To Laura In Death. Canzone III.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Standomi un giorno solo alla finestra.


While at my window late I stood alone,
So new and many things there cross'd my sight,
To view them I had almost weary grown.
A dappled hind appear'd upon the right,
In aspect gentle, yet of stately stride,
By two swift greyhounds chased, a black and white,
Who tore in the poor side
Of that fair creature wounds so deep and wide,
That soon they forced her where ravine and rock
The onward passage block:
Then triumph'd Death her matchless beauties o'er,
And left me lonely there her sad fate to deplore.

Upon the summer wave a gay ship danced,
Her cordage was of silk, of gold her sails,
Her sides with ivory and ebon glanced,
The sea was tranquil, favouring were the gales,
And heaven as when no cloud its azure veils.
A rich and goodly merchandise is hers;
But soon the tempest wakes,
And wind and wave to such mad fury stirs,
That, driven on the rocks, in twain she breaks;
My heart with pity aches,
That a short hour should whelm, a small space hide,
Riches for which the world no equal had beside.

In a fair grove a bright young laurel made
--Surely to Paradise the plant belongs!--
Of sacred boughs a pleasant summer shade,
From whose green depths there issued so sweet songs
Of various birds, and many a rare delight
Of eye and ear, what marvel from the world
They stole my senses quite!
While still I gazed, the heavens grew black around,
The fatal lightning flash'd, and sudden hurl'd,
Uprooted to the ground,
That blessed birth. Alas! for it laid low,
And its dear shade whose like we ne'er again shall know.

A crystal fountain in that very grove
Gush'd from a rock, whose waters fresh and clear
Shed coolness round and softly murmur'd love;
Never that leafy screen and mossy seat
Drew browsing flock or whistling rustic near
But nymphs and muses danced to music sweet.
There as I sat and drank
With infinite delight their carols gay,
And mark'd their sport, the earth before me sank
And bore with it away
The fountain and the scene, to my great grief,
Who now in memory find a sole and scant relief.

A lovely and rare bird within the wood,
Whose crest with gold, whose wings with purple gleam'd,
Alone, but proudly soaring, next I view'd,
Of heavenly and immortal birth which seem'd,
Flitting now here, now there, until it stood
Where buried fount and broken laurel lay,
And sadly seeing there
The fallen trunk, the boughs all stripp'd and bare,
The channel dried--for all things to decay
So tend--it turn'd away
As if in angry scorn, and instant fled,
While through me for her loss new love and pity spread.

At length along the flowery sward I saw
So sweet and fair a lady pensive move
That her mere thought inspires a tender awe;
Meek in herself, but haughty against Love,
Flow'd from her waist a robe so fair and fine
Seem'd gold and snow together there to join:
But, ah! each charm above
Was veil'd from sight in an unfriendly cloud:
Stung by a lurking snake, as flowers that pine
Her head she gently bow'd,
And joyful pass'd on high, perchance secure:
Alas! that in the world grief only should endure.

My song! in each sad change,
These visions, as they rise, sweet, solemn, strange,
But show how deeply in thy master's breast
The fond desire abides to die and be at rest.


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