Poems from the Vita Nuova

Ballata, i’ voi’ che tu ritrovi Amore
 
Ballata, i’ voi’ che tu ritrovi Amore,
E con lui vade a madonna davante,
Sì che la scusa mia, la qual tu cante,
Ragioni poi con lei lo mio segnore.
 
Tu vai, ballata, sì cortesemente,                    5
Che sanza compagnia
Dovresti avere in tutte parti ardire;
Ma se tu vuoli andar sicuramente,
Retrova l’Amor pria,
Chè forse non è bon sanza lui gire;               10
Però che quella che ti dee audire,
Sì com’io credo, è ver di me adirata:
Se tu di lui non fossi accompagnata,
Leggeramente ti faria disnore.
 
Con dolze sono, quando se’ con lui,             15
Comincia este parole,
Appresso che averai chesta pietate:
“Madonna, quelli che mi manda a vui,
Quando vi piaccia, vole,
Sed elli ha scusa, che la m’intendiate.           20
Amore è qui, che per vostra bieltate
Lo face, come vol, vista cangiare:
Dunque perchè li fece altra guardare
Pensatel voi, da che non mutò ‘l core”.
 
Dille: “Madonna, lo suo core è stato              25
Con sì fermata fede
Che ’n voi servir l’ha ‘mpronto onne pensero:
Tosto fu vostro, e mai non s’è smagato”.
Sed ella non ti crede,
Di’ che domandi Amor, che sa lo vero:          30
Ed a la fine falle umil preghero,
Lo perdonare se le fosse a noia,
Che mi comandi per messo ch’eo moia,
E vedrassi ubidir ben servidore.
 
E di’ a colui ch’è d’ogni pietà chiave,             35
Avante che sdonnei,
Che le saprà contar mia ragion bona:
“Per grazia de la mia nota soave
Reman tu qui con lei,
E del tuo servo ciò che vuoi ragiona;             40
E s’ella per tuo prego li perdona,
Fa’ che li annunzi un bel sembiante pace”.
Gentil ballata mia, quando ti piace,
Movi in quel punto che tu n’aggie onore.
 
Ballad, I Want You to Find Love Again
 
Ballad, I want you to find Love again,
so that you may him to my lady bring:
and so the pretext you describe and sing
my lady and my lord will ponder then.
 
So sweetly, ballad, you now seem to fare,             5
that with no company
you should be firm and bold in every thought;
yet, if you wish to venture free of care,
Love you must firstly see,
as wondering without him pays it not.                   10
The one who now should listen to your thought
is—I believe—most cross today with me
so that were Love to hide from you away
somewhat embarassed you would seem to be.
 
With a soft sound, when you with him abide,         15
begin to utter these
sweet words, to win her utmost courtesy:
“My lady, he who sent me to your side
begs you, if you so please,
not to disdain his most entreating plea.                 20
‘Tis Love, who for your beauty cannot be,
far though he look, save in this place alone:
so, though he gaze on features not your own,
you know that changeless still his heart you see.”
 
Tell her, “My lady, in such faithfulness                  25
has all his spirit lain,
his mind is firm in only serving you,
enchanted as he is by nothing less.”
If she believes me not,
tell her to question Love, who knows what’s true;   30
and then, oh beg her with humility,
if she should find it grievous to forgive,
omeone to send to bid me not to live,
and an obedient servant I will be.
 
And say to him, the key to piety:                          35
lest he should love no more,
all my good reasons I will quickly tell:
“Oh, for the sake of my sweet poetry,
stay with her evermore,
and of your servant say whate’er you will;              40
and if your plea can make her pitying still,
announce to her more beauty that is peace.”
Now go, O gentle ballad, when you please,
and seek the greatest honor among men.

Notes:

Ballad, I Want You To Find Love Again — (Ballata, i’ vo’ che tu ritrovi Amore)— (XII)

The prose narrates a dream-vision in which Love addresses the protagonist with obscure words. He urges him to compose a poem expressing the power Love holds over him in his love for the gentle lady and how this love has bound him since childhood. Beatrice is incensed, thus she must know that the poet’s love for the “screen-ladies” is simulated. The “pretext” allows the poet to defend himself, through the ballad, from the accusations and calumnies of which he is the center. The ballad goes out with courteous ways and acts “sweetly,” but it must be accompanied by Love in order to “venture free of care,”(8).

28. Enchanted as he is by nothing less—The translation renders perfectly the original “smagato,” which means “it has not lost its force,” from the Latin exmagare, Provençal esmagar.

36. Lest he should love no more — the original sdonnei is from the Provençal domnejar, to court, to converse with love.


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