Poems from the Vita Nuova

Venite a intender li sospiri miei
Venite a intender li sospiri miei,
Oi cor gentili, chè pietà ‘l disia,
Li quai disconsolati vanno via,
E s’e’ non fosser, di dolor morrei;
Però che gli occhi mi sarebber rei,                5
Molte fiate più ch’io non vorria,
Lasso! di pianger sì la donna mia
Che sfogasser lo cor, piangendo lei.
Voi udirete lor chiamar sovente
La mia donna gentil, che si n’è gita               10
Al secol degno de la sua vertute;
E dispregiar talora questa vita
In persona de l’anima dolente
Abbandonata de la sua salute.
Come, Gentle Hearts, and Heed My Every Sigh
Come, gentle hearts, and heed my every sigh,
for it is pity that now wishes so.
Away all of my sighs in sadness go,
and yet I would of grief, without them, die.
Guilty these eyes of mine would prove if they,         5
oh, much more often than I so would wish,
should mourn my lady with the utmost woe,
and soothe, in mourning her, my heart’s dismay.
Come! You will hear them sigh and often call
my gentle lady, oh, my lovely lady,                       10
gone to her virtue’s worthy century.
For often they despise this life already—
here in the body of this grieving soul,
bereft of its salvation utterly.


Come, Gentle Hearts, And Heed My Every Sigh — (Venite a intender li sospiri miei) — (XXXII)

The narrative part informs us that the sonnet was written at the request of Beatrice’s brother—possibly one Manetto Portinari who had friendly ties with both Dante and Cavalcanti who begged him to compose a sonnet for a woman who had died making believe that it was someone other than Beatrice. The poet, thus, writes the sonnet as if it were his friend’s, with less personal lamentation.

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