OR CHE 'L CIEL ... NOW WHILST THE SKY ...
Francesco Petrarcatr. Peter Dean
Or che 'l ciel e la terra e 'l vento tace
E le fer e gli augelli il sonno affrena,
Notte il carro stellato in giro mena,
E nel suo letto il mar senz'onda giace;

Vegghio, penso, ardo, piango: e chi mi sface
Sempre m'e innanzi per mia dolce pena:
Guerra e il mio state, d'ira e di duol piena;
E sol di lei pensando ho qualche pace.

Cosė sol d'una chiara fonte viva
Move 'l dolce e l'amaro ond' io mi pasco;
Una man sola mi risana e punge.

E perché 'l mio martir non giunga a riva,
Mille volte il dė moro et mille nasco;
Tanto dall salute mia son lunge.
Now whilst the sky and earth and wind a stillness keep
And beasts of field and birds have ceased all sound,
Its cavalcade of stars night has led round
And in their beds the oceans softly sleep;

I wake, think, burn, I weep: always there leap
My sweet pain's insults on me in one bound;
I am at war within, with anger and on grief's count found;
And only by thinking of her may any solace reap.

Thus from one clear and living fountainhead
Comes the sweet, bitter water that sustains me;
One hand alone that heals me and yet stings;

And, since my martyrdom must be continuèd,
A seesaw of a thousand deaths and births remains me:
So far am I from the relief my salvation brings.

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Peter Dean 2002


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