Sonnet XXXIX.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Io sentia dentr' al cor già venir meno.


I now perceived that from within me fled
Those spirits to which you their being lend;
And since by nature's dictates to defend
Themselves from death all animals are made,
The reins I loosed, with which Desire I stay'd,
And sent him on his way without a friend;
There whither day and night my course he'd bend,
Though still from thence by me reluctant led.
And me ashamed and slow along he drew
To see your eyes their matchless influence shower,
Which much I shun, afraid to give you pain.
Yet for myself this once I'll live; such power
Has o'er this wayward life one look from you:--
Then die, unless Desire prevails again.

ANON., OX., 1795.

Because the powers that take their life from you
Already had I felt within decay,
And because Nature, death to shield or slay,
Arms every animal with instinct true,
To my long-curb'd desire the rein I threw,
And turn'd it in the old forgotten way,
Where fondly it invites me night and day,
Though 'gainst its will, another I pursue.
And thus it led me back, ashamed and slow,
To see those eyes with love's own lustre rife
Which I am watchful never to offend:
Thus may I live perchance awhile below;
One glance of yours such power has o'er my life
Which sure, if I oppose desire, shall end.


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