To Laura In Death. Sonnet XI.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Se lamentar augelli, o Verdi fronde.


If the lorn bird complain, or rustling sweep
Soft summer airs o'er foliage waving slow,
Or the hoarse brook come murmuring down the steep,
Where on the enamell'd bank I sit below
With thoughts of love that bid my numbers flow;
'Tis then I see her, though in earth she sleep!
Her, form'd in heaven! I see, and hear, and know!
Responsive sighing, weeping as I weep:
"Alas," she pitying says, "ere yet the hour,
Why hurry life away with swifter flight?
Why from thy eyes this flood of sorrow pour?
No longer mourn my fate! through death my days
Become eternal! to eternal light
These eyes, which seem'd in darkness closed, I raise!"


Where the green leaves exclude the summer beam,
And softly bend as balmy breezes blow,
And where with liquid lapse the lucid stream
Across the fretted rock is heard to flow,
Pensive I lay: when she whom earth conceals
As if still living to my eye appears;
And pitying Heaven her angel form reveals
To say, "Unhappy Petrarch, dry your tears.
Ah! why, sad lover, thus before your time
In grief and sadness should your life decay,
And, like a blighted flower, your manly prime
In vain and hopeless sorrow fade away?
Ah! yield not thus to culpable despair;
But raise thine eyes to heaven and think I wait thee there!"


Moved by the summer wind when all is still,
The light leaves quiver on the yielding spray;
Sighs from its flowery bank the lucid rill,
While the birds answer in their sweetest lay.
Vain to this sickening heart these scenes appear:
No form but hers can meet my tearful eyes;
In every passing gale her voice I hear;
It seems to tell me, "I have heard thy sighs.
But why," she cries, "in manhood's towering prime,
In grief's dark mist thy days, inglorious, hide?
Ah! dost thou murmur, that my span of time
Has join'd eternity's unchanging tide?
Yes, though I seem'd to shut mine eyes in night,
They only closed to wake in everlasting light!"


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