Sonnet CLVII.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Una candida cerva sopra l' erba.


Beneath a laurel, two fair streams between,
At early sunrise of the opening year,
A milk-white fawn upon the meadow green,
Of gold its either horn, I saw appear;
So mild, yet so majestic, was its mien,
I left, to follow, all my labours here,
As miners after treasure, in the keen
Desire of new, forget the old to fear.
"Let none impede"--so, round its fair neck, run
The words in diamond and topaz writ--
"My lord to give me liberty sees fit."
And now the sun his noontide height had won
When I, with weary though unsated view,
Fell in the stream--and so my vision flew.


A form I saw with secret awe, nor ken I what it warns;
Pure as the snow, a gentle doe it seem'd, with silver horns:
Erect she stood, close by a wood, between two running streams;
And brightly shone the morning sun upon that land of dreams!
The pictured hind fancy design'd glowing with love and hope;
Graceful she stepp'd, but distant kept, like the timid antelope;
Playful, yet coy, with secret joy her image fill'd my soul;
And o'er the sense soft influence of sweet oblivion stole.
Gold I beheld and emerald on the collar that she wore;
Words, too--but theirs were characters of legendary lore.
"C├Žsar's decree hath made me free; and through his solemn charge,
Untouch'd by men o'er hill and glen I wander here at large."
The sun had now, with radiant brow, climb'd his meridian throne,
Yet still mine eye untiringly gazed on that lovely one.
A voice was heard--quick disappear'd my dream--the spell was broken.
Then came distress: to the consciousness of life I had awoken.


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