Poems for the Stone Lady 

Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d’ombra
 
Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d’ombra
son giunto, lasso, ed al bianchir de’ colli,
quando si perde lo color ne l’erba:
e ‘l mio disio però non cangia il verde,
sí è barbato ne la dura petra                          5
che parla e sente come fosse donna.
 
Similemente questa nova donna
si sta gelata come neve a l’ombra;
ché non la move, se non come petra,
il dolce tempo che riscalda i colli,               10
e che li fa tornar di bianco in verde
perché li copre di fioretti e d’erba.
 
Quand’ella ha in testa una ghirlanda d’erba,
trae de la mente nostra ogn’altra donna;
perché si mischia il crespo giallo e ‘l verde     5
sí bel, ch’Amor il viene a stare a l’ombra,
che m’ha serrato intra piccioli colli
più forte assai che la calcina petra.
 
La sua bellezza ha più vertù che petra,
e ‘l colpo suo non può sanar per erba;         20
ch’io son fuggito per piani e per colli,
per potere scampar da cotal donna;
e dal suo lume non mi può far ombra
poggio né muro mai né fronda verde.
 
Io l’ho veduta già vestita a verde,                 25
sí fatta ch’ella avrebbe messo in petra
l’amor ch’io porto pur a la sua ombra:
ond’io l’ho chesta in un bel prato d’erba,
innamorata com’anco fu donna,
e chiuso intorno d’altissimi colli.                  30
 
Ma ben ritorneranno i fiumi a’ colli,
prima che questo legno molle e verde
s’infiammi, come suol far bella donna,
di me; che mi torrei dormire in petra
tutto il mio tempo e gir pascendo l’erba,       35
sol per veder do’ suol parmi fanno ombra.
 
Quandunque i colli fanno più nera ombra, 
sotto un bel verde la giovane donna 
la fa sparer, com’uom petra sott’erba.
 
To the Short Day and Its Great Arc of Shadow
 
To the short day and its great arc of shadow,
I’ve come, alas, and to the paling hills,
now that all colors vanish from the grass;
yet this my longing does not change its green,
rooted as it is still in the hard stone                         5
that speaks and hears as though it were a woman.
 
In a like fashion this new, wondrous woman
stays frozen just as snow within the shadow;
unmoved, not any more than is a stone,
by the sweet season that warms up the hills           10
and makes them turn once more from white to green,
covering them with flowerets and grass.
 
When round her brow she wears a wreath of grass,
we cannot think of any other woman,
for she alone blends waving gold and green              15
so gracefully that Love rests in their shadow—
he who has locked me fast inside low hills
much more than lime has ever locked a stone.
 
Her beauty’s worth far more than precious stone,
and for her wounds there is no healing grass.           20
Long have I run through plainland and on hills
in order to escape from such a woman:
such is her light, it never offers shadow
either of knoll or wall or branches’ green.
 
I have already seen her clad in green,                      25
so perfect, she could have inspired a stone
with the same love I bear her very shadow;
and so I begged her on fair fields of grass:
she seemed as much in love as any woman
there on that meadow closed by lofty hills.               30
 
But well may rivers flow back to their hills
before this wood, that is still soft and green,
is able to catch fire, as does fair woman,
for me, who gladly would on some hard stone
sleep all my life or simply feed on grass,                  35
only to watch her garments cast a shadow.
 
Although the hills now cast a blacker shadow,
under the green the youthful woman makes it,
vanish, as one a stone beneath the grass.

Notes:

To the Short Day and Its Great Arc of Shadow / Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d’ombra)

Dante wrote this sestina in imitation of Arnaut Daniel, the great master of this difficult type of composition. Again the season is winter. The lover’s passion has not changed nor has the woman’s heart of stone.


Return to previous poem

Home

Next poem