Ballata I.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Lassare il velo o per sole o per ombra.


Never thy veil, in sun or in the shade,
Lady, a moment I have seen
Quitted, since of my heart the queen
Mine eyes confessing thee my heart betray'd
While my enamour'd thoughts I kept conceal'd.
Those fond vain hopes by which I die,
In thy sweet features kindness beam'd:
Changed was the gentle language of thine eye
Soon as my foolish heart itself reveal'd;
And all that mildness which I changeless deem'd--
All, all withdrawn which most my soul esteem'd.
Yet still the veil I must obey,
Which, whatsoe'er the aspect of the day,
Thine eyes' fair radiance hides, my life to overshade.


Wherefore, my unkind fair one, say,
Whether the sun fierce darts his ray,
Or whether gloom o'erspreads the sky,
That envious veil is ne'er thrown by;
Though well you read my heart, and knew
How much I long'd your charms to view?
While I conceal'd each tender thought,
That my fond mind's destruction wrought,
Your face with pity sweetly shone;
But, when love made my passion known,
Your sunny locks were seen no more,
Nor smiled your eyes as heretofore;
Behind a jealous cloud retired
Those beauties which I most admired.
And shall a veil thus rule my fate?
O cruel veil, that whether heat
Or cold be felt, art doom'd to prove
Fatal to me, shadowing the lights I love!


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