Qual ora fu che tal donna li vide!
e perch non credeano a me di lei?              35
Io dicea: ‘Ben ne li occhi di costei
de’ star colui che le mie pari ancide!’
E non mi valse ch’io ne fossi accorta
che non mirasser tal, ch’io ne son morta”.
“Tu non se’ morta, ma se’ ismarrita,             40
anima nostra, che s ti lamenti”
dice uno spiritel d’amor gentile;
“ch quella bella donna che tu senti,
ha transmutata in tanto la tua vita,
che n’hai paura, si se’ fatta vile!                   45
Mira quant’ell’ pietosa e umile,
saggia e cortese ne la sua grandezza,
e pensa di chiamarla donna, omai!
Ch se tu non t’inganni, tu vedrai
di s alti miracoli adornezza,                        50
che tu dirai: ‘Amor, segnor verace,
ecco l’ancella tua; fa che ti piace’”.
Canzone, io credo che saranno radi
color che tua ragione intendan bene,
tanto la parli faticosa e forte.                        55
Onde, se per ventura elli addivene
che tu dinanzi da persone vadi
che non ti paian d’essa bene accorte,
allor ti priego che ti riconforte,
dicendo lor, diletta mia novella:                    60
“Ponete mente almen com’io son bella!”
O Intelligences Moving the Third Heaven
O Intelligences moving the third heaven,
the reasons heed that from my heart come forth,
so new, it seems, that no one else should know.
The heaven set in motion by your worth,
beings in gentleness created even,                     5
keeps my existence in its present woe,
so that to speak of what I feel and know
means to converse most worthily with you:
I beg you, then, to listen to me well.
Of something in me new I now will tell—             10
how grief and sadness this my soul subdue,
and how a contradiction from afar
speaks through the rays descending from your star.
A thought of loveliness seems now to be
life to my ailing heart: it used to fly                    15
oft to the very presence of your Sire;
and there a glorious Lady sitting high
it also saw, who spoke so pleasingly,
my soul would say “Up there dwells my desire.”
Now one appears, which I in dread admire          20
a mighty lord that makes it flee away,
so mighty, terror from my heart outflows.
To me he brings a lady very close,
and “Who salvation seeks,” I hear him say,
“let him but gaze into this lady’s eyes,               25
if he can suffer agony of sighs.”
Such is the contradiction, it can slay
the humble thought that is still telling me
of a fair angel up in heaven crowned.
My soul bemoans its present misery,                30
saying, “Unhappy me! How fast away
went he, in whom I had some solace found!”
And of my eyes it says, with mournful sound,
“When was it such a lady pierced their sight?
Why did they fail to see me in her guise?           35
I said, ‘Oh, surely, in this lady’s eyes
the one must dwell who kills my peers with fright.’
To no avail I warned them (Oh, my dread!),
but look at her they did, and I fell dead.”
“Oh, no, not dead, you are bewildered much,      40
O my poor soul, so pained and grieving so,”
replies a loving spirit, kind and sweet,
“For the fair woman, that you feel and know,
has changed your life so quickly and so much,
you now are trembling in your vile defeat.           45
Look how humility and mercy meet
in one so wise and gentle in her height:
so call her Lady, as by now you must.
And you will see, if steadfast is your trust,
such lofty miracles, such full delight,                 50
you’ll say, ‘O Love, true lord, do as you please:
here is your humble handmaid on her knees.’”
My song, I do believe that those are few
who can unravel your most hidden sense,
so intricate and mighty is your wit.                    55
Therefore, if by some fate or circumstance
you stray and venture among people who
seem not completely to have fathomed it,
oh, then, I pray, console yourself a bit,
and say, O lovely latest song, to them,              60
“Notice, at least, how beautiful I am!”


Intelligences Moving the Third Heaven  / (Voi che ‘ntendendo il terzo ciel movete)

This canzone heads the second treatise of the Convivio and provides the subject matter for its literal and allegorical commentary. The Intelligences are those angels movers of the sphere of Venus (Convivio II,ii,6-7). In the Convivio they are the Thrones. Venus, moreover, corresponds to the third art of the Trivium, Rhetoric. The “reasoning” is “new” for it is extraordinary, never before felt; it is also an allusion to a renovation, as in the Vita Nuova. The thought of Beatrice is threatened by “a mighty lord,” the thought of another woman “the gentle lady of Vita Nuova XXXV. The thought of Beatrice “in whom I had some solace found,” (Cfr. Convivio II,ii,2)— whose power lifted him “to the very presence of your Sire” — is being replaced by the new love in whom the lover can see how “humility and mercy meet/ in one so wise and gentle in her height: so call her Lady”; Lady meaning “signora” in its etymology. In the congedo the poet stresses the formal beauty of the song as a consolation for those who cannot grasp its meaning.

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