Allegorical Poems

Poscia ch’Amor del tutto m’ha lasciato
 
Poscia ch’Amor del tutto m’ha lasciato,
non per mio grato,
ché stato non avea tanto gioioso,
ma però che pietoso
fu tanto del meo core,                                   5
che non sofferse d’ascoltar suo pianto;
i’ canterò così disamorato
contra ‘l peccato,
ch’è nato in noi, di chiamare a ritroso
tal ch’è vile e noioso                                    10
con nome di valore,
cioè di leggiadria, ch’è bella tanto
che fa degno di manto
imperial colui dov’ella regna:
ell’è verace insegna                                     15
la qual dimostra u’ la vertù dimora;
per ch’io son certo, se ben la difendo
nel dir com’io la ‘ntendo,
ch’Amor di sé mi farà grazia ancora.
 
Sono che per gittar via loro avere                  20
credon potere
capere là dove li boni stanno,
che dopo morte fanno
riparo ne la mente
a quei cotanti c’hanno canoscenza.              25
Ma lor messione a’ bon non pò piacere;
per che tenere
savere fora, e fuggiriano il danno,
che si aggiugne a lo ‘nganno
di loro e de la gente                                    30
c’hanno falso iudicio in lor sentenza.
Qual non dirà fallenza
divorar cibo ed a lussuria intendere?
ornarsi, come vendere
si dovesse al mercato di non saggi?             35
ché ’l saggio non pregia om per vestimenta,
ch’altrui sono ornamenta,
ma pregia il senno e li genti coraggi.
 
E altri son che, per esser ridenti,
d’intendimenti                                             40
correnti voglion esser iudicati
da quei che so’ ingannati
veggendo rider cosa
che lo ‘ntelletto cieco non la vede.
E’ parlan con vocaboli eccellenti;                  45
vanno spiacenti,
contenti che da lunga sian mirati;
non sono innamorati
mai di donna amorosa;
né parlamenti lor tengono scede;                  50
non moveriano il piede
per donneare a guisa di leggiadro,
ma come al furto il ladro,
così vanno a pigliar villan diletto;
e non però che ‘n donne è sì dispento           55
leggiadro portamento,
che paiono animal sanza intelletto.
 
Ancor che ciel con cielo in punto sia,
che leggiadria
disvia cotanto, e più che quant’io conto,        60
io, che le sono conto
merzè d’una gentile
che la mostrava in tutti gli atti sui,
non tacerò di lei, ché villania
far mi parria                                                65
si ria, ch’a’ suoi nemici sarei giunto:
perché da questo punto
con rima più sottile
tratterò il ver di lei, ma non so cui.
Eo giuro per colui                                        70
ch’Amor si chiama ed è pien di salute,
che sanza ovrar vertute
nessun pote acquistar verace loda:
dunque, se questa mia matera è bona,
come ciascun ragiona,                                 75
sarà vertù o con vertù s’annoda.
 
Non è pura vertù la disviata,
poi ch’è blasmata,
negata la ‘v’è più vertù richesta,
cioè in gente onesta                                    80
di vita spiritale
o in abito che di scïenza tiene.
Dunque, s’ell’è in cavalier lodata,
sarà mischiata,
causata di più cose; per che questa              85
conven che di sé vesta
l’un bene e l’altro male,
ma vertù pura in ciascuno sta bene.
Sollazzo è che convene
con esso Amore e l’opera perfetta:                90
da questo terzo retta
è vera leggiadria e in esser dura,
sì come il sole al cui esser s’adduce
lo calore e la luce
con la perfetta sua bella figura. 95
 
Al gran pianeto è tutta simigliante
che, dal levante
avante infino a tanto che s’asconde,
co li bei raggi infonde
vita e vertù qua giuso                                 100
ne la matera sì com’è disposta:
e questa, disdegnosa di cotante
persone, quante
sembiante portan d’omo, e non responde
il lor frutto a le fronde                                 105
per lo mal c’hanno in uso,
simili beni al cor gentile accosta;
ché ’n donar vita è tosta
co’ bei sembianti e co’ begli atti novi
ch’ognora par che trovi,                              110
e vertù per essemplo a chi lei piglia.
Oh falsi cavalier, malvagi e rei,
nemici di costei,
ch’al prenze de le stelle s’assimiglia!
 
Dona e riceve l’om cui questa vole,             115
mai non sen dole;
né ‘l sole per donar luce a le stelle, 
né per prender da elle
nel suo effetto aiuto;
ma l’uno e l’altro in ciò diletto tragge.          120
Già non s’induce a ira per parole,
ma quelle sole
ricole che son bone, e sue novelle
sono leggiadre e belle;
per sé caro è tenuto                                  125
e disiato da persone sagge,
ché de l’altre selvagge
cotanto laude quanto biasmo prezza;
per nessuna grandezza
monta in orgoglio, ma quando gl’incontra    130
che sua franchezza li conven mostrare,
quivi si fa laudare.
Color che vivon fanno tutti contra.
 
Since Love Has Parted Company with Me
 
Since Love has parted company with me—
to no delight
of mine, as never had I known such bliss,
but only for the fact
he pitied so my heart                                               5
he could not bear its crying any more—
I, out of love, will now my song begin
about the sin
that inly dwells, and loudly welcomes back
the vilest thing on earth—                                      10
the one whose name is worth
or charm, a thing so fair it makes the soul,
in which he reigns, most worthy
of both a throne and an imperial cloak;
it is the faultless sign                                             15
that tells and points the way to virtue’s home.
If I defend it just as well as I
conceived of it within,
Love, I am sure, will pardon me again.
 
I know of men who give their wealth away,               20
and thus believe
they can be where the Blessed Spirits stay,
who after death find refuge
within the intellects
of those alone who have true knowledge. Yet           25
their mission does not please those goodly souls,
for to possess
would mean to know, and they would thus escape
punishment, which is added
to the deception of                                                 30
themselves and those who wrongly heeded them.
Who would not call it madness
only to live for food, and follow lust,
or to adorn oneself
as if for sale on markets of mere fools?                   35
A wise man does not judge you by your suit—
for others, ornament—
but values wisdom and courageous souls.
 
And other men exist who, prone to laughter,
want to be judged                                                  40
indeed most modern by all those who are
so utterly deceived
that they can only laugh
at something their blind minds can never see.
The words they choose are truly excellent;              45
sadly they walk,
quite eager to be noticed from afar;
they’re not in love
with any loving woman;
in all their conversations they tell jokes;                  50
they’d never move their feet
in any way you’d call effeminate,
and yet, like noiseless thieves,
they go to steal vulgarity of bliss:
therefore, in women too, is charm of grace               55
wasted and wholly spent,
if they resemble beasts devoid of intellect.
 
Though heaven seem to fight with heaven so,
that every grace
is farther from its center than I say,                         60
I, who have known it well—
thanks to a gentle one
who in her actions used to show it all—
will speak of her: the contrary would seem
so great a sin                                                        65
to me, I, too, would be one of her foes:
so, from this moment hence,
with a more subtle rhyme
I’ll tell the truth about her (but to whom?).
Hereby by him I swear,                                          70
whose name is Love, and who can fully save,
that with no worthy deeds
no one can earn a truly lasting praise:
so, if the matter of my song is good,
as everybody says,                                               75
then, if not virtue, it is virtue’s friend.
 
What is off center is no more pure virtue,
for it is blamed
and there denied where virtue’s wanted most,
that is, by honest men                                          80
of inner life or those
who wear the cloak of science every day.
Therefore, if it is lauded in a knight,
it is a blend
of many things that makes it, insofar                      85
as it must share its dress
both with the good and ill,
whereas pure virtue prospers best in both.
Delight alone fares well
with Love himself and with the perfect work;            90
it is this third sustains
true grace and pleasantness, and makes them live:
likewise, for its existence, the bright sun
is granted heat and light
together with a perfect loveliness.                           95
 
Fully this thing is like the mighty planet
that, from the east
onward, until the time it hides away,
spreads with its beauteous rays
power and life below                                            100
into the matter that was firstly made;
and this, disdainful of as many persons
as on this earth
have human features, does not bear as many
fruits as the numbered leaves,                              105
to punish their abuse.
Compare such goods now with a gentle heart:
it gives a sudden life
through loveliness of face and actions new—
which never are extinct—                                     110
and worth to those who her example follow.
O false, and wicked, and most guilty knights,
enemies of that grace
resembling the high prince of every star!
 
The man who chooses it, gives and receives          115
with no regret,
just as the sun gives every star its light
and takes from each of them
strength for its own effect
in an outpour of mutual delight.                             120
Words do not lead him ever into wrath,
for he selects
those that are good, and every tale he tells
is beautiful and dear;
for what he truly is                                               125
is he esteemed and welcomed by the wise,
as savages cannot
either by praise or blame attract his thought;
and for no summit does
he soar to pride: but when he someone meets,      130
eager to know his whole sincerity,
he lets himself be praised.
But living mortals do the opposite.

Notes:

Since Love Has Parted Company With Me / (Poscia ch’Amor del tutto m’ha lasciato)

In this canzone the poet, abandoned by Love, will take up the challenge of defending the true meaning of “Valore” (Worth) and “Leggiadria” (Charm), qualities that are being claimed by vile and unpleasant people. Dante, therefore, as a poet of rectitude (cantor rectitudinis) laments the depreciation of these values, which are the essence of fin amor.


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