Archive for August 6th, 2018

Monday, 6 August 2018

Upon That Day When First I Saw Thy Face by Angelo Ambrogini (Poliziano)

Upon that day when first I saw thy face,
I vowed with loyal love to worship thee.
Move, and I move; stay, and I keep my place:
Whate’er thou dost, will I do equally.

In joy of thine I find most perfect grace,
And in thy sadness dwells my misery:
Laugh, and I laugh; weep, and I too will weep.
Thus Love commands, whose laws I loving keep.

Nay, be not over-proud of thy great grace,
Lady! for brief time is thy thief and mine.
White will he turn those golden curls, that lace
Thy forehead and thy neck so marble-fine.
Lo! while the flower still flourisheth apace,
Pluck it: for beauty but awhile doth shine.
Fair is the rose at dawn; but long ere night
Her freshness fades, her pride hath vanished quite.

Fire, fire! Ho, water! for my heart’s afire!
Ho, neighbours! help me, or by God I die!
See, with his standard, that great lord, Desire!
He sets my heart aflame: in vain I cry.
Too late, alas! The flames mount high and higher.
Alack, good friends! I faint, I fail, I die.
Ho! water, neighbours mine! no more delay I
My heart’s a cinder if you do but stay.

Lo, may I prove to Christ a renegade,
And, dog-like, die in pagan Barbary;
Nor may God’s mercy on my soul be laid,
If ere for aught I shall abandon thee:
Before all-seeing God this prayer be made—
When I desert thee, may death feed on me:
Now if thy hard heart scorn these vows, be sure
That without faith none may abide secure.

I ask not, Love, for any other pain
To make thy cruel foe and mine repent,
Only that thou shouldst yield her to the strain
Of these my arms, alone, for chastisement;
Then would I clasp her so with might and main,
That she should learn to pity and relent,
And, in revenge for scorn and proud despite,
A thousand times I’d kiss her forehead white.

Not always do fierce tempests vex the sea,
Nor always clinging clouds offend the sky;
Cold snows before the sunbeams haste to flee,
Disclosing flowers that ‘neath their whiteness lie;
The saints each one doth wait his day to see,
And time makes all things change; so, therefore, I
Ween that ’tis wise to wait my turn, and say,
That who subdues himself, deserves to sway.

From: Symonds, John Addington, Sketches and Studies in Italy and Greece, 1914, John Murray: London, pp. 312-314.

Date: c1470 (original in Italian); 1879 (translation in English)

By: Angelo Ambrogini (Poliziano) (1454-1494)

Translated by: John Addington Symonds (1840-1893)