Sonnet LXXXI.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Cesare, poi che 'l traditor d' Egitto.


When Egypt's traitor Pompey's honour'd head
To Cæsar sent; then, records so relate,
To shroud a gladness manifestly great,
Some feigned tears the specious monarch shed:
And, when misfortune her dark mantle spread
O'er Hannibal, and his afflicted state,
He laugh'd 'midst those who wept their adverse fate,
That rank despite to wreak defeat had bred.
Thus doth the mind oft variously conceal
Its several passions by a different veil;
Now with a countenance that's sad, now gay:
So mirth and song if sometimes I employ,
'Tis but to hide those sorrows that annoy,
'Tis but to chase my amorous cares away.


Cæsar, when Egypt's cringing traitor brought
The gory gift of Pompey's honour'd head,
Check'd the full gladness of his instant thought,
And specious tears of well-feign'd pity shed:
And Hannibal, when adverse Fortune wrought
On his afflicted empire evils dread,
'Mid shamed and sorrowing friends, by laughter, sought
To ease the anger at his heart that fed.
Thus, as the mind its every feeling hides,
Beneath an aspect contrary, the mien,
Bright'ning with hope or charged with gloom, is seen.
Thus ever if I sing, or smile betides,
The outward joy serves only to conceal
The inner ail and anguish that I feel.


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