Poems from the Vita Nuova

Quantunque volte, lasso! mi rimembra
 
Quantunque volte, lasso! mi rimembra
Ch’io non debbo già mai
Veder la donna ond’io vo sì dolente,
Tanto dolore intorno ‘l cor m’assembra
La dolorosa mente,
Ch’io dico: “Anima mia, ché non ten vai?        5
Ché li tormenti che tu porterai
Nel secol, che t’è già tanto noioso,
Mi fan pensoso di paura forte ”.
Ond’io chiamo la Morte
Come soave e dolce mio riposo,                   10
E dico: “Vieni a me” con tanto amore,
Che sono astioso di chiunque more.
 
E’ si raccoglie ne li miei sospiri
Un sono di pietate,                                      15
Che va chiamando Morte tuttavia:
A lei si volser tutti i miei disiri,
Quando la donna mia
Fu giunta da la sua crudelitate;
Perchè ‘l piacere de la sua bieltate,             20
Partendo sé da la nostra veduta,
Divenne spirital bellezza grande,
Che per lo cielo spande
Luce d’amor, che li angeli saluta,
E lo intelletto loro alto, sottile                       25
Face maravigliar, sì v’è gentile.
 
Always—Unhappy Me!—When I Recall
 
Always—unhappy me!—when I recall
that nevermore shall I
behold my lady (O distressing thought!),
such is the sorrow gathered ‘round my soul
by this sad fancy brought,                                    5
that, “My poor soul,” I say, “why don’t you go?
The torments you will be escorted by
through this already boring century
makes me foresee a terror far more strong.”
Therefore for Death I long,                                    10
the only sweet and easeful rest to me,
and, “Come! Oh, come!,” with ardent love I say,
all envious of those who pass away.
 
A sound of mercy gathers in my sighs,
a sound that more and more                                15
Death, only death is calling none the less:
To her all of my longings wished to soar
the very day my Lady
was overcome by all her cruelty,
because, as soon as severed from our gaze,         20
her beauty’s great delight
into a spiritual, great beauty grew,
which now in heaven casts
a light of love that greets the angels’ sight,
and makes their intellects, high though they be,    25
marvel—such is, indeed, her courtesy.

Notes:

Always—Unhappy Me!—When I Recall — (Quantunque volte, lasso! mi rimembra)—(XXXIII)
 
The narrator notes that after having composed the previous sonnet he felt that it did not do justice to the feelings of such a close relative of this most glorious person. He, therefore, wrote these two stanzas of a canzone on behalf of his friend and of himself. To an observant reader, however, they speak for the same person. He gave both the sonnet and the stanzas to his friend saying that he had composed them on his behalf. Beatrice’s ascension to heaven “greets the angels’ sight,” meaning that she beatifies the angels with her presence (saluto-salute, greeting-beatitude) as she beatified men on earth with her greeting.

Previous poem

Home

Next Poem