Sunday, October 09, 2011

Italian Poets of the Renaissance, Transl. Joseph Tusiani

Italian Poets of the Renaissance, Transl. Joseph Tusiani, Baroque Press, Long Island City, NY, 1971.

Birds, there are birds enamored so of light
that, as they lie, after the day is ended,
deep in their nest, with one another blended,
if the least sound should stir, and a faint light
appear, they rise, and follow soon that bright
glimpse, once more eager to pursue their splendid
delight, full unaware they’re being bended
by their false guide to traps of grief and fright.
The same thing happens, O my God, to me:
as soon as those two radiant, ruthless eyes
bid all my longings speed where’er she be,
I run at once, most eager and unwise,
myself in faster fetters then to see,
from which I had been hoping free to rise.

(Boccaccio, Birds, There Are Birds, Complete, 32)

If Baia’s sea and heaven I abhor,
Its lakes and fountains, and its waves and sand,
The known and unknown corners of this land,
No one, indeed, should wonder any more.
With feasts of song and dancing on this shore,
And with a blab of ever-empty sound,
All hearts are taken and all minds are bound
Where only feats of love come to the fore.
Venus is seen so freely here to roam
That, often, a Lucretia coming out
Goes with the shame of Cleopatra home.
How well I know! I therefore have no doubt
That this corruption, so far-spread and true,
Has won the spirit of my lady, too.

(Boccaccio, The Curse of Baia, Complete, 33)

Cheaply have I abused the Muses so,
That to a brothel I have brought them all,
Causing their most intimate parts to fall
Beneath the stare of their plebian foe.
But let no longer such offences go
Against me, for Apollo with his gall
Has on my flesh already avenged them all
So that no limb is free from his hard blow.
I was a man, and am a wineskin full,
Oh, not of wind, but of most grievous lead,
So grievous I can hardly walk at all.
And will this boredom end? I know not how,
So one with it am I, from toe to head:
Oh, only God, I hope, can help me now.

(Boccaccio, Cheaply Have I Abused, Complete, 35)

No golden tress or loveliness of glance,
No regal bearing or entrancing face,
No youthfulness of age or song of mirth,
And no angelic mien of beauty’s grace
Could ever draw from all his sovereign height
The King of Heaven on this wicked earth,
And make him, Mary dear, in you have birth,
Mother of grace and mirror of delight.
’Twas your humility with all its might
Broke the old rancor between us and God,
And bade the heavens open once again.
Lend us this virtue, Holy Mother, then,
So that, preceded by it, climb we may
To your blest kingdom piously one day.

(Boccaccio, To the Blessed Mother, Complete, 36)

The snow, the ice, and every morning gust,
Coldness of hoarfrost, winds from alpine lair,
Away Diana from her woods have thrust.
Seeing all grasses and all blossoms dead,
Every leaf flying, every forest bare,
She wrapped a veil around her golden head,
and went back quickly to her native place,
leaving us burning for her blissful face.

(Franco Sacchetti, Epigrams, II, 42)

When you were born, O flower of paradise,
They brought you, to baptize you, right to Rome,
And when the pope uncovered your sweet face,
He your godfather wanted to become;
And then your mother, full of grace and fair,
Gave you the name Diana like the star.
The Pope gave forty years’ indulgence then
To everyone who simply looks at you;
Hundred and sixty years of pardoned sin
To those who touch your dress; a person who
Can talk to you, and kiss, my dear, your face,
Goes, soul and body, straight to paradise.

(Anonymous [XV Century], Papal Blessing, Complete, 46)

My Beca’s somewhat small, rather than not,
And limps a bit, oh, just a bit, I say.
She has in both her eyes a tiny spot
That, if you notice it, you soon call gay.
Around her little mouth there’s some hair, but
It looks like a fresh trout out of the bay.
She’s white like an old coin but—wait and see—
She only lacks a perfect husband—me.
Like wasps that, humming, humming the day long,
Go round the grapes half ripe in the new light;
Like donkeys wooing asses with their song,
All dandies come around you with a fight.
But, one after another, the whole throng
You hang like sausages—it serves them right.
O my dear love, …

(Luigi Pulci, From Beca da Dicomano, 49)

Sing, O you lovely birds in love, with me,
Since it is Love now bids me sing with you;
And you, clear rills that sinuously flow
Through banks in bloom anew,
With this my poem you soft answer blend.
So boundless is the beauty that I sing,
My heart does not dare bend
To such a task, alone,
For it is weak and weary for such weight.
Wandering little birds, you now take flight
Perhaps because you think
My heart is laden with lamenting fright,
And fail to guess my feeling of distress.
Wandering birds, then heed:
However round the sea,
However strong the winds that blow and hiss,
There is on earth no bliss
That can be equal to this joy in me.

(Matteo Maria Boiardo, Madrigals, II, 62)

Sleep, O most balmy sleep, come down at last
Into this anguished heart that longs for you;
Close the unending spring of tears and rue,
O bland oblivion never coming fast.
O come to me, my only peaceful rest,
Which can alone check my desire, and here
Bring as your mate my lady sweet and dear
With those calm limpid eyes where mercy’s best.
Show me the happy smile the Graces chose
As their new home, and let one pitying glace,
One wary word, stir my desire no more.
If thus you show her to me, let our sleep
Eternal be, or let these joyful dreams,
Ah, never venture through the ivory door.

(Lorenzo de’ Medici, To Sleep, Complete, 65)

Oh, how lovely youth can be,
That is fleeing fast away:
If you care to be, be gay:
What’s to come we cannot see.
Bacchus and Ariadne fair
Deep in love are with each other;
Time deceives and flies like air:
They’re forever gay together.
All these nymphs, all people rather,
Every merry want to stay.
If you care to be, be gay:
What’s to come we cannot see.
All these Satyrs, glad and shrewd,
Much in love with these nymphs fair,
In each cave and in each wood
Now had laid their hundredth snare:
Spurred by Bacchus, everywhere
Dancing, leaping—look—are they.
If you care to be, be gay:
What’s to come we cannot see.
All these nymphs (I tell the truth)
Love to fall into those traps:
People thankless and uncouth
Against Love can guard perhaps.
Intermingling sounds and steps,
Now they sing and now they play.
If you care to be, be gay:
What’s to come we cannot see.
Look, this weight that comes behind
Is Silenus on an ass.
Old and fat and almost blind,
He is drunk and glad: alas,
He can hardly stand and pass,
Yet with fun he laughs allway.
If you care to be, be gay:
What’s to come we cannot see.
Midas comes behind these all:
What he touches soon is gold.
What its wealth, and what its goal,
If it leaves you sad and cold?
What contentment can man hold
If his thirst will ever stay?
If you care to be, be gay:
What’s to come we cannot see.
Let all people heed me then:
On the morrow no one feed,
But let women and let men,
Young and old, know today’s need:
To be glad and chase, indeed,
Every sadness fast away.
If you care to be, be gay:
What’s to come we cannot see.
Loving lads and lasses, come:
Long live Bacchus, long live Love!
Dance and sing and beat your drum!
Let your hearts all sweetness prove!
Never toil and never grieve!
Fate will always have its way.
If you care to be, be gay:
What’s to come we cannot see.

(Lorenzo de’ Medici, Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, Complete, 70-1)

The Girls
We are women, as you see,
Youthful lasses fair and gay,
And are seeking our delight
For this is Carnival day.
Envious people and Cicadas
Much resent an alien glee;
So they vent their evil rancor,
The Cicadas that you see.
Most unfortunate are we!
The Cicadas’ prey we are:
The whole summer chattering,
They still chatter the whole year:
And from those who do far worse
Comes the worst of gossiping.

The Cicadas
O fair lasses, but we do
What within our nature is;
Often, though, the fault is yours,
For it’s you who tell all this.
One must act, but also know
How to hide one’s happiness.
One who’s quick can run away
From the peril of the word:
Does it pay to make one die
In a long, long agony?
Without chattering too much,
Act at once, while you still may.

The Girls
What’s the purpose of our beauty?
It’s worth nothing if it goes.
Long live love and gentleness!
Death to envy and Cicadas!
Want to gossip? Very well:
We shall act, and you will tell.

(Lorenzo de’ Medici, Song of Girls and of Cicadas, Complete, 72-3)

I thank you, Love,
For all distress and pain,
And now am glad I have in sorrow lain.
I now am glad for all I have endured
In your fair realm, O lord,
For not through my desert but through your grace
Have I been granted such a lofty pledge,
And thus made worthy of
A smile of such delight
As to uplift my heart to heaven above.
I thank you, Love.
To heaven above my heart has been upraised
By those fair smiling eyes
Wherein, O Love, I saw you full-concealed
In all your glowing flames.
O gleaming gentle eyes
That stole my heart away,
Whence do you such rare faculties receive?
I thank you, Love.
I was already on the brink of death;
My lady, clad in white,
Came soon to save me with a loving smile—
Humble and glad and fair,
Roses and violets
A crown around her hair,
Her eyes out-dazzling the bright sun above.
I thank you, Love.

(Angelo Poliziano, I Thank You, Love, Complete, 100)

One saddle or one burden cannot fit
All backs: to one it seems no weight at all,
Another is oppressed and vexed and crushed.
A nightingale can hardly bear a cage,
A finch can longer last, and more a linnet,
But in one day a swallow dies of rage.
Let those who long for spurs or for a hat
Serve king or duke, or cardinal or pope;
Not I, who little care for this or that.
A turnip that I cook in my own home,
And put, when cooked, upon a stick, and peel
And sprinkle then with vinegar and must,
To me tastes better than wild boar and thrush
And partridge elsewhere; and beneath a cheap
Blanket I lie as though it were of silk
And gold. Here I can rest my weary limbs
Instead of boasting they have been in Scythia,
In India, Ethiopia, and beyond.

(Ariosto, from Satire III, 126)

I feel more precious, I am more than one,
For, since you held my heart, my worth grew more:
A marble block, when carving has been done,
Is not the rough, cheap stone it was before.
As paper painted or just written on
No longer is a rag one can ignore,
So, since you aimed at me, and I was won,
My value’s more, and no regret I bear.
Now, with your splendor printed on my face,
I go like one who, dressed with every kind
Of amulet and arm, can dare all wars.
I walk upon the ocean, brave all blaze,
Give in your name the light to all the blind,
And my saliva heals all poisonous sores.

(Michelangelo, I Feel More Precious, I Am More Than One, Complete, 140)

Here, to make swords and helmets, war devours
Our chalices, and here Christ’s blood is sold
By the quart, and cross and thorns are cast into mold
For shields and spears; and yet Christ’s patience showers.
But let Him not return to this land of ours,
For here in Rome where sin is uncontrolled
His blood would spurt to the stars, His skin be sold
For any price in all streets at all hours.
The day I wanted to be poor, I came
Right here to work: now one in his mantle does
What once Medusa in Mauritania did.
But if in heaven poverty and strife
Are merits, what will ever mend our state
While other flags blot out the other life?
Your Michelangelo in Turkey

(Michelangelo, Here, To Make Swords and Helmets, War Devours, Complete, 141)

Simply because the Sun does not embrace
With lucent arms this cold and humid globe,
They thought of calling night his other face,
That second sun they fail to know and probe.
Oh, but so frail is night that the quick blaze
Of a small torch her very life can rend;
And such a fool is she, that the swift trace
Of a gunshot can make her bleed and throb.
If something she must be, she doubtless is
The daughter of the sun and of the earth:
One gives her shade, the other holds her here.
But wrong are those who praise her qualities:
She is so dark, lost, lonesome, that the birth
Of one small firefly can make war on her.

(Michelangelo, Simply Because the Sun Does Not Embrace, Complete, 141)

Turning, in restlessness, now right, now left,
I seek salvation’s way.
Bewildered, between vice and virtue lost,
My heart is wearing me. I am like one
Who does not see the sky
But goes from dark to darker path, astray.
I hand my paper, blank,
For all your sacred ink,
So love may undeceive me by the truth
Piety writes upon it; so the soul,
Detached from self, may not to error ben
My brief days left, and I may walk less blind.
Lady divine and high, of you I ask
Whether in heaven a repented sinner
Is less rewarded than a constant winner.

(Michelangelo, To the Marquise of Pescara, Complete, 143)

O night, O time of sweetness, although black,
You give at last to all man’s action peace.
Who sings your praises, well he knows and sees,
And he who greets you feels no inner lack.
You cut and break all weary thoughts, which back
To us are sent by humid shade and breeze,
And form the lowest pit you lift with ease
Of dream my longings to the highest peak,
And where I crave to go. O shadow of death,
Halting all aches that rend both soul and heart,
O last and gentle solace of man’s woes,
You heal our ailing flesh, restore our breath,
Dry out our tears, lay all our toils apart,
And from the just you steal despair away.

(Michelangelo, O Night, O Time of Sweetness, Although Black, Complete, 144)

An Angel sculpted in this marble block
The Night you now see sleeping sweet and deep:
She is, therefore, alive, being asleep.
Don’t you believe me? Wake her up: she’ll talk.

(Michelangelo, Lines by Giovanni Strozzi on the “Night” of Buonarroto, Complete, 145)

How good to sleep and—more—be marble block
While all about arm harm and shame and woe!
Neither to see nor hear is my great luck;
So do not rouse me then, but please, speak low.

(Michaelangelo, Answer of Buonarroto, Complete, 145)

From heaven he came and saw with mortal eyes
The hell that stays, and that which shall not last,
Then back he went to God in paradise
To give us glimpses of His splendor vast.
A lucent star, he shone above the vice
Of that lost land which to me, too, was nest;
Man’s evil earth to him can be no prize:
God, You, who made him, can reward him best.
Dante I mean, whose works did not elate
That people, thankless and uncivilized,
Who only to the just gives doom the hate.
Yet would that I were he! To be despised,
Outcast, but born as he—for such a fate
I would give up the world and all things prized.

(Michaelangelo, From Heaven He Came and Saw With Mortal Eyes, Complete, 146)

May I, who bore for years, carved in my heart,
The image of your face,
Now that my death is close,
Receive from love the privilege and grace
Of having it engraved within my soul,
So that, serene and free, it soon may leave
The prison of its body. Only thus,
My lady, will my soul feel safe from harm,
Bearing your image like a saving cross
Through winds and storms and demons everywhere.
I shall take it to heaven, …

(Michelangelo, Envoy, 147)

Certain of death, not of its moment, I
Know that a little life is left to me.
Friend to the senses, earth is enemy
To this my soul that urges me to die.
Blind is the world, and evil actions cry
Victory over love and purity.
Dead is all light with its audacity;
Outcast is truth, triumphant every lie.
When, Lord, will that thing come which men await
Who still believe in you? Too much delay
Severs our hope and keeps the soul in dread.
Why promise all your splendor on our night
If death comes sooner and makes all its prey,
Catching us fallen, far from you, and dead?

(Michelangelo, Certain of Death, Not of its Moment, I, Complete, 148)

Like to a flower that on the humid earth,
All soaked with rain and bent by its own weight,
Droops, and together with its scent, once great
And pleasant, sheds the color of its birth;
And neither youth nor damsel, held beneath
The yoke of Love in sweetness and delight,
Waters in any more or keeps in sight,
Seeing its primal glory come to death;
But if the sun with its new, pitying ray
Comes to revive it in a tender fire,
Quickly restored, it shares its splendor, gay:
So I your beauty, in this world so new,
Have seen little by little disappear,
And then with greater grace return to you.

(Francesco Maria Molza, On the Recovery of His Lady, Complete, 163)

Nature seems to be playing with her thus,
And winds are vying but to hear her word,
And yet she never cared, and never does—
A wolf that even scorns to count a herd,
A stream ignoring banks through which it flows.
Little is she by lesser beauty stirred,
If ever at all: so glad and pure and gay,
She nothing needs but her own way.

(Francesco Maria Molza, La Ninfa Tiberina, Stanza IV, 164)

The stomach is their God, the soup their Law, a keg
Their Testament. …

(Teofilo Folengo, from Baldus Book VIII, 168)

Down from the northern Alps the wicked wind returns,
And with its bellows blows the forest leaves away.
Each river turns to glass, and to white lead each field,
And everywhere the frost scatters its tapers. In
Its shell and snail lies still, its horns completely hid,
And the cicada dies of hunger, the fly of cold.
The little old woman sets a turnip on the table,
But does not eat it, first, her spindle is not done.
The oily lamp makes still the pallid pedants wake;
But, student, you have fun within so sad a night.

(Teofilo Folengo, Epigram, Complete, 171)

No wish have I to crave so great a dream,
For at its root my hope has been cut off,
And every pious star has turned malign.
Let my heart burn but never show a sign;
Let my dismay, the worst of all, be hid:
Soul, be at peace, and praise the holy light.

(Vittoria Colonna, from the Canzoniere, 174)

Monsignor Carnescchi you will tell
I do not envy what he has to write
Nor those who to his ears are bothering bell.
But I remember the fried squash I ate
Last year with him; its beauty—tell him this—
My gluttonous glances still can contemplate.

(Francesco Berni, from To Fra Bastiano Del Piombo, 192)

O graceful, limpid pearl,
That with the splendor of your ardent ray
Lend luster to all men,
And take all glory form the sun away,
Oh, listen to the words I have to say.
I say that when you came
Into this world, the stars,
Happy and gay and fair
In Love’s most clement heaven were aflame,
And never had Admetus’ tiny shepherd
Shown us a kinder day.
The air, the land and sea,
Were seen to smile, and the lascivious breeze
To play with blossoms and with grasses green
Nor did the birds forget
To mention then your name: in flocks, flocks new,
They with their singing made a joyous Spring.
Oh, why can I not sing
Your praises, just as I would like to do?

(Giovanni Guidiccioni, Madrigals, II, 201)

O solitary tranquil forest, friend
to these my thoughts, much wearied and dismayed,
while Boreas on turbid, shortened days
ruffles both air and earth with horrid frost,
and while your verdant, ancient, shady hair
seems, just like mine, all over to have grayed,
now that, instead of blossoms white and red,
your every open place has snow and ice,
on this so brief and nebulous a light
still left to me I muse, and I feel, too,
an icy numbness over flesh and soul.
But, in and out, I freeze much more than you:
a harsher Northwind will my winter bring,
with colder, shorter days, and longer night.

(Giovanni Della Casa, To a Forest, Complete, 203. Robert Frost.)

…O sleep, and over me
fold your black wings, and halt right here your flight.

(Giovanni Della Casa, from To Sleep, 203)

Go back to Hades, to the tearful, sad,
Infernal fields; there, to yourself be foe,
and there, spend all your days with no rest ever,
your nights with no sleep ever, and be there
oppressed by certain and uncertain pain.

(Giovanni Della Casa, from Jealousy, 205. Difference btw Hell & Hades.)

This immortal life which, dark and cold, expires
In one or in two brief nocturnal hours,
Has heretofore involved in its bleak clouds
The nobler part of me. But now I turn
To gaze upon your grace manifold;

(Giovanni Della Casa, from To God, 206)

If this our fate is willed
By the unchanging stars—
That our existence should such laws obey—,
Is there a fairer shield
Against inclement scars
Than deed of beauty or creative play?

(Annibal Caro, 209)

Vales that abhor the sun, proud lofty peaks
That seem to threaten heaven; caverns deep,
Whence night and silence never can depart;
Air vanquishing within dismal mist my eyes;
Steeps and high slopes, and rocks precipitous;
Unburied bones; grass-covered crumbled walls,
Men’s refuge once and now so shelterless
As to be shunned by serpents and by wolves;
Unpeopled countryside, abandoned shores
Where never is the air pierced by man’s voice:
I am a spirit doomed to endless tears,
Come to deplore my faith within your midst,
And hoping with my long-despairing cries,
If God bend not, to soften hell at least.

(Luigi Tansillo, Solitude, Complete, 218)

No feather is so light on limpid air,
Nor ship, recently greased, on windless sea,
Nor river flowing down from alpine peak,
Nor swimmer’s feet through open oceans free,
As human thought which, unrestrained, prevails,
Along the verdant bottom of its error,
No every bitter precipice of terror,
And on intruding mounts it never fails.
Yet in its quest of the right flash of truth,
A lowly bird unfledged or a slow worm,
A stone, a thorn-bush can quite block its path.
You, then, High Guide, oh, lend me firm and strong
Wings for your Truth, and all my flightless thoughts
Cut short by showing me where I belong.

(Galeazzo Di Tarsia, [no name], Stanza 3, 219)

That lively little bird,
Which is so softly singing,
And so lascivious-swinging
Form fir to beech and back
From beech to myrtle tree,
If given human speech,
Would say: I smart with love, with love I smart!
But fire is in his heart,
And in his way he speaks,
And his sweet mate well understands his cue:
Oh, listen, listen, Silvio—
It is his mate that now
Is answering: With love I’m smarting too!

(Gian Battista Guarini, from Pastor Fido, Act I, Scene I, 233)

That vain and pompous sound,
That futile argument
Of flatteries and titles and deceit,
Which with a word unsound
A maddened throng calls Honor, was not yet
The tyrant of the soul;

shepherds and nymphs revealed
within their words their hearts;
Hymen on them bestowed
The sweetest kisses and the deepest bliss;

the thievish lover ever found them hid
from his unchaste desire or coveting
whether in forest or in lake or den;
husband and lover were one person the.
O wicked age, that veiled
With all your lewd delight
The beauty of the soul, and taught to whet
The thirst of our desire
With modesty of glace,
Unleashing then obscenities concealed!
Thus, like a net laid down
mid leaves and blossoms strewn,
you hide lascivious thoughts
beneath the holy shyness of your deeds;
nor do you care (it seems an honored thing)
if love’s but theft, provided no one knows.

(Gian Battista Guarini, from Pastor Fido, Act IV, Scene 9, Chorus, 234-5)

Let Fortune win, if underneath the weight
Of all these woes in the end must fall.
Let her; and of my rest and of my fate
The evil spoil be in her temple hung.

(Torquato Tasso, from Let Fortune Win, 240)

O wondrous golden age!
Oh, not because with milk
Each river ran, each forest dripped its honey;
Not for the earth that bore,
Untouched by plough, its fruits, or for the snakes
That wandered with no wrath nor poison; not
For lack of horrid cloud
Outstretching its black veil,
Or for the sky that in eternal spring—

Only because that vain
And inconsistent name,
That idol of deception and of errors,
That which a senseless throng
In future days called Honor
(and made it of our nature lord and king)
had not yet mixed its anguish and its woe
amid the gayety
of each young flock in love;

You first, O Honor, veiled
The fountain of delight,
Denying waves to thirst of love; and you
Taught lovely eyes to stay
Concentered in themselves,
And keep their beauty hidden from men’s view;
You gathered in a net
Tresses to breezes flown;
You made the sweet lascivious deeds of joy
Both fugitive and coy;

(Torquato Tasso, from Aminta, Chorus of Act I, 250-1)

And the new-burgeoned leaves
Wherein the newborn birds
Mingle their music with the breezes’ words;

(Tasso, from Madrigals, II, 252)


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