Poems from the Vita Nuova

Color d’amore e di pietà sembianti
Color d’amore e di pietà sembianti
Non preser mai così mirabilmente
Viso di donna, per veder sovente
Occhi gentili o dolorosi pianti,
Come lo vostro, qualora davanti                     5
Vedetevi la mia labbia dolente;
Sì che per voi mi ven cosa a la mente,
Ch’io temo forte non lo cor si schianti.
Eo non posso tener li occhi distrutti
Che non reguardin voi spesse fiate,               10
Per desiderio di pianger ch’elli hanno:
E voi crescete sì lor volontate,
Che de la voglia si consuman tutti;
Ma lagrimar dinanzi a voi non sanno.
Never Did Glow of Love and Pity Take
Never did glow of love and pity take
hold of a lady’s face so wondrously,
for meeting gentle glances frequently
or heeding weeping or lamenting plea,
as it does now of yours, whene’er you see               5
in front of you my melancholy face;
and so you stir my mind consequently,
fiercely afraid I am my heart may break.
I cannot keep these eyes, though wrecked and spent,
away from gazing more and more at you                 10
so is their yearning for more crying deep.
And so do you their longing still augment,
they’re only eagermost to cry anew,
yet in your presence know not how to weep.


Never Did Glow of Love and Pity Take — (Color d’amore e di pietà sembianti) — (XXXVI)
The pallid color of the face is traditionally the color of love, as Ovid states in his Ars Amandi (I, 729). Every time the poet sees this lady her face shows the same pallor of love which reminded him of his most noble lady. He cannot but gaze at her “more and more.” It is the beginning of a new love, as he will indicate in Convivio II, 2, threatening Beatrice’s love, though she still holds “the tower of his mind.”

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