Later Poems

Per quella via che la bellezza corre
 
Per quella via che la bellezza corre
quando a svegliare Amor va ne la mente,
passa Lisetta baldanzosamente,
come colei che mi si crede tòrre.
 
E quando è giunta a piè di quella torre             5
che s’apre quando l’anima acconsente,
odesi voce dir subitamente:
“Volgiti, bella donna, e non ti porre:
 
però che dentro un’altra donna siede,
la qual di signoria chiese la verga                   10
tosto che giunse, e Amor glila diede”.
 
Quando Lisetta accommiatar si vede
da quella parte dove Amore alberga,
tutta dipinta di vergogna riede.
 
Along the Road Where Beauty’s Seen to Run
 
Along the road where beauty’s seen to run,
eager to waken Love within the mind,
boldly Lisetta comes, and looks like one
determined with her love my love to bind.
 
And when she finally has reached the tower         5
which opens when the kindly soul agrees,
a voice is heard to utter suddenly:
“Turn back, beautiful lady: enter not,
 
“because another lady reigns in here,
who, as she came, begged Love to let her have   10
his scepter, and he pleased her then and there.”
 
So, when you see Lisetta quickly go
away from that one place where Love does live,
away she goes, shame painted on her face.

Notes:

Along the Road Where Beauty’s Seen to Run / (Per quella via che la bellezza corre)
 
The identity of the woman, Lisetta, remains an insoluble puzzle. The verse, “when she finally has reached the tower”: means when she has conquered my mind. (See Convivio, II,ii,3). Is this Lisetta, the “donna gentile” of Vita Nuova, 35-38, who was trying to usurp Beatrice’s place? It is quite possible, as Barbi and Foster-Boyde have shown.

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