Sonnet CLXXIV.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

I' dolci colli ov' io lasciai me stesso.


The loved hills where I left myself behind,
Whence ever 'twas so hard my steps to tear,
Before me rise; at each remove I bear
The dear load to my lot by Love consign'd.
Often I wonder inly in my mind,
That still the fair yoke holds me, which despair
Would vainly break, that yet I breathe this air;
Though long the chain, its links but closer bind.
And as a stag, sore struck by hunter's dart,
Whose poison'd iron rankles in his breast,
Flies and more grieves the more the chase is press'd,
So I, with Love's keen arrow in my heart,
Endure at once my death and my delight,
Rack'd with long grief, and weary with vain flight.


Those gentle hills which hold my spirit still
(For though I fly, my heart there must remain),
Are e'er before me, whilst my burthen's pain,
By love bestow'd, I bear with patient will.
I marvel oft that I can yet fulfil
That yoke's sweet duties, which my soul enchain,
I seek release, but find the effort vain;
The more I fly, the nearer seems my ill.
So, like the stag, who, wounded by the dart,
Its poison'd iron rankling in his side,
Flies swifter at each quickening anguish'd throb,--
I feel the fatal arrow at my heart;
Yet with its poison, joy awakes its tide;
My flight exhausts me--grief my life doth rob!


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