Sonnet CLIV.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Giunto Alessandro alla famosa tomba.

HE FEARS THAT HE IS INCAPABLE OF WORTHILY CELEBRATING HER.


The son of Philip, when he saw the tomb
Of fierce Achilles, with a sigh, thus said:
"O happy, whose achievements erst found room
From that illustrious trumpet to be spread
O'er earth for ever!"--But, beyond the gloom
Of deep Oblivion shall that loveliest maid,
Whose like to view seems not of earthly doom,
By my imperfect accents be convey'd?
Her of the Homeric, the Orphèan Lyre,
Most worthy, or that shepherd, Mantua's pride,
To be the theme of their immortal lays;
Her stars and unpropitious fate denied
This palm:--and me bade to such height aspire,
Who, haply, dim her glories by my praise.

CAPEL LOFFT.


When Alexander at the famous tomb
Of fierce Achilles stood, the ambitious sigh
Burst from his bosom--"Fortunate! on whom
Th' eternal bard shower'd honours bright and high."
But, ah! for so to each is fix'd his doom,
This pure fair dove, whose like by mortal eye
Was never seen, what poor and scanty room
For her great praise can my weak verse supply?
Whom, worthiest Homer's line and Orpheus' song,
Or his whom reverent Mantua still admires--
Sole and sufficient she to wake such lyres!
An adverse star, a fate here only wrong,
Entrusts to one who worships her dear name,
Yet haply injures by his praise her fame.

MACGREGOR.

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