To Laura In Life. Sonnet I.

A poem by Francesco Petrarca

Voi, ch' ascoltate in rime sparse il suono.


Ye who in rhymes dispersed the echoes hear
Of those sad sighs with which my heart I fed
When early youth my mazy wanderings led,
Fondly diverse from what I now appear,
Fluttering 'twixt frantic hope and frantic fear,
From those by whom my various style is read,
I hope, if e'er their hearts for love have bled,
Not only pardon, but perhaps a tear.
But now I clearly see that of mankind
Long time I was the tale: whence bitter thought
And self-reproach with frequent blushes teem;
While of my frenzy, shame the fruit I find,
And sad repentance, and the proof, dear-bought,
That the world's joy is but a flitting dream.


O ye, who list in scatter'd verse the sound
Of all those sighs with which my heart I fed,
When I, by youthful error first misled,
Unlike my present self in heart was found;
Who list the plaints, the reasonings that abound
Throughout my song, by hopes, and vain griefs bred;
If e'er true love its influence o'er ye shed,
Oh! let your pity be with pardon crown'd.
But now full well I see how to the crowd
For length of time I proved a public jest:
E'en by myself my folly is allow'd:
And of my vanity the fruit is shame,
Repentance, and a knowledge strong imprest,
That worldly pleasure is a passing dream.


Ye, who may listen to each idle strain
Bearing those sighs, on which my heart was fed
In life's first morn, by youthful error led,
(Far other then from what I now remain!)
That thus in varying numbers I complain,
Numbers of sorrow vain and vain hope bred,
If any in love's lore be practis├Ęd,
His pardon,--e'en his pity I may obtain:
But now aware that to mankind my name
Too long has been a bye-word and a scorn,
I blush before my own severer thought;
Of my past wanderings the sole fruit is shame,
And deep repentance, of the knowledge born
That all we value in this world is naught.


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