Archive for June 8th, 2018

Friday, 8 June 2018

Canzone: Of the Gentle Heart by Guido Guinizelli

Within the gentle heart Love shelters him,
As birds within the green shade of the grove.
Before the gentle heart, in Nature’s scheme,
Love was not, nor the gentle heart ere Love.
For with the sun, at once,
So sprang the light immediately; nor was
Its birth before the sun’s.
And Love hath his effect in gentleness
Of very self; even as
Within the middle fire the heat’s excess.

The fire of Love comes to the gentle heart
Like as its virtue to a precious stone;
To which no star its influence can impart
Till it is made a pure thing by the sun;
For when the sun hath smit
From out its essence that which there was vile,
The star endoweth it.
And so the heart created by God’s breath
Pure, true, and clean from guile,
A woman, like a star, enamoureth.

In gentle heart Love for like reason is
For which the lamp’s high flame is fann’d and bow’d:
Clear, piercing bright, it shines for its own bliss;
Nor would it burn there else, it is so proud.
For evil natures meet
With love as it were water met with fire,
As cold abhorring heat.
Through gentle heart Love doth a track divine,
Like knowing like; the same
As diamond runs through iron in the mine.

The sun strikes full upon the mud all day;
It remains vile, nor the sun’s worth is less.
“By race I am gentle,” the proud man doth say:
He is the mud, the sun is gentleness.
Let no man predicate
That aught the name of gentleness should have,
Even in a king’s estate,
Except the heart there be a gentle man’s.
The star-beam lights the wave, —
Heaven holds the star and the star’s radiance.

God, in the understanding of high Heaven,
Burns more than in our sight the living sun;
There to behold His Face unveil’d is given;
And Heaven, whose will is homage paid to One.
Fulfils the things which live
In God, from the beginning excellent.
So should my lady give
That truth which in her eyes is glorified,
On which her heart is bent,
To me whose service waiteth at her side.

My lady, God shall ask, “What dared’st thou?”
(When my soul stands with all her acts review’d);
“Thou passed’st Heaven, into My sight, as now,
To make Me of vain love similitude.
To Me doth praise belong,
And to the Queen of all the realm of grace
Who endeth fraud and wrong.”
Then may I plead : “As though from Thee he came,
Love wore an angel’s face:
Lord, if I loved her, count it not my shame.”

From: Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, Poems and Translations by Dante Gabriel Rossetti including Dante’s “Vita Nuova” & “The Early Italian Poets”, ?1912, J. M. Dent: London & E. P. Dutton & Co.: New York, pp. 168-170.
(https://archive.org/details/poemstransdante00rossuoft)

Date: c1260 (original in Italian); 1861 (translation in English)

By: Guido Guinizelli (c1230-1276)

Translated by: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)