Sestina V.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Alia dolce ombra de le belle frondi.


Beneath the pleasant shade of beauteous leaves
I ran for shelter from a cruel light,
E'en here below that burnt me from high heaven,
When the last snow had ceased upon the hills,
And amorous airs renew'd the sweet spring time,
And on the upland flourish'd herbs and boughs.

Ne'er did the world behold such graceful boughs,
Nor ever wind rustled so verdant leaves,
As were by me beheld in that young time:
So that, though fearful of the ardent light,
I sought not refuge from the shadowing hills,
But of the plant accepted most in heaven.

A laurel then protected from that heaven:
Whence, oft enamour'd with its lovely boughs,
A roamer I have been through woods, o'er hills,
But never found I other trunk, nor leaves
Like these, so honour'd with supernal light,
Which changed not qualities with changing time.

Wherefore each hour more firm, from time to time
Following where I heard my call from heaven,
And guided ever by a soft clear light,
I turn'd, devoted still, to those first boughs,
Or when on earth are scatter'd the sere leaves,
Or when the sun restored makes green the hills.

The woods, the rocks, the fields, the floods, and hills,
All that is made, are conquer'd, changed by time:
And therefore ask I pardon of those leaves,
If after many years, revolving heaven
Sway'd me to flee from those entangling boughs,
When I begun to see its better light.

So dear to me at first was the sweet light,
That willingly I pass'd o'er difficult hills,
But to be nearer those beloved boughs;
Now shortening life, the apt place and full time
Show me another path to mount to heaven,
And to make fruit not merely flowers and leaves.

Other love, other leaves, and other light,
Other ascent to heaven by other hills
I seek--in sooth 'tis time--and other boughs.


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