A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Poi che voi ed io più volte abbiam provato.


Still has it been our bitter lot to prove
How hope, or e'er it reach fruition, flies!
Up then to that high good, which never dies,
Lift we the heart--to heaven's pure bliss above.
On earth, as in a tempting mead, we rove,
Where coil'd 'mid flowers the traitor serpent lies;
And, if some casual glimpse delight our eyes,
'Tis but to grieve the soul enthrall'd by Love.
Oh! then, as thou wouldst wish ere life's last day
To taste the sweets of calm unbroken rest,
Tread firm the narrow, shun the beaten way--
Ah! to thy friend too well may be address'd:
"Thou show'st a path, thyself most apt to stray,
Which late thy truant feet, fond youth, have never press'd."


Friend, as we both in confidence complain
To see our ill-placed hopes return in vain,
Let that chief good which must for ever please
Exalt our thought and fix our happiness.
This world as some gay flowery field is spread,
Which hides a serpent in its painted bed,
And most it wounds when most it charms our eyes,
At once the tempter and the paradise.
And would you, then, sweet peace of mind restore,
And in fair calm expect your parting hour,
Leave the mad train, and court the happy few.
Well may it be replied, "O friend, you show
Others the path, from which so often you
Have stray'd, and now stray farther than before."


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