Sestina VI.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Anzi tre di creata era alma in parte.


Life's three first stages train'd my soul in part
To place its care on objects high and new,
And to disparage what men often prize,
But, left alone, and of her fatal course
As yet uncertain, frolicsome, and free,
She enter'd at spring-time a lovely wood.

A tender flower there was, born in that wood
The day before, whose root was in a part
High and impervious e'en to spirit free;
For many snares were there of forms so new,
And such desire impell'd my sanguine course,
That to lose freedom were to gain a prize.

Dear, sweet, yet perilous and painful prize!
Which quickly drew me to that verdant wood,
Doom'd to mislead me midway in life's course;
The world I since have ransack'd part by part,
For rhymes, or stones, or sap of simples new,
Which yet might give me back the spirit, free.

But ah! I feel my body must be free
From that hard knot which is its richest prize,
Ere medicine old or incantations new
Can heal the wounds which pierced me in that wood,
Thorny and troublous, where I play'd such part,
Leaving it halt who enter'd with hot course.

Yes! full of snares and sticks, a difficult course
Have I to run, where easy foot and sure
Were rather needed, healthy in each part;
Thou, Lord, who still of pity hast the prize,
Stretch to me thy right hand in this wild wood,
And let thy sun dispel my darkness new.

Look on my state, amid temptations new,
Which, interrupting my life's tranquil course,
Have made me denizen of darkling wood;
If good, restore me, fetterless and free,
My wand'ring consort, and be thine the prize
If yet with thee I find her in blest part.

Lo! thus in part I put my questions new,
If mine be any prize, or run its course,
Be my soul free, or captived in close wood.


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