Francesco Petrarca – Petrarch – from Canzoniere
trans. Mark Musa
It was the day the sun’s ray had turned pale
with pity for the suffering of his Maker
when I was caught (and I put up no fight),
my lady, for your lovely eyes had bound me.
It seemed no time to be on guard against
Love’s blows; therefore, I went my way
secure and fearless – so, all my misfortunes began
in the midst of universal woe.
Love found me all disarmed and saw the way
was clear to reach my heart down through the eyes,
which have become the halls and doors of tears.
It seems to me it did him little honor
to wound me with his arrow in my state
and to you, armed, not show his bow at all.
That day for forevermore so cruel and honored
sent to my heart its image so alive
there is no wit or style that can describe it,
but often I recall it with my mind.
Her attitude, adorned with gracious pity,
the bittersweet lamenting that I heard,
caused me to wonder were she mortal woman
or goddess, for she cleared the sky around her.
Her head fine gold, her face was like warm snow,
her eyebrows ebony, her eyes two stars
from where Love never bent his bow in vain—
pearls and red roses where the gathered grief was
transformed into ardent, lovely words—
her sighs of blame, her tears as though of crystal.
She’d let her gold hair flow free in the breeze
and whirled it into thousands of sweet knots,
and lovely light would burn beyond all measure
in those fair eyes whose light is dimmer now.
Her face would turn the color pity wears,
a pity true or false I did not know,
and I with all love’s tinder in my breast—
it’s no surprise I quickly caught on fire.
The way she walked was not the way of mortals
but of angelic forms, and when she spoke
more than an earthly voice it was that sang:
a godly spirit and a living sun
was what I saw, and if she is not now,
my wound still bleeds, although the bow’s unbent.
When I summon my sighs to call for you,
with the name love inscribed upon my heart,
And LAUdable sound at the beginning
of the sweet accents of that word comes forth.
Your REgal state which I encounter next
doubles my strength for the high enterprise,
that “TAcitly the end cries, “for her honor
These better shoulders for support than yours.”
And so, to LAUd and to REvere the word
itself instructs whenever someone calls you,
A lady worthy of all praise and honor –
Unless, perhaps, Apollo be offended
A morTAl tongue be so presumptuous
to speak of his eternally green boughs.
*Laure ta, laure ta! : praise you, praise you!
Sir Philip Sidney
Astrophil & Stella 9
Queen Virtue’s court, which some call Stella’s face,
prepared by nature’s chiefest furniture,
hath his front built of alabaster pure:
gold is the covering of that stately place.
The door, by which sometimes comes forth her grace,
red porphyr is, which lock of pearl make sure;
whose porches rich, which name of cheeks endure,
marble, mixed red and white, do interlace.
The windows now, through which this heavenly guest
looks over the world and can nothing such
which dare claim from those lights the name of best,
of touch they are that without touch doth touch,
which Cupid’s self from Beauty’s mine did draw:
of touch they are and poor I am their straw.
Lady Mary Wroth (neice of Sir Philip Sidney)
Pamphila to Amphilanthus 1
When night’s blacke Mantle could most darknesse proue,
And sleepe (deaths Image) did my senses hyre,
From Knowledge of my selfe, then thoughts did moue
Swifter then those, most swiftnesse neede require.
In sleepe, a Chariot drawne by wing’d Desire,
I saw; where sate bright Venus Queene of Loue,
And at her feete her Sonne, still adding Fire
To burning hearts, which she did hold aboue,
But one heart flaming more then all the rest,
The Goddesse held, and put it to my breast,
Deare Sonne now shoot, said she: thus must we winne;
He her obey’d, and martyr’d my poore heart.
I waking hop’d as dreames it would depart,
Yet since, O me, a Lover I haue beene.
My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun;
coral is far more red than her lips red:
if snow be white, whyy then her breasts are dun;
if hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
but no such roses see I in her cheeks,
and in some perfumes is there more delight
than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
that music has a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go:
my mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
and yet, by heaven I think my love as rare
as any she belied with false compare.
Sting’s “Sister Moon”
Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like a usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but O, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, and me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
That am betrothed unto your enemy.
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debt
To nature, and to hers, and my good is dead,
And her soul early into heaven ravished,
Wholly on heavenly things my mind is set.
Here the admiring her my mind did whet
To seek thee, God; so streams to show the head;
But though I have found thee, and thou my thirst hast fed,
A wholly thirsty dropsy melts me yet.
But why should I beg more love, whenas thou
Dost woo my soul, for hers offering all thine;
And dost not only fear lest I allow
My love to saints and angels, things divine,
But in thy tender jealousy dost doubt
Lest the world, flesh, yea the devil put thee out.
Show me, dear Christ, thy spouse so bright and clear.
What! Is it she which on the other shore
Goes richly painted? Or which, robbed and tore,
Laments and mourns in Germany and here?
Sleep she a thousand, then peeps up one year?
Is she self-truth, and errs? Now new, now outwore?
Does she, and did she, and shall she evermore
On one, on seven, or on no hill appear?
Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights
First travel we seek, and then make love?
Betray, kind husband, thy spouse to our sights,
And let mine amorous soul court thy mild dove,
Who is most true and pleasing to thee then
When she is embraced and open to most men.