Sonnet CCXI.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Qual paura ho, quando mi torna a mente.


O Laura! when my tortured mind
The sad remembrance bears
Of that ill-omen'd day,
When, victim to a thousand doubts and fears,
I left my soul behind,
That soul that could not from its partner stray;
In nightly visions to my longing eyes
Thy form oft seems to rise,
As ever thou wert seen,
Fair like the rose, 'midst paling flowers the queen,
But loosely in the wind,
Unbraided wave the ringlets of thy hair,
That late with studious care,
I saw with pearls and flowery garlands twined:
On thy wan lip, no cheerful smile appears;
Thy beauteous face a tender sadness wears;
Placid in pain thou seem'st, serene in grief,
As conscious of thy fate, and hopeless of relief!
Cease, cease, presaging heart! O angels, deign
To hear my fervent prayer, that all my fears be vain!


What dread I feel when I revolve the day
I left my mistress, sad, without repose,
My heart too with her: and my fond thought knows
Nought on which gladlier, oft'ner it can stay.
Again my fancy doth her form portray
Meek among beauty's train, like to some rose
Midst meaner flowers; nor joy nor grief she shows;
Not with misfortune prest but with dismay.
Then were thrown by her custom'd cheerfulness,
Her pearls, her chaplets, and her gay attire,
Her song, her laughter, and her mild address;
Thus doubtingly I quitted her I love:
Now dark ideas, dreams, and bodings dire
Raise terrors, which Heaven grant may groundless prove!


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