Poems from the Vita Nuova

Li occhi dolenti per pietà del core
 
Li occhi dolenti per pietà del core
Hanno di lagrimar sofferta pena,
Sì che per vinti son remasi omai.
Ora, s’i’ voglio sfogar lo dolore
Che a poco a poco a la morte mi mena,         5
Convenemi parlar traendo guai.
E perché me ricorda ch’ io parlai
De la mia donna, mentre che vivia,
Donne gentili, volentier con vui,
Non voi parlare altrui,                                   10
Se non a cor gentil che in donna sia;
E dicerò di lei piangendo, pui
Che si n’è gita in ciel subitamente,
E ha lasciato Amor meco dolente.
 
Ita n’è Beatrice in l’alto cielo,                       15
Nel reame ove li angeli hanno pace,
E sta con loro, e voi, donne, ha lassate:
No la ci tolse qualità di gelo
Né di calore, come l’altre face,
Ma solo fue sua gran benignitate;                 20
Ché luce de la sua umilitate
Passò li cieli con tanta vertute,
Che fe’ maravigliar l’etterno sire,
Sì che dolce disire
Lo giunse di chiamar tanta salute;                25
E fella di qua giù a sé venire,
Perché vedea ch’esta vita noiosa
Non era degna di sì gentil cosa.
 
Partissi de la sua bella persona
Piena di grazia l’anima gentile,                     30
Ed èssi gloriosa in loco degno.
Chi no la piange quando ne ragiona,
Core ha di pietra sì malvagio e vile
Ch’entrar no i puote spirito benegno.
Non è di cor villan sì alto ingegno,                 35
Che possa imaginar di lei alquanto,
E però no li ven di pianger doglia:
Ma ven tristizia e voglia
Di sospirare e di morir di pianto,
E d’onne consolar l’anima spoglia                40
Chi vede nel pensero alcuna volta
Quale ella fue, e com’ella n’è tolta.
 
Dannomi angoscia li sospiri forte,
Quando ‘l pensero ne la mente grave
Mi reca quella che m’ha ‘l cor diviso:            45
E spesse fiate pensando a la morte,
Venemene un disio tanto soave
Che mi tramuta lo color nel viso.
E quando ‘l maginar mi ven ben fiso,
Giugnemi tanta pena d’ogne parte,               50
Ch’io mi riscuoto per dolor ch’i’ sento;
E sì fatto divento
Che da le genti vergogna mi parte.
Poscia piangendo, sol nel mio lamento
Chiamo Beatrice, e dico: “Or se’ tu morta?”;  55
mentre ch’io la chiamo, me conforta.
 
Pianger di doglia e sospirar d’angoscia
Mi strugge ‘I core ovunque sol mi trovo,
Sì che ne ‘ncrescerebbe a chi m’audesse:
E quale è stata la mia vita, poscia                60
Che la mia donna andò nel secol novo,
Lingua non è che dicer lo sapesse:
Però, donne mie, pur ch’io volesse,
Non vi saprei io dir ben quel ch’io sono,
Sì mi fa travagliar l’acerba vita;                     65
La quale è sì ‘nvilita
Che ogn’om par che mi dica: “Io t’abbandono”,
Veggendo la mia labbia tramortita.
Ma qual ch’io sia, la mia donna il si vede,
E io ne spero ancor da lei merzede.               70
 
Pietosa mia canzone, or va piangendo;
E ritruova le donne e le donzelle
A cui le tue sorelle
Erano usate di portar letizia;
E tu, che se’ figliuola di tristizia,                   75
Vatten disconsolata a star con elle.
 
These Eyes, that Grieve in Pity for My Heart
 
These eyes, that grieve in pity for my heart,
have known the suffering of every tear,
so utterly are they by now undone.
Today, if I decide to vent my smart,
which to my death so slowly brings me near,         5
I must at the same time both speak and moan.
And since I well remember that I spoke,
O gentle ladies, willingly with you
about my lady while she was alive,
none will I now address                                        10
but ladies who a gentle heart possess.
Weeping, I then will speak of her again,
who to her heaven went so suddenly,
leaving Love grieving here on earth with me.
 
To the high heaven Beatrice is gone,                     15
up to the realm where angels dwell in peace,
and lives with them. To you she bade farewell.‘Tis no degree of cold on her has won,
nor of such heat as makes all others cease:
it only was her goodness’ great appeal.                 20
So did her shining humbleness excel,
it passed the heavens with such wondrous worth,
it moved to marvel the eternal Sire,
so that a sweet desire
pricked Him to call such worthiness from earth,     25
and made her to himself go from down here:
for well He saw this life of suffering
had not been made for such a gentle thing.
 
Her gentle spirit, full of gentle grace,
at last departed from her beauteous frame,            30
and chose in glory its most worthy home.
He who weeps not, when talking of her trace,
harbors a heart of wickedness and shame,
to which no kindly spirits ever come.
No mind, if heart is wicked, may so roam              35
as to imagine in the least her lot:
therefore no grief or weeping will transpire.
But sadness and desir
of tears and sighs and death, and every thought
that fails to comfort for a loss immense,                 40
conquer those souls that even once recall
the thing she was, now taken from us all.
 
Ah, so much anguish nearly halts my breath
when the least thought to this my grievous mind
brings back the one who split my heart in me;       45
and oftentimes, when thinking but of death,
so sweet a longing does all of me bind,
the color from my face fades utterly.
And when the imagining is sharp in me,
from everywhere I’m struck by such dismay           50
that at the ache I feel right then I start,
and so distraught I grow,
shame causes me from every crowd to stray.
Afterward, in laments and tears I go,
calling my Beatrice. I say, “You’re dead!”              55
and so, in calling her, am comforted.
 
Weeping from grieving, sighing from dismay
so wreck my heart, wher’ver I am alone,
I’d move whoever my lament could hear.
And what my whole existence has been, after       60
my lady went to her new century,
no tongue would ever know how to reveal:
and so, my ladies, even if I would,
I could not tell you what I am today.
My life has now become such bitterness,              65
a thing of such distress,
that “I abandon you,” men seem to say,
seeing my every feature grown so dumb.
Whate’er I am, my lady now can see,
and, oh, may she reward me finally.                      70
 
Wander about in tears, O my sad Song,
and all those girls and ladies find once more,
to whom your sisters bore—
accustomed so were they—delight and gladness.
And you, who are the daughter of great sadness,   75
go there and with them live forevermore.

Notes:

These Eyes, That Grieve In Pity For My Heart — (Li occhi dolenti per pietà del core)— (XXXI)

Beatrice’s death, announced in chapter XXVIIII but not discussed until chapter XXX, falls on the first hour of the ninth day of the ninth month, in the ninetieth year of the century (1290). Chapter XXIX, then, establishes her relationship to the miraculous number nine whose root is three, the Trinity. She is, therefore, a miracle rooted in the miraculous Trinity itself (ch. XXIX). The present canzone is not preceded by the technical division — which the poets usually places after the poem itself — so that it will appear more desolate as a widow after its end. At which end the poet bids the Song to find “those girls and ladies” to whom the previous canzoni (“sisters”) “bore delight and gladness” for this Song is “the daughter of great sadness.” Though the canzone is full of unbearable pain for the death of the “gentle lady,” it brings the poet great consolation.


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