To Laura In Death. Canzone II.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Amor, se vuoi ch' i' torni al giogo antico.


If thou wouldst have me, Love, thy slave again,
One other proof, miraculous and new,
Must yet be wrought by you,
Ere, conquer'd, I resume my ancient chain--
Lift my dear love from earth which hides her now,
For whose sad loss thus beggar'd I remain;
Once more with warmth endow
That wise chaste heart where wont my life to dwell;
And if as some divine, thy influence so,
From highest heaven unto the depths of hell,
Prevail in sooth--for what its scope below,
'Mid us of common race,
Methinks each gentle breast may answer well--
Rob Death of his late triumph, and replace
Thy conquering ensign in her lovely face!

Relume on that fair brow the living light,
Which was my honour'd guide, and the sweet flame.
Though spent, which still the same
Kindles me now as when it burn'd most bright;
For thirsty hind with such desire did ne'er
Long for green pastures or the crystal brook,
As I for the dear look,
Whence I have borne so much, and--if aright
I read myself and passion--more must bear:
This makes me to one theme my thoughts thus bind,
An aimless wanderer where is pathway none,
With weak and wearied mind
Pursuing hopes which never can be won.
Hence to thy summons answer I disdain,
Thine is no power beyond thy proper reign.

Give me again that gentle voice to hear,
As in my heart are heard its echoes still,
Which had in song the skill
Hate to disarm, rage soften, sorrow cheer,
To tranquillize each tempest of the mind,
And from dark lowering clouds to keep it clear;
Which sweetly then refined
And raised my verse where now it may not soar.
And, with desire that hope may equal vie,
Since now my mind is waked in strength, restore
Their proper business to my ear and eye,
Awanting which life must
All tasteless be and harder than to die.
Vainly with me to your old power you trust,
While my first love is shrouded still in dust.

Give her dear glance again to bless my sight,
Which, as the sun on snow, beam'd still for me;
Open each window bright
Where pass'd my heart whence no return can be;
Resume thy golden shafts, prepare thy bow,
And let me once more drink with old delight
Of that dear voice the sound,
Whence what love is I first was taught to know.
And, for the lures, which still I covet so,
Were rifest, richest there my soul that bound,
Waken to life her tongue, and on the breeze
Let her light silken hair,
Loosen'd by Love's own fingers, float at ease;
Do this, and I thy willing yoke will bear,
Else thy hope faileth my free will to snare.

Oh! never my gone heart those links of gold,
Artlessly negligent, or curl'd with grace,
Nor her enchanting face,
Sweetly severe, can captive cease to hold;
These, night and day, the amorous wish in me
Kept, more than laurel or than myrtle, green,
When, doff'd or donn'd, we see
Of fields the grass, of woods their leafy screen.
And since that Death so haughty stands and stern
The bond now broken whence I fear'd to flee,
Nor thine the art, howe'er the world may turn,
To bind anew the chain,
What boots it, Love, old arts to try again?
Their day is pass'd: thy power, since lost the arms
Which were my terror once, no longer harms.

Thy arms were then her eyes, unrivall'd, whence
Live darts were freely shot of viewless flame;
No help from reason came,
For against Heaven avails not man's defence;
Thought, Silence, Feeling, Gaiety, Wit, Sense,
Modest demeanour, affable discourse,
In words of sweetest force
Whence every grosser nature gentle grew,
That angel air, humble to all and kind,
Whose praise, it needs not mine, from all we find;
Stood she, or sat, a grace which often threw
Doubt on the gazer's mind
To which the meed of highest praise was due--
O'er hardest hearts thy victory was sure,
With arms like these, which lost I am secure.

The minds which Heaven abandons to thy reign,
Haply are bound in many times and ways,
But mine one only chain,
Its wisdom shielding me from more, obeys;
Yet freedom brings no joy, though that he burst.
Rather I mournful ask, "Sweet pilgrim mine,
Alas! what doom divine
Me earliest bound to life yet frees thee first:
God, who has snatch'd thee from the world so soon,
Only to kindle our desires, the boon
Of virtue, so complete and lofty, gave
Now, Love, I may deride
Thy future wounds, nor fear to be thy slave;
In vain thy bow is bent, its bolts fall wide,
When closed her brilliant eyes their virtue died.

"Death from thy every law my heart has freed;
She who my lady was is pass'd on high,
Leaving me free to count dull hours drag by,
To solitude and sorrow still decreed."


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