Love Poems

Voi che savete ragionar d’Amore
 
Voi che savete ragionar d’Amore,
udite la ballata mia pietosa,
che parla d’una donna disdegnosa,
la qual m’ha tolto il cor per suo valore.
 
Tanto disdegna qualunque la mira,                  5
che fa chinare gli occhi di paura,
però che intorno a’ suoi sempre si gira
d’ogni crudelitate una pintura;
ma dentro portan la dolze figura
ch’a l’anima gentil fa dir: “Merzede!”,             10
si vertuosa, che quando si vede,
trae li sospiri altrui fora del core.
 
Par ch’ella dica: “Io non sarò umile
verso d’alcun che ne li occhi mi guardi,
ch’io ci porto entro quel segnor gentile          15
che m’ha fatto sentir de li suoi dardi”.
E certo i’ credo che così li guardi
per vederli per sé quando le piace,
a quella guisa retta donna face
quando si mira per volere onore.                   20
 
Io non ispero che mai per pietate
degnasse di guardare un poco altrui,
così è fera donna in sua bieltate
questa che sente Amor ne gli occhi sui.
Ma quanto vuol nasconda e guardi lui,           25
ch’io non veggia talor tanta salute;
però che i miei disiri avran vertute
contra ‘l disdegno che mi dà tremore.
 
You, Who Know Well How to Converse of Love
You, who know well how to converse of Love,
oh, listen to my ballad of dismay,
that speaks of a disdainful lady, who
with all her worth has snatched my heart away.
 
She so disdains whoever looks at her,                      5
that he in fear must bend his gaze at once:
a cruel image ‘round her eyes is seen,
dwelling forever in her every glance;
and yet a portrait of all loveliness
is also there, which makes a gentle soul                 10
say, “Mercy!” with so much humility,
it causes men to sigh, who her can see.
 
She seems to say, “I will not humble be
to those who try to look straight in my eyes,
for it is there that gentle lord abides,                       15
who made me feel the sharpness of his darts.”
And this, I know, is how she likes to see them,
to savor, when she pleases, all their sight,
like a wise woman, with her mirror faced,
watching herself and wishing to be praised.             20
 
I do not hope that, being kind, she may
deign other people of a single look,
such is the hardness by her beauty brought,
and such is Love she feels within her eyes.
But let her watch him to her heart’s content,           25
and hide so much salvation from my gaze:
all my desires will at last prevail
against the harsh disdain that makes me pale.

Notes:

You Who Well Know How To Converse Of Love  / (Voi che savete ragionar d’Amore

The present allegorical ballad describes the poet’s hope in the realization of his desires, though the woman is disdainful and cruel. For the narcissistic theme of “watching herself and wishing to be praised,” see also Convivio IV,ii,16 and Purgatory 27.


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