Canzone III.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Verdi panni, sanguigni, oscuri o persi.

WHETHER OR NOT HE SHOULD CEASE TO LOVE LAURA.


Green robes and red, purple, or brown, or gray
No lady ever wore,
Nor hair of gold in sunny tresses twined,
So beautiful as she, who spoils my mind
Of judgment, and from freedom's lofty path
So draws me with her that I may not bear
Any less heavy yoke.

And if indeed at times--for wisdom fails
Where martyrdom breeds doubt--
The soul should ever arm it to complain
Suddenly from each reinless rude desire
Her smile recalls, and razes from my heart
Every rash enterprise, while all disdain
Is soften'd in her sight.

For all that I have ever borne for love,
And still am doom'd to bear,
Till she who wounded it shall heal my heart,
Rejecting homage e'en while she invites,
Be vengeance done! but let not pride nor ire
'Gainst my humility the lovely pass
By which I enter'd bar.

The hour and day wherein I oped my eyes
On the bright black and white,
Which drive me thence where eager love impell'd
Where of that life which now my sorrow makes
New roots, and she in whom our age is proud,
Whom to behold without a tender awe
Needs heart of lead or wood.

The tear then from these eyes that frequent falls--
HE thus my pale cheek bathes
Who planted first within my fenceless flank
Love's shaft--diverts me not from my desire;
And in just part the proper sentence falls;
For her my spirit sighs, and worthy she
To staunch its secret wounds.

Spring from within me these conflicting thoughts,
To weary, wound myself,
Each a sure sword against its master turn'd:
Nor do I pray her to be therefore freed,
For less direct to heaven all other paths,
And to that glorious kingdom none can soar
Certes in sounder bark.

Benignant stars their bright companionship
Gave to the fortunate side
When came that fair birth on our nether world,
Its sole star since, who, as the laurel leaf,
The worth of honour fresh and fragrant keeps,
Where lightnings play not, nor ungrateful winds
Ever o'ersway its head.

Well know I that the hope to paint in verse
Her praises would but tire
The worthiest hand that e'er put forth its pen:
Who, in all Memory's richest cells, e'er saw
Such angel virtue so rare beauty shrined,
As in those eyes, twin symbols of all worth,
Sweet keys of my gone heart?

Lady, wherever shines the sun, than you
Love has no dearer pledge.

MACGREGOR.

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