Poems from the Vita Nuova

Amore e ‘l cor gentil sono una cosa
 
Amore e ‘l cor gentil sono una cosa,
Sì come il saggio in suo dittare pone,
E così esser l’un sanza l’altro osa
Com’alma razional sanza ragione.
 
Fàlli natura quand’è amorosa,                         5
Amor per sire e ‘l cor per sua magione,
Dentro la qual dormendo si riposa
Tal volta poca e tal lunga stagione.
 
Bieltate appare in saggia donna pui,
Che piace a gli occhi sì, che dentro al core    10
Nasce un disio de la cosa piacente;
 
E tanto dura talora in costui,
Che fa svegliar lo spirito d’Amore.
E simil face in donna omo valente.
 
Love and a Gentle Heart Are But One Thing
 
Love and a gentle heart are but one thing,
as the philosopher in his sentence wrote;
so they without each other live dare not
as rational spirit without reasoning.
 
‘Tis nature, when in love, makes Love a king,         5
and in his mansion lodges then the heart,
wherein he rests, as in his habitat,
either in brief or lengthy slumbering.
 
Beauty in a wise lady then appears,
which so delights the eye, the heart is taken         10
with longings of the thing that pleases so;
 
and this delight at times so long endures
it makes Love’s very spirit soon awaken.
The same a woman feels about man’s awe.

Notes:

Love And The Gentle Heart Are But One Thing — (Amore e ‘l cor gentil sono una cosa) — (XX)

2. Guido Guinizelli is “the philosopher” (d. circa 1276) who wrote the canzone “Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore,” considered by many the manifesto of the dolce stil nuovo, in which the woman is said to have “d’angel sembianza,” the semblance of an angel. In the narrative part, preceding the poem, Dante explains that, after his previous canzone was made known, one of his friends, probably Cavalcante, asked him to provide a definition of Love; thus he wrote the present sonnet.

9. When Beauty...appears — the potentiality of Love has become actualized in its effect.

14. About man’s awe—This is, perhaps, the first time the poet notes that this process is equal in both man and woman.


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