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H. OELSNER, M.A., Ph.D., Taylorian 
Lecturer in Romance Philology in 
THE University of Oxford 


LONDON 1908 

A II rights reserved 


THE "Vita Nuova."— " Thraughout the Fit a 
Nuova there is a strain like the first falling 
murmur which reaches the ear in some remote meadow 
and prepares us to look upon the sea." ^ Thus, finely, 
one poet of another, far greater than himself, but with 
whom he was in such complete sympathy, whom he 
loved so tenderly throughout his life, that the names of 
the two must ever remain entwined in the annals of 
literature and of art. 

There is no need to tell again in detail the beautiful 
story of Dante's love : how he met his Beatrice one 
May morning, when he was nine years old, and she a 
year younger (1274) ; how they did not see each 
other again for nine years ; how he worshipped her 
with the purest love from that day till the day of her 

I death in 1290; how he forgot her memory for a 
1 Although these words would seem to imply a greater 
admiration for the Commedia, it would be an easy task to 
show that Rossetti's worship of Dante was based primarily 
on the Fita Nuova, 
I " 

while, but soon regained his better self; how his love 
became more and more spiritualised, till it found its 
highest expression in the Commedia. 

It has been held by some that this Beatrice never 
existed in flesh and blood. Non ragionam di lor ma 
guarda e passa. Such " scholars " deserve no more 
attention than the Shakespeare-Bacon fanatics. Others, 
with more reason, maintain that, though Dante was 
undoubtedly in love with some lady, yet we cannot 
identify his Beatrice.^ For our part, we prefer to 
believe the much-maligned and much-discredited 
Boccaccio,^ who lived in the fourteenth century and 
was far more likely to be able to get at the truth of 
who this Beatrice was or was not than students, how- 
ever diligent, living in the nineteenth and twentieth. 
Moreover, while it may be difficult flatly to contradict 
these latter, nothing would have been easier than for 

1 The various views that have been held on this subject 
have been examined by Dr. Moore in a masterly article 
which may now be most conveniently read in the second 
series of the Studies in Dante (Oxford, 1899), pp. 79-151. 
He divides the theories into symbolist, idealist and realist, 
and concludes that there is a «' large element of truth in the 
idealist and symbolist theories, but not the whole truth. 
Every theory has its difficulties, but those of the realist the 
least formidable." 

2 See the Early Li-ves of Dante, translated by P. H. Wick- 
steed, pp. 15-20 {King's Classics, 1904). 

some kinsman or friend of the Alighieri or Portinari 
to have contradicted Boccaccio. Why is there no 
evidence that any of them did so ? Let us assume 
therefore, though it is really quite immaterial, that 
Dante loved the daughter of Folco Portinari, 
Beatrice, who in 1287 married one Simone de' Bardi, 
and who died in 1 290. Dante himself, a few years 
after the death of Beatrice, married one Gemma 
Donati, by whom he had several children ; and to his 
eldest daughter he gave the name of the object of his 
early passion. 

Lest students of the Vita Nuova should regard the 
Dante of this period as a mere love-sick swain, 
heedless of anything save his mistress only, it must be 
added that we know him to have been a soldier too. 
For why should we reject the testimony of one of his 
earliest biographers, Leonardo Bruni, that he was on 
the side of the victorious Tuscan Guelfs at the battle ot 
Campaldino (June, 1289), "fighting valiantly on 
horseback in the front rank"? And surely none but 
an eye-witness could describe so vividly two later 
episodes of the same campaign, used by way of 
illustration in the Inferno : " And thus once I saw the 
footmen, who marched out under treaty from Caprona, 
fear at seeing themselves among so many enemies 

(xxi. 94-96). ... "I have ere now seen horse- 
men moving camp, and commencing the assault, and 
holding their muster, and at times retiring to escape ; 
coursers have I seen upon your land, O Aretines ! and 
seen the march of foragers, the shock of tournaments 
and race of jousts, now with trumpets, and now with 
bells, with drums and castle-signals, and with native 
things and foreign ..." (xxii. 1-9).^ And no 
sooner had Dante put the finishing touches to the 
Vita Nuova than he joined one of the guilds (that of 
the Physicians and Apothecaries) — a necessary prelim- 
inary in those days to all communal service ; and from 
July, 1295, ^^^ name appears in various public 

The manner in which the Vita Nuova was composed 
is curious in the extreme. The lyrics were no doubt, 
as a general rule, set down immediately or shortly 
after the events which first inspired them. Thus, the 
earliest sonnet would belong to the year 1283, and all 
the subsequent lyrics inspired by Beatrice before and 
on her death would fall between that year and 1290. 

1 The prose versions of passages from Dante's works 
(other than the Fita Nmva and Canzoniere) used in this 
volume are by Carlyle {Inferno), Okey {Purgatorio), Wicksteed 
(Paradiso, Convivio) and Ferrers-Howell (De F'uhari Eloquio) • 
all in the Tem/;le Classics. ^ 

The exact period of the later lyrics is somewhat more 
difficult to determine, but there is no reason to assume 
that any of them were composed after 1295. With 
regard to the narrative prose passages, so exquisite and 
worthy an accompaniment to the poems, it is certain 
that Dante did not write a line of them till he 
determined to collect the lyrics ; and the same applies 
to the analyses, curious rather than beautiful, the idea 
of which is held by some to be borrowed from 
Aquinas' commentaries on Aristotle, though they may 
have been equally well inspired by the methods of 
oral exposition that obtained in the class-rooms of 
those days, or partly suggested by the ra%os written 
for many of the Proven9al poems. The best critics 
are unanimous that the selection of the lyrics and adding 
of the prose narrative and analytical divisions was 
made by Dante during the years 1 292-1 295 ; so that 
by the time he had reached the age of thirty, Dante 
had given posterity the purest, the most intimately-felt 
and the most perfectly-told love-story in all literature. 
Many attempts have been made to divide the Vita 
Nuova for the better understanding of the little work ;^ 

1 It may be said here that the division of the Fita Nuova 
into sections was first made by Torri (1843); and his ar- 
rangement has been adhered to, with slight alterations, by 

but the tripartite division evidently intended by Dante 
himself seems the only one admissible. On page 68 
he speaks of having to ripigliare materia nova e piu nobile 
che la passata, and on page 1 48 we hear of the nuova 
materia che appresso viene. It will be found that the 
first of these sections is inspired mainly by the physical 
loveliness of Beatrice and the second by the beauty of 
her soul, while the third is devoted to her memory. 
Professor Charles Eliot Norton was the first to point 
out to a wide circle of readers^ that Dante further 
arranged his lyrics symmetrically in this fashion : — 

10 minor poems, all but one of them sonnets, 

I canzone, 

4 sonnets, 

1 canzone, 

4 sonnets, 

I canzone, 

subsequent editors. The present edition follows the usual 
modern arrangement, but omits the numbering of the 
sections, which Rossetti, among many others, had adopted. 
It was thought that, as Dante did not even divide his nar- 
rative into paragraphs, the addition of numerals was 
superfluous. And, while on the subject of typographical 
arrangement, it may be added that the indentation ot the 
English lyrics has throughout been brought into conformity 
with the Italian method, which lays stress on the sym- 
metrical structure of the poems rather than on the rhymes. 
^ But see below, footnote on p. xxii. 

lO minor poems, all but one of them sonnets. 

This arrangement tallies with the references to the 
nuova materia. The first canzone, Donne, ch* avete 
intelletto d' amore heralds the second division ; the 
second, Donna ptetosa e di novella etate forms the centre 
of the work ; while the third, Gli occhi dolenti per pieth 
del core, opens the final section. 

That Dante learnt a great deal from the Provencal 
troubadours and early Italians is, of course, well known ; 
and scholars are beginning to study his indebtedness in 
this respect with far more care and thoroughness than 
even the best literary historians had done before them.^ 
But it seems doubtful that they will ever shake the 
modern view that Dante, for all his indebtedness, is, at 
his best, the supreme lyric poet of Italy. We say 
" modern " advisedly, for till the nineteenth century 
Petrarch held undisputed sway, not in Italy alone, but 

1 See, for example, L. F. Mott, The System of Courtly Love 
studied as an introduction to the Vita N'uova of Dante (Boston and 
London, 1896) ; G. Salvador!, II problema dello ^ stil nuovo* (in 
the Nuova Antologia, Oct. I, 1896^; L. Azzolina, // ^ dolce stil 
nuovo^ (Palermo, 1903); K. Vossler, Die philosophischen Grund- 
lagen zum • siissen neuen Stil^ des Guido Guinicelli, Guido Cavalcanti 
und Dante Alighieri (Heidelberg, 1 904); Savj-Lopez' review 
of Azzolina and Vossler in the Giom. stor. d. lett. ital., xlv, 
pp. 74-88 (1905), developed in the vol., Trovatori e Poeti, 
Studi di lirica antica (1906); and V. Rossi, // ^ dolce stil nuovo' 
(in Lectura Dantis, Le Obere Minori di Dante, Firenze, 1906) 


throughout Europe. To account fully for this prefer- 
ence it would be necessary to outline the history of 
European taste and culture during the last five 
centuries. It seems enough to point out that Dante's 
passion was the more mystic, spiritual, rare and difficult 
to grasp; Petrarch's the less fine, the more obvious 
and the more universal. ^ It was reserved for the 
nineteenth century to discover the sincerity of Dante's 
love and the comparative hollo wness of Petrarch's. 
While the presses of Europe teemed with editions of 
Petrarch in the original and in translations, while 

1 From another point of view, the following passage of 
Macaulay, though exaggerated and overcharged, is worthy 
of study and consideration : " From the time of Petrarch to 
the appearance of Alfieri's tragedies, we may trace in almost 
every page of Italian literature the influence of those cele- 
brated sonnets which, from the nature both of their beauties 
and their faults, were peculiarly unfit to be models for 
general imitation. Almost all the poets of that period, 
however different in the degree and quality of their talents, 
were characterised by great exaggeration, and as a necessary 
consequence, great coldness of sentiment ; by a passion for 
frivolous and tawdry ornament ; and, above all, by an extreme 

feebleness and diffuseness of style It may be thought 

that I have gone too far in attributing these evils to the 
influence of Petrarch. It cannot, however, be doubted that 
they have arisen, in a great measure, from a neglect of the 
style of Dante. This is not more proved by the decline of 
Italian poetry than by its resuscitation " (^Criticisms of the 
Frincijtal Italian Writers- No. I, Dante. January, 1824) ■ 

countless imitators, some as great as if not greater than 
he, sang their sonnets in all lands, Dante's deeper 
lyrics were all but neglected. Nor must it be thought 
that Petrarch is dead now ; he never can die — for that 
his manner is far too superb. But Dante gradually 
came into his own. It seems difficult to realise that 
there was no edition of the Vita Nuova till that of 
Florence in 1576; and that this should have sufficed 
for all demands till the poet's city again printed the 
work in 1723. There is some comfort in the reflec- 
tion that the two earliest issues hail from the scene of 
Dante's love. Six further editions saw the light 
during the eighteenth century, all at Venice ; but in 
the nineteenth the popularity of the work grew by 
leaps and bounds. During the first fifty years, it is 
true, Italy required only eight editions (one with an 
English version) ; but as the century grew older the 
little book was printed over and over again, the com- 
mentators grew in number and in skill, and every serious 
student of the Commedia occupied himself with the 
masterpiece of the poet's youth. And while Italy was 
awakening to a sense of its beauty and importance, 
other countries were not idle.^ 

^ The princeps ed. by N. Carducci (1576) has a very 
defective text. This vsras somevyrhat improved by Biscioni 

The " Vita Nuova " in England and America to 
the year 1861. — During the early decades of the 
nineteenth century critics were not lacking in England 

(1723), who used seven MSS., and was lavishly copied by 
all his successors, till we come to Trivulzio (1827) and 
Machirelli and Ferrucci (1829), who effected further im- 
provements. Fraticelli (1839), Torri (1843) ^^^ Giuliani 
(1863) were interested in the interpretation of the work 
rather than in textual readings. On these fresh light was 
thrown in the editions of Pizzo (1865), Pio Rajna (for 
D'Ancona's masterly commentary, 1872 and 1884, to which 
Carducci also contributed notes) and Casini (1885). These, 
together with Passerini, who has edited a valuable MS. 
(1897) and published some interesting fragments (1898, 1899), 
were till recently the leading Italian scholars who occupied 
themselves with the work. The critical edition of the F^ita 
Nuova which had been entrusted to Michele Barbi by the Societa 
dantesca italiana appeared at length in 1907, too late for the 
present editor to make use either of the elaborate Introduction 
(of 287 pages) or of the text, as his own pages had long 
been written and set up in type ; moreover, it was obviously 
necessary for him to follow, in the main, the text of Fraticelli, 
which Rossetti tells us he employed when making his 
version. Two Germans, Witte (1876) and Beck (1896), also 
devoted much study to the question ; the former was, as usual, 
admirable, but the latter, though not lacking in industry 
and enthusiasm, lacked method. Germany has also pro- 
duced several versions: F. von Oeynhausen (1824); Kanne- 
giesser and Witte (lyrics only, 1827); Foerster (1841); 
Krafft (1859, lyrics only); Jacobson (1877); Wege [n.d., 
1879]; Federu (1897); Beck (1903); and O. Hauser (1906; 
a volume of the series Hortus Beliciarum). The only other 
country, besides England and America, that has devoted 
itself with any ardour to the Vita Nuova is France, which 
possesses one imitation, by de Cesena (1843), and five 

able to appreciate Dante's youthful work at its true 
value, and in its true perspective. Shelley wrote in 
the Defence of Poesy (1820): "The Proven9al 
Trouveurs, or inventors, preceded Petrarch, whose 
verses are as spe]Is, which unseal the inmost enchanted 
fountains of the delight which is in the grief of love. 
It is impossible to feel them without becoming a 
portion of that beauty which we contemplate : it were 
superfluous to explain how the gentleness and eleva- 
tion of mind connected with these sacred emotions can 
render men more amiable, more generous and wise, 
and lift them out of the dull vapours of the little 
w orld of self. Dante understood the secret things of 
love more than Petrarch. His Vita Nuova is an 
inexhaustible fountain of purity of sentiment and 
language ; it is the idealised history of that period, 
and those intervals of his life which were dedicated 
to 1 ove. His apotheosis of Beatrice in Paradise, and 
the gradations of his own love and her loveliness, by 
which as by steps he feigns himself to have ascended 
to the throne of the Supreme Cause, is the most 
glorious imagination of modern times." And young 
Arthur Henry Hallam, whose oration on the Influence 

translations: Delecluze (1841); Ern. and Edm, Lafond 
(1848); Durand-Fardel (1898); H. Godefroy (1901) ; and 
H. Cochin (1905). 

of Italian ivorhs of imagination on the same class of 
composition in England^ shows perhaps more promise 
than any of his other writings, said: "Petrarch 
appears to me a corollary from Dante ; the same 
spirit in a different mould of individual character, 
and that a weaker mould ; yet better adapted, by the 
circumstances of its position, to diffuse the great 
thought which possessed them both, and to call into 
existence so great a number of inferior recipients of 
it, as might affect insensibly, but surely, the course of 
general feeling. Petrarch was far from apprehending 
'either his own situation, or that of mankind, with 
{anything like the clear vision of Dante whom he 
I affected to undervalue, idly striving against that destiny 
jwhich ordained their co-operation." Or again : . . . 
" it was not in scattered sonnets that the whole mag- 
nificence of that idea could be manifested, which 
represents love as at once the base, the pyramidal 
point of the entire universe, and teaches us to regard 
the earthly union of souls, not as a thing accidental, 
transitory, and dependent on the condition of human 
society, but with far higher import, as the best and 
the appointed symbol of our relations with God, and 
through them of his own ineffable essence. In the 

1 Delivered in Trinity College (Cambridge) Chapel, 
Dec. 1 6, 1831. 

Divine Comedy this idea received its full completeness 
of form." 1 

The time was now ripe for the more general 
appreciation in this country of so introspective a work 
as the Vita Nuova. Some of the great poets of the 
dawning century had prepared the atmosphere. Un- 
fortunately it has to be admitted that the first English- 
man who occupied himself seriously with Dante's 
love-story was attracted thereto by considerations that 
would have puzzled Dante no less than they have 
puzzled every serious student since first they were 
given to the world. Charles Lyell was not only the 
friend, he was a disciple of Gabriele Rossetti, the 

1 In the Preface (p. xxxii) to the Remains in Verse ana 
Prose of Arthur Henry Hallam (London 1834), his father 
wrote : " . . . about the same time (1832) he had a design 
to translate the Vita Nuova of his favourite Dante, a work 
which he justly prized as the development of that immense 
genius in a kind of autobiography which best prepares us 
for a real insight into the Divine Comedy, He rendered 
accordingly into verse most of the sonnets which the Vita 
Nuova contains ; but the Editor does not believe that he 
made any progress in the prose translation. These sonnets 
appearing rather too literal, and consequently harsh, it has 
not been thought worth while to print." — Had they been 
published, young Hallam would have had the distinction of 
being the earliest English translator of these lyrics. It may 
be added that he was also the author of some very damaging 
"Remarks on Professor Rossetti's Disquisizioni sullo spirito 
antipapale" (1832). 


father of the poet. It Is enough to say that Gabriele 
expounded the whole of the exquisite love-poetry of 
medieval Italy in a political sense. In every way a 
noble and most estimable man, this is the one fault 
that can be laid to his charge.^ Fortunately his 
disciples in this particular direction numbered only 
two of importance — Lyell in England ^ and Aroux in 

^ Even in the midst of his Dante blunders he is frequently 
instructive. Thus he appears to have been the first to note 
the symmetrical structure of the yita Nuova: "These 33 
poetic compositions [there are really only 31, but Gabriele 
followed the ist ed. of Lyell, who obtained the figure 33 
by including Cavalcanti's reply to Dante's ist sonnet and 
counting the double commencement on p. 170 as 2 sonnets] 
are to be divided into 3 parts, according to those 3 sections, 
and to the 3 predominant canzoni of the Vita Nuova. The 
central canzone ... is the head of the skein, and from 
that point must the interpretation begin ; and then one 
must take, on this side and on that, the 4 lateral sonnets to 
the left, and the 4 to the right. . . . On this side and on 
that follow the 2 canzoni placed symmetrically. . . . And 
thus, proceeding from one side to the other, collating the 
10 compositions to the right with the 10 to the left, we 
come finally to the first and last sonnets of the Vita Nuova, 
which contain 2 visions. ..." There can be no doubt 
that Norton (see above, p. xiv) worked independently, for 
the letter (addressed to Lyell on Jan. 13, 1836) from which 
the foregoing passage is taken, was not printed till 1901 
(in Gabriele Rossetti. A versified autobiography. Translated and 
supplementea by W. M. R. ; p. 137). — Rossetti published his 
discovery in // Mistero dell' Amor Platonico, London, 1840, 
vol. ii, p. 637. 

2 <' The two remarkable works of Professor Rossetti (he 

France. Equally fortunately, though the motives 
which induced Lyell to translate Dante's love-poems 
(1835) were as wrong as they could well be, the 

says in his Preface to The Canzoniere of Dante Alighieri, incluU' 
ing the poems of the Vtta Nuova and Convito : Italian and English. 
London, 1835), // Comento Analitico della Divina Commedia and 
Lo Spirito antipapale di Dante, gave occasion to the following 
translations. The former of these, by the novelty of the view 
which it exhibits of the political scope of the great poem of 
Dante,the unexpected interpretation of many of its mysterious 
passages, and the deep research and ingenuity by which 
they are supported, produced a great sensation among 
Italian scholars. Opinion was unanimous as to the talent 
displayed by the author, but much divided as to the founda- 
tion and solidity of some of his theories. The second work 
brought forward many powerful and curious illustrations in 
corroboration of the first, and converted many to the doctrines 
of the Professor. Doubts, however, were still expressed 
whether sufficient authority was adduced for the most singular 
of his speculations, the attributing a double sense to many 
common words and phrases, and for maintaining that it con- 
stituted a conventional language, ox gergo, of which there is 
evidence in the works of all the Ghibelline writers of that 
aEra. To satisfy myself upon this point, and the better to put 
the question to the test, I amused myself with making an 
English version of the Vita Nuo-va and Convito, and of the lyrical 
poems of Dante referred to by Signor Rossetti, as affording 
the strongest proof of a sectarian getgo. The poetical part of 
the performance (if it deserve the name) met with some com- 
mendation in manuscript, and I was flattered into a belief 
that by extending it, and giving a translation of the entire 
Canzoniere of Dante ... I might make an acceptable con- 
tribution to literature, by drawing more attention to a very 
interesting controversy, and by supplying a supplement 
(however inferior) to the admirable work of Mr. Gary." 

actual performance was in no way affected thereby. 
The second edition of these versions ^ was dedicated 
to Gary, "the unrivalled translator of the Vision of 
Dante" ; and in the third (1845) he speaks of "the 
lamented Mr. Gary, to whose encouragement this revival 
of the Ganzoniere owes its appearance.'* It must be 
said that, on the whole, LyelPs renderings are not 
altogether unworthy to be in this way associated with 

1 It was published in 1842 and included 282 pages of 
Prolegomena (not mentioned on the title-page), mostly- 
devoted to an essay On the Anti-papal spirit of Dante 
Alighieri (which was in 1844 translated into Italian by 
Gaetano Polidori, the grandfather, on his mother's side, of 
D. G. Rossetti). It contains, among other illustrations, a 
fine engraving of the Seymor Kirkup drawing, then a com- 
parative novelty ; as also a drawing of the Torrigiani bust, 
a copy of which had been presented to him by Professor 
Rossetti. The third and last edition of the work (1845) 
omits the Italian text, includes brief analyses of the prose 
passages of the Vita Nuova and Convivio, and contains the 
following pathetic passage : " Professor Rossetti has made 
a bold and hazardous attempt to develop the mysteries of 
the poetry of Dante, and of his era. His learning, ingenuity 
and eloquence, should have secured to his writings a fair 
examination ; but to the reproach of criticism, their merits 
are overlooked ; the errors and vulnerable parts alone seem 
to have been sought for ; and even these are assailed more 
by ridicule and sarcasm than by argument. I gladly take 
this opportunity of acknowledging the information and 
assistance which he has been ever ready to afford me ; and 
the pleasure I have had in his uninterrupted correspondence 
since the first appearance of his Comento analitico, 1826." 

Gary's name. In one respect, indeed, he is undoubt- 
edly superior to that famous translator. Neither Gary 
nor Lyell cared to face the difficulties of rhyme ; 
but the latter in a manner justifies his decision by- 
extreme literalness — a quality with which Gary can- 
not be credited. On the other hand, it must be 
admitted that a rhymeless epic is more capable of 
affording literary enjoyment than a rhymeless sonnet 
or canzone; and for that reason L yell's verse, for 
all his undoubted care, ingenuity and gifts, must 
always appear somewhat wooden.^ 

In the same year (1845), {^^^) Theodore Martin, 
happily still with us, published the first important English 
essay on the subject of Dante and Beatrice in Tait^s 
Magazine. This piece of work, which, if not very 
deep, was at least thoroughly sympathetic and free 
from the fatal errors of Gabriele Rossetti and Lyell, 
included clever versions of the lyrics.^ The following 

1 Readers will be able to judge of his performance in the 
Appendices I and IV at the close of this volume. Appendix 
IV contains a specimen passage (the sonnet Tanto gentile 
with the preceding piece of prose) of all the English 
translations of the Fita Nuova mentioned in this Preface. 

2 It does not appear to have made any great mark at the 
time, but was known to D. G. Rossetti. See his letter to 
McCracken, dated May 15, 1854: "A better and fuller 
account [than an essay in the Dublin University Magazine] 
you will find in an article in Tait's Magazine some years 


^ ^nt *rdrr 




the Vita Nuova in any English form yours is greatly 
the most valuable." And what Rossetti said in 1862 
remains true to this day. 

We shall see that Norton in due course supplemented 
this preliminary study with a version of the entire 
Vita Nuova. Precisely the same thing happened with 
Martin, who had likewise begun with an essay, and 
on whom the little work grew till he felt compelled 
to give it to the English public in its entirety. He 
had in the meantime found his Beatrice in the person 
of the greatest actress of her generation ; and it is as 
likely as not that this happy union was one of the 
causes that induced him to take up again the story of 
Dante's passion.^ He had " hoped that some other 
hand would long since have clothed the entire work in 
an English dress ; but no other translation having 
appeared,^ the present has been completed, in the 
belief that it would not be unwelcome to those 

1 See the close of the dedicatory sonnet to Helen Faucit : 

I give this book to thee, whose daily life 

With that full pulse of noblest feeling glows, 
Which lent its spell to thy so potent art ; 

To thee, whose every act, my own true wife. 
The grace serene and heavenward spirit shows, 
That rooted Beatrice in Dante's heart. 

2 A proof, if proof were needed, that Garrow's work fell 
still-born from the press. 

students of Dante who might be deterred by the 
difficulty and frequent obscurity of the original from 
becoming famihar with it. Another version, forming 
part of translations from the poets who preceded or 
were contemporary with Dante, from the hand, power- 
ful both with pen and pencil, of Mr. Dante Rossetti, 
is announced while these sheets are passing through 
the press." ^ In spite of two brilliant rivals, this 
rendering has its readers to the present day. It is the 
work of a scholar throughout, the essay, the notes 
and the prose sections of the translation possessing 
undoubted value ; the version of the lyrics is faithful, 
though, perhaps for that very reason, it often lacks 
charm and spontaneity. ^ 

1 This preface is dated Nov. 25, 1861 ; and the work, 
which has 1862 on the title-page, seems to have appeared 
at the very end of 1861. In the preface to the second 
edition of his translation (1871) Martin wrote with refer- 
ence to the earlier issue : " Another version, forming part 
... of Mr. Dante G. Rossetti's Early Italian Poets, and 
in all respects worthy of his great reputation, was soon 
afterwards given to the public." 

2 D. G. Rossetti's opinion of the work is contained in the 
letter to Norton (dated Jan. 9, 1862) which we have already 
had occasion to quote. Speaking of his own Early Italian Poets, 
he says: ''After all its years of progress, it only comes in 
time not to be behind a translation of the whole P'ita Nuova 
which Mr. Theodore Martin has just brought out. I can- 
not say I am much afraid of it, though in the introduction 


Dante Gabriel Rossetti. — When The Early Italian 
Poets appeared at the close of 1861, Rossetti was in 
his thirty-fourth year, having been born in London on 
May 12, 1828. His father Gabriele formed one of 
the distinguished group of Italian patriots who had 
been exiled from their country and found refuge in 
England. Their collective history still remains to be 
written. Gabriele became Professor of Italian at 
King's College, London, in 1826, having shortly 
before married Frances Polidori, who was Italian on 
her father's, and English on her mother's side. We 
have dealt with the elder Rossetti's unfortunate Dante 
studies ; he always remained an ardent, though mis- 
guided worshipper of his country's greatest poet ; and 
apart from this particular aberration, he was undoubtedly 
a fine scholar. His memory is still cherished in Italy 
as that of noble man, patriot and poet ; while, as Dr. 
Garnett beautifully said, he will " assuredly not be for- 
gotten by England, for which he has done what no other 
inhabitant of these isles ever did in begetting two great 
poets." The full name of his eldest son was Gabriel 
Charles Dante Rossetti ; and surely no one was ever 

and notes there is much that shows taste and scholarship, 
but the translation appears to me to miss the subtle side of 
the original." 

more prophetically named. " Gabriel '' he owes to 
his father, "Charles" to Lyell, his god-father, and 
" Dante " to the great Italian poet who was destined 
to be one of the master-influences of his life. Well 
might he exclaim in the sonnet {^Dantis Tenebra) 
written in memory of his father : 

"And didst thou know indeed, when at the font 
Together with thy name thou gav'st me his, 
That also on thy son must Beatrice 
Decline her eyes according to her wont, 

Accepting me to be of those that haunt 
The vale of magical dark mysteries 
Where to the hills her poet's foot-track lies 
And wisdom's living fountain to his chaunt 

Trembles in music ? " 

On his mother's side, too, Rossetti inherited literary 
blood. Her father, Gaetano Polidori, was an es- 
teemed teacher of Italian in London, who had been 
Alfieri's secretary, and, in addition to other works, 
translated Milton's poems into beautiful Italian. ^ It 

1 The minor poems appeared between 1802-18 14, and the 
complete works in 1840. It seems as if some hereditary 
influence had bound the family to the service of both lite- 
ratures : the grandfather renders Milton into Italian, the 
grandson, Dante and the other early Italians into English, 
— A brother of Frances Polidori, and uncle of our poet, was 
the eccentric John William Polidori, who became secretary 
to Byron in 181 6 and of whom we read in Moore's Life. In 
18 19 he published TJie F'amiyre under Byron's name, a tale 

will be seen that young Dante Gabriel was reared in 
a literary atmosphere, which could not have failed to 
influence him even if he had not been exceptionally 
gifted. 1 In point of fact he was born with the double 
gift of poetry and of painting — a gift that amounted 
to genius. There is no need to follow his wonderful 
career in detail : his story has been told more fre- 
quently, perhaps, in the five-and-twenty years that have 
elapsed since his death than that of any other man within 
so short a period. ^ At the age of fifteen he began 

which caused a great sensation throughout Europe, and 
formed the- basis of Marschner's opera. Polidori died in 
1821, at the age of twenty-six, in all probability by his 
own hand. 

1 The younger brother, William Michael Rossetti, besides 
writing copiously on Dante Gabriel, has done g:ood work as 
a critic of literature and art ; he also translated the Inferno. 
Of his two sisters, Maria Francesca wrote an exquisite book 
on Dante {A Shadoiv of Dante), while Christina is, of course, 
one of the two great woman-poets in English literature. 

2 Mr. William Michael Rossetti is responsible for the 
following works, which are of course authoritative : — D, G. 
J?, as designer and -writer, etc. (l 889) ; D. G. i?. , His Family Letters 
-with a Memoir (1895): the work which, with all its faults, 
must ever be the basis of all future study of Rossetti ; Raskin : 
Rossetti : Prarafhaelitism ; Papers 1854-1862 (1899); Pre- 
raphaelite Diaries and Letters (1900); Rossetti Papers, 1867-1870 
(1903); Bibliography of the Works of D. G. R. (1905); D. G. R., 
Classifed List of his Writings (1906); Some Reminiscences of JV. 
M. R. (1906). General monographs have been written by 

the study of art and the exercise of literature. Soon he 
met Millais and Holman Hunt, and with them founded 
the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. These young men 
did not know much about the early Italian painters, 
except that they had gone to Nature for their inspiration : 
and this discovery and the paintings to which it gave 

Hall Caine (a reprint of whose Recollections of D. G. H., 1882, 
may be expected in the year 1908), Sharp (1882), Tirebuck 
(1882), Nicholson (1886), Knight (1897), H. C. Marillier 
(1899; a splendid memorial; shorter versions in 1904 and 
1906); A. C. Benson (1904), Dunn (1904), W. Waldschmidt 
(1905). Monographs dealing principally with Rossetti the 
artist: F. G. Stephens (1894, Portfolio Monographs, No. 5); 
Esther Wood (1894), Destree (1895), G. A. Sartorio (1895, 
// Convito, 2, 4); Helen M. M. Rossetti (Art Journal, 
1902); F. H. M. Hueffer (1902, Popular Library of Art); 
Jenssen (1905), Radford (in Neivnes^ Art Library, 1905); 
Braivings of D. G. R. (1905, in Modern Master Draughts- 
man, text by Martin T. Wood); H. W. Singer (1905; 
English tr., 1906); L. Pissarro (1907). — G. Sarrazin (jPo<?/tfj 
Modernes d'' Angleterre, 1 885), Mary Robinson (GraWj Ecrivains 
dC Outre- Manche, 1901), and A. Galetti [Studi di lett. straniera, 
1903), dealt principally with Rossetti the poet, as did J. 
Peladan (in his introduction to Couve's French version of 
the House of Life — Maison de Vie, 1887) and A.Agresti in the 
Preface to his Italian translation of the Poems — Poesie (1899). 
Finally, the delightful Letters of D. G. R. to W. Allingham 
(1897), edited by G. B. Hill, are indispensable to those 
desiring to obtain a complete picture of Rossetti, the man ; 
nor can the Autobiographical Notes of the Life of William Bell 
Scott (ed. by W, Minto, 1892) be neglected, though they 
should be accepted with caution. 

rise, coming at a moment when all the worst faults of 
mid- Victorian art were rampant, paved the way for a 
revolution that made only for good. Rossetti painted 
some beautiful works by 1850, including the exquisite 
Ecce Ancilla Domini (now belonging to the nation) ; 
but after that date he rarely exhibited, and his person- 
ality became more and more enshrouded in mystery so 
far as the general public was concerned. The Middle 
Ages were his early love, Dante and Malory making 
the chief, but not the only, appeal. When quite a boy 
he made the beautiful version of Hartmann von Aue's 
Der arme Heinr'ich which is fortunately still preserved 
[Henry the Leper). We have his brother's testimony 
that the wonderful translations from the early Italians 
were begun so early as 1845, ^^*^ ^^^^ ^^ dates of most 
of them range from 1845 to 1849. ^^ ^'^o began 
writing original poems, some of which appeared in the 
P. R. B. organ, the Germ (1850), and others in the 
Oxford and Cambridge Magazine (1856). His circle 
of friends came to include Ruskin, Morris, Tennyson, 
the Brownings, Swinburne, Meredith — indeed, most of 
the master-spirits of the age. In 185 1 he had fallen 
in love with a beautiful girl, a dressmaker's assistant, 
named Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall. Nine years later 
they were married, and after a union of two short years 

she died. There can be no doubt that, artistically at 
any rate, this woman, during her life-time, was to 
Rossetti what Beatrice was to Dante. It is no less 
certain that after a while, when the earliest version of 
the Beata Beatrix — that lovely monument to her 
memory^ — had been painted, this influence gradually 
began to lose its hold on Rossetti ; and that, if his 
temperament had been cast in the same heroic mould 
as that of Dante, his work, great as it remained, might 
have been greater still, and the world the richer. It is 
matter of history how, distracted with grief at his 
wife's death, he buried with her the manuscript of all 
his poems; how these were exhumed in 1869 and 
produced a deep impression on their publication the 
following year ; how the only discordant note was 
sounded in a cruel review written by Robert Buchanan 
in 187 1 ; and how Rossetti, who was not in good 
health at the time, never recovered from this unjust 
attack. He wrote some exquisite poems [Ballads and 
Sonnets f 1881) and painted some exquisite pictures 
during the last years of his life ; but he was a wreck 
compared with his former self, and passed away at 

^ " . . . a reminiscence of the painter's lost wife, 
pourtrayed with perfect fidelity out of the inner chamber, 
of his soul " (W. M. R., Memoir, I. p. 239). 

Birchington-on-Sea, a broken man, on April 9th, 1882. 
He died, as his tombstone records, ** honoured among 
painters as a painter, and among poets as a poet." ^ 

Dante and Rossetti the Painter. — Enough has 
been said to show that young Rossetti was steeped in 
Dante from his earliest years. In the Preface to The 
Early Italian Poets we read : *'In relinquishing this work 
(which, small as it is, is the only contribution I expect 
to make to our English knowledge of old Italy), I 
feel, as it were, divided from my youth. The first 
associations I have are connected with my father's 
devoted studies, which, from his own point of view, 
have done so much towards the general investigation 
of Dante's writings. Thus, in those early days, all 
around me partook of the influence of the great 
Florentine ; till from viewing it as a natural element, 
I also, growing older, was drawn within the circle." 2 
It seems clear that he began as a literary interpreter of 
the great Italian : for although the first draft of the 
rendering of the Fita Nuova was not finished till 

1 This fine monument was designed by Ford Madox 
Brown. One of its three bas-reliefs appropriately depicts 
the spiritual marriage of Dante and Beatrice. 

2 The Dante tradition was curiously preserved even in 
young Rossetti's early art training : he studied at Sass' 
Academy (1841) under F. S. Gary a son of the translator of 

Sept. 24, 1849,1 we have seen that some of the 
translations were begun in 1845, and that most of 
them were made within the next four years. ^ On 
the other hand, there is no record of any Dante 
picture till 1849, though the child began scribbling 
drawings in 1834. But, to make up for this, Dante 
subjects occupied the brain and hand of Rossetti the 
artist continuously from 1 849 till the year before his 
death. So that this aspect of Dante's influence 
deserves primary consideration. 

It must not be forgotten that it was Rossetti's 
original intention to illustrate his Vita Nuova. Thus 
his brother tells us [P. R. B. Journal^ Sunday, Jan. 23 
to Sat., Jan. 29, 1853) : "He [Gabriel] is now pos- 
sessed with the idea of bringing out his translation of the 
Vita Nuova revised and illustrated. He had intended 
photographed designs a short time ago, but now again 
purposes etchings." In the letter to McCracken 
already quoted Rossetti writes (on May 15, 1854) : 

^ *' Gabriel was engaged in the morning looking over 
and finishing the Vita JVuova." (See the F. R.B. Journal, kept 
by W, M. R., 1 849-1 85 3, under that day. The Journal is 
edited in Preraphaelite Diaries and Letters, 1900.) 

2 <<I cannot say which branch of the subject may have 
been undertaken first. Possibly the version of the Fita Nuova, 
prose and poetry, had been made before any researches at the 
British Museum commenced" (W. M. R.'s Memoir, p. 105). 

"For my own part, I had long been familiar with 
the work [the Vita Nuova] and been in the habit of 
designing all its subjects in different ways before I met 
with that article [Martin's]]. I made some years ago 
a translation of the entire Fita Nuova, which I have 
by me, and shall publish one day as soon as I have 
leisure to etch my designs from it."i 

We do not purpose to give the complete statistics 
and details bearing out our statement — these will be 
found in Mr. Marillier's admirable Appendix; but it 
is a fact that Rossetti was engaged on pictures drawn 
from Dante during thirty-two years of his life 
between 1 849-1881 ; and that the number of works 
thus produced amounts to no less than forty-three, 
thirty of which deal with the Vita Nuova. Of course 
there are replicas among these ; but it is clear that so 

1 Here is the history of a lovely little drawing intended to 
serve as frontispiece to the Early Italian Poets: " He made a 
graceful design of two lovers kissing, which was engraved, 
and formed the foundation of his water-colour entitled The 
Rose Garden. Even as late as 18 June, 1861, he thought of 
doing the etchings, and giving them in gratis if the pub- 
lishers would not compensate him. At last this project 
was abandoned, and the book appeared without any designs " 
(W. M. R.'s Memoir). — The design is reproduced from a 
woodcut on p. 107 of Marillier's work. It should form 
the frontispiece of any future edition of the Early Italian 
Poets. ^ 


true an artist would not have devoted so much of his 
activity to one theme without being in fullest sympathy 
with it. All of these efforts were not equally suc- 
cessful ; but it is no exaggeration to say that the best 
of them rank with — if indeed they do not surpass — the 
finest pictorial renderings of the Vita Nuova in the 
world. The masterpieces are the Greeting of Beatrice 
in Florence (1849),^ supplemented by the wonderful 
Greeting in Purgatory (1852); the perfect little water- 
colour depicting Dante^s Dream (1856), which was 
chosen as the frontispiece of the present volume in pre- 
ference to the more elaborate oil-painting (1871-1881), 
not only because it is less known, but also because, to 
lovers of the early Rossetti, it appears more direct, more 
simple and more inspired ; the Beat a Beatrix ( 1 863 ) , in 
which the poet-painter's ideal of Dante's Beatrice and 
the lover's memory of his lost wife are so miraculously 
fused and enshrined ; ^ and the various perfect heads 

1 The date of the earliest version is given in each case. 

2 As this picture is so often misunderstood, the following 
explanation by Rossetti (taken from a letter) may prove of 
service : " The picture illustrates the Vita Nuova, embodying 
symbolically the death of Beatrice as treated in that work. 
The picture is not intended at all to represent death, but to 
render it under the semblance of a trance, in which Beatrice, 
seated at a balcony overlooking the city, is suddenly rapt 
from earth to heaven. You will remember how Dante dwells 

depicting the living Beatrice (especially as the embodi- 
ment of the lines Tanto gentile') and the Lady of the 
Window. Beautiful, though perhaps not quite so con- 
summate, owing to faults of composition, are Dante 
drawing the angel (1849) ^^^ Beatrice at a Marriage 
jpeast denying her salutation to Dante (1851). The 
Dantis Amor (1859), designed as a centre-piece to the 
two Greetings^ seems to have had a peculiar fascination 
for Rossetti, but is too precise and mathematical for 
the taste of some, though one fancies Dante himself 
would have liked it. A mere sketch, but one that 
might have made a delightful picture, is the Boat of 
Love (1874), illustrating the sonnet Guido vorrei. 
The Commedia inspired (in addition to the Greeting in 
Purgatory) the exquisite designs Matilda gathering 
Jloivers (1855), the Vision of Rachel and Leah (1855), 

on the desolation of the city in connection with the incident 
of her death, and for this reason I have introduced it as my 
background, and made the figures of Dante and Love passing 
through the street and gazing ominously on one another, 
conscious of the event ; while the bird, a messenger of death, 
drops the poppy between the hands of Beatrice. She, 
through her shut lids, is conscious of a new world, as ex- 
pressed in the last words of the Fita Nuwa — " That blessed 
Beatrice who now gazeth continually on His countenance 
qui est per omnia sacula betiedictus ." — See, too, the footnote on 
p. XXXV. 


the less successful Fia (1861), and above all that 
glowing love scene in v/ater- colour — Paolo and Fran^ 
cesca (1855) — which, again, appears to us superior to 
the later versions in oil, as it certainly is finer than the 
companion presentment of the hapless lovers in Hell. 
For spiritual significance, for mystery, for atmosphere, 
for sheer beauty, the best of these designs will assuredly 
satisfy the most fastidious, the most reverent lover of 
Dante for all time. 

Dante and Rossetti the Poet. — While still a boy, 
Rossetti, as we saw, produced an admirable version of 
Hartmann von Aue's Der arme Heinrich, which shows 
that medieval literature always had a hold on him. 
The renderings from the early Italians followed. 
These not only testify to the poet's sympathy with 
the feeling and with the mode of expression of those 
days, but have done more to promote a general under- 
standing in England of that fascinating period than 
many a more learned and more pretentious work. That 
other medieval works, especially the Morte d* Arthur ^ 
were loved by Rossetti, is of course well known. But, 
curiously enough, his literary work, save in these 
renderings, shows little direct trace of these influences. 
The Dante at Verona is a comparative failure — 
successful only in so far as an academic exercise might 

be successful. 1 The question remains how far these 
early poets, and especially Dante, may be said to have 
influenced his work indirectly. The only poems that 
have to be considered from this point of view are The 
Blessed Damo%el and The House of Life, Just as it 
may be felt that certain things in Brahms would have 
been impossible had there been no Schumann, though 
it may be difficult to prove one's impression or state it 
in so many words : so one feels, after an intimate study 
of the Vita Nuova^ the Commedia and Rossetti*s poems, 
that the latter owe more to Dante than it is possible 
to express — The Blessed Damo%el both in theme and 
spirit, the sonnet sequence in spirit alone. 2 

1 It is worth noting that few Italian poets after 1350 
appealed to Rossetti. On Jan. 12, 1873, he writes to his 
brother: " I mean to translate and edit him (Michelangelo) 
at odd times," And, two days later: "My own opinion 
is that Michelangelo stands alone as a good Italian poet after 
Dante, etc., unless we accept Poliziano." 

2 Walter. Pater, one of the subtlest of critics, has succeeded 
in tracing and defining some of these points of contact : 
"One of the peculiarities oiThe Blessea Damozel was a defi- 
niteness of sensible imagery, which seemed almost grotesque 
to some, and was strange, above all, in a theme so pro- 
foundly visionary. The gold bar of heaven from which she 
leaned, her hair yellow like ripe corn, are but examples of 
general treatment, as naively detailed as the pictures of those 
early painters contemporary with Dante, who has shown a 
similar care for minute and definite imagery in his verse ; 


Before passing to a consideration of the volume 
containing our version of the Vita Nuova, it may be 

there, too, in the very midst of profound mystic vision. 
Such definition of outline is indeed one among many points 
in which Rossetti resembles the great Italian poet, of whom, 
led to him at first by family circumstances, he was ever 
a lover — a 'servant and singer,' faithful as Dante, * of 
Florence and of Beatrice ' — with some close inward con- 
formities of genius also, independent of any mere circum- 
stances of education . . . For Rossetti, as for Dante, without 
question on his part, the first condition of the poetic way of 
seeing and presenting things is particularisation . . . And 
this delight in concrete definition is allied with another of 
his conformities to Dante, the really imaginative vividness, 
namely, of his personifications — his hold upon them, or 
rather their hold upon him, with the force of a Franken- 
stein, when once they have taken life from him. . . . 
Rossetti is one of those who, in the words of M^rimee, se 
passioniient pour la passion, one of Love's lovers. And yet, again 
as with Dante, to speak of his ideal type of beauty as 
material, is partly misleading. Spirit and nature, indeed, 
have been for the most part opposed, with a false contrast 
or antagonism, by schoolmen, whose artificial creation those 
abstractions really are. In our actual concrete experience, 
the two trains of phenomena which the words matter and 
spirit do but roughly distinguish, play inextricably into each 
other. Practically, the Church of the Middle Ages by its 
EESthetic worship, its sacramentalism, its real faith in the 
resurrection of the flesh, had set itself against that Mani- 
chean opposition of spirit and matter and its results in men's 
way of taking life ; and in this Dante is the central repre- 
sentative of its spirit. To him, in the vehement and im- 
passioned heat of his conceptions, the material and the 
spiritual are fused and blent : if the spiritual attains the 

necessary to utter a note of warning. Rossetti, at any 
rate before the period of his great sorrow, was not by 
any means what we consider a medieval mystic. He 
was a man of considerable versatility and of a buoyant 
temperament. He was able to paint a strictly medieval 
subject with humorous touches — witness the delightful 
Fra Pace, In his letters he even speaks jocosely of 
Dante 1; and there is a witty sketch (reproduced on 
p. 220 of Marillier's work, the entire Chapter XI of 
which should be studied in this context) depicting 
Dante and the other early Italians jumping through 
hoops, like circus clowns, the great Florentine being 
labelled with the words : " Dante and hts circle." To 

definite visibility of a crystal, what is material loses its 
earthiness and impurity. And here again, by force of 
instinct, Rossetti is one with him. His chosen type of 
beauty is one, 

' Whose speech Truth knows not from her thought, 
Nor Love her body from the soul.* 
Like Dante, he knows no region of spirit which shall not 
be sensuary also, or material. The shadowy world, which 
he realises so powerfully, has still the ways and houses, the 
land and water, the light and darkness, the fire and flowers 
that had so much to do in the moulding of these bodily 
powers and aspects which counted for so large a part of the 
soul, here " (from the paper on D. G. Rossetti, written in 
1883, which appeared in the volume oi Appreciations^ 1889). 

1 Writing to Allingham (p. 164) he speaks of «' Dante cut 
by Beatrice at a marriage," in allusion to one of his pictures, 

leave trivialities, the ballads, though sad, are very real 
and very sane ; while Jenn^ is as sincere and true and 
as far removed from mawkishness and false sentiment 
as any poem of modern times. So, too, is its sister 
conception Found — at any rate in its primitive pen-and- 
ink form. And who shall say that the man who revived 
for us Doctor Johnson at the Mitre was devoid of humour 
and healthy feelings ? 

The external history of the Early Italian Poets is 
full of interest.^ We have sketched the genesis of the 
book. The MS. was soon in the hands of leading 
men of letters. As early as March 31, 1848, Leigh 
Hunt wrote to Rossetti, whom he did not know : " I 
felt perplexed, it is true, at first, by the translations, 
which, though containing evidences of a strong feeling 
of the truth and simplicity of the originals, appeared to 
me harsh, and want correctness in the versification. I 

1 The full title of the first edition was : Early Italian Poets 
Jrom Ciullo cT Alcamo to Dante Alighieri (^II00-I200-IJ00) in the 
original metres, Together ivith Dante's Vita Nuova, Translated by 
D. G. R. The first part deals with Poets chiejly before Dante, 
and the second (which includes the Vita Nuova") with Dante 
ana his Circle. Each part is prefaced by biographical and 
critical notes ; while to an appendix are relegated a discus- 
sion and translation of the unpleasant Forese Donati corre- 
spondence and (because they do not fall within the period 
of the book) versions of some more or less relevant lyrics by 


guess indeed that you are altogether not so musical as 
pictorial."! On Dec. i, 1850, the P, R.B. Journal 
tells us that " Gabriel's translation of the Fita Nuova 
has been returned by Tennyson, who says it is very 
strong and earnest, but disfigured by the so-called 
cockney rhymes, as of * calm ' and * arm.' Gabriel 
intends to remove these before any step is taken towards 
publication." From th.^ Memoir (p. 215) we gather 
that Rossetti also showed the MS. to Allingham, 
Patmore, Count Aurelio Saffi [who taught Italian 
at Oxford], "and no doubt to Mr. Swinburne and 
some others as well." On Aug. 25, 1851, Gabriel 
writes to William : " Will you thank [William Bell] 
Scott for the Fita Nuova and for his note, which 
I shall answer immediately ? He is quite right, I 
know, in all he says of ruggedness, etc., and I shall 
pay every attention to those matters." Still the young 
poet went on filing and seeking advice. The subse- 
quent misunderstanding between Rossetti and Browning 
may probably be traced to the fact that the latter 
was not asked for his counsel. 2 On June 17, 1859, 

1 It should be added that Hunt praised Rossetti's poems. 

2 See Browning's letter to W. M. R. (dated from Rome, 
Dec. 31, 1858): "lam indeed glad to learn that Gabriel 
wrill soon publish those translations : I never saw one of 
them, less thanks to him." 


Ruskin wrote to him : <* You have had an excellent 
critic in Allingham — as far as I can judge. I mean 
that I would hardly desire for myself, in looking over 
the poems, to do more than ini all h.h penciL But — 
as a reader or taster for the public — I should wish to 
find more fault than he has done, and to plead with you 
in all cases for entire clearness of modern and unan- 
tiquated expression. ... I think the book will be an 
interesting and popular one, if you will rid it from 

It is not generally known that Dante Rossetti was 
largely indebted to his brother, William, for valuable 
help while the book was nearing completion.^ 

^ " Could you help me at all, do you think, in collating 
my Vita Nuova with the original, and amending inaccuracies, 
of which I am sure there are some ? I have so much to do 
that I am tempted to bore you with it if you can and will " 
(Letter of Jan. i8, 1861), — "Many thanks. What I want is 
that you should correct my translation throughout, removing 
inaccuracies and mannerisms. And, if you have time, it 
would be a great service to translate the analyses of the 
poems (which I omitted). This, however, if you think it 
desirable to include them. I did not at the time (on ground 
of readableness), but since think they may be desirable, only 
have become so unfamiliar with the book that I have no 
distinct opinion. I enclose in the MS. some notes by Saffi 
which may prove useful" (Letter of Jan. 19, 1861). — «' Many 
and many thanks for a most essential service most thoroughly 
performed. I have not yet verified the whole of the notes, 
but I see they are just what I needed, and will save me a vast 

About this time, too, Ruskin's interest took the 
practical shape of inducing him to advance ;^ioo, by 
way of guarantee, to the publishers. At last the 
book appeared — The Early Italian Poets together nvith 
Dante's Vita Nuova — prefaced by the dedication : 
Whatever is mine in this Book is inscribed to my Wife, 
D. G. R. 1861. Of the utmost importance to every 
reader of Rossetti^s versions is the passage in which he 
sets forth, with great clearness and real distinction of 
style, his theory of translation : 

*^The life-blood of rhythmical translation is this 
commandment, — that a good poem shall not be turned 
into a bad one. The only true motive for putting 
poetry into a fresh language must be to endow a fresh 
nation, as far as possible, with one more possession of 
beauty. Poetry not being an exact science, literality 
of rendering is altogether secondary to this chief law. 
I say literality^ — not fidelity, which is by no means the 
same thing. When literality can be combined with 

amount of trouble. I should very much wish that the trans- 
lation were more literal, but cannot do it all again " (Letter 
of Jan. 25, 1 861). — This debt was publicly acknowledged 
in a foot-note on p. 201 of the ist edition: <' I may here 
also acknowledge my obligations to my brother for valuable 
suggestions and assistance in the course of my present 


what is thus the primary condition of success, the 
translator is fortunate, and must strive his utmost to 
unite them ; when such object can only be attained by 
paraphrase, that is his only path. Any merit possessed 
by these translations is derived from an effort to follow 
this principle. . . . That there are many defects in 
this collection, or that the above merit is its defect, or 
that it has no merits but only defects, are discoveries so 
sure to be made if necessary (or perhaps here and there 
in any case), that I may safely leave them in other 
hands. . . . Of the difficulties I have had to en- 
counter, — the causes of imperfections for which I have 
no other excuse, — it is the reader's best privilege to 
remain ignorant ; but I may perhaps be pardoned for 
briefly referring to such among these as concern the 
exigencies of translation. The task of the translator 
(and with all humility be it spoken) is one of some 
self-denial. Often would he avail himself of any 
special grace of his own idiom and epoch, if only his 
will belonged to him : often would some cadence serve 
him but for his author's structure — some structure 
but for his author's cadence : often the beautiful 
turn of a stanza must be weakened to adopt some 
rhyme which will tally, and he sees the poet revelling 
in abundance of language where himself is scantily 

d xHx 

supplied. Now he would slight the matter for the 
music, and now the music for the matter ; but no, — 
he must deal to each alike. Sometimes too a flaw in 
the work galls him, and he would fain remove it, 
doing for the poet that which his age denied him ; but 
no, — it is not in the bond. His path is like that of 
Aladdin through the enchanted vaults : many are the 
precious fruits and flowers which he must pass by 
unheeded in search for the lamp alone ; happy if at 
last, when brought to light, it does not prove that his 
old lamp has been exchanged for a new one, — ^glittering 
indeed to the eye, but scarcely of the same virtue nor 
with the same genius at its summons. ... I trust that 
from this [his early Dante associations — the passage 
is quoted above, p. xxxvi] the reader may place 
more confidence in a work not carelessly undertaken, 
though produced in the spare-time of other pursuits 
more closely followed. He should perhaps be told 
that it has occupied the leisure moments of not a few 
years ; thus aflfording, often at long intervals, every 
opportunity for consideration and revision ; and that 
on the score of care, at least, he has no need to 
mistrust it. Nevertheless, I know there is no great 
stir to be made by launching afresh, on high-seas 
busy with new traffic, the ships which have been 

long out-stripped and the ensigns which are grown 

There is real pathos in this closing passage, if we 
reflect with what loving care the poet had devoted 
himself to his task since his seventeenth year — he was 
now thirty-three. As for the success of the book with 
the general public, it may be termed moderate ; cer- 
tainly the reception was not enthusiastic. ^ But poets 
and men of letters hailed it with delight. On May 21, 
1 86 1, Coventry Patmore wrote : "A thousand thanks 
for what I see at a glance is one of the very few really 
precious books in the English or any other language. 
It seems to me to be the first time that a translator has 
proved himself, by his translations alone, to be a great 
poet.'* In the same month Ruskin expressed himself 
as " delighted with the book " — and he was a hard 
critic to please, especially where Rossetti was con- 
cerned. Some ten years later, when Mr. Swinburne 
was reviewing Rossetti's poems,^ he said in his enthu- 
siastic way : " All Mr. Rossetti's translations bear the 
same evidence of a power not merely beyond reach but 

1 The indefatigable William states that "by 1869 about 600 
copies of it had been sold ; and the profits covered the j^ioc 
of Mr. Ruskin, and a minute dole of less than £<^ to Rossetti. 
A few copies, 64, still remained on hand " (Memoir^ p. 216). 

2 Fortnightly Revieiv, May 1870. 


beyond attempt of other artists in language." And 
there is every indication that the verdict of Patmore 
and Swinburne will stand the test of time. 

The *'Vita Nuova" in England and America 
from 1862-1907. — Rossetti's classic version did not, 
then, make any immediate impression, nor did Norton's 
complete rendering which appeared at Boston in 1867.^ 
Though appreciation of the Cnmmedia was growing in 
every country, the Vita Nuova was not yet understood. 
In 1873 was published a second edition of Rossetti's 
version, which was now (somewhat unhappily) called 
Dante and his Circle^ but had undergone scarcely any 
other change.2 It seems highly probable that the demand 

1 There is no need to praise again this performance — 
admirable alike as a translation and for its notes and essays. 
When Dr. Garnett in 1896 dedicated his 124 sonnets to Prof. 
Norton he was fully justified in calling him, in the widest 
sense of the word, " the first commentator in English on 
the Fita Nuova." 

2 The order of Parts I and II was reversed, which was 
scarcely an improvement. On March 7, 1873, Rossetti 
wrote to his mother : <'This time I am calling the book 
Dante and his Circle to direct attention primarily to its 
Dantesque relation " ; and on March 27 : " I am meaning 
to dedicate to you the new edition of my Italian Poets. The 
first was dedicated to poor Lizzy, and I had some thought 
of retaining the dedication with date ; but this seeming 
perhaps rather forced, I shall substitute your dear name in 
the second edition." The actual inscription run» : "To 


for this new edition was due to the personality of the 
translator, who was engrossing more and more attention, 
both as painter and as poet, rather than to any general 
desire to read the early Italian poets. Dean Plumptre's 
attempt to render the whole of Dante's poetry into 
English verse was courageous rather than successful 
(1887). The next to enter the lists was Dr. Moore, 
whose article on Beatrice (Edinburgh Review, July, 
1 891) was marked by sound scholarship; he discusses 
the whole literature of the subject.^ In 1892 the 
Chiswick Press issued a handsome edition of the text 
with an introduction by Ralph Radcliffe- Whitehead, 
which is good so far as it goes. In the following year 
Prof. Perini, who held the same chair at King's 
College as had been occupied by Rossetti's father, 
edited the Italian text, with English notes consisting 
largely of renderings. In 1895 Mr. and Miss Hornby 
printed at their Ashendene Press a limited edition of 
Dante's text ; the work is beautifully carried out, but 
it would have been better to exclude anything in the 
nature of commentary rather than print a few short 
extracts from Villani and L. Bruni. In the same year 

my Mother I dedicate this new edition of a book prized 
by her love." 

1 See above, footnote on p. x. 

G. C. Boswell published a very fair literal prose 
rendering (with a few samples of verse at the end) 
and adequately introduced. Dr. Garnett's version of 
124 Italian and Portuguese sonnets (1896) include 
some particularly happy examples from the V^ita 
Nuova.^ In July 1896 the Quarterly Review pub- 
lished an article on the Vita Nuova by Professor John 
Earle, distinguished in other paths of scholarship. 
The novelty of the views expressed aroused consider- 
able interest and discussion at the time, and the paper 
was translated into Italian.^ We have already (see 

^ Here is his version of the sonnet Tanto Gentile, which is 
superior to most of those given in Appendix IV: 

So goodly and so seemly doth appear 

My Lady, wlien she doth a greeting bring, 
That tongue is stayed, silent and quivering, 
And eye adventures not to look on her. 

She thence departeth, of her land aware, 
Meek in humility's apparelling ; 
And men esteem her as a heavenly thing 
Sent down to earth a marvel to declare. 

Whoso regardeth so delightedly 

Beholds, his eyes into his heart instil 
Sweet only to be known by tasting it ; 

And from her face invisibly doth flit 
A gentle spirit Love doth wholly fill, 
That to the soul is ever saying, Sigh. 

2 In the Biblioteca storico-critica delta lett. dantesca (ed. by 
Passerini and Papa), No. XI (Bologna, 1899). — Though 
entirely dissenting from the author's opinions, I consider 

above, p. xv) had occasion to refer to Lewis F. Mott's 
System of Courtly Love^ studied as an introduction to the 
Vita Nuo'oa of Dante (Boston, 1896), a treatise of no 
little merit, which would have been still more useful if 

that their originality entitles them to a hearing : '<The sum 
of our conclusions is this : that the Vita Nuo'va is an 
allegorical story of the conflict of Faith and Science, and 
that in this conflict lies its issues and its veritable meaning. 
The outer form of the story has been determined by a motive 
of a more superficial kind — the artistic motive — which 
required that Beatrice should be furnished w^ith an historical 
record to qualify her for her destined place in the Commedia. 
The Vita Nuova and the Commedia represent one train 
of thought, of which the chief summits may be verified in 
Inferno I and II ; Purgatorio XXX fl^ ; Paradiso Xand XXX 
and XXXIII. The Vita Nmva contains, but hides under 
a realistic story of love, Dante's vacillations in regard to the 
chief question of the era in which he lived. As Virtue and 
Pleasure competed for the moral possession of Hercules, so 
Faith and Science disputed the intellectual allegiance of the 
pilgrim of the thirteenth century. And this conclusion 
is quite unaffected by the question whether the love of 
Dante for Beatrice was real or fictitious. Our argument 
leaves room for every variety of opinion upon that subject ; 
it is a subject wholly external to the spring and source of 
the Vita Nuova, whether she was or was not a real person ; 
and if so, whether she was a woman whom he loved, or 
whether she was to him only some bright peculiar starj 
or thirdly, whether she did but furnish a name to him — 
in all cases alike, it appears that she was added for poetical 
imagery after the Commedia had been outlined in the poet's 

it had been based on a wider knowledge of the trouba- 
dours. The same author had in 1892 published at 
New York a suggestive essay in interpretation, Dante 
and Beatrice, In 1897 Prof. O. Kuhns reprinted at 
New York Cary*s Vision together with Rossetti's 
Nenv Life, but his own contributions to the volume 
are not very illuminating. On the other hand, 
America, in the person of Mr. Fitz-Roy Carrington, 
did an excellent piece of work by issuing The New Life 
of Dante AUghieri. Translation and Pictures by D, G. 
Rossetti (New York, 1901). This was an admirable 
notion, the only wonder being that it had not occurred 
to any one in England.^ Moreover, Mr. Carrington's 
introduction is full of sound matter, and contains a 
particularly happy parallel between Beatrice and Mrs. 
Rossetti. In 1902 Phoebe Anna Traquair published 
at Edinburgh a photographic reproduction of an 

1 Italy soon followed suit (1902) with a volume to which 
A. Agresti, the son-in-law of W. M. Rossetti, contributed 
an introduction — La Vita Nuova di Dante e i quadri di D. G. 
Rossetti. England came next, in 1904, Mr. W. M. Rossetti 
being responsible for the foreword. He had also con- 
tributed one to the American volume. In 1906 was pub- 
lished in London a • photogravure edition ' of Rossetti's 
Neiv Life with a few of his illustrations not particularly well 
chosen. In the same year the idea was successfully adopted 
in Germany by Hauser (see above, p. xviii, footnote). 

illuminated manuscript, which had been designed by 
herself, with varying success, in the medieval style, and 
contained the Vita Nuova, the lyrics being given in 
Norton's version.^ The translation of the Vita Nuova 
published in 1902 by Frances de Mey was scarcely 
called for, as she cannot be said to equal Martin or 
Rossetti or Norton ; however, the little book is charm- 
ingly produced and contains some happy touches. Miss 
Emily Underdown (who has written on Dante as 
" Norley Chester ") issued a harmless little play based 
on the Vita Nuovasmd called Dante and Beatrice ( 1 903), 
which has found some favour with amateurs.^ In the 
same year the Vita Nuova was edited, in Italian and 
English, by Prof. L. Ricci, another successor of 
Gabriele Rossetti at King's College. The little book, 
which does not aim at superseding its predecessors and 
is not annotated, was the work of various members of 
the Dante Society and does not call for serious criti- 
cism. A third publication of the year was the 
valuable paper on The Symmetrical Structure of Dante's 

1 Though she preferred this to Rossetti's rendering she 
evidently admires the latter's poetry, as she has since 
produced The House of Life in the same way (Edinburgh, 

2 Miss Rosina Filippi was more ambitious, but her 
Beatrice play, produced at the Court Theatre on May 29, 
1905, was not a success. 


Vita Nuova, by Kenneth McKenzie, in which the 
various theories are carefully examined.^ In 1904 
Mr. Edmund G. Gardner edited Rossetti's Early 
Italian Poets 2 for the Temple Classics ; he wrote 
many admirable notes for the book, but somewhat 
neglected the Vita Nuova. Towards the end of 1906 
a prose version of the Fita Nuova by Mr. Okey 
was added to the same series (in a volume that also 
contains a prose rendering of the Canzoniere by 
Mr. Wicksteed). These two scholars are jointly 
responsible for the notes to the Fita Nuova which give 
proof of much original thought and diligent research. 

•It will be seen that during the last fifteen years the 
study of the Fita Nuova has attained considerable pro- 
portions in English-speaking lands — more so, indeed, 
than would appear from the foregoing list, as no notice 
has been taken of new editions. The versions of 
Norton, of Martin and Rossetti, especially the latter, 
have been re-issued several times. ^ The present edition 

1 We are indebted to this article for our knowledge of 
Gabriele Rossetti's division of the Fita Nuova (see above, 
p. xxii). It is printed in the Publications of the Modern 
Language Association of America, vol. xviii, No. 3 (Balti- 
more, July 1903), pp. 341-355. 

2 Tviro other reprints of this volume appeared in the same 
year, but without any editorial work. 

3 Dr. Paget Toynbee pointed out in the Athenaum of 


is distinguished from other reprints of Rossetti's Neiv 
Life by the presence of the Italian text, which will 
enable students to realise the beauties of the translation 
even when it departs from its original. 

The Vita Nuova, the natural introduction to the 
Comme£aiJ& XLSQ2L\\y read after it. If, however, this 
little volume falls into the hands of any one not 
already familiar with the greater work, it is the earnest 
hope of the present editor that it may lead to the 
serious study of that stupendous poem, the literary 
masterpiece of the Middle Ages. 

H. O. 
Oxford, December 1907. 

Jan. 12, 1907, that a text and English version of the Fita 
Nuova appeared at Florence in 1906, bearing on the title- 
page the words trascritta e illustrata da A. Razzolini ; and 
that the rendering used is that of Rossetti, though his name 
appears nowhere in the book. Somewhat less flagrant is 
the case of the volume Notes on the Vita Nuova and Minor Poems 
of Dante ^ together ivith the Neiv Life and many of the poems, by the 
author of ^^ Remarks on the Sonnets of Shakespeare, etc." (New 
York, 1866); for here Rossetti's name does at least figure 
once in the text as the translator of the Fita Nuova. 




IN quella parte del libro della mia memoria, dinanzl 
alia quale poco si potrebbe leggere, si trova una 
rubrica, la quale dice : "/««/// Vita Nova." Sotto 
la quale rubrica io trovo scritte molte cose e le 
parole, le quali h. mio intendimento d' assemprare 
in questo libello ; e se non tutte, almeno la loro 

- Nove iiate gii, appresso al mio nascimento, era tor- 
nato lo cielo della luce quasi ad un medesimo punto, 
quanto alia sua propria girazione, quando alii miei 
occhi apparve prima la gloriosa donna della mia mente, 
la quale fu chiamata da molti Beatrice, i quali non 
sapeano che si chiamare. Ella era gii in questa vita 
stata tanto, che nel suo tempo lo cielo stellato era 


IN that part of the book of my memory before 
the which is little that can be read, there is a 
rubric, saying, "Here beginneth the New Life." 
Under such rubric I find written many things ; and 
among them the words which I purpose to copy into 
this little book ; if not all of them, at the least their 

Nine times already since my birth had the heaven 
of light returned to the selfsame point almost, as 
concerns its own revolution, when first the glorious 
Lady of my mind was made manifest to mine eyes ; 
even she who was called Beatrice by many who knew 
not wherefore. She had already been in this life for 
so long as that, within her time, the starry heaven had 



mosso verso la parte d' oriente delle dodici parti 
1* una d' un grado : si che quasi dal principio del 
suo anno nono apparve a me, ed io la vidi quasi 
alia fine del mio nono anno. Ella apparvemi 
vestita di nobilissimo colore, umile ed onesto 
sanguigno, cinta ed ornata alia guisa che alia sua 
giovanissima etade si convenia. In quel punto 
dico veracemente che lo spirito della vita, lo quale 
dimora nella segretissima camera del cuore, cominci6 
a tremare si fortemente, che apparia ne' menomi 
polsi orribilmente ; e tremando disse queste parole : 
^* Ecce Deus fortior mey qui ventens domtnabltur mihi.^* 
In quel punto lo spirito animale, il quale dimora 
neir alta camera, nella quale tutti li spiriti sensitivi 
portano le loro percezioni, si cominci6 a mara- 
vigliare molto, e parlando spezialmente alii spiriti 
del viso, disse queste parole : '•'' Apparuit jam beatitudo 
vestra.^^ In quel punto lo spirito naturale, il 
quale dimora in quella parte, ove si ministra 
lo nutrimento nostro, cominci6 a piangere, e 
piangendo disse queste parole : ^^Heu miser ! quia 
frequenter impeditus ero deinceps.^"* D' allora innanzi 
dico ch' Amore signoreggio 1' anima mia, la 
quale fu si tosto a lui disposata, e cominci6 a 
prendere sopra me tanta sicurtade e tanta signoria, per 

moved towards the Eastern quarter one of the twelve 
parts of a degree : so that she appeared to me at the 
beginning of her ninth year almost, and I saw her 
almost at the end of my ninth year. Her dress, 
on that day, was of a most noble colour, a subdued 
and goodly crimson, girdled and adorned in such 
sort as best suited with her very tender age. At 
that moment, I say most truly that the spirit of life, 
which hath its dwelling in the secretest chamber of 
the heart, began to tremble so violently that the least 
pulses of my body shook therewith ; and in trem- 
bling it said these words : " Here is a deity stronger 
than I ; who, coming, shall rule over me." At that 
moment the animate spirit, which dwelleth in the 
lofty chamber whither all the senses carry their per- 
ceptions, was filled with wonder, and speaking more 
especially unto the spirits of the eyes, said these words : 
" Your beatitude hath now been made manifest unto 
you." At that moment the natural spirit, which 
dwelleth there where our nourishment is administered, 
began to weep, and in weeping said these words : 
" Alas ! how often shall I be disturbed from this time 
forth." I say that, from that time forward. Love quite 
governed my soul ; which was immediately espoused 
to himj and with so safe and undisputed a lordship, (by 

la virtu che gli dava la mia imaginazione, che mi 

convenia fare compiutamente tutti i suoi piaceri. 

\ Egli mi comandava molte volte, che io cercassi per 

\ vedere quest* angiola giovanissima : ond' io nella mia 

/ puerizia molte fiate V andai cercando ; e vedeala 

/ di si nobili e laudabili portamenti, che certo di 

^.^ lei si potea dire quella parola del poeta Omero : 

] " Ella non pare figliuola d' uomo mortale, ma 

/ di Dio." Ed avvegna che la sua immagine, la 

/ quale continuamente meco stava, fosse baldanza d' 

/ amore a signoreggiarmi, tuttavia era di si nobile 

/ virtii, che nulla volta sofFerse che Amore mi reggesse 

I senza il fedele consiglio della ragione in quelle cose 

*^ I / U dove cotal consiglio fosse utile a udife. E per6 

V/ che soprastare alle passioni ed atti di tanta gioven- 

f tudine pare alcuno parlare fabuloso, mi partir6 da 

\^ esse ; e trapassando molte cose, le quali si potrebbero 

%^ trarre dalP esemplo onde nascono queste, verr6 a quelle 

\parole, le quali sono scritte nella mia memoria sotto 

maggiori paragrafi. 


^/Poichi furono passati tanti di, che appunto erano 

virtue of strong imagination) that I had nothing 
left for it but to do all his bidding continually. He 
oftentimes commanded me to seek if I might see 
this youngest of the Angels : wherefore I in my 
boyhood often went in search of her, and found her 
so noble and praiseworthy that certainly of her might 
have been said those words of the poet Homer, " She 
seemed not to be the daughter of a mortal man, but 
of God." And albeit her image, that was with me 
always, was an exultation of Love to subdue me, it 
was yet of so perfect a quality that it never allowed 
me to be overruled by Love without the faithful 
counsel of reason, whensoever such counsel was useful 
to be heard. But seeing that were I to dwell over- 
much on the passions and doings of such early youth, 
my words might be counted something fabulous, I 
will therefore put them aside ; and passing many 
things that may be conceived by the pattern of these, 
I will come to such as are writ in my memory with 
a better distinctness. 


After the lapse of so many days that nine years 

compiuti li nove anni appresso 1' apparimento sopra- 
scritto di questa gentilissima, nelP ultimo di questi dl 
avvenne, che questa mirabile donna apparve a me ve- 
stita di colore bianchissimo, in mezzo di due gentili 
donne, le quali erano di piu lunga etade ; e passando 
per una via volse gli occhi verso quella parte ov' io era 
molto pauroso; e per la sua inefFabile cortesia, la 
quale h oggi meritata nel grande secolo, mi salut6 vir- 
tuosamente tanto, che mi parve allora vedere tutti i 
termini della beatitudine. L' ora, che lo suo dolcissi- 
mo salutare mi giunse, era fermamente nona di quel 
giorno : e pero che quella fu la prima volta che le 
sue parole si mossero per venire a' miei orecchi, 
presi tanta dolcezza, che come inebriato' mi partii 
dalle gentii E ricorsi al solingo luogo d' una mia 
camera, e puosimi a pensare di questa cortesissima ; 
e pensando di lei, mi sopraggiunse un soave sonno, 
nel quale m' apparve una maravigliosa visione : 
che mi parea vedere nella mia camera una nebula 
di colore di fuoco, dentro dalla quale io discernea 
una figura d' uno signore, di pauroso aspetto a 
chi lo guardasse : e pareami con tanta letizia, 
quanto a s^, che mirabil cosa era : e nelle sue 
parole dicea molte cose, le quali io non intendea 
se non poche ; trale quali io intendea queste : *^Ego 

exactly were completed since the above-written ap- 
pearance of this most gracious being, on the last of 
those days it happened that the same wonderful lady 
appeared to me dressed all in pure white, between two 
gentle ladies elder than she. And passing through a 
street, she turned her eyes thither where I stood 
sorely abashed : and by her unspeakable courtesy, 
which is now guerdoned in the Great Cycle, she 
saluted me with so virtuous a bearing that I seemed 
then and there to behold the very limits of blessed- 
ness.^ The hour of her most sweet salutation was 
certainly the ninth" of that day ; and because it was 
the first time that any words from her reached mine 
ears, I came into such sweetness that I parted thence 
as one intoxicated. And betaking me to the loneli- 
ness of mine own room, I fell to thinking of this most 
courteous lady, thinking of whom I was overtaken by 
a pleasant slumber, wherein a marvellous vision was 
presented to me : for there appeared to be in my 
room a mist of the colour of fire, within the which I 
discerned the figure of a lord of terrible aspect to 
such as should gaze upon him, but who seemed there- 
withal to rejoice inwardly that it was a marvel to see. 
Speaking he said many things, among the which I 
could understand but few ; and of these, this : " I 

domhus tuus." Nelle sue braccia mi parea vedere una 
persona dormire nuda, salvo che involta mi parea in 
un drappo sanguigno leggermente ; la quale io riguar- 
dando molto intentivamente, conobbi ch* era la donna 
della salute, la quale m* avea lo giorno dinanzi degnato 
di salutare. E nell' una delle mani mi parea che questi 
tenesse una cosa, la quale ardesse tutta ; e pareami che 
mi dicesse queste parole : " Vide cor tuumP E quando 
egli era stato alquanto, pareami che disvegliasse questa 
che dormia ; e tanto si sforzava per suo ingegno, che le 
facea mangiare quella cosa che in mano gli ardeva, la 
quale ella mangiava dubitosamente. Appresso ci6, poco 
dimorava che la sua letizia si convertia in amarissimo 
pianto : e cosi piangendo si ricogliea questa donna nelle 
sue braccia, e con essa mi parea che se ne gisse verso il cielo : 
ond* io sostenea si grande angoscia, che lo mio deboletto 
sonno non pot^ sostenere, anzi si ruppe, e fui disvegliato. 
j^' Ed immantinente commciai a pensare ; e trovai che 1' 
^" ora, nella quale m' era questa visione apparita, era stata 
la quarta della notte : si che appare manifestamente, ch* 
ella fu la prima ora delle nove ultime ore della notte. E 
pensando io a ci6 che m' era apparito, proposi di farlo sen- 
tire a molti, i quali erano famosi trovatori in quel tempo : 
e con ci6 fosse cosa ch* io avessi gi4 veduto per me mede- 
simo r arte del dire parole per rima, proposi di fare un 

am thy master." In his arms it seemed to me that 
a person was sleeping, covered only with a blood- 
coloured cloth ; upon whom looking very attentively, 
I knew that it was the lady of the salutation who had 
deigned the day before to salute me. And he who 
held her held also in his hand a thing that was burning 
in flames ; and he said to me, " Behold thy heart." 
But when he had remained with me a little while, I 
thought that he set himself to awaken her that slept ; 
after the which he made her to eat that thing which 
flamed in his hand ; and she ate as one fearing. 
Then, having waited again a space, all his joy was 
turned into most bitter weeping ; and as he wept he 
gathered the lady into his arms, and it seemed to me 
that he went with her up towards heaven : whereby 
such a great anguish came upon me that my light 
slumber could not endure through it, but was suddenly 
broken^ And immediately having considered, I knew 
that the hour wherein this vision had been made 
manifest to me was the fourth hour (which is to 
say, the first of the nine last hours) of the night. 
Then, musing on what I had seen, I proposed to 
relate the same to many poets who were famous in 
that day : and for that I had myself in some sort the 
art of discoursing with rhyme, I resolved on making a 


sonetto, nel quale io salutassi tutti i fedeli 
d' Amore, e pregandoli che giudicassero la 
mia visione, scrissi loro cio ch' io avea nel 
mio sonno veduto ; e cominciai allora questo 
sonetto : 

A ciascun' alma presa, e gentil core, 
Nel cui cospetto viene il dir presente, 
A cio che mi riscrivan suo parvente, 
Salute in lor signor, cio^ Amore. 

Gii eran quasi ch' atterzate V ore 

Del tempo che ogni Stella h piu lucente, 
Quando m' apparve Amor subitamente, 
V Cui essenza membrar mi dk orrore. 

Allegro mi sembrava Amor, tenendo 
Mio core in mano, e nelle braccia avea 
Madonna, involta in un drappo, dormendo. 

Poi la svegliava, e d' esto core ardendo 
Lei paventosa umilmente pascea : 
Appresso gir Io ne vedea piangendo. 

Questo sonetto si divide in due parti : nella prima parte 
saluto, e domando risponsione; nella seconda, significo a che si 
dee rispondere. La seconda parte comincia quivi : " Gia 


sonnet, in the which, having saluted all such as are 
subject unto Love, and entreated them to expound 
my vision, I should w^rite unto them those things 
which I had seen in my sleep. And the sonnet I 
made was this : 

To every heart which the sweet pain doth move, 
And unto which these words may now be brought 
For true interpretation and kind thought. 
Be greeting in our Lord's name, which is Love. 

Of those long hours wherein the stars, above, 

Wake and keep watch, the third was almost nought 
When Love was shown me with such terrors fi-aught 
As may not carelessly be spoken of. 

He seem'd like one who is full of joy, and had 
My heart within his hand, and on his arm 
My lady, with a mantle round her, slept ; 

Whom (having waken'd her) anon he made 
To eat that heart ; she ate, as fearing harm. 
Then he went out ; and as he went, he wept 

This sonnet is divided into two parts. In the first part 
1 give greeting, and ask an answer ; in the second, I signify 
what thing has to be answered to. The second part 
commences here, " Of those long hours.^^ 

A questo sonetto fu risposto da moiti e di 
diverse sentenze, tra li quali fu risponditore quegli, 
cui io chiamo primo de' miei amici ; e disse allora 
un sonetto lo quale comincia : " Vedesti al mio 
parere ogni valore." E questo fu quasi il principio 
dell' amista tra lui e me, quando egli seppe ch' 
io era quegli che gli avea cio mandato. Lo verace 
giudicio del detto sogno non fu veduto allora 
per alcuno, ma ora h manifesto alii piu semplici. 


Da questa visione innanzi cominci6 il mio spirito 
naturale ad essere impedito nella sua operazione, per6 
che r anima era tutta data nel pensare di questa 
gentilissima ; ond' io divenni in picciolo tempo poi 
di si frale e debole condizione, che a molti amici 
pesava della mia vista : e molti pieni d' invidia si pro- 
cacciavano di sapere di me quello ch' io voleva del 
tutto celare ad altrui. Ed io accorgendomi del mal- 
vagio domandare che mi faceano, per la volonta d* 
Amore, il quale mi comandava secondo il consiglio della 
ragione, rispondea loro, che Amore era quegli che cosl 

To this sonnet I received many answers, con- 
veying many different opinions ; of the which, one 
was sent by him whom I now call the first among 
my friends ; and it began thus, " Unto my thinlcing 
thou beheld'st all worth." And indeed, it was when 
he learned that I was he who had sent those rhymes 
to him, that our friendship commenced. But the true 
meaning of that vision was not then perceived by any 
one, though it be now evident to the least skilful. 

From that night forth, the natural functions of my 
body began to be vexed and impeded, for I was given 
up wholly to thinking of this most gracious creature : 
whereby in short space I became so weak and so 
reduced that it was irksome to many of my friends 
to look upon me ; while others, being moved by 
spite, went about to discover what it was my wish 
should be concealed. Wherefore I, (perceiving the 
drift of their unkindly questions,) by Love's will, 
who directed me according to the counsels of reason, 
told them how it was Love himself who had thus 

m' avea governato : dicea d* Amore, per6 che 
io portava nel viso tante delle sue insegne, che 
questo non si potea ricoprire. E quando mi do- 
mandavano : " Per cui t' ha cosi distrutto questo 
Amore ? " ed io sorridendo li guardava, e nulla dicea 

Un giorno avvenne, che questa gentilissima sedea in 
parte, ove s' udiano parole della Regina della gloria, ed io 
era in luogo, dal quale vedea la mia beatitudine ; e nel 
mezzo di lei e di me, per la retta linea, sedea una gentile- 
donna di molto piacevole aspetto, la quale mi mirava 
spesse volte, maravigliandosi del mio sguardare, che parea 
che sopra lei terminasse ; onde molti s' accorsero del suo 
mirare. Ed in tanto vi fu posto mente, che, partendomi 
da questo luogo, mi sentii dire appresso : " Vedi come 
cotale donna distrugge la persona di costui." E nomi- 
nandola, intesi che diceano di colei, che mezza era stata 
nella linea retta che movea dalla gentilissima Beatrice, 
e terminava negli occhi miei. Allora mi confortai molto, 
assicurandomi che il mio segreto non era comuni- 
cato, Io giorno, altrui per mia vista : ed immantinente 

dealt with me : and I said so, because the thing was 
so plainly to be discerned in my countenance that 
there was no longer any means of concealing it. 
But when they went on to ask, "And by whose 
help hath Love done this ? " I looked in their faces 
smiling, and spake no word in return. 

Now it fell on a day, that this most gracious 
[creature was sitting where words were to be heard 
of the Queen of Glory ; and I was in a place whence 
mine eyes could behold their beatitude : and betwixt ^^^^^^.^^^ 
her and me, in a direct line, there sat another lady 
of a pleasant favour ; who looked round at me many 
times, marvelling at my continued gaze which seemed 
to have her for its object. And many perceived that 
she thus looked : so that departing thence, I heard 
it whispered after me, " Look you to what a pass 
such a lady hath brought him ; " and in saying this 
they named her who had been midway between the 
most gentle Beatrice, and mine eyes. Therefore I 
was reassured, and knew that for that day my secret 
had not become manifest. Then immediately it 
X 17 

pensai di fare di questa gentile donna schermo della veri- 
tade ; e tanto ne mostrai in poco di tempo, che il mio 
segreto fu creduto sapere dalle piu persone che di me 
ragionavano. Con questa donna mi celai alquanti mesi 
ed anni ; e per piii fare credente altrui, feci per lei certe 
cosette per rima, le quali non h mio intendimento di 
scrivere qui, se non in quanto facesse a trattare di quella 
gentilissima Beatrice ; e per6 le lascer6 tutte, salvo che 
alcuna cosa ne scriver6, che pare che sia loda di lei. 

Dico che in questo tempo, che questa donna 
era schermo di tanto amore, quanto dalla 
mia parte, mi venne una volonti di voler 
ricordare il nome di quella gentilissima, ed 
accompagnarlo di molti nomi di donne, 
e specialmente del nome di questa gentil- 
donna ; e presi i nomi di sessanta le piii 
belle della cittade, ove la mia donna fu 
posta dalP altissimo Sire, e composi una 
epistola sotto forma di serventese, la quale io 
non scriver6 : e non n' avrei fatto menzione 

came into my mind that I might make use of this 
lady as a screen to the truth : and so well did I play 
my part that the most of those who had hitherto 
watched and wondered at me, now imagined they 
had found me out. By her means I kept my secret 
concealed till some years were gone over ; and for 
my better security, I even made divers rhymes in her 
honour ; whereof I shall here write only as much as 
concerneth the most gentle Beatrice, which is but a 
very little. 

Moreover, about the same time while this lady 
was a screen for so much love on my part, I took 
the resolution to set down the name of this most 
gracious creature accompanied with many other 
women's names, and especially with hers whom I 
spake of And to this end I put together the names 
of sixty the most beautiful ladies in that city where 
God had placed mine own lady ; and these names I 
introduced in an epistle in the form of a sirvent, 
which it is not my intention to transcribe here. 
Neither should I have said anything of this matter, 

se non per dire quelle, che componendola maravigliosa- 
mente addivenne, cio6 che in alcuno altro numero non 
sofFerse il nome della mia donna stare, se non in sul 
nove, tra* nomi di queste donne. 


La donna, con la quale io avea tanto tempo celata 
la mia volontd, convenne che si partisse della sopra- 
detta cittade, e andasse in paese lontano : per che io, 
quasi sbigottito della bella difesa che mi era venuta 
meno, assai me ne disconfortai piu che io medesimo 
non avrei creduto dinanzi. E pensando che, se della 
sua partita io non parlassi alquanto dolorosamente, le 
persone sarebbero accorte piu tosto del mio nascondere, 
proposi di fame alcuna lamentanza in un sonetto, il 
quale io scrivero ; perci6 che la mia donna fu imme- 
diata cagione di certe parole, che nel sonetto sono, 
siccome appare a chi Io intende : e allora dissi questo 
sonetto : 

O voi, che per la via d' Amor passate, 
Attendete, e guardate 
S' egli h dolore alcun, quanto il mio, grave : 


did I not wish to take note of a certain strange thing, 
to wit : that having written the list, I found my 
lady's name would not stand otherwise tharr TiTnth.: in 
order among the names of these ladies. 

Now it so chanced with her by whose means I 
had thus long time concealed my desire, that it 
behoved her to leave the city I speak of, and to 
journey afar : wherefore I, being sorely perplexed at 
the loss of so excellent a defence, had more trouble 
than even I could before have supposed. And think- 
ing that if I spoke not somewhat mournfully of her 
departure, my former counterfeiting would be the 
more quickly perceived, I determined that I would 
make a grievous sonnet thereof; the which I will 
write here, because it hath certain words in it whereof 
my lady was the immediate cause, as will be plain to 
him that understands. And the sonnet was this : 

All ye that pass along Love's trodden way, 
Pause ye awhile and say 
If there be any grief like unto mine : 

E priego sol, ch* audir mi sofferiate; 

E poi immaginate 

S* io son d* ogni tormento ostello e chiave. 

Amor, non gi^ per mia poca bontate, 
Ma per sua nobiltate, 
Mi pose in vita si dolce e soave, 
Ch' io mi sentia dir dietro assai fltate. 
Deh ! per qual dignitate 
Cos! leggiadro questi Io cor have ! 

Ora ho perduta tutta mia baldanza, 
Che si movea d' amoroso tesoro ; 
Ond* io pover dimoro 
In guisa, che di dir mi vien dottanza. 

Si che, volendo far come coloro, 

Che per vergogna celan lor mancanza, 

Di fuor mostro allegranza, 

E dentro dallo cor mi struggo e ploro. 

Questo sonetto ha due parti prmcipali : cH nella prima 
intendo chiamare i fedeli d* Amore per quelle parole 
di Geremia profeta : " O vos omnesy qui transitis per 
vianty attendite et videte, si est dolor sicut dolor meus ;" e 
pregare che mi sofferim d* udire. Nella seconda narro 
Ih ove Amore m^ avea postOy con altro intendimento che 

I pray you that you hearken a short apace 

Patiently, if my case 

Be not a piteous marvel and a sign. 

Love (never, certes, for my worthless part, 
But of his own great heart,) 
Vouchsafed to me a life so calm and sweet 
That oft I heard folk question as I went 
What such great gladness meant : — 
They spoke of it behind me in the street. 

But now that fearless bearing is all gone 

Which with Love's hoarded wealth was given me ; 

Till I am grown to be 

So poor that I have dread to think thereon. 

And thus it is that I, being like as one 
Who is ashamed and hides his poverty, 
Without seem full of glee. 
And let my heart within travail and moan. 

This poem has two principal parts ; for^ in the first, I 
mean to call the Faithful of Love in those words ofJeremias 
the Prophet f " // /'/ nothing to you, all ye that pass by ? 
behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow,^* 
and to pray them to stay and hear me. In the second, I tell 
where Love had placed me, with a meaning other than that 

r estreme parti del sonetto non mostrano : e dico do che to ho 
perduto. La seconda parte comincia quivi : " Jmor non gi^J" 


Appresso il partire di questa gentildonna, fu piacere 
del Signore degli angeli di chiamare alia sua gloria una 
donna giovane e di gentile aspetto molto, la quale fu assai 
graziosa in questa sopraddetta cittade ; lo cui corpo io vidi 
giacere senza 1' anima in mezzo di molte donne, le quali 
piangevano assai pietosamente. Allora, ricordandomi che 
gia r avea veduta fare compagnia a quella gentilissima, non 
potei sostenere alquante lagrime ; anzi piangehdo mi pro- 
posi di dire alquante parole della sua morte in guiderdone 
di ci6, che alcuna fiata V avea veduta con la mia donna. 
E di ci6 toccai alcuna cosa nell' ultima parte delle parole 
che ione dissi, siccomeappare manifestamente a chi le in- 
tende : e dissi allora questi due sonetti,dei quali comincia 
il primo " Piangete amanti ;" il secondo " Morte villana." 

Piangete, amanti, poiche piange Amore, 
Udendo qual cagion lui fa plorare : 
Amor sente a pieta donne chiamare, 
Mostrando amaro duol per gli occhi fuore ; 


which the last part of the poem shows, and I say what I have 
lost. The second part begins here : *■*• Love {never ^ certes)'^ 


A certain while after the departure of that lady, it 
pleased the Master of the Angels to call into His 
glory a damsel, young and of a gentle presence, who 
had been very lovely in the city I speak of: and 
I saw her body lying without its soul among many 
ladies, who held a pitiful weeping. Whereupon, re- 
membering that I had seen her in the company of 
excellent Beatrice, I could not hinder myself from a 
few tears ; and weeping, I conceived to say somewhat 
of her death, in guerdon of having seen her some- 
while with my lady ; which thing I spake of in the 
latter end of the verses that I writ in this matter, as 
he will discern who understands. And I wrote two 
sonnets, which are these : 

Weep, Lovers, sith Love's very self doth weep, 
And sith the cause for weeping is so great ; 
When now so many dames, of such estate 
In worth, show with their eyes a grief so deep : 

Perch^ villana morte in gen til core 
Ha messo il suo crudele adoperare, 
Guastando ci6 che al mondo h da lodare 
In gentil donna^ fuora dell' onore. 

Udite quant' Amor le fece orranza ; 
Ch' io '1 vidi lamentare in forma vera 
Sovra la morta immagine avvenente ; 

E riguardava inver lo ciel sovente, 
Ove r alma gentil gia locata era, 
Che donna fu di si gaia sembianza. 

Questo primo sonetto si divide in tre parti. Nella 
prima chiamo e sollecito i fedeli d* Amore a piangere ; e 
dico che lo sigmre loro piange, e che udendo la cagione 
percK e* piangey si acconcino piu ad ascoltarmi ; nella 
seconda narro la cagLone ; nella terza park d' alcuno 
omre, che Amore fece a questa donna. La seconda 
parte comincia quivi : ^^ Amor sente ;" la terza quivi : 
" Udite." 

Morte villana, di pieti nemica, 
Di dolor madre antica, 
Giudizio incontrastabile, gravoso, 
Poi c' hai data materia al cor doglioso, 
Ond* io vado pensoso, 
Di te biasmar la lingua s* afFatica. 


For Death the churl has laid his leaden sleep 
Upon a damsel who was fair of late, 
Defacing all our earth should celebrate, — 
Yea all save virtue, which the soul doth keep. 

Now hearken how much Love did honour her. 
I myself saw him in his proper form 
Bending above the motionless sweet dead, 

And often gazing into Heaven ; for there 

The soul now sits which when her life was warm 
Dwelt with the joyful beauty that is fled. 

This first sonnet is divided into three parts. In the 
first, I call and beseech the Faithful of Love to weep ; 
and I say that their Lord weeps , and that they, hearing 
the reason why he weeps, shall be more minded to listen 
to me. In the second, 1 relate this reason. In the third, 
I speak of honour done by Love to this Lady. The second 
part begins here, " When now so many dames ; " the third 
here, " Now hearken." 

Death, alway cruel. Pity's foe in chief, 
Mother who brought forth grief, 
Merciless judgement and without appeal ! 
Since thou alone hast made my heart to feel 
This sadness and unweal, 
My tongue upbraideth thee without relief 

E se di grazia ti vo' far mendica, 
Convenes! ch' io dica 
Lo tuo fallir, d' ogni torto tortoso ; 
Non per6 che alia gente sia nascoso, 
Ma per fame cruccioso 
Chi d* Amor per innanzi si nutrica. 

Dal secolo hai partita cortesia, 

E, ci6 che 'n donna h da pregiar, virtute : 

In gaia gioventute 

Distrutta hai 1* amorosa leggiadria. 

Piu non vo' discovrir qual donna sia, 
Che per le propriety sue conosciute ; 
Chi non merta salute, 
Non speri mai d' aver sua compagnia. 

Questo sonetto si divide in quattro parti : nella prima 
chiamo la Morte per certi suoi nomi propri ; nella seconda 
parlando a lei, dico la ragione perch^ io mi movo a biasi- 
marla ; nella terza la vitupero ; nella quarta mi volff) a 
parlare a indiffinita persona, avvegna che quanto al mio 
intendimento sia diffinita. La seconda parte comincia quivi : 
" Poi c* hai data ; " la terza quivi : " E se di grazia ; " 
la quarta quivi : ** Chi non merta." 




And now (for I must rid thy name of ruth) 
Behoves me speak the truth 
Touching thy cruelty and wickedness : 
Not that they be not known ; but nevertheless 
I would give hate more stress 
With them that feed on love in very sooth. 

Out of this world thou hast driven courtesy, 
And virtue, dearly prized in womanhood ; 
And out of youth's gay mood 
The lovely lightness is quite gone through thee. 

Whom now I mourn, no man shall learn from me 
Save by the measure of these praises given. 
Whoso deserves not Heaven 
May never hope to have her company. 

This poem is divided into four parts. In the first I 
address Death by certain proper names of hers. In the 
second, speaking to her, I tell the reason why I am moved 
to denounce her. In the third, I rail against her. In the 
fourth, I turn to speak to a person undefined, although 
defined in my ozvn conception. The second part commences 
here, " Since thou alone ; " the third here, " ^nd now 
{for I must); " the fourth here, " IF ho so deserves not.^^ 


Appresso la morte di questa donna alquanti dl, av- 
venne cosa, per la quale mi convenne partire della 
sopradetta cittade, ed ire verso quelle parti, ov' era la 
gentil donna ch' era stata mia difesa, avvegna che 
non tanto lontano fosse lo termine del mio andare, 
quanto ella era. E tutto che io fossi alia compagnia 
di molti, quanto alia vista, 1' andare mi dispiacea si, 
che quasi li sospiri non poteano disfogare V angoscia, 
che il cuore sentia, per6 ch' io mi dilungava dalla 
mia beatitudine. E per6 lo dolcissimo signore, il 
quale mi signoreggiava per virtu della gentilissima 
donna, nella mia immaginazione apparve come pere- 
grino leggermente vestito, e di vili drappi. Egli mi 
parea sbigottito, e guardava la terra, salvo die talvolta 
mi parea, che li suoi occhi si volgessero ad uno 
fiume bello, corrente e chiarissimo, il quale sen gia 
lungo questo cammino \k ove io era. A me parve 
che Amore mi chiamasse, e dicessemi queste parole : 
" Io vengo da quella donna, la quale h stata lunga 
tua difesa, e so che il suo rivenire non saril ; e 
per6 quel cuore ch' io ti facea avere da lei, io 1' ho 
meco, e portolo a donna, la quale sar4 tua difensione 
come questa era ; " (e nomollami si ch' io la conobbi 
bene). "Ma tuttavia di queste parole, ch' io t' ho 
ragionate, se alcune ne dicessi, dille per modo che per 

Some days after the death of this lady, I had 
occasion to leave the city I speak of, and to go 
thitherwards where she abode who had formerly been 
my protection ; albeit the end of my journey reached 
not altogether so far. And notwithstanding that I 
was visibly in the company of many, the journey was 
so irksome that I had scarcely sighing enough to ease 
my heart's heaviness ; seeing that as I went, I left 
my beatitude behind me. Wherefore it came to pass 
that he who ruled me by virtue of my most gentle 
lady was made visible to my mind, in the light habit 
of a traveller, coarsely fashioned. He appeared to 
me troubled, and looked always on the ground ; 
saving only that sometimes his eyes were turned 
towards a river which was clear and rapid, and 
which flowed along the path I was taking. And then 
I thought that Love called me and said to me these 
words : " I come from that lady who was so long thy 
surety ; for the matter of whose return, I know that 
it may not be. Wherefore I have taken that heart 
which I made thee leave with her, and do bear it 
unto another lady, who, as she was, shall be thy 
surety ; " (and when he named her, I knew her well.) 
" And of these words I have spoken, if thou shouldst 
speak any again, let it be in such sort as that none 

loro non si discernesse lo simulato amore che hai 
mostrato a questa, e che ti converr^ mostrare ad altrui." 
E dette queste parole, disparve tutta questa mia imma- 
ginazione subitamente, per la grandissima parte, che 
mi parve ch' Amore mi desse di s^ : e, quasi cambiato 
nella vista mia, cavalcai quel giorno pensoso molto, e 
accompagnato da molti sospiri. Appresso lo giorno 
cominciai questo sonetto : 

Cavalcando 1' altr* ier per un cammino, 
Pensoso dell' andar, che mi sgradia, 
Trovai Amor nel mezzo della via, 
In abito leggier di peregrino. 

Nella sembianza mi parea meschino ' 
Come avesse perduto signoria ; 
E sospirando pensoso venia, 
Per non veder la gente, a capo chino. 

Quando mi vide, mi chiamo per nome, 
E disse : " lo vegno di lontana parte, 
Ov* era lo tuo cor per mio volere ; 

E recolo a servir novo piacere." 
Allora presi di lui si gran parte, 
Ch' egli disparve, e non m' accorsi come. 

Questo sonetto ha tre parti : nella prima parte dico sic- 
come to trovai Amore, e qual mi parea ; nella seconda dico 

shall perceive thereby that thy love was feigned for 
her, which thou must now feign for another." And 
when he had spoken thus, all my imagining was gone 
suddenly, for it seemed to me that Love became a 
part of myself : so that, changed as it were in mine 
aspect, I rode on full of thought the whole of that 
day, and with heavy sighing. And the day being 
over, I wrote this sonnet : 

A day agone, as I rode sullenly 

Upon a certain path that liked me not, 
I met Love midway while the air was hot. 
Clothed lightly as a wayfarer might be. 

And for the cheer he show'd, he seem'd to me 
As one who hath lost lordship he had got ; 
Advancing tow'rds me full of sorrowful thought, 
Bowing his forehead so that none should see. 

Then as I went, he call'd me by my name, 
Saying : " I journey since the morn was dim 
Thence where I made thy heart to be : which now 

I needs must bear unto another dame." 
Wherewith so much pass'd into me of him 
That he was gone, and I discerned not how. 

This sonnet has three parts. In the first part, I tell 
hotv I met Love and of his aspect. In the second, I tell 
3 33 

quello cK egli mi dhse, avvegna che non compiutamente, 
per tema ch* to avea di non iscovrire lo mio segreto ; nella 
terxa dico com* egli disparve. La seconda comincia quivi : 
" Quando mi vide ; " la terza quivi : " Jllora presi." 

Appresso la mia tornata, mi misi a cercare di 
questa donna, che lo mio signore m* avea nominata 
nel cammino de' sospiri. Ed accio che il mio 
parlare sia piu breve, dico che in poco tempo la feci 
mia difesa tanto, che troppa gente ne ragionava oltra 
li termini della cortesia ; onde molte fiate mi pesava 
duramente. E per questa cagione, cio^ di questa 
soverchievole voce, che parea che m* infamasse viziosa- 
mente, quella gentilissima, la quale fu distruggitrice 
di tutti i vizii e regina delle virtu, passando per 
alcuna parte mi neg6 il suo dolcissimo salutare, nel 
quale stava tutta la mia beatitudine. Ed uscendo 
alquanto del proposito presente, voglio dare ad in- 
tendere quello che il suo salutare in me virtuosamente 
opera va. 


zuhat he said to me, although not in full, through the fear 
I had of discovering my secret. In the third, I say how 
he disappeared. The second part commences here, " T^hen 
as 1 went ; " the third here, " Wherewith so much.^^ 


On my return, I set myself to seek out that lady 
whom my master had named to me while I journeyed 
sighing. And because I would be brief, I will now 
narrate that in a short while I made her my surety, 
in such sort that the matter was spoken of by many in 
terms scarcely courteous ; through the which I had 
oftenwhiles many troublesome hours. And by this 
it happened (to wit : by this false and evil rumour 
which seemed to misfame me of vice), that she who 
was the destroyer of all evil and the queen of all 
good, coming where I was, denied me her most sweet 
salutation, in the which alone was my blessedness. 
And here it is fitting for me to depart a little from 
this present matter, that it may be rightly understood 
of what surpassing virtue her salutation was to me. 


Dico che quando ella apparia da parte alcuna, per 
la speranza dell' ammirabile salute nullo nemico mi 
rimanea, anzi mi giungea una iiamma di caritade, la 
quale mi facea perdonare a chiunque m* avesse ofFeso : 
e chi allora m' avesse addimandato di cosa alcuna, la 
mia risponsione sarebbe stata solamente, "Amore," 
con viso vestito d' umilt^. E quando ella fosse al- 
quanto propinqua al salutare, uno spirito d' Amore, 
distruggendo tutti gli altri spiriti sensitivi, pingea 
fuori i deboletti spiriti del viso, e dicea loro : 
" Andate ad onorare la donna vostra ; " ed egli si 
rimanea nel loco loro. E chi avesse volute conoscere 
Amore, far lo potea mirando lo tremore degli 
occhi miei. E quando questa gentilissima donna 
salutava, non che Amore fosse tal mezzo, che 
potesse obumbrare a me la intollerabile beatitu- 
dine, ma egli quasi per soperchio di dolcezza divenia 
tale, che lo mio corpo, lo quale era tutto sotto 
il suo reggimento, molte volte si movea come 
cosa grave inanimata. Sicch^ appare manifestamente 
che nella sua salute abitava la mia beatitudine, 
la quale molte volte passava e redundava la mia 


To the which end I say that when she appeared 
in any place, it seemed to me, by the hope of her 
excellent salutation, that there was no man mine 
enemy any longer ; and such warmth of charity 
came upon me that most certainly in that moment I 
would have pardoned whosoever had done me an 
injury ; and if one should then have questioned me 
concerning any matter, I could only have said unto 
him " Love," with a countenance clothed in humble- 
ness. And what time she made ready to salute me, 
the spirit of Love, destroying all other perceptions, 
thrust forth the feeble spirits of mine eyes, saying, 
" Do homage unto your mistress," and putting itself 
in their place to obey : so that he who would, might 
then have beheld Love, beholding the lids of mine 
eyes shake. And when this most gentle lady gave 
her salutation. Love, so far from being a medium 
beclouding mine intolerable beatitude, then bred in 
me such an overpowering sweetness that my body, 
being all subjected thereto, remained many times 
helpless and passive. Whereby it is made manifest 
that in her salutation alone was there any beatitude for 
me, which then very often went beyond my endurance. 


Ora, tornando al proposito, dico che, poi che la mia 
beatitudine mi fu negata, mi giunse tanto dolore, che 
partitoirii dalle genti, in solinga parte andai a bagnare 
la terra d* amarissime lagrime : e poi che alquanto mi 
fu sollevato questo lagrimare, misimi nella mia camera 
la ove potea lamentarmi senza essere udito. E quivi 
chiamando misericordia alia donna della cortesia, e 
dicendo : " Amore, aiuta il tuo fedele " m' addor- 
mentai come un pargoletto battuto lagrimando. Av- 
venne quasi nel mezzo del mio dormire, che mi 
parea vedere nella mia camera lungo me sedere un 
giovane vestito di bianchissime vestimenta, e pensando 
molto, quanto alia vista sua, mi riguardava la ov' 
io giacea ; e quando m' avea guardato alquanto, 
pareami che sospirando mi chiamasse, e dicessemi 
queste parole : " Fili mij tempus est ut pratermtttantur 
simulata nostraP Allora mi parea ch' io '1 conoscessi, 
per6 che mi chiamava cosi, come assai fiate nelli 
miei sonni m' avea gii chiamato. E riguardandolo 
mi parea che piangesse pietosamente, e parea che 
attendesse da me alcuna parola : ond* io assicuran- 
domi, cominciai a parlare cosi con esso : " Signore 
della nobiltade, perche piangi tu ? " E quegli mi 
dicea queste parole : " E^ tamquam centrum drcu/i, 
cut simili modo se habent circumferenti/e partes; tu 



And now, resuming my discourse, I will go on to 
relate that when, for the first time, this beatitude 
was denied me, I became possessed with such grief 
that parting myself from others, I went into a lonely 
place to bathe the ground with most bitter tears : 
and when, by this heat of weeping, I was somewhat 
relieved, I betook myself to my chamber, where I 
could lament unheard. And there, having prayed to 
the Lady of all Mercies, and having said also, "O Love, 
aid thou thy servant," I went suddenly asleep like a 
beaten sobbing child. And in my sleep, towards the 
middle of it, I seemed to see in the room, seated at 
my side, a youth in very white raiment, who kept 
his eyes fixed on me in deep thought. And when 
he had gazed some time^ I thought that he sighed 
and called to me in these words : " My son, it is time 
for us to lay aside our counterfeiting." And thereupon 
I seemed to know him ; for the voice was the same 
wherewith he had spoken at other times in my sleep. 
Then looking at him, I perceived that he was weeping 
piteously, and that he seemed to be waiting for me to 
speak. Wherefore, taking heart, I began thus : " Why 
weepest thou. Master of all honour ? " And he made 
answer to me : "I am as the centre of a circle, to the 
which all parts of the circumference bear an equal 

autem non sic^ Allora pensando alle sue parole, 
mi parea che mi avesse parlato molto oscuro, si 
che io mi sforzava di parlare, e diceagli queste 
parole: "Ch' h ,ci6, signore, che tu mi parli 
con tanta scuritade?" E quegli mi dicea in 
parole volgari : " Non dimandar piii che utile 
ti sia." E pero cominciai con lui a ragionare 
della salute, la quale mi fu negata ; e do- 
mandailo della cagione ; onde in questa guisa 
da lui mi fu risposto : " Quella nostra Beatrice 
udio da certe persone, di te ragionando, che 
la donna, la quale io ti nominal nel camino 
de' sospiri, ricevea da te alcuna noia. E 
per6 questa gentilissima, la quale h. contraria 
di tutte le noie, non degn6 salutare la tua 
persona, temendo non fosse noiosa. Onde 
conciossiacosa che veracemente sia conosciuto 
per lei alquanto Io tuo segreto per lunga 
consuetudine, voglio che tu dichi certe parole 
per rima, nelle quali tu comprendi la forza 
ch* io tegno sovra te per lei, e come tu fosti 
suo tostamente dalla tua puerizia. E di ci6 
chiama testimonio colui che '1 sa ; e come tu 
preghi lui che gliele dica : ed io, che sono quello, 
volentieri le ne ragioner6 ; e per questo sentird 

relation ; but with thee it is not thus." And thinking 
upon his words, they seemed to me obscure ; so that 
again compelling myself unto speech, I asked of him : 
** What thing is this. Master, that thou hast spoken thus 
darkly ? " To the which he made answer in the vulgar 
tongue : " Demand no more than may be useful to 
thee." Whereupon I began to discourse with him 
concerning her salutation which she had denied me ; 
and when I had questioned him of the cause, he said 
these words : " Our Beatrice hath heard from certain 
persons, that the lady whom I named to thee while 
thou journeyedst full of sighs, is sorely disquieted by 
thy solicitations : and therefore this most gracious 
creature, who is the enemy of all disquiet, being 
fearful of such disquiet, refused to salute thee. For 
the which reason (albeit, in very sooth, thy secret 
must needs have become known to her by familiar 
observation) it is my will that thou compose certain 
things in rhyme, in the which thou shalt set forth how 
strong a mastership I have obtained over thee, through 
her ; and how thou wast hers even from thy child- 
hood. Also do thou call upon him that knoweth 
these things to bear witness to them, bidding him to 
speak with her thereof; the which I, who am he, 
will do willingly. And thus she shall be made to 

ella la tua volontade, la quale sentendo, cono- 
scer^ le parole degP ingannati. Queste parole 
fa che sieno quasi uno mezzo, si che tu non 
parli a lei immediatamente, ch^ non h degno. 
E non le mandare in parte alcuna senza me, 
ove potessero essere intese da lei, ma falle 
adornare di soave armonia, nella quale io 
sar6 tutte le volte che fara mestieri." E dette 
queste parole, disparve, e lo mio sonno fu rotto. 
Ond' io ricordandomi, trovai che questa visi- 
one m' era apparita nella nona ora del di ; e 
anzi che io uscissi di questa camera, proposi 
di fare una ballata, nella quale seguitassi ci6 
che '1 mio signore m* avea imposto, e feci questa 
ballata : 

Ballata, io vo' che tu ritruovl Amore, 
E con lui vadi a madonna davanti. 
Si che la scusa mia, la qual tu canti, 
Ragioni poi con lei lo mio signore. 

Tu vai, ballata, si cortesemente, 
Che sanza compagnia 
Dovresti avere in tutte parti ardire : 
Ma, se tu vuogli andar sicuramente, 
Ritrova V Amor pria ; 

know thy desire ; knowing which, she shall know 
likewise that they were deceived who spake of thee 
to her. And so write these things, that they shall 
seem rather to be spoken by a third person ; and not 
directly by thee to her, which is scarce fitting. 
After the which, send them, not without me, where 
she may have a chance to hear them ; but have them 
fitted with a pleasant music, into the which I will 
pass whensoever it needeth." With this speech he 
was away, and my sleep was broken up. Whereupon, 
remembering me, I knew that I had beheld this 
vision during the ninth hour of the day ; and I 
resolved that I would make a ditty, before I left my 
chamber, according to the words my master had 
spoken. And this is the ditty that I made : 

Song, 'tis my will that thou do seek out Love, 
And go with him where my dear lady is ; 
That so my cause, the which thy harmonies 
Do plead, his better speech may clearly prove. 

Thou goest, my Song, in such a courteous kind, 
That even companionless 
Thou may'st rely on thyself anywhere. 
And yet, an thou wouldst get thee a safe mind. 
First unto Love address 

Ch6 orse non e buon sanza lui gire : 
Pero che quella, che ti debbe udire, 
Se, com' io credo, h inv^r di me adirata, 
E tu di lui non fussi accompagnata, 
Leggeramente ti faria disnore. 

Con dolce suono, quando se' con lui, 
Comincia este parole 
Appresso ch' averai chiesta pietate : 
" Madonna, quegli, che mi manda a vui, 
Quando vi piaccia, vuole, 
Sed egli ha scusa, che la m' intendiate. 
Amore e quei, che per vostra beltate 
Lo face, come vuol, vista cangiare : 
Dunque, perch^ gli fece altra guardare, 
Pensatel voi, da ch' e' non mut6 '1 core." 

Dille : " Madonna, lo suo cuore h stato 
Con si fermata fede, 

Ch' a voi servir lo pronta ogni pensiero : 
Tosto fu vostro, e mai non s' h smagato." 
Sed ella non tel crede, 
Di', che 'n domandi Amore, che sa lo vero. 
Ed alia fine falle umil preghiero, 
Lo perdonare se le fosse a noia, 

Thy steps ; whose aid, mayhap, 'twere ill to spare 
Seeing that she to whom thou mak'st thy prayer 
Is, as I think, ill-minded unto me. 
And that if Love do not companion thee, 
Thou'lt have perchance small cheer to tell me of. 

With a sweet accent, when thou com'st to her 
Begin thou in these words, 
First having craved a gracious audience : 
" He who hath sent me as his messenger, 
Lady, thus much records. 
An thou but suffer him, in his defence. 
Love, who comes with me, by thine influence 
Can make this man do as it liketh him : 
Wherefore, if this fault is or doth but seem 
Do thou conceive : for his heart cannot move." 

Say to her also ; ** Lady, his poor heart 
Is so confirmed in faith 

That all its thoughts are but of serving thee : 
'Twas early thine, and could not swerve apart." 
Then, if she wavereth. 

Bid her ask Love, who knows if these things be.. 
And in the end, beg of her modestly 
To pardon so much boldness : saying too : — 

Che mi comandi per messo ch* i' moia ; 
E vedrassi ubbidire al servitore. 

E di* a colui ch' h d' ogni pieti chiave, 
Avanti che sdonnei, 

Che le sappia contar mia ragion buona : 
" Per grazia della mia nota soave 
Riman tu qui con lei, 
E del tuo servo, ci6 che vuoi, ragiona ; 
E s' ella per tuo prego gli perdona. 
Fa' che gli annunzi in bel sembiante pace." 
Gentil ballata mia, quando ti piace, 
Muovi in quel punto, che tu n' aggi onore. 

Questa ballata in tre parti si divide : nella prima dico 
a lei ov* ella vada, e confortola pero che vada piii sicura ; 
e dico nella cui compagnia si metta, se vuole securamente 
andarey e senza pericolo alcuno ; nella seconda dico quelloy 
che a lei s* appartiene di fare intendere ; nella terza 
la licenzio del gtre quando vuole, raccomandando lo suo 
movimento nelle braccia della fortuna. La seconda 
parte comincia quivi : " Con dolce suono ; " la terza 
quivi : " Gentil ballata." Potrebbe ^h P uomo opporre 
contra a me e dire, che non sapesse a cui fosse il mio 
parlare in seconda persona, pero che la ballata non k altro, 
che quests parole cK io park : e perh dico che questo 

" If thou declare his death to be thy due, 
The thing shall come to pass, as doth behove." 

Then pray thou of the Master of all ruth. 
Before thou leave her there. 
That he befriend my cause and plead it well. 
" In guerdon of my sweet rhymes and my truth 
(Entreat him) " stay with her ; 
Let not the hope of thy poor servant fail ; 
And if with her thy pleading should prevail. 
Let her look on him and give peace to him." 
Gentle my Song, if good to thee it seem. 
Do this : so worship shall be thine and love. 

This ditty is divided into three parts. In the first, L 
tell it whither to go, and I encourage it, that it may go the 
more confidently, and I tell it whose company to Join if it 
would go with confidence and without any danger. In the 
second, I say that which it behoves the ditty to set forth. 
In the third, I give it leave to start when it pleases, 
recommending its course to the arms of Fortune. The 
second part begins here, ^^ With a sweet accent;" the 
third here, " Gentle my Song." Some might contradict me, 
and say that they understand not ivhom I address in 
the second person, seeing that the ditty is merely the very 
words I am speaking. And therefore I say that this 

dubbio to lo intendo solvere e dichiarare in questo libello 
ancora in parte piu dubbiosa : ed allora intenda chi qui 
dubbia, o chi qui volesse opporre, in quello modo. 

Appresso questa soprascritta visione, avendo gi4 
dette le parole, che Amore m' avea imposto di dire, 
m' incominciarono molti e diversi pensamenti a com- 
battere e a tentare, clascuno quasi indefensibilmente : 
tra' quali pensamenti quattro m* ingombravano piu 
il riposo della vita. L' uno dei quali era questo : 
" Buona h la signoria d' Amore, per6 che .trae lo 
intendimento del suo fedele da tutte le vili cose." 
L' altro era questo : " Non buona h la signoria 
d* Amore, per6 che quanto lo suo fedele piu 
fede gli porta, tanto piii gravi e dolorosi punti gli 
conviene passare." L' altro era questo : " Lo nome 
d* Amore h si dolce a udire, che impossibile mi 
pare, che la sua operazione sia nelle piii cose altro 
che dolce, conciossiacosa che i nomi seguitino le 
nominate cose, siccome h scritto : * Nomina sunt con- 
sequentia rerum,* " Lo quarto era questo ; ** La donna 
per cui Amore ti stringe cosl, non e come le altre 

doubt I intend to solve and clear up in this little book itself, 
at a more difficult passage, and then let him understand 
who now doubts, or would now contradict as aforesaid. 

After this vision I have recorded, and having written 
those words which Love had dictated to me, I began 
to be harassed with many and divers thoughts, by 
^ach of which I was sorely tempted ; and in especial, 
tTiere were four among them that left me no rest. 
The first was this : " Certainly the lordship of Love 
is good ; seeing that it diverts the mind from all 
mean things." The second was this : " Certainly 
the lordship of Love is evil ; seeing that the more 
homage his servants pay to him, the more grievous 
and painful are the torments wherewith he torments 
them." The third was this : "The name of Love is 
so sweet in the hearing that it would not seem pos- 
sible for its effects to be other than sweet ; seeing that 
the name must needs be like unto the thing named : 
as it is written : * Names are the consequents of 
things.' " And the fourth was this : " The lady whom 
Love hath chosen out to govern thee is not as other 
4 49 

donne, che leggermente si mova del suo core." E 
ciascuno mi combattea tanto, che mi facea stare 
come colui, che non sa per qual via pigli il suo cam- 
mino, e che vuole andare, e non sa onde si vada. E 
se io pensava di voler cercare una comune via di 
costoro, cioe U ove tutti si accordassero, questa via 
era molto inimica verso di me, cio^ di chiamare e 
mettermi nelle braccia della Pieti. Ed in questo 
stato dimorando, mi giunse volonti di scriverne parole 
rimate ; e dissine allora questo sonetto : 

Tutti li miei pensier parlan d' amore, 
Ed hanno in lor si gran varletate, ' 
Ch' altro mi fa voler sua potestate, 
Altro folle ragiona il suo valore. 

Altro sperando m' apporta dolzore ; 
Altro pianger mi fa spesse flate ; 
E sol s' accordano in chieder pietate, 
Tremando di paura ch' h nel core. 

Ond' ic non so da qual materia prenda ; 
E vorrei dire, e non so ch* io mi dica : 
Cosl mi trovo in amorosa erranza.- 

E se con tutti vo' fare accordanza, 
Convenemi chiamar la mia nemica, 
Madonna la Piet^, che mi difenda. 

ladies, whose hearts are easily moved." And by- 
each one of these thoughts I was so sorely assailed 
that I was like unto him who doubteth which path 
to take, and wishing to go, goeth not. And if I 
bethought myself to seek out some point at the which 
all these paths might be found to meet, I discerned 
but one way, and that irked me ; to wit, to call upon 
Pity, and to commend myself unto her. And it was 
then that, feeling a desire to write somewhat thereof 
in rhyme, I wrote this sonnet : 

All my thoughts always speak to me of Love, 
Yet have between themselves such diiference 
That while one bids me bow with mind and sense, 
A second saith, " Go to : look thou above ; " 

The third one, hoping, yields me joy enough ; 

And with the last come tears, I scarce know whence : 
All of them craving pity in sore suspense. 
Trembling with fears that the heart knoweth of. 

And thus, being all unsure which path to take. 
Wishing to speak I know not what to say, 
And lose myself in amorous wanderings : 4^ 

Until, (my peace with all of them to make,) ■ 
Unto mine enemy I needs must pray. 
My lady Pity, for the help she brings. 

Questo sonetto in quattro parti si pub dividere : nella 
prima dico e propongo^ che tutti i miei pensieri sono 
d* J more ; nella seconda dico che sono diversi, e narro la 
loro diversitade ; nella terza dico in che tutti pare che 
/' accordino ; nella quarta dico che, volendo dire d* Amore, 
non so da quale pigli materia ; e se la voglio pigliare da 
tutti, conviene che io chiami la mia nemica, madonna la 
Pieta. Dico ^* madonna,^^ quasi per isdegnoso modo di 
parlare. La seconda comincia quivi : "Ed hanno in 
lor;" la terza: ** E sol s' accordan;" la quarta: 
" Ond' io:' 

Appresso la battaglia delli diversi pensieri, awenne 
che questa gentilissima venne in parte, ove molte 
donne gentili erano adunate ; alia qual parte io fui 
condotto per arnica persona, credendosi fare a me 
gran piacere in quanto mi menava la ove tante donne 
mostravano le loro bellezze. Ond' io, quasi non 
sapendo a che fossi menato, e fidandomi nella persona, 
la quale un suo amico all' estremiti della vita con- 
dotto avea, dissi : " Perche semo noi venuti a queste 
donne ? " Allora quegli mi disse : " Per fare si ch' elle 

This sonnet may be divided into four parts. In the fir sty 
1 say and propound that all my thoughts are concerning Love. 
In the second^ I say that they are diverse^ and I relate their 
diversity. In the third y I say wherein they all seem to agree. 
In the fourthy I say that, wishing to speak of Love, I know 
not from which of these thoughts to take my argument ; and 
that if I would take it from ally I shall have to call upon 
mine enemy, my lady Pity. " Lady " / say as in a scorn- 
ful mode of speech. The second begins herey " Tet have 
between themselves ;" the third, ^^ All of them craving; " 
thefourthy '' And thus.'' 


After this battling with many thoughts, it chanced 
on a day that my most gracious lady was with a 
gathering of ladies in a certain place ; to the which 
I was conducted by a friend of mine ; he thinking to 
do me a great pleasure by showing me the beauty of 
so many women. Then I, hardly knowing where- 
unto he conducted me, but trusting in him (who yet 
was leading his friend to the last verge of life), made 
question ; "To what end are we come among these 
ladies ? " and he answered : " To the end that they 

sieno degnamente servite." E lo vero k, che adunate 
quivi erano alia compagnia d' una gentildonna, che 
disposata era lo giorno ; e pero, secondo 1' usanza della 
sopradetta cittade, conveniva che le facessero com- 
pagnia nel primo sedere alia mensa che facea nella 
maglone del suo novello sposo. SI che io, credendomi 
far il piacere di questo amico, proposi di stare al 
servizio delle donne nella sua compagnia. E nel fine 
del mio proponimento mi parve sentire un mirabile 
tremore incomlnciare nel mio petto dalla sinistra 
parte, e distendersi di subito per tutte le parti del 
mio corpo. Allora dico che poggiai la mia persona 
simulatamente ad una pintura, la quale circondava 
questa magione ; e temendo non altri si fosse 
accorto del mio tremare, levai gli occhi, e mirando le 
donne, vidi tra loro la gentilissima Beatrice. Allora 
furono si distrutti li miei spiriti per la forza che 
Amore prese veggendosi in tanta propinquitade 
alia gentilissima donna, che non mi rimase in 
vita piu che gli spiriti del viso ; ed ancor questi 
rimasero fuori de' loro strumenti, per6 che Amore 
volea stare nel loro nobilissimo luogo per vedere la 
mirabile donna. E awegna ch' io fossi altro che 
prima, molto mi dolea di questi spiritelli, che si 
lamentavano forte, e diceano : " Se questi non ci 

may be worthily served." And they were assembled 
around a gentlewoman who was given in marriage on 
that day ; the custom of the city being that these 
should bear her company when she sat down for the 
first time at table in the house of her husband 
Therefore I, as was my friend's pleasure, resolved to 
stay with him and do honour to those ladies. But 
as soon as I had thus resolved, I began to feel 
a faintness and a throbbing at my left side, which 
soon took possession of my whole body. Whereupon 
I remember that I covertly leaned my back unto a 
painting that ran round the walls of that house ; and 
being fearful lest my trembling should be discerned of 
them, I lifted mine eyes to look on those ladies, and 
then first perceived among them the excellent Beatrice. 
And when I perceived her, all my senses were over- 
powered by the great lordship that Love obtained, 
finding himself so near unto that most gracious being, 
until nothing but the spirits of sight remained to me ; 
and even these remained driven out of their own 
instruments because Love entered into that honoured 
place of theirs, that so he might the better behold 
her. And although I was other than at first, I 
grieved for the spirits so expelled which kept up a 
sore lament, saying : " If he had not in this wise 

sfolgorasse cosl fuori del nostro luogo, noi potremmo 
stare a vedere la meraviglia di questa donna, cosl 
come stanno gli altri nostri pari." lo dico che 
molte di queste donne, accorgendosi della mia tras- 
figurazione, si cominciaro a maravigliare ; e ragio- 
nando si gabbavano di me con questa gentilissima : 
onde, lo ingannato amico mi prese per la mano, e 
traendomi fuori della veduta di queste donne, mi 
domando che io avessi. Allora riposato alquanto, e 
risurti li morti spiriti miei, e li discacciati rivenuti 
alle loro possessioni, dissi a questo mio amico queste 
parole : " lo ho tenuti i piedi in quella parte della 
vita, di 14 dalla quale non si pu6 ire piii per intendi- 
mento di ritornare." E partitomi da lui, mi ritornai 
nella camera delle lagrime, nella quale, piangendo e 
vergognandomi, fra me stesso dicea : " Se questa donna 
sapesse la mia condizione, io non credo che cosi 
gabbasse la mia persona, anzi credo che molta pieta 
ne le verrebbe." E in questo pianto stando, proposi 
di dir parole, nelle quali, a lei parlando, significassi la 
cagione del mio trasfiguramento, e dicessi che io so 
bene ch* ella non e saputa, e che se fosse saputa, io 
credo che pietd ne giungerebbe altrui : e proposi di 
dirle, desiderando che venissero per awentura nella 
sua audienza ; e allora dissi questo sonetto : 

thrust us forth, we also should behold the marvel of 
this lady." By this, many of her friends, having 
discerned my confusion, began to wonder ; and 
together with herself, kept whispering of me and 
mocking me. Whereupon my friend, who knew not 
what to conceive, took me by the hands, and drawing 
me forth from among them, required to know what 
ailed me. Then, having first held me at quiet for 
a space until my perceptions were come back to 
me, I made answer to my friend : " Of a ^^j-etv .L ^ 
hav e now set my feet on that point of life, beyond 

the which ^ he must not pass, ^hg ^""^^ lifAi\]CT "i ■ 

ASerwards, leaving him, I went back to the room 
where I had wept before ; and again weeping and 
ashamed, said : " If this lady but knew of my con- 
dition, I do not think that she would thus mock at 
me ; nay, I am sure that she must needs feel some 
pity." And in my weeping I bethought me to write 
certain words in the which, speaking to her, I should 
signify the occasion of my disfigurement, telling_hej;, 
also how I knew_that she had no knowledge thereof^ 
which, if it were known, I was certain must move 
others to pity. And then, because I hoped that 
peradventure it might come into her hearing, I wrote 
this sonnet : 


ColP altre donne mia vista gabbate, 
E non pensate, donna, onde si mova, 
Ch' io vi rassembri si iigura nova, 
Quando riguardo la vostra beltate. 

Se lo saveste, non potria pietate 

Tener pii contra me V usata prova ; 

Ch' Amor, quando si presso a voi mi trova, 

Prende baldanza e tanta sicurtate, 

Che fiere tra' miei spirti paurosi, 

E quale ancide, e qual caccia di fuora, 
Si ch* ei solo rimane a veder vui : 

Ond' io mi cangio in figura d' altrui, 
Ma non si, ch' io non senta bene^allora 
Gli guai degli scacciati tormentosi. 

Questo sonetto non divido in partly perch^ la divtsione non 
si fay se non per aprire la sentenzia della cosa divisa: onde^ 
conciossiacosa che per la ragLonata cagione assai sia mani- 
festo, non ha mestieri di divisione. Vero k che tra le parole y 
ove si manifesta la ca^one di questo sonetto, si trovano 
dubbiose parole; cio^ quando dico, ch^ J more uccide tutti 
i miei spiriti, e li visivi rimangono in vita, salvo che 
fuori degli strumenti loro. E questo dubbio i impossibile 
a solvere a chi non fosse in simil grado fedele d* J more; 
ed a coloro che vi sono h manifesto cib che solverebbe 

Even as the others mock, thou mockest me ; 
Not dreaming, noble lady, whence it is 
That I am taken with strange semblances, ■ 
Seeing thy face which is so fair to see : 

For else, compassion would not suffer thee 

To grieve my heart with such harsh scoffs as these. 
Lo ! Love, when thou art present, sits at ease. 
And bears his mastership so mightily, 

That all my troubled senses he thrusts out, 
Sorely tormenting some, and slaying some. 
Till none but he is left and has free range 

To gaze on thee. This makes my face to change 
Into another's ; while I stand all dumb. 
And hear my senses clamour in their rout. 

This sonnet I divide not into parts, because a division is 
only made to open the meaning of the thing divided : and 
this, as it is sufficiently manifest through the reasons given, 
has no need of division. True it is that, amid the words 
whereby is shown the occasion of this sonnet, dubious words 
are to be found ; namely, when I say that Love kills all my 
spirits, but that the visual remain in life, only outside of 
their own instruments. And this difficulty it is impossible 
for any to solve who is not in equal guise liege unto Love ; 
and, to those who are so, that is manifest which would clear 

le dubitose parole : e pero non h bene a me dichiarare 
cotale dubitazione, accib che lo mio parlare sarebbe indamOy 
ovvero di soperchio. 

Appresso la nuova trasfigurazione mi giunse un 
pensamento forte, il quale poco si partia da me; 
anzi continuamente mi riprendea, ed era di co- 
tale ragionamento meco : " Poscia che tu pervieni 
a cosl schernevole vista quando tu se* presso di 
questa donna, perch^ pur cerchi di vederla ? 
Ecco che se tu fossi domandato da lei, che 
avresti tu da rispondere ? ponendo che tu avessi 
libera ciascuna tua virtude, in quanto tu le 
rispondessi." Ed a questo rispondea un altro 
umile pensiero, e dicea : " Se io non perdessi le 
mie virtudi, e fossi libero tanto ch* io potessi 
rispondere, io le direi, che si tosto com* io 
immagino la sua mirabil bellezza, si tosto mi 
giugne un desiderio di vederla, il quale h. di 
tanta virtude, che uccide e distrugge nella mia 
memoria ci6 che contra lui si potesse levare; 
e per6 non mi ritraggono le passate passioni 

up the dubious words. And therefore it were not well for me 
to expound this difficultly inasmuch as my speaking would be 
either fruitless or else superfluous. 


A while after this strange disfigurement, I became 
possessed with a strong conception which left me but 
very seldom, and then to return quickly. And it was 
this : " Seeing that thou comest into such scorn by 
the companionship of this lady, wherefore seekest 
thou to behold her ? If she should ask thee this 
thing, what answer couldst thou make unto her ? 
yea, even though thou wert master of all thy faculties, 
and in no way hindered from answering." Unto the 
which, another very humble thought said in reply : 
" If I were master of all my faculties, and in no way 
hindered from answering, I would tell her that no 
sooner do I image to myself her marvellous beauty 
than I am possessed with the desire to behold her, 
the which is of so great strength that it kills and 
destroys in my memory all those things which might 
oppose it ; and it is therefore that the great anguish 
I have endured thereby is yet not enough to restrain 

da cercare la veduta di costei." Ond* io, mosso da 
cotali pensamenti, proposi di dire certe parole, nelle 
quali, scusandomi a lei di cotal riprensione, ponessi 
anche quelle che mi addiviene presso di lei ; e dissi 
questo sonetto : 

Ci6 che m' incontra nella mente more 
Quando vegno a veder voi, bella gioia, 
E quand* io vi son presso, sento Amore, 
Che dice : ",Fuggi, se *1 perir t* h noia." 

Lo viso mostra Io color del core, 

Che, tramortendo, ovunque puo s' appoia ; 

E per 1' ebrfeti del gran tremore 

Le pietre par che gridin : " Moia, moia." 

Peccato face chi allor mi vide, 

Se 1' alma sbigottita non conforta, 
Sol dimostrando che di me gli doglia, 

Per la pietd, che '1 vostro gabbo uccide, 
La qual si cria nella vista smorta 
Degli occhi, c' hanno di lor morte voglia. 

Quesfo sonetto si divide in due parti: nella prima dico la 
cagLone, per che non mi tengp di ^re presso a questa donna; 
nella seconda dico quello che m' addiviene per andare presso 
dilei; e comincia questa parte quivi : " E quand* io vi son 
presso.^^ E anche questa seconda parte si divide in cinque, 

me from seeking to behold her." And then, because 
of these thoughts, I resolved to write somewhat, 
wherein, having pleaded mine excuse, I should tell 
her of what I felt in her presence. Whereupon 1 
wrote this sonnet : 

The thoughts are broken in my memory, 
Thou lovely Joy, whene'er I see thy face ; 
When thou art near me. Love fills up the space. 
Often repeating, " If death irk thee, fly." 

My face shows my heart's colour, verily. 
Which, fainting, seeks for any leaning-place 
Till, in the drunken terror of disgrace. 
The very stones seem to be shrieking, " Die ! " 

It were a grievous sin, if one should not 
Strive then to comfort my bewilder'd mind 
(Though merely with a simple pitying) 

For the great anguish which thy scorn has wrought 
In the dead sight o' the eyes grown nearly blind, 
Which look for death as for a blessed thing. 

This sonnet is divided into two parts. In the firsts I 
tell the cause why I abstain not from coming to this lady. 
In the second, I tell what befalls me through coming to her ; 
and this part begins here, " When thou art near*^ And 
also this second part divides into five distinct statements. 

secondo cinque diverse narrazioni : cU nella prima dico 
quello che Amore, consigliato dalla RagLonCy mi dice quando 
k son presso; nella seconda manifesto lo stato del core per 
esemplo del viso ; nella terza dico, siccome ogni sicurtade 
mi vien meno; nella quarta dico che pecca quegli che non 
mostra pieta di me, accio che mi sarebbe alcun conforto; 
neir ultima dico percU altri dovrebbe aver pieta, cioe 
per la pietosa vista, che negli occhi mi grunge; la qual 
vista pietosa i distrutta, cioi non pare altrui, per lo gabbare 
di questa donna, la quale trae a sua simile operazione 
coloro, che forse vedrebbono questa pieta. La seconda 
parte comincia quivi : '■^Lo viso mostra ;^^ la terzxi : ** E 
per P ebr'teth;^^ la quarta: ^* Peccato face;^^* la quinta : 
'^Per lapiethr 

Appresso ci6 che io dissi, questo sonetto mi mosse 
una volenti di dire anche parole, nelle quali dicessi 
quattro cose ancora sopra '1 mio stato, le quali non mi 
parea che fossero manifestate ancora per me. La 
prima delle quali si h, che molte volte io mi dolea, 
quando la mia memoria movesse la fantasia ad imma- 
ginare quale Amor mi facea ; la seconda si h., che 
Amore spesse volte di subito m' assalia si forte, che in 

For, in the first, I say what Love, counselled by Reason, 
tells me when I am near the lady. In the second, 1 set 
forth the state of my heart by the example of the face. In 
the third, I say how all ground of trust fails me. In the 
fourth, 1 say that he sins who shows not pity of me, which 
would give me some comfort. In the last, I say why people 
should take pity ; namely, for the piteous look which comes 
into mine eyes ; which piteous look is destroyed, that is, ap- 
peareth not unto others, through the jeering of this lady, 
who draws to the like action those who per adventure would 
see this piteousness. The second part begins here, " My 
face shows ; " the third, " Till, in the drunken terror ; " the 
fourth, " // were a grievous sin ; " the fifth, " For the ^e at 
anguish. ^^ 

Thereafter, this sonnet bred in me desire to write 
down in verse four other things touching my con- 
dition, the which things it seemed to me that I had 
not yet made manifest. The first among these was 
the grief that possessed me very often, remembering 
the strangeness which Love wrought in me ; the 
second was, how Love many times assailed me so 
suddenly and with such strength that I had no other 
5 65 

me non rimanea altro di vita se non un pensiero, che 
parlava della mia donna ; la terza si 6, che quando 
questa battaglia d' Amore mi pugnava cosl, io mi 
movea, quasi discolorito tutto, per veder questa donna, 
credendo che mi difendesse la sua veduta da questa 
battaglia, dimenticando quello che per appropinquate 
a tanta gentilezza m* addivenia ; la quarta si h, come 
cotal veduta non solamente non mi difendea, ma final- 
mente disconfiggea la mia poca vita ; e per6 dissi questo 
sonetto : 

Spesse fiate venemi alia mente 

L* oscura quality ch* Amor mi doi\a ; 

E vienmene pieti si, che sovente 

Io dico : " Ahi lasso ! avvien egli a persona ? " 

Ch' Amor m' assale subitanamente 
Si, che la vita quasi m* abbandona : 
Campami un spirto vivo solamente, 
E quei riman, perch^ di voi ragiona. 

Poscia mi sforzo, che mi voglio aitare ; 
E cosi smorto, e d' ogni valor v6to, 
Vegno a vedervi, credendo guarire : 

E se io levo gli occhi per guardare, 
Nel cor mi si comincia uno tremoto, 
Che fa da* polsi V anima partire. 

life remaining except a thought which spake of my 
lady ; the third was, how when Love did battle with 
me in this wise, I would rise up all colourless, if so I 
might see my lady, conceiving that the sight of her 
would defend me against the assault of Love, and 
altogether forgetting that which her presence brought 
unto me ; and the fourth was, how when I saw her, 
the sight not only defended me not, but took away 
the little life that remained to me. And I said these 
four things in a sonnet, which is this : 

At whiles (yea oftentimes) I muse over 
The quality of anguish that is mine 
Through Love : then pity makes my voice to pine 
Saying, " Is any else thus, anywhere ? " 

Love smiteth me, whose strength is ill to bear ; 
So that of all my life is left no sign 
Except one thought ; and that, because 'tis thine 
Leaves not the body but abideth there. 

And then if I, whom other aid forsook. 
Would aid myself, and innocent of art 
Would fain have sight of thee as a last hope, 

No sooner do I lift mine eyes to look 

Than the blood seems as shaken from my heart. 
And all my pulses beat at once and stop. 

Questo sonetto si divide in quattro parti, secondo eke 
quattro cose sono in esso narrate : e perh che sono esse ragio- 
nate di sopra, non ni' intrametto se non di distinguere le parti 
per li loro cominciamenti : onde dico che la seconda parte 
comincia quivi : ^^ Ch* Amor;'*'* la terza quivi : ^^ Poscia 
mi sforzo ;" la quarta: "JF se io levo^ 


Poi che io dissi questi tre sonetti, ne' quali parlai 
a questa donna, per6 che furo narrator! i di tutto 
quasi Io mio stato, credeimi tacere, per6 che mi 
parea avere di me assai manifestato. Awegna che 
sempre poi tacessi di dire a lei, a me convenne 
ripigliare materia nova e piu nobile che la passata. 
E pero che la cagione della nova materia h. 
dilettevole a udire, la dir6 quanto potr6 piu 


Conciossiacosa che per la vista mia molte per- 
sone avessero compreso Io segreto del mio cuore, 
certe donne, le quali adunate s' erano, dilettandosi 

This sonnet is divided into four parts, four things being 
therein narrated ; and as these are set forth above , I only 
proceed to distinguish the parts by their be^nnings. Where- 
fore I say that the second part begins, " Love smiteth me ; " 
the third, " And then if I ; " the fourth, " iVo sooner do I 

After I had written these last three sonnets, 
wherein I spake unto my lady, telling her almost the 
whole of my condition, it seemed to me that I should 
be silent, having said enough concerning myself. But 
albeit I spake not to her again, yet it behoved me 
afterward to write of another matter, more noble 
than the foregoing. And for that the occasion ot 
what I then wrote may be found pleasant in the 
hearing, I will relate it as briefly as I may. 

Through the sore change in mine aspect, the secret 
of my heart was now understood of many. Which 
thing being thus, there came a day when certain ladies 

V una nella compagnia dell' altra, sapeano bene lo 
mio cuore, perch^ ciascuna di loro era stata a molte 
mie sconfitte. Ed io passando presso di loro, si 
come dalla fortuna menato, fui chlamato da una 
di queste gentili donne ; e quella, che m' avea 
chiamato, era donna di molto leggiadro parlare. 
Si che quando io fui giunto dinanzi da loro, e 
vidi bene che la mia gentilissima donna non era 
tra esse, rassicurandomi le salutai, e domandai 
che piacesse loro. Le donne erano molte, tra le 
quali n 'avea certe che si rideano tra loro. Altre 
v' erano, che guardavanmi aspettando che io dovessi 
dire. Altre v' erano che parlavano tra loro, delle 
quali una volgendo gli occhi verso me, e chiaman- 
domi per nome, disse queste parole: "A che fine 
ami tu questa tua donna, poi che tu non puoi 
la sua presenza sostenere? Dilloci, ch^ certo il 
fine di cotale amore conviene che sia novissimo." 
E poi che m' ebbe dette queste parole, non sola- 
mente ella, ma tutte le altre cominciaro ad atten- 
dere in vista la mia risponsione. Allora dissi loro 
queste parole : " Madonne, lo fine del mio amore 
fu gia il saluto di questa donna, di cui voi forse 
intendete; ed in quello dimorava la beatitudine, 
ch'i '1 fine di tutti i miei desiderii. Ma poi 

to whom it was well known (they having been with me 
at divers times in my trouble) were met together for 
the pleasure of gentle company. And as I was going 
that way by chance, (but I think rather by the will 
of fortune,) I heard one of them call unto me, and 
she that called was a lady of very sweet speech. 
And when I had come close up with them, and 
perceived that they had not among them mine 
excellent lady, I was reassured ; and saluted them, 
asking of their pleasure. The ladies were many ; 
divers of whom were laughing one to another, while 
divers gazed at me as though I should speak anont. 
But when I still spake not, one of them, who before 
had been talking with another, addressed me by my 
name, saying, " To what end lovest thou this lady, 
s eeing that thou canst not support her preseifceT'Nbw" 
tell us this thing, that we may know it : for certainly 
the end of such a love must be worthy of know- 
ledge." And when she had spoken these words, not 
she only, but all they that were with her, began to 
observe me, waiting for my reply. Whereupon, I 
said thus unto them : " Ladies, the end and aim of 
my love was but the salutation of that lady of whom 
I conceive that ye are speaking ; wherein alone I found 
that beatitude which is the goal of desire. And now 

che le piacque di negarlo a me, lo mio signore 
Amore, la sua mercede, ha posta tutta la mia 
beatitudine in quelle, che non mi puote venir 
meno." Allora queste donne cominciaro a parlare 
tra loro ; e si come talor vedemo cader 1' acqua 
mischiata di Bella neve, cosl mi parea vedere le 
loro parole mischiate di sospiri. E poi che 
alquanto ebbero parlato tra loro, mi disse anche 
questa donna, che prima m' avea parlato, queste 
parole : " Noi ti preghiamo, che tu ne dica ove 
sta questa tua beatitudine." Ed io risponden- 
dole, dissi cotanto : " In quelle parole che lodano la 
donna mia." Ed ella rispose : " Se tu ne dicessi 
vero, quelle parole che tu n' hai dette notificando 
la tua condizione, avresti tu operate con altro in- 
tendimento." Ond' io pensando a queste parole, 
quasi vergognandomi mi partii da loro ; e venia 
dicendo tra me medesimo : " Poi che h tanta 
beatitudine in quelle parole che lodano la mia 
donna, perch^ altro parlare h stato il mio ? " E 
per6 proposi di prendere per materia del mio 
parlare sempre mai quello che fosse loda di questa 
gentilissima ; e pensando a cio molto, pareami 
avere presa troppo alta materia quanto a me, si 
che non ardia di cominciare ; e cosi dimorai alquanti 

that it hath pleased her to deny me this, Love, my 
Master, of his great goodness, hath placed all my 
beatitude there where my hope will not fail me." 
Then those ladies began to talk closely together ; and 
as I have seen snow fall among the rain, so was their 
talk mingled with sighs. But after a little, that lady 
who had been the first to address me, addressed me 
again in these words : " We pray thee that thou wilt 
tell us wherein abideth this thy beatitude." And 
answering, I said but thus much : " In those words 
that do praise my lady." To the which she rejoined, 
" If thy speech were true, those words that thou didst 
write concerning thy condition would have been 
written with another intent," Then I, being almost 
put to shame because of her answer, went out from 
among them ; and as I walked, I said within 
myself : " Seeing that there is so much beatitude 
in those words which do praise my lady, wherefore 
hath my speech of her been different ? " And 
then I resolved that thenceforward I would choose 
for the theme of my writings only the praise ot 
this most gracious being. But when I had thought 
exceedingly, it seemed to me that I had taken to 
myself a theme which was much too lofty, so that 
I dared not begin ; and I remained during several 

di con desiderio di dire e con paura di comln- 


Avvenne poi che, passando per un cammino, 
lungo il quale correva un rio molto chiaro 
d' onde, giunse a me tanta volenti di dire, 
che cominciai a pensare il modo ch' io tenessi ; 
e pensai che parlare di lei non si conveniva, 
se non che io parlassi a donne in seconda 
persona; e non ad ogni donna, ma solamente 
a coloro, che sono gentili, e non sono pur 
femmine. Allora dico che la mia lingua parl6 
quasi come per sh stessa mossa, e disse : 
"Donne, ch* avete intelletto d' amore." Queste 
parole io riposi nella mente con grande letizia, 
pensando di prenderle per mio comincia- 
mento : onde poi ri tomato alia sopraddetta 
cittade, e pensando alquanti dl, cominciai 
una canzone con questo cominciamento, or- 
dinata nel modo che si vedri di sotto 
nella sua divisione. La canzone comincia 
cosl : 


days in the desire ot speaking, and the fear of 


After which it happened, as I passed one day 
along a path which lay beside a stream of very clear 
water, that there came upon me a great desire to 
say somewhat in rhyme ; but when I began thinking 
how I should say it, methought that to speak of 
her were unseemly, unless I spoke to other ladies in 
the second person ; which is to say, not to any other 
ladies, but only to such as are so called because 
they are gentle, let alone for mere womanhood. 
Whereupon I declare that my tongue spake as 
though by its own impulse, and said, "Ladies that 
have intelligence in love." These words I laid 
up in my mind with great gladness, conceiving to 
take them as my commencement. Wherefore, 
having returned to the city I spake of, and con- 
sidered thereof during certain days, I began a poem 
with this beginning, constructed in the mode which 
will be seen below in its division. The poem begins 
here : 


Donne, ch' avete intelletto d' amore, 
lo vo' con voi della mia donna dire ; 
Non perch' io creda sue laude finire, 
Ma ragionar per isfogar la mente. 
Io dico che, pensando il suo valore. 
Amor si dolce mi si fa sentire, 
Che, s' io allora non perdessi ardire, 
Farei, parlando, innamorar la gente. 
Ed io non vo' parlar si altamente, 
Che divenissi per temenza vile ; 
Ma tratter6 del suo stato gentile 
A rispetto di lei leggeramente, 
Donne e donzelle amorose, con vui, 
Ch6 non e cosa da parlarne altrui. 

Angelo chiama in divino intelletto, 
E dice : " Sire, nel mondo si vede 
Meraviglia nell' atto, che procede 
Da un* anima, che fin quassu risplende. 
Lo cielo, che non have altro difetto 
Che d' aver lei, al suo Signor la chiede, 
E ciascun santo ne grida mercede." 
Sola Pieta nostra parte difende ; 
Chh parla Iddio, che di madonna intende 

La dies that have Intelligence i n lov e. 

Of mine own ladylwould speak with you ; 
Not that I hope to count her praises through, 
But telling what I may, to ease my mind. 
And I declare that when I speak thereof 
Love sheds such perfect sweetness over me 
That if my courage fail'd not, certainly 
To him my listeners must be all resign'd. 
Wherefore I will not speak in such large kind 
That mineown speech shouldfoil me,which were base j 
But only will discourse of her high grace 
In these poor words, the best that I can find, 
With you alone, dear dames and damozels : 
'Twere ill to speak thereof with any else. 

An Angel, of his blessed knowledge, saith 

To God : " Lord, in the world that Thou hast made,. 
A miracle in action is display'd 
By reason of a soul whose splendors fare 
Even hither : and since Heaven requireth 
Nought saving her, for her it prayeth Thee, 
Thy Saints crying aloud continually." 
Yet Pity still defends our earthly share 
In that sweet soul ; God answering thus the prayer : 

" Diletti miei, or sofFerite in pace, 
Che vostra speme sia quanto mi piace 
La, ov' e alcun che perder lei s' attende. 
E che diri nell' Inferno a' malnati : 
* lo vidi la speranza de* beati.' " 

Madonna h desiata in V alto cielo : 
Or vo' di sua virtii farvi sapere. 
Dico : Qual vuol gentil donna parere 
Vada con lei ; che quando va per via, 
Gitta ne' cor villani Amore un gelo, 
Per che ogni lor pensiero agghiaccia e p^re. 
E qual sofFrisse di starla a vedere 
Diverria nobil cosa, o si morria : 
E quando trova alcun che degno sia 
Di veder lei, quel prova sua virtute ; 
Ch^ gli vien ci6 che gli dona salute, 
E si r umilia, che ogni ofFesa oblia. 
Ancor le ha Dio per maggior grazia da to, 
Che non pu6 mal finir chi le ha parlato. 

Dice di lei Amor : " Cosa mortale 
Come esser pu6 si adorna e si pura ? " 
Poi la riguarda, e fra s^ stesso giura . 


** My well-belovM, suffer that in peace 
Your hope remain, while so My pleasure is, 
There where one dwells who dreads the loss of her ; 
And who in Hell unto the doomed shall say, 
* I have looked on that for which God's chosen pray.* '* 

My lady is desired in the high Heaven : 
Wherefore, it now behoveth me to tell, 
Saying : Let any maid that would be well 
Esteem'd keep with her : for as she goes by, 
Into foul hearts a deathly chill is driven 
By Love, that makes ill thought to perish there ; 
While any who endures to gaze_. on l^^r 
Must either be made noble, or else die. 
When 'one deserving to be raised so high 
Is found, 'tis then her power attains its proof, 
Making his heart strong for his soul's behoof 
With the full strength of meek humility. 
Also this virtue owns she, by God's will : 
Who speaks with her can never come to ill. 

Love saith concerning her : " How chanceth it 
That flesh, which is of dust, should be thus pure ? " 
Then, gazing always, he makes oath : " Forsure, 


Che Dio ne intende dl far cosa nova. 

Color di perla quasi informa, quale 

Conviene a donna aver, non fuor misura : 

Ella h quanto di ben puo far natura ; 

Per esempio di lei belt^ si prova. 

Degli occhi suoi, come ch' ella gli muova, 

Escono spirti d' amore infiammati, 

Che fieron gli occhi a qual, che allor gli guati, 

E passan si che '1 cor ciascun ritrova. 

Voi le vedete Amor pinto nel riso, 

Ove non puote alcun mirarla fiso. 

Canzone, io so che tu girai parlando 

A donne assai, quando t* avr6 avanzata : 
Or t' ammonisco, perch* io t* ho allevata 
Per figliuola d' Amor giovane e piana^ 
Che dove giugni, tu dichi pregando : 
" Insegnatemi gir ; ch' io son mandata 
A quella, di cui loda io sono ornata." 
E se non vogli andar, si come vana, 
Non ristare ove sia gente villana : 
Ingegnati, se puoi, d* esser palese 
Solo con donna o con uomo cortese^ 

This is a creature of God till now unknown." 

She hath that paleness of the pearl that's fit 

In a fair woman, so much and not more ; 

She is as high as Nature's skill can soar ; 

Beauty is tried by her comparison. 

Whatever her sweet eyes are turn'd upon, 

Spirits of love do issue thence in flame, 

Which through their eyes who then may look on 

Pierce to the heart's deep chamber every one. 
And in her smile Love's image you may see ; 
Whence none can gaze upon her steadfastly. 

Dear Song, I know thou wilt hold gentle speech 
With many ladies, when I send thee forth : 
Wherefore, (being mindful that thou hadst thy birth 
From Love, and art a modest, simple child,) 
Whomso thou meetest, say thou this to each : 
" Give me good speed ! To her I wend along 
In whose much strength my weakness is made 

And if, i' the end, thou wouldst not be beguiled 
Of all thy labour, seek not the defiled 
And common sort ; but rather choose to be 
Where man and woman dwell in courtesy. 
6 81 

Che ti merranno per la via tostana. 
Tu troverai Amor con esso lei ; 
Raccomandami a lor come tu d^i. 

. \ 

Questa canzone, accib che sia meglio intesay la 
dividerh piu artifictosamente che le altre cose di sopra, 
e pero ne fo tre parti. La prima parte e proemio 
delle seguenti parole; la seconda k lo intento trattato ; 
la terza h quasi una servigiale delle precedent! parole. 
La seconda comincia quivi : ^^ Jngelo chiama ;^^ la 
terza quivi : ^^ Canzone, io so.'* La prima parte 
si divide in quattro : nella prima dico a cui dir 
voglio della mia donna, e percU io voglio 'dire ; nella 
seconda dico quale mi pare a me stesso quand* io 
penso lo suo valore, e come io direi se non perdessi 
/' ardimento ; nella terza dico come credo dire, accih 
che io non sia impedito da vilth ; nella quarta, ridi- 
cendo ancora a cui intendo di dire, dico la ragione 
per che dico a loro. La seconda comincia quivi : 
" Io dico ; " la terza quivi : " Ed io non vo' par- 
lar ;" la quarta quivi: ''^ Donne e donzelle." Poi 
quando dico " Angelo chiama," comincio a trattare di 
questa donna; e dividesi questa parte in due. Nella 
prima dico, che di lei si comprende in cielo ; nella 
seconda dico, che di lei si comprende in terra, 


So to the road thou shalt be reconciled, 
And find the lady, and with the lady, Love. 
Commend thou me to each, as doth behove. 

This poem, that it may be better understood, I will 
divide more subtly than the others preceding; and there- 
fore I zvill make three parts of it. The first part is a 
proem to the words following. The second is the matter 
treated of. The third is, as it were, a handmaid to the 
preceding words. The second begins here, " An angel ; " 
the third here, " Dear Song, I know.'' The first part is 
divided into four. In the first, 1 say to whom I mean to 
speak of my lady, and wherefore 1 will so speak. In the 
second, I say what she appears to myself to be when I 
reflect upon her excellence, and what I would utter ij 
I lost not courage. In the third, I say what it 
is I purpose to speak, so as not to be impeded by faint- 
heartedness. In the fourth, repeating to whom I purpose 
speaking, I tell the reason why I speak to them. The 
second begins here, " And I declare ; " the third here, 
" Wherefore I will not speak ; " the fourth here, " With 
you alone?' Then, when I say " An angel," I begin 
treating of this lady : and this part is divided into two. 
In the first, I tell what is understood of her in heaven. 
In the second, I tell what is understood of her on earth : 

guivi : " Madonna i desiataP Questa seconda parte si 
divide in due ; chi nella prima dico di lei quanta dalla 
parte delta nobilta delta sua anima, narrando alquante 
delte sue virtudiy ctie dalla sua anima procedono : nella 
seconda dico di lei quanta dalla parte della nobilta del suo 
corpo, narrando alquante delle sue bellezxe, quivi : " Dice 
di lei Amor.^^ Questa seconda parte si divide in due ; 
chl nella prima dico d* alquante bellexxe, che sono secondo 
tutta la persona ; nella seconda dico d* alquante bellezze, 
che sono secondo determigata parte della persona^ quivi : 
^* Degli occhi suoi." Questa seconda parte si divide in 
due ; cU neW una dico degli occhiy che sono principio di 
J more ; nella seconda dico della bocca, ch^ efine d* A more. 
Ed accih che quinci si levi ogni vizioso pensierOj ricordisi 
chi legge, che di sopra e scritto che il saluto di questa 
donna, lo quale era operazione della sua bocca, fu fine de* 
miei desiderii, mentre che io lo potei ricevere. Poscia 
quando dico : " Canzone, io so" aggiungp una stanza quasi 
come ancella delle cltre, nella quale dico quello, che da 
questa mia canzone desidero. E perh che quesf ultima 
parte e lieve ad intendere, non mi travaglio di piu divisioni. 
Dico bene, che a piu aprire lo intendimento di questa 
canzone si converrebbe usare piu minute divisioni; ma 
tuttavia chi non h di tanto ingegno, che per queste che son 
fatte la possa intendere, a me non dispiace se la mi lascia 

here^ " My lady is desired." This second part is divided 
into two ; fory in the first, I speak of her as regards the 
nobleness of her soul, relating some of her Virtues proceeding 
from her soul ; in the second, I speak of her as regards the 
nobleness of her body, narrating some of her beauties : 
here, " Love saith concerning her." This second part 
is divided into two ; for, in the first, I speak of certain 
beauties whiclrbelong to the whole person ; in the second, 
I speak of certain beauties which belong to a distinct 
part of the person : here, " Whatever her sweet eyes." 
This second part is divided into two ; for, in the one, 
I speak of the eyes, which are the beginning of love ; 
in the second, I speak of the mouth, which is the end Oj 
love. And, that every vicious thought may be discarded 
herefrom, let the reader remember that it is above written 
that the greeting of this lady, which was an act of her 
mouth, was the goal of my desires, while I could receive it. 
Then, when I say, " Dear Song, I know," I add a stanza 
as it were handmaid to the others, wherein I say what I 
desire from this my poem. And because this last part is 
easy to understand, I trouble not myself with more divi- 
sions. I say, indeed, that the further to open the meaning 
of this poem, more minute divisions ought to be used ; but 
nevertheless he who is not of wit enough to understand it by 
these which have been already made is welcome to leave it 

stare : cU certo to temo (P avere a troppi comuntcato il suo 
intendimento, pur per queste divtsioni che fatte sono, j' egli 
avvenhse che molti la potessero udire. 

Appresso che questa canzone fu alquanto divol- 
gata fra le genti, conciofossecosa che alcuno amico 
1' udisse, volonta lo mosse a pregarmi ch' io gli 
dovessi dire che h Amore, avendo forse, per le udite 
parole, speranza di me oltre che degna. Ond* io 
pensando che, appresso di cotal trattato, bello 
era trattare alcuna cosa d' Amore, e pensando che 
P amico era da servire, proposi di dire parole, 
nelle quali trattassi d' Amore ; e dissi allora questo 
sonetto : 

Amore e '1 cor gentil sono una cosa. 
Si com' il saggio in suo dittato pone ; 
E cosi esser 1' un senza 1' altro osa, 
Com' alma razional senza ragione. 

Fagli natura, quando h. amorosa. 

Amor per sire, e '1 cor per sua magione, 
Dentro alio qual dormendo si riposa 

alone ; for certes I fear I have communicated its sense to 
too many by these present divisions, if it so happened thai 
many should hear it. 


When this song was a little gone abroad, a certain 
one of my friends, hearing the same, was pleased to 
question me, that I should tell him what thing love 
is ; it may be, conceiving from the words thus heard 
a hope of me beyond my desert. Wherefore I, 
thinking that after such discourse it were well to say 
somewhat of the nature of Love, and also in accord- 
ance with my friend's desire, proposed to myself to 
write certain words in the which I should treat of this 
argument. And the sonnet that I then made is this : 

Love and the gentle heart are one same thing, 
Even as the wise man in his ditty saith. 
Each, of itself, would be such life in death 
As rational soul bereft of reasoning. 

'Tis Nature makes them when she loves : a king 
Love is, whose palace where he sojourneth 
Is caird the Heart ; there draws he quiet breath 

Tal volta brieve, e tal lunga stagione. 

Beltate appare in saggia donna pui, 

Che piace agli occhi si, che dentro al core 
Nasce un desio della cosa piacente : 

E tanto dura talora in costui, 

Che fa svegliar lo spirit© d' amore : 
E simil face in donna uomo valente. 

Questo sonetto si divide in due parti. Nelia prima 
dico di lui in quanta i in potenza ; nelia seconda dico 
di lui in quanta di potenza si riduce in atto. La 
seconda comincia quivi : ^^ Beltate appare."*^ La prima 
si divide in due: nelia prima dico in che soggetto 
sia questa potenza; nelia seconda dico come questo 
soggetto e questa potenza sieno prodotti insieme, e 
come V uno guarda P altro, come forma materia. La 
seconda comincia quivi: ^^ Fagli natura.^* Poi quando 
dico: ^^ Beltate appare,^ dico come questa potenza si 
riduce in atto; e prima come si riduce in uomoy poi 
come si riduce in donna, quivi: *^ E simil face in 

Poi che trattai d' Amore nelia sopradetta rima, venne- 

At first, with brief or longer slumbering. 
Then beauty seen in virtuous womankind 

Will make the eyes desire, and through the heart 

Send the desiring of the eyes again ; 
Where often it abides so long enshrined 

That Love at length out of his sleep will start. 

And women feel the same for worthy men. 

This sonnet is divided into two parts. In the first, I 
speak of him according to his power. In the second, 1 
speak of him according as his power translates itself into 
act. The second part begins here, " Then beauty seen.** 
The first is divided into two. In the first, I say in what 
subject this power exists. In the second, I say how this 
subject and this power are produced together, and how the 
one regards the other, as form does matter. The secona 
begins here, " *Tis Nature." Afterwards when I say, 
" Then beauty seen in virtuous womankind,** I say how this 
power translates itself into act ; and, first, how it so trans- 
lates itself in a man, then how it so translates itself in a 
woman : here, " And women feel** 

Having treated of love in the foregoing, it appeared 

mi volonti di dire anche in lode di questa gentilis- 
sima parole, per le quali io mostrassi come si sveglia 
per lei quest' amore, e come non solamente lo sveglia 
la ove dorme, ma U ove non e in potenza, ella 
mirabilmente operando lo fa venire. E dissi allora 
questo sonetto : 

Negli occhi porta la mia donna Am ore ; 

Per che si fa gentil ci6 ch' ella mira : 

Ov* ella passa, ogni uom v^r lei si gira, 

E cui saluta fa tremar lo core. 
Si che, bassando il viso, tutto smuore, 

E d' ogni suo difetto allor sospira : 

Fuggon dinanzi a lei superbia ed ira : 

Aiutatemi, donne, a farle onore. 
Ogni dolcezza, ogni pensiero umile 

Nasce nel core a chi parlar la sente ; 

Ond' ^ beato chi prima la vide. 
Quel ch' ella p ar quand' un po co sorride, 

Non si pu6 dicer, ne tener a mente, 

Si h nuovo miracolo gentile. 

Questo sonetto ha tre parti. Nella prima dico si come 

questa donna riduce in atto questa potenza, secondo la nobilis- 

sima parte degli occhi suoi ; e nella terza dico questo medesimo 

secondo la nobilissima parte della sua bocca. E intra queste 



to me that I should also say something in praise of 
my lady, wherein it might be set forth how love 
manifested itself when produced by her ; and how 
not only she could awaken it where it slept, but 
where it was not she could marvellously create it. To 
the which end I wrote another sonnet ; and it is this : 

My lady carries love within her eyes ; 

All that she looks on is made pleasanter ; 

Upon her path men turn to gaze at her ; 

He whom she greeteth feels his heart to rise, 
And droops his troubled visage, full of sighs. 

And of his evil heart is then aware : 

Hate loves, and pride becomes a worshipper. 

O women, help to praise her in somewise. 
Humbleness, and the hope that hopeth well, 

By speech of hers into the mind are brought. 

And who beholds is blessed oftenwhiles. 
The look she hath when she a little smiles 

Cannot be said, nor holden in the thought ; 

'Tis such a new and gracious miracle. 

This sonnet has three sections. In the ^rst, I say how 

this lady brings this power into action by those most noble 

features^ her eyes ; and, in the third, I say this same as to 

that most noble feature, her mouth. And between these 


due parti ha una particella, ch* k quasi domandatrice 
d* aiuto alia precedente parte ed alia seguente, e comincia 
quivi : '•^ Aiutatemiy donne.^'' La terza comincia quivi : 
" O^i dolcezz^y La prima si divide in tre ; che 
nella prima dico, come virtuosamente fa gentile c ih clC 
ellaj:£dLj e questo i tanto a dire, quanta adducere Amore 
in poten%a la ove non i. Nella seconda dico, come 
riduce in atto Amore ne* cuori di tutti coloro cui vede. 
Nella terza dico quello che pot virtuosamente adopera n^ 
lor cuori. La seconda comincia : " Ov* ella passa ; " la 
terLa : " E cui saluta." Quando poscia dico : " Aiuta- 
temi, donne" do ad intendere a cui la mia itttenzione i di 
parlare, chiamando le donne che m' aiutino ad onorare 
costei. Poi quando dico : " Ogni dolcezza,^ dico quel 
medesimo cV e detto nella prima parte, secondo due atti 
della sua hocca ; uno de^ quali k il suo dolcissimo parlare, e 
V altro lo suo mirabile riso ; salvo che non dico di questo 
ultimo come adoperi ne* cuori altrui, percU la memoria non 
puote ritener hi, nh sue operazioni. 


Appresso ci6 non molti dl passati (si come piacque 
al glorioso Sire, lo quale non neg6 la morte a s^), 
colui ch* era stato genitore di tanta meraviglia, quanta 


two sections is a little section, which asks, as it were, help 
for the previous section and the subsequent ; and it begins 
here, " O women, help,^^ The third begins here, " Hum- 
bleness" T^he first is divided into three ; for, in the first, 
I say how she with power makes noble that zvhich she looks 
upon ; and this is as much as to say that she brings Love, 
in power, thither where he is not. In the second, I say 
how she brings Love, in act, into the hearts of all those 
whom she sees. In the third, I tell what she afterwards, 
with virtue, operates upon their hearts. The second 
begins, " Upon her path ; " the third, " He whom she 
greetethP Then, when I say, " O women, help," I in- 
timate to whom it is my intention to speak, calling on women 
to help me to honour her. Then, when I say, " Humble- 
ness," I say that same which is said in the first part, 
regarding two acts of her mouth, one whereof is her most 
sweet speech, and the other her marvellous smile. Only, I 
say not of this last how it operates upon the hearts of others, 
because memory cannot retain this smile, nor its operation. 

Not many days after this, (it being the will of the 
most High God, who also from Himself put not 
away death,) the father of wonderful Beatrice, going 

si vedeva ch' era quella nobilissima Beatrice, di questa 
vita uscendo se ne gio alia gloria eternale veracemente. 
Onde, conciossia che cotale partire sia doloroso a coloro 
che rimangono, e sono stati amici di colui che se ne 
va ; e nulla sia cosi intima amista, come quella da buon 
padre a buon figliuolo, e da buon figliuolo a buon padre ; 
e questa donna fosse in altissimo grado di bontade, e 
lo suo padre (si come da molti si crede, e vero h) fosse 
buono in alto grado ; manifesto ^, che questa donna fu 
amarissimamente piena di dolore. E conciossiacosa che, 
secondo 1' usanza della sopradetta cittade, donne con 
donne, e uomini con uomini si adunino a cotale tristizia, 
molte donne s' adunaro coU, ove questa Beatrice piangea 
pietosamente : ond' io veggendo ritornare alquante 
donne da lei, udii lor dire parole di questa gentilissima 
com' ella si lamentava. Tra le quali parole udii come 
dicevano : " Certo ella piange si che qual la mirasse 
dovrebbe morire di pietade." Allora trapassarono 
queste donne ; ed io rimasi in tanta tristizia, che 
alcuna lagrima talor bagnava h mia faccia, ond' io mi 
ricopria con pormi spesse volte le mani agli occhi. 
E se non fosse ch' io attendea anche udire di lei 
(pero che io era in luogo onde ne giano la maggior 
parte delle donne che da lei si partiano), io men sarei 
nascoso incontanente che le lagrime m' aveano assalito. 

out of this life, passed certainly into glory. Thereby 
it happened, as of very sooth it might not be other- 
wise, that this lady was made full of the bitterness of 
grief: seeing that such a parting is very grievous 
unto those friends who are left, and that no other 
friendship is like to that between a good parent 
and a good child ; and furthermore considering that 
this lady was good in the supreme degree, and her 
father (as by many it hath been truly averred) of 
exceeding goodness. And because it is the usage 
of that city that men meet with men in such 
a grief, and women with women, certain ladies 
of her companionship gathered themselves unto 
Beatrice, where she kept alone in her weeping : 
and as they passed in and out, I could hear 
them speak concerning her, how she wept. At 
length two of them went by me, who said : 
" Certainly she grieveth in such sort that one 
might die for pity, beholding her." Then, 
feeling the tears upon my face, I put up my 
hands to hide them : and had it not been 
that I hoped to hear more concerning her, 
(seeing that where I sat, her friends passed con- 
tinually in and out,) I should assuredly have gone 
thence to be alone, when I felt the tears come. 

E per6 dimorando ancora nel medesimo luogo, donne 
anche passaro presso di me, le quali andavano ragio- 
nando e dicendo tra loro queste parole : " Chi dee mai 
esser lieta di noi, che avemo udito parlare questa donna 
cosl pietosamente ? " Appresso costoro passarono altre, 
che veniano dicendo : " Questi che quivi ^ piange n^ 
pii n^ meno come se 1' avesse veduta, come noi avemo." 
Altre poi diceano di me : " Vedi questo che non pare 
desso ; tal e divenuto." E cosi passando queste donne, 
udii parole di lei e di me in questo modo che detto h. 
Ond' io poi pensando, proposi di dire parole, acci6 che 
degnamente avea cagione di dire, nelle quali io con- 
chiudessi tutto ci6 che udito avea da queste donne. E 
per6 che volentieri le avrei domandate, se non mi fosse 
stata riprensione, presi materia di dire, come se io le 
avessi domandate, ed elle m' avessero risposto. E feci 
due sonetti ; che nel primo domando in quel modo che 
voglia mi giunse di domandare ; nell' altro dico la loro 
risposta, pigliando ci6 ch' io udii da loro, si come Io 
m' avessero detto rispondendo. E cominciai il primo : 
" Voi, che portate ; " il second© : " Se' tu colui." 

Voi, che portate la sembianza umile, 
Cogli occhi bassi mostrando dolore, 
Onde venite, che '1 vostro colore 


But as I still sat in that place, certain ladies again 
passed near me, who were saying among themselves : 
"Which of us shall be joyful any more, who have 
listened to this lady in her piteous sorrow ? " And 
there were others who said as they went by me : " He 
that sitteth here could not weep more if he had beheld 
her as we have beheld her ; " and again : " He is so 
altered that he seemeth not as himself." And still as the 
ladies passed to and fro, I could hear them speak after 
this fashion of her and of me. Wherefore afterwards, 
having considered and perceiving that there was 
herein matter for poesy, I resolved that I would write 
certain rhymes in the which should be contained all that 
those ladies had said. And because I would willingly 
have spoken to them if it had not been for discreetness, 
I made in my rhymes as though I had spoken and they 
had answered me. And therefore I wrote two sonnets ; 
in the first of which I addressed them as I would fain 
have done ; and in the second related their answer, using 
the speech that I had heard from them, as though it had 
been spoken unto myself. And the sonnets are these : 

You that thus wear a modest countenance 

With lids weigh'd down by the heart's heaviness, 
Whence come you, that among you every face 
7 97 

Par divenuto di pietd simile ? 

Vedeste voi nostra donna gentile 
Bagnata il viso di pianto d' amore ? 
Ditelmi, donne, ch^ mel dice il core, 
Perch' io vi veggio andar senz' atto vile. 

E se venite da tanta pietate, 

Piacciavi di restar qui meco alquanto, 
E che che sia di lei, nol mi celate : 

Ch' io veggio gli bcchi vostri c' hanno pianto, 
E veggiovi venir si sfigurate, 
Che '1 cor mi trema di vedeme tanto. 

Questo sonetto si divide in due parti. Nella prima 
chiamo e dimando queste donne se vengono da lei, dicendo 
loro ch^ io il credo, perchi tomano quasi ingentilite. Nella 
seconda le pregp che mi dicano di lei ; e la seconda com- 
incia quivi : " E se venite^ 

Se* tu colui, c' hai trattato sovente 

Di nostra donna, sol parlando a nui ? 

Tu rassomigli alia voce ben lui, 

Ma la figura ne par d* altra gente. 
E perch^ piangi tu si coralmente, 

Che fai di te pieti venir altrui ? 

Vedestu pianger lei, ch^ tu non pui 

Punto celar la dolorosa mente ? 

Appears the same, for its pale troubled glance ? 

Have you beheld my lady's face, perchance, 

Bow'd with the grief that Love makes full of grace ? 
Say now, " This thing is thus ; " as my heart says, 
Marking your grave and sorrowful advance. 

And if indeed you come from where she sighs 

And mourns, may it please you (for his heart's relief) 
To tell how it fares with her unto him 

Who knows that you have wept, seeing your eyes, 
And is so grieved with looking on your grief 
That his heart trembles and his sight grows dim. 

This sonnet is divided into two parts. In the first, I 
call and ask these ladies whether they come from her, 
telling them that I think they do, because they return the 
nobler. In the second, I pray them to tell me of her : 
and the second he^ns here, " And if indeed.^"* 

Canst thou indeed be he that still would sing 
Of our dear lady unto none but us ? 
For though thy voice confirms that it is thus, 
Thy visage might another witness bring. 

And wherefore is thy grief so sore a thing 
That grieving thou mak'st others dolorous ? 
Hast thou too seen her weep, that thou from us 
Canst not conceal thine inward sorrowing ? 

Lascia piangere a noi, e triste andare ; 

E' fa peccato chi mai ne conforta, 

Ch^ nel suo pianto 1* udimmo parlare. 
Ella ha nel viso la pieta si scorta, 

Che qual V avesse voluta mirare, 

Saria dinanzi a lei caduta morta. 

Questo sonetto ha quattro parti, secondo che quattro modi 
di parlare ebbero in loro le donne per cut rispondo. E 
perb che di sopra sono assai manifesti, non mi trametto di 
narrare la sentenzia delle parti, e perb le distinguo sola- 
mente. La seconda comincia quivi : " E perchi piangi 
tu ; " la terza : " Lascia piangere a noi ; " la quarta : 
'' Ella ha nel visor 

Appresso ci6 pochi di, awenne che in alcuna parte 
della mia persona mi giunse una dolorosa infermitade, 
ond* io sofFersi per molti di amarissima pena ; la quale mi 
condusse a tanta debolezza, che mi convenia stare come 
coloro, i quali non si possono movere. Io dico che nel 
nono giorno sentendomi dolore intollerabile, giunsemi 
un pensiero,il quale era della mia donna. E quando ebbi 

Nay, leave our woe to us : let us alone : 

'Tv/ere sin if one should strive to soothe our woe, 
For in her weeping we have^^heard her speak : 

Also her look 's so full of her heart's moan 

That they who should behold her, looking so, 
Must fall aswoon, feeling all life grow weak. 

This sonnet has four parts, as the ladies in whose person 
I reply had four forms of answer. And, because these 
are sufficiently shown above, I stay not to explain the 
purport of the parts, and therefore I only discriminate 
them. The second begins here, '■^ And wherefore is thy 
grief; " the third here, " Islay, leave our woe ; " the 
fourth, ''Also her lookr 


A few days after this, my body became afflicted 
with a painful infirmity, whereby I suffered bitter 
anguish for many days, which at last brought me 
unto such weakness that I could no longer move. 
And I remember that on the ninth d ay, being over- 
come with intolerable pain, a thought came into my 
mind concerning my lady : but when it had a little 


pensato alquanto di lei, io ritornai pensando alia 
mia debilitata vita, e veggendo come leggero era 
Io suo durare, ancora che sana fosse, cominciai a 
piangere fra me stesso di tanta miseria. Onde 
sospirando forte, fra me medesimo dicea : " Di 
necessity conviene, che la gentilissima Beatrice 
alcuna volta si muoia." E per6 mi giunse uno 
si forte smarrimento, ch' io chiusi gli occhi e 
cominciai a travagliare come farnetica persona, 
ed immaginare in questo modo : che nel comin- 
ciamento dell' errare che fece la mia fantasia, 
apparvero a me certi visi di donne scapigliate, 
che mi diceano : " Tu pur morrai." E dopo 
queste donne, m' apparvero certi visi diversi 
ed orribili a vedere, i quali mi diceano : 
"Tu se' morto." Cosl cominciando ad errare 
la mia fantasia, venni a quello, che non 
sapea dove io fossi ; e veder mi parea donne 
andare scapigliate piangendo per via, maravigliosa- 
mente tristi ; e pareami vedere il sole oscurare si, 
che le stelle si mostravano d* un colore, che mi 
facea giudicare che piangessero : e parevami 
che gli uccelli volando cadessero morti, e che 
fossero grandissimi terremoti. E maravigliandomi 
in cotale fantasia, e paventando assai, imaginai 


nourished this thought, my mind returned to its 
brooding over mine enfeebled body. And then 
perceiving how frail a thing life is, even though 
health keep with it, the matter seemed to me so 
pitiful that I could not choose but weep ; and weep- 
ing I said within myself : " Certainly it must some 
time come to pass that the very gentle Beatrice will 
die." Then, feeling bewildered, I closed mine eyes ; 
and my brain began to be in travail as the brain ot 
one frantic, and to have such imaginations as here 
follow. And at the first, it seemed to me that I saw 
certain faces of women with their hair loosened, 
which called out to me, "Thou shalt surely die;" 
after the which, other terrible and unknown appear- 
ances said unto me, "Thou art dead." At length, 
as my phantasy held on in its wanderings, I came 
to be I knew not where, and to behold a throng of 
dishevelled ladies wonderfully sad, who kept going 
hither and thither weeping. Then the sun went 
out, so that the stars showed themselves, and they 
were of such a colour that I knew they must be 
weeping : and it seemed to me that the birds fell 
dead out of the sky, and that there were great earth- 
quakes. With that, while I wondered in my trance, 
and was filled with a grievous fear, I conceived that 

alcuno amico, che mi venisse a dire: "Or non 
sai ? la tua mirabile donna ^ partita di questo 
secolo." Allora incominciai a piangere molto pietosa- 
mente ; e non solamente piangea nella imagin- 
azione, ma piangea con gli occhi bagnandoli di 
vere lagrime. lo imaginava di guardare verso il 
cielo, e pareami vedere moltitudine di angeli, i 
quali tornassero in suso ed avessero dinanzi loro una 
nebuletta bianchissima : e pareami che questi angeli 
cantassero gloriosamente ; e le parole del loro canto 
mi parea che fossero queste : " Osanna in excehis ; " 
ed altro non mi parea udire. Allora mi parea 
che il cuore, ov* era tanto amore, mi dicesse : 
"Vero h. che morta giace la nostra donna." E 
per questo mi parea andare per vedere lo corpo, nel 
quale era stata quella nobilissima e beata anima. 
E fu si forte la errante fantasia, che mi mostr6 
questa donna morta : e pareami che donne le 
coprissero la testa con un bianco velo : e pareami 
che la sua faccia avesse tanto aspetto d' umiltade, 
che parea che dicesse : " lo sono a vedere lo prin- 
cipio della pace." In questa imaginazione mi giunse 
tanta umiltade per veder lei, che io chiamava la 
Morte, e dicea : " Dolcissima Morte, vieni a me, e 
non m' esser villana ; pero che tu dei esser gentile, 

a certain friend came unto me and said : " Hast thou 
not heard ? She^ t hat was_ iiung_excellent lady hath 
been ^taken out of life ." Then I began toweep very 
piteou sly ; and not only in mine imagination, but 
with mine eyes, which were wet with tears. And I 
seemed to look towards Heaven, and to behold a 
multitude of angels who were returning upwards, 
having before them an exceedingly white cloud : 
and these angels were singing together gloriously, 
and the words of their song were these : " Hosanna 
in the highest : " and there was no more that I heard. 
Then my heart that was so full of love said unto 
me : "It is true that our lady lieth dead :" and it 
seemed to me that I went to look upon the body 
wherein that blessed and most noble spirit had had 
its abiding - place. And so strong was this idle 
imagining, that it made me to behold my lady in 
death ; whose head certain ladies seemed to be 
covering with a white veil ; and who was so humble 
of her aspect that it was as though she had said, 
" I have attained to look on the beginning of peace." 
And therewithal I cams unto such humility by the 
light of her, that I cried out upon Death, saying : 
" Now come unto me, and be not bitter against me 
any longer : surely, there where thou hast been, 

in tal parte se' stata ! or vieni a me che molto 
ti desidero : tu vedi ch' io porto gik lo tuo 
colore." E quando io avea veduto compiere tutti 
i dolorosi mestieri, che alle corpora de' morti s* 
usano di fare, mi parea tornare nella mia camera, 
e quivi mi parea guardare verso il cielo : e si 
forte era la mia imaginazione, che, piangendo, 
cominciai a dire con vera voce : " O anima bellis- 
sima, com' h beato colui che ti vede ! " E dicendo 
queste parole con doloroso singulto di pianto, e 
chiamando la Morte che venisse a me, -una donna 
giovane e gentile, la quale era lungo il mio letto, 
credendo che il mio piangere e le mie parole 
fossero lamento per lo dolore della mia infermit^, 
con grande paura cominci6 a piangere. Onde 
altre donne, che per la camera erano, s' accorsero 
di me che io piangeva per lo pianto che vedeano 
fare a questa: onde facendo lei partire da me, la 
quale era meco di propinquissima sanguinita con- 
giunta, elle si trassero verso me per isvegliarmi, 
credendo che io sognassi, e diceanmi : '* Non 
dormir piu, e non ti sconfortare." E parlandomi 
cosi, allora cess6 la forte fantasia entro quel 
punto ch' io volea dire : " O Beatrice ! benedetta 
sii tu." E gia detto avea: "O Beatrice!" quando 
1 06 

thou hast learned gentleness. Wherefore come now 
unto me who do greatly desire thee : seest thou not 
that I wear thy colour already ? " And when I had 
seen all those offices performed that are fitting to be 
done unto the dead, it seemed to me that I went 
back unto mine own chamber, and looked up towards 
heaven. And so strong was my phantasy, that 1 
wept again in very truth, and said with my true 
voice : " O excellent soul ! how blessed is that that 
now looketh upon thee ! " And as I said these words, 
with a painful anguish of sobbing and another prayer 
unto Death, a young and gentle lady, who had been 
standing beside me where I lay, conceiving that I wept 
and cried out because of the pain of mine infirmity, was 
taken with trembling and began to shed tears. Where- 
by other ladies, who were about the room, becoming 
aware of my discomfort by reason of the moan that 
she made, (who indeed was of my very near kindred,) 
led her away from where I was, and then set them- 
selves to awaken me, thinking that I dreamed, and 
saying : " Sleep no longer, and be not disquieted." 
Then, by their words, this strong imagination was 
brought suddenly to an end, at the moment that I 
was about to say, " O Beatrice ! peace be with thee ! " 
And already I had said, " O Beatrice ! " when being 

riscuotendomi apersi gli occhi, e vidi ch' io era in- 
gannato ; e con tutto ch' io chiamassi questo nome, 
la mia voce era si rotta dal singulto del piangere, 
che queste donne non mi poterono intendere. Ed 
avvegna che io mi vergognassi molto, tuttavia per 
alcuno ammonimento d' amore mi rivolsi loro. E 
quando mi videro, cominciaro a dire : " Questi 
par morto " ; e a dir fra loro : " Procuriam di 
confortarlo." Onde molte parole mi diceano da 
confortarmi, e talora mi domandavano di che io 
avessi avuto paura. Ond* io, essendo alquanto ricon- 
fortato, e conosciuto Io fallace imaginare, risposi 
loro : " Io vi dir6 quello c' ho avuto." Allora 
cominciandomi dal principio, fino alia fine dissi 
loro cio che veduto avea, tacendo il nome di 
questa gentilissima. Onde io poi, sanato di 
questa infermit^, proposi di dir parole di questo 
che m* era avvenuto, per6 che mi parea che fosse 
amorosa cosa a udire ; e si ne dissi questa 
canzone : 

Donna pietosa e di novella etate, 
Adorna assai di gentilezze umane, 
Era la ov' io chiamava spesso Morte. 
Veggendo gli occhi mei pien di pietate, 

aroused, I opened mine eyes, and knew that it had 
been a deception. But albeit I had indeed uttered 
her name, yet my voice was so broken with sobs, 
that it was not understood by these ladies ; so that 
in spite of the sore shame that I felt, I turned 
towards them by Love's counselling. And when 
they beheld me, they began to say, " He seemeth as 
one dead," and to whisper among themselves, " Let 
us strive if we may not comfort him." Whereupon 
they spake to me many soothing words, and questioned 
me moreover touching the cause of my fear. Then 
I, being somewhat reassured, and having perceived 
that it was a mere phantasy, said unto them, " This 
thing it was that made me afeard ; " and told them 
of all that I had seen, from the beginning even unto 
the end, but without once speaking the name of my 
lady. Also, after I had recovered from my sickness, 
I bethought me to write these things in rhyme ; 
deeming it a lovely thing to be known. Whereof I 
wrote this poem : 

A very pitiful lady, very young, 

Exceeding rich in human sympathies. 
Stood by, what time I clamour'd upon Death ; 
And at the wild words wandering on my tongue 

Ed ascoltando le parole vane, 

Si mosse con paura a pianger forte ; 

Ed altre donne, che si furo accorte 

Di me per quella che meco piangia, 

Fecer lei partir via, 

Ed appressarsi per farmi sentire. 

Qual dicea : " Non dormire ; " 

E qual dicea : " Perch^ si ti sconforte ? " 

Allor lasciai la nova fantasia, 

Chiamando il nome della donna mia. 

Era la voce mia si dolorosa, 

E rotta si dalP angoscia e dal pianto, 

Ch' io solo intesi il nome nel mio core ; 

E con tutta la vista vergognosa, 

Ch' era nel viso mio giunta cotanto, 

Mi fece verso lor volgere Amore. 

Egli era tale a veder mio colore, 

Che facea ragionar di morte altrui : 

" Deh confortiam costui," 

Pregava P una P altra umilemente ; 

E dicevan sovente : 

" Che vedestu, che tu non hai valore ? " 

E quando un poco confortato fui, 

Io dissi : " Donne, dicerollo a vui. 

And at the piteous look within mine eyes 

She was affrighted, that sobs choked her breath. 

So by her weeping where I lay beneath, 

Some other gentle ladies came to know 

My state, and made her go : 

Afterward, bending themselves over me, 

One said, " Awaken thee ! " 

And one, ** What thing thy sleep disquieteth r " 

With that, my soul woke up from its eclipse, 

The while my lady's name rose to my lips : 

But utter'd in a voice so sob-broken, 
So feeble with the agony of tears. 
That I alone might hear it in my heart ; 
And though that look was on my visage then 
Which he who is ashamed so plainly wears. 
Love made that I through shame held not apart, 
But gazed upon them. And my hue was such 
That they look'd at each other and thought of death ; 
Saying under their breath 
Most tenderly, " Oh, let us comfort him : " 
Then unto me : " What dream 
Was thine, that it hath shaken thee so much r " 
And when I was a little comforted, 
" This, ladies, was the dream I dreamt," I said. 

" Mentre io pensava la mia frale vita, 
E vedea *1 suo durar com* ^ leggiero, 
Piansemi Amor nel core, ove dimora ; 
Per che V anima mia fu si smarrita, 
Che sospirando dicea nel pensiero : 
* Ben converra che la mia donna mora.' 
Io presi tanto smarrimento allora, 
Ch' io chiusi gli occhi vilmente gravati ; 
Ed eran si smagati 

Gli spirti miei, che ciascun giva errando. 
E poscia immaginando, 
Di conoscenza e di verita fuora, 
Visi di donne m* apparver crucciati, 
Che mi dicean : * Morra'ti pur, morra*ti.* 

" Poi vidi cose dubitose molte 

Nel vano immaginare, ov' io entrai ; 
Ed esser mi parea non so in qual loco, 
E veder donne andar per via disciolte, 
Qual lagrimando, e qual traendo guai, 
Che di tristizia saettavan foco. 
Poi mi parve vedere a poco a poco 
Turbar Io sole ed apparir la stella, 
E pianger egli ed ella ; 

*' I was a-thinking how life fails with us 
Suddenly after such a little while ; 
When Love sobb'd in my heart, which is his home. 
Whereby my spirit wax'd so dolorous 
That in myself I said, with sick recoil : 
* Yea, to my lady too this Death must come.* 
And therewithal such a bewilderment 
Possess'd me, that I shut mine eyes for peace ; 
And in my brain did cease 
Order of thought, and every healthful thing. 
Afterwards, wandering 

Amid a swarm of doubts that came and went, 
Some certain women's faces hurried by. 
And shriek'd to me, *■ Thou too shalt die, shalt die 1 ' 

" Then saw I many broken hinted sights 
In the uncertain state I stepp'd into. 
Meseem'd to be I know not in what place. 
Where ladies through the street, like mournful 

Ran with loose hair, and eyes that frighten'd you 
By their own terror, and a pale amaze : 
The while, little by little, as I thought. 
The sun ceased, and the stars began to gather. 
And each wept at the other ; 
8 113 

Cader gli augelli volando per 1* a're, 
E la terra tremare ; 
Ed uom m' apparve scolorito e fioco, 
Dicendomi ; * Che fai ? non sai novella ? 
Morta h la donna tua, ch' era si bella.' 

" Levava gli occhi miei bagnati in pianti, 
E vedea (che parean pioggia di manna) 
Gli angeli che tornavan suso in cielo ; 
Ed una nuvoletta avean davanti, 
Dopo la qual cantavan tutti : * Osanna ; * 
E s' altro avesser detto, a voi dire'lo. 
Allor diceva Amor : * Piu non ti celo ; 
Vieni a veder nostra donna che giace.' 
L'immaginar fallace 

Mi condusse a veder mia donna morta ; 
E quando T ebbi scorta, 
Vedea che donne la covrian d' un velo ; 
Ed avea seco umilt^ si verace, 
Che parea che dicesse : * lo sono in pace.* 

** lo diveniva nel dolor si umile, 

Veggendo in lei tanta umilti formata, 

And birds dropp'd in mid-flight out of the sky 
And earth shook suddenly; 
And I was Vare of one, hoarse and tired out, 
Who ask'd of me : * Hast thou not heard it 

said ? . . . 
Thy lady, she that was so fair, is dead/ 

" Then lifting up mine eyes, as the tears came, 
I saw the Angels, like a rain of manna. 
In a long flight flying back heavenward ; 
Having a little cloud in front of them. 
After the which they went and said, * Hosanna ! ' 
And if they had said more, you should have heard. 
^ Then Love spoke thus : * Now all shall be made 
clear : 
Come and behold our lady where she lies.*^ 
These idle phantasies 
Then carried me to see my lady dead : 
And standing at her head 
Her ladies put a white veil over her ; 
And with her was such very humbleness 
That she appeared to say, * I am at peace.* 

" And I became so humble in my grief, 
Seeing in her such deep humility, 

Ch' io dicea : * Morte, assai ^.dolce ti teg no ; 

Tuj3i^Lsili m essST'cbsa gentile. 

PpLdiejiLSfeVRfJl ^ mla do ima.^ta, 

E d^i aver pietate, e non disdegno. 

Vedi che si desideroso vegno 

D' esser de' tuoi, ch' io ti somiglio in fede. 

Vieni, ch^ '1 cor ti chiede.' 

Poi mi partia, consumato ogni duolo ; 

E quando io era solo, 

Dicea, guardando verso 1' alto regno : 

* Beato, anima bella, chi ti vede ! ' 

Voi mi chiamaste allor, vostra mercede." 

Quesfa canzone ha due parti : nella prima dico, parlando 
a indiffinita persona, com* iofui levato d* una vana fantasia 
da certe donne, e come promisi loro di dirla; nella seconda 
dico, com' io dissi a loro. La seconda comincia quivi : 
^^ Mentr* io pensava."*^ La prima parte si divide in 
due: nella prima dico quello che certe donne, e che 
una sola, dissero e fecero j>er la mia fantasia, quanta 
i dinanzi cJi io fossi ttrnato in verace cognizione; 
nella seconda dico quello che queste donne mi dissero, 
poicK io lasciai questo farneticare; e comincia quivi : 
** Era la voce mia" Poscia quando dico: ^^ Mentr* io 

That I said : * Death, I hold thee passing good 
Henceforth, and a most gentle sweet relief. 
Since my dear love has chosen to dwell with thee : 
Pity, not hate, is thine, well understood. 
Lo ! I do so desire to see thy face 
That I am like as one who nears the tomb ; 
My soul entreats thee. Come.' 
Then I departed, having made my moan ; 
And when I was alone 
I said, and cast my eyes to the High Place : 
* Blessed is he, fair soul, who meets thy glance ! ' 
.... Just then you woke me, of your complai- 

This poem has two parts. In the €rst, speaking to a 
person undefined^ I tell how I was aroused from a vain 
phantasy by certain ladies, and how I promised them to tell 
what it was. In the second, I say how I told them. The 
second part begins here, ** / was a- thin king." The first 
part divides into two. In the first, I tell that which cer- 
tain ladies, and which one singly, did and said because of 
my phantasy, before I had returned into my right senses. 
In the second, I tell what these ladies said to me after I 
had left off this wandering : and it begins here, " But 
uttered in a voice." Then, when I say, " / was a- 

pensavay^ dico corn* to dissi loro questa mia imaginazione ; 
e intorno a cih fo due parti. Nella prima dico per ordine 
questa imaginazione ; nella seconda, dicendo a che ora mi 
chiamaroj le ringrazio chiusamente; e questa parte comincia 
quivi : " Voi mi chiamaste^ 

Appresso questa vana imaginazione, awenne 
un di, che sedendo io pensoso in alcuna parte, 
ed io mi sentii cominciare un tremito nel 
core, cosl come s' io fossi stato presente a 
questa donna. Allora dico che mi giunse 
una imaginazione d* Amore : che mi parve 
vederlo venire da quella parte ove la mia donna 
stava ; e pareami che lietamente mi dicesse nel 
cor mio: "Pensa di benedire Io di ch* io ti 
presi, pero che tu Io d^i fare." E certo mi 
parea avere Io core cosl lieto, che mi parea 
che non fosse Io core mio, per la sua nova 
condizione. E poco dopo queste parole, che 'I 
core mi disse con la lingua d* Amore, io vidi 
venire verso me una gentil donna, la quale 
era di famosa beltade, e fu g\i molto donna 

thinking" I say how I told them this my imagination ; and 
concerning this I have two parts. In the firsty I telly in 
order, this imagination. In the second, saying at what 
time they called me, 1 covertly thank them : and this part 
begins here, " Just then you woke me." 


After this empty imagining, it happened on a day, 
as I sat thoughtful, that I was taken with such a 
strong trembling at the heart, that it could not have 
been otherwise in the presence of my lady. Where- 
upon I perceived that there wp an appearance of 
Love beside 1ne,~and I seemed to see him coming 
from my lady ; and he said, not aloud, but within 
my heart : " Now take heed that thou bless the 
day when I entered into thee ; for it is fitting that 
thou shouldst do so." And with that my heart was 
so full of gladness, that I could hardly believe it to 
be of very truth mine own heart and not another. 
A short while after these words which my heart 
spoke to me with the tongue of Love, I saw coming 
towards me a certain lady who was very famous for 
her beauty, and of whom that friend whom I have 

di questo mio primo amico. E lo nome 
di questa donna era Giovanna, salvo che 
per la sua beltade, secondo ch' altri crede, 
imposto r era nome Primavera : e cosl era 
chiamata. E appresso lei guardando, vidi venire 
la mirabile Beatrice. Queste donne andaro 
presso di me cosi V una appresso 1' altra, 
c parvemi che Amore mi parlasse nel core, 
e dicesse : " Quella prima h nominata Pri- 
mavera solo per questa venuta d' oggi ; ch^ 
io mossi lo impositore del nome a chiamarla 
Primavera, cio^ />nma verra, lo di che Beatrice 
si mostreri dopo 1' imaginazione del suo 
fedele. E se anco vuoli considerare lo primo 
nome suo, tanto h quanto dire Primavera, 
perch^ lo suo nome Giovanna e da quel 
Giovanni, lo quale precedette la verace 
luce, dicendo : * Ego vox clamantis in deserto : 
parate viam Domini.^ " Ed anche mi parve 
che mi dicesse, dopo queste, altre parole, 
cio^ : " Chi volesse sottilmente considerare, quella 
Beatrice chiamerebbe Amore, per molta simi- 
glianza che ha meco." Ond' io poi ri- 
pensando, proposi di scriverne per rima 

already called the first among my friends had long 
been enamoured. This lady's right name was Joan ; 
but because of her comeliness (or at least it was so 
imagined) she was called of many Primavera (Spring), 
and went by that name among them. Then looking 
again, I perceived that the most noble Beatrice followed 
after her. And when both these ladies Kad' passed hy 
me, it seemed to me that Love spake again in my 
heart, saying : " She that came first was called Spring, 
only because of that which was to happen on this day. 
And it was I myself who caused that name to be given 
her ; seeing that as the Spring cometh first in the year, 
so should she come first on this day, when Beatrice was 
to show herself after the vision of her servant. And 
even if thou go about to consider her right name, it is 
also as one should say, * She shall come first ;' inasmuch 
as her name, Joan, is taken from that John who went 
before the True Light, saying : * I am the voice of one 
crying in the wilderness : Prepare ye the way of the 
Lord.' " And also it seemed to me that he added 
other words, to wit : " He who should inquire 
deli cately touching this matter, could not but call 
Beatrice by mine own name, which is to say. Love ; 
beholding her~7o like unto me."- Then~T, having 
thought of this, imagined to write it with rhymes 

al primo mio amico (tacendomi certe parole le 
quali pareano da tacere), credendo io che ancora 
il suo cuore mirasse la belti di questa Primavera 
gentile. E dissi questo sonetto : 
Io mi sentii svegliar dentro alio core 
Uno spirto amoroso che dormia : 
E poi vidi venir da lungi Amore 
Allegro si, che appena il conoscia ; 
Dicendo : " Or pensa pur di farmi onore ; " 
E *n ciascuna parola sua ridia. 
E, poco stando meco il mio signore, 
Guardando in quella parte, onde venia, 
Io vidi monna Vanna e monna Bice 
Venire inver Io loco 14 ov' i' era, 
L' una appresso dell' altra meraviglia : 
E si come la mente mi ridice. 

Amor mi disse : " Questa e Primavera, 
E quella ha nome Amor, si mi somiglia." 
Questo sonetto ha molte parti: la prima delle quali 
dice, come io mi sentii svegliare Io tremore usato nel 
core, e come parve che Amore m* apparisse allegro 
da lunga parte; la seconda dice, come mi parve che 
Amore mi dicesse nel mio core, e quale mi parea; la 
terza dice come, poi che questo fu alquanto stato 
meco cotale, io vidi ed udii certe cose. La seconda parte 


and send it unto my chief friend ; but setting aside 
certain words which seemed proper to be set aside, 
because I believed that his heart still regarded the beauty 
of her that was called Spring. And I wrote this sonnet : 
I felt a spirit of love begin to stir 

Within my heart, long time unfelt till then ; 

And saw Love coming towards me, fair and fain, 

(That I scarce knew him for his joyful cheer,) 
Saying, " Be now indeed my worshipper ! " 

And in his speech he laugh'd and laugh'd again. 

Then, while it was his pleasure to remain, 

I chanced to look the way he had drawn near, 
And saw the Ladies Joan and Beatrice 

Approach me, this the other following. 

One and a second marvel instantly. 
And even as now my memory speaketh this. 

Love spake it then : "The first it christened Spring ; 

The second Love, she is so like to me." 

This sonnet has many parts : whereof the first tells hozv 
I felt awakened within my heart the accustomed tremor, 
and how it seemed that Love appeared to me joyful from 
afar. The second says how it appeared to me that Love 
spake within my heart, and what was his aspect. The 
third tells how, after he had in such wise been with me a 
space, I saw and heard certain things. The second part 

comincia qu'wi: ^^Dtcendo: ^ Or pensa pur ;^ " la terxa 
quiv't: ** E poco standoP La terxa parte si divide in 
due : nella prima dico quello ch? io vidi; nella seconda 
dico quello cK io udii; e comincia quivi: ''*■ Amor mi disse." 

Potrebbe qui dubitar persona degna dl dichiararle 
ogni dubitazione, e dubitar potrebbe di ci6 ch' io 
dico d' Amore, come se fosse una cosa per s^, e 
non solamente sostanza intelligente, ma come si 
come fosse sostanza corporale. La qual cosa, secondo 
verita, h. falsa ; ch^ Amore non h per sd si 
come sostanza, ma h un accidente in sostanza. E 
che io dica di lul come se fosse corpo, ed ancora 
come se fosse uomo, appare per tre cose che - io 
dico di lui. Dico che '1 vidi di lungi venire ; 
onde, conciossiacosa che venire dica moto locale 
(e localmente mobile per s^, secondo il filosofo, sia 
solamente corpo), appare che io ponga Amore 
essere corpo. Dico anche di lui che rideva, ed 
anche che parlava ; le quali cose paiono esser 
proprie dell' uomo, e specialmente esser risibile ; 

be^ns here, " Saying, * Be now ;* " the third here, " Then, 
while it was his pleasure. ''^ The third part divides into 
two. In the first, I say what I saw. In the second, I say 
what I heard : and it begins here, ^^Love spake it then.^^ 

It might be here objected unto me, (and even by 
one worthy of controversy,) that I have spoken o f 
Love as though it wer e a th ing outward and visi ble : 
not 6nly~ npi ritual essence, but as a bodily substance 
also. The which .thing, In absolute truth, is a f allacj^ j 
Love not being of itself a substance, but an accident 
of substance. Yet that I speak of Love as though it 
were a thing tangible and even human, appears by 
three things which I say thereof. And firstly, I say 
that I perceived Love coming towards me ; whereby, 
seeing that to come bespeaks locomotion, and seeing 
also how philosophy teacheth us that none but a cor- 
poreal substance hath locomotion, it seemeth that I 
speakjofJiDve as of a corporeal substance. And 
secondly, I say tKat Love smiled ; and thirdly, that 
Lo ve spa ke ; faculties (and especially the risible faculty) 

e per6 appare ch' io pongo lui esser 
uomo. A cotal cosa dichiarare, secondo ch* 
h buono al presente, prima e da intendere, 
che anticamente non erano dicitori d' Amore 
in lingua volgare, anzi erano dicitori d' Amore 
certi poeti in lingua latina : tra noi, dico, 
avvegna forse che tra altra gente addivenisse, 
e avvegna ancora che, si come in Grecia, 
non 'Volgari ma litterati poeti queste cose 
trattavano. E non h molto numero d' anni 
passato, che apparirono prima questi poeti vol- 
gari ; ch^ dire per rima in volgare tanto 
e quanto dire per versi in latino, secondo 
alcuna proporzione. E segno che sia picciol 
tempo h, che, se volemo cercare n lingua 
d' oco e in lingua di s), noi non troveremo 
cose dette anzi lo presente tempo per CL 
anni. E la cagione, per che alquanti grossi 
ebbero fama di saper dire, h che quasi 
furono i primi che dissero in lingua di /}. 
E lo primo che comincio a dire si come 
poeta volgare, si mosse per6 che voile 
fare intendere le sue parole a donna, alia 
quale era malagevole ad intendere i versi 
latini. E questo i contro a coloro, che rimano 

which appear proper unto man : whereby it further 
seemeth that I speak of Love as of a man. Now that 
this matter may be explained, (as is fitting,) it must 
first be remembered that anciently they who wrote 
poems of Love wrote not in the vulgar tongue, but 
rather certain poets in the Latin tongue. I mean, 
among us, although perchance the same may have 
been among others, and although likewise, as among 
the Greeks, they were not writers of spoken language, 
but men of letters, treated of these things. And 
indeed it is not a great number of years since poetry 
began to be made in the vulgar tongue ; the writing 
of rhymes in spoken language corresponding to the 
writing in metre of Latin verse, by a certain analogy. 
And I say that it is but a little while, because if we 
examine the language of oco and the language of si 
we shall not find in those tongues any written thing 
of an earlier date than the last hundred and fifty 
years. Also the reason why certain of a very mean 
sort obtained at the first some fame as poets is, that 
before them no man had written verses in the lan- 
guage of il : and of these, the first was moved to the 
writing of such verses by the wish to make himself 
understood of a certain lady, unto whom Latin poetry 
was difficult. This thing is against such as rhyme 

sopra altra materia che amorosa; conciossiacosa 
che cotal modo di parlare fosse dal principio 
trovato per dire d* Amore. Onde, conciossiacosa 
che a' poeti sia conceduta maggior licenza di 
parlare che alii prosaici dicitori, e questi 
dicitori per rima non sieno altro che poeti 
volgari, h degno e ragionevole, che a loro 
sia maggior licenza largita di parlare, che 
agli altri parlatori vo)gari : onde, se alcuna 
figura o colore rettorico e conceduto alii 
poeti, conceduto e a' rimatori. Dunque se 
noi vedemo che li poeti hanno parlato 
delle cose inanimate come se avessero senso 
e ragione, e fattole parlare insieme ; e non 
solamente cose vere, ma cose non vere 
(cio^ che detto hanno, di cose le quali 
non sono, che parlano, e detto che molti 
accidenti parlano, si come fossero sostanze 
ed uomini) ; degno h lo dicitore per rima 
fare lo simigliante, non senza ragione alcuna, 
ma con ragione, la quale poi sia possible 
d' aprire per prosa. Che li poeti abbiano 
cosi parlato, come detto e, appare per Vir- 
gilio ; il quale dice che Giuno, cio^ una 
dea nemica dei Troiani, parl6 ad Eolo 


concerning other matters than love ; that mode of 
speech having been first used for the expression of 
love alone. Wherefore seeing that poets have a 
licence allowed them that is not allowed unto the 
writers of prose, and seeing also that they who write 
in rhyme are simply poets in the vulgar tongue, it 
becomes fitting and reasonable that a larger licence 
should be given to these than to other modern 
writers ; and that any metaphor or rhetorical simili- 
tude which is permitted unto poets, should also be 
counted not unseemly in the rhymers of the vulgar 
tongue. Thus, if we perceive that the former have 
caused inanimate things to speak as though they 
had sense and reason, and to discourse one with 
another ; yea, and not only actual things, but such 
also as have no real existence, (seeing that they have 
made things which are not, to speak ; and often- 
times written of those which are merely accidents as 
though they were substances and things human ;) it 
should therefore be permitted to the latter to do the 
like ; which is to say, not inconsiderately, but with 
such sufficient motive as may afterwards be set forth in 
prose. That the Latin poets have done thus, appears 
through Virgil, where he saith that Juno (to wit, 
a goddess hostile to the Trojans) spake unto tEoIus, 
9 "9 

signore delli venti, quivi nel primo dell' EneUa: 
" ^ole, namque tibi " etc., e che questo signore 
rispose quivi : " TuuSy o regina, quid optes Ex- 
plorare labor; mih'i iussa capessere fas estP Per 
questo medesimo poeta park la cosa, che non 
h, animata, alia cosa animata nel terzo delP 
Eneida, quivi : " Dardanida duri " etc. Per 
Lucano parla la cosa animata alia cosa in- 
animata, quivi : " Multum, Roma, tamen debes 
cwilibus armis?^ Per Orazio parla T' uomo alia 
sua scienza medesima, si come ad altra persona ; 
e non solamente sono parole d' Orazio, ma 
dicele quasi medio del buono Omero, quivi 
nella sua Poetria : " Die mihi, Musa, virum " etc. 
Per Ovidio parla Amore, come se fosse persona 
umana, nel principio del libro che ha nome Rimedio 
df Amore, quivi : ^^ Bella mihi, video, bella paran- 
tur, ait.''^ E per questo puote essere manifesto 
a chi dubita in alcuna parte di questo mio 
libello. E acci6 che non ne pigli alcuna 
baldanza persona grossa, dico che n^ li poeti 
parlano cosi senza ragione, n^ que' che rimano 
deono cosi parlare, non avendo alcuno ragionamento 
in loro di quello che dicono ; pero che grande 
vergogna sarebbe a colui, che rimasse cosa sotto 

master of the Winds ; as it is written in the first book 
of the ^neid, " JEole, namque t'lbi " etc.; and that this 
master of the Winds made reply : " Tuus, o regina, quid 
optes Explorer e labor ; mlhi iussa capessere fas est^ And 
through the same poet, the inanimate thing speaketh 
unto the animate, in the third book of the ^neid, 
where it is written : " Dardanidee duri " etc. With 
Lucan, the animate thing speaketh to the inanimate ; 
as thus : " Multum, Roma, tamen debes c'lvillbus armis.^^ 
In Horace man is made to speak to his own intelligence 
as unto another person ; (and not only hath Horace 
done this, but herein he followeth the excellent 
Homer,) as thus in his Poetics : " Die mihi, Musa, 
virum " etc. Through Ovid, Love speaketh as a 
human creature in the beginning of his discourse De 
Remediis Jmoris, as thus : " Bella mihi, video, bella par- 
antur, ait.^'' By which ensamples this thing shall be 
made manifest unto such as may be offended at any 
part of this my book. And lest some of the common 
sort should be moved to jeering hereat, I will here 
add, that neither did these ancient poets speak thus 
without consideration, nor should they who are 
makers of rhyme in our day write after the same 
fashion, having no reason in what they write ; for it 
were a shameful thing if one should rhyme under the 

veste di figura o di colore rettorico, e poi 
domandato non sapesse dinudare le sue parole da 
cotal veste, in guisa ch* avessero verace intendi- 
mento. E questo mio primo amico ed io 
ne sapemo bene di quelli che cosl rimano 


Questa gentilissima donna, di cui ragionato h 
nelle precedenti parole, venne in tanta grazia 
delle genti, che quando passava per via, le persone 
correano per vederla ; onde mirabile letizia me 
ne giungea. E quando ella fosse presso ad alcuno, 
tanta onest^ venia nel core di quello, ch' egli 
non ardia di levare gli occhi, ne di rispondere 
al suo saluto ; e di questo molti, si come 
esperti, mi potrebbero testimoniare a chi nol 
credesse. Ella coronata e vestita d' umilt^ s* an- 
dava, nulla gloria mostrando di ci6 ch' ella vedeva 
ed udiva. Dicevano molti, poi che passata era : 
( " Questa non h femina, anzi ^ uno de' bellissimi 
\ angeli del cielo." Ed altri dicevano : " Questa ^ 
[una meraviglia ; che benedetto sia lo Signore che 
\ . '3» . 

semblance of metaphor or rhetorical similitude, and 
afterwards, being questioned thereof, should be unable 
to rid his words of such semblance, unto their right 
understanding. Of whom, (to wit, of such as rhyme 
thus foolishly,) myself and the first among my friends 
do know many. 

But returning to the matter of my discourse. 
This excellent lady, of whom I spake in what hath 
gone before, came at last into such favour with 
all men, that when she passed anywhere folk ran to 
behold her ; which thing was a deep joy to me : 
and when she drew near unto any, so much truth 
and simpleness entered into his heart, that he dared 
neither to lift his eyes nor to return her salutation : 
and unto this, many who have felt it can bear witness. 
She went along crowned and clothed with humility, 
showing no whit of pride in all that she heard and 
saw : and when she had gone by, it was said of many, 
^This is not a woman, but one of the beautiful 
angels of Heaven ! " and there were some that said : 
" This is surely a miracle ; blessed be the Lord, who 

si mirabilmente sa operare ! '' lo dico ch' ella si 
mostrava si gentile e si piena di tutti i piaceri, che 
quelli che la miravano comprendevano in loro una 
dolcezza onesta e soave tanto che ridire non la sape- 
vano ; n^ alcuno era lo quale potesse mirar lei, che 
nel principio non gli convenisse sospirare. Queste e 
piu mirabili cose da lei procedeano mirabilmente e 
virtuosamente. Ond' io pensando a ci6, volendo ripi- 
gliare lo stile della sua loda, proposi di dire parole, 
nelle quali dessi ad intendere delle sue mirabili ed 
eccellenti operazioni ; acci6 che non pure coloro che 
la poteano sensibilmente vedere, ma gli altri sapessono 
di lei quello che le parole ne possono fare intendere. 
Allora dissi questo sonetto : 

Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare 

La donna mia, quand' ella altrui saluta, 
Ch' ogni lingua divien tremando muta, 
E gli occhi non ardiscon di guardare. 

Ella sen va, sentendosi laudare, 
Benignamente d' umiltd vestuta ; 

tE par che sia una cosa venuta "^ 

Di cielo in terra a miracol mostrare. f 
Mostrasi si piacente a chi la mira, 
J^he da per gli occhi una dolcezza al core, 

hath power to work thus marvellously." I say, of 
very sooth, that she showed herself so gentle and so 
full of all perfection, that^he bred in those who 
looked upon her a soothing quiet beyond any speech ; 
neither could any look upon her without sighing 
immediately.^ These things, and things yet more 
wonderful, were brought to pass through her miracu- 
lous virtue. Wherefore I, considering thereof and 
wishing to resume the endless tale of her praises, 
resolved to write somewhat wherein I might dwell on 
her surpassing influence ; to the end that not only they 
who had beheld her, but others also, might know as 
much concerning her as words could give to the under- 
standing. And it was then that I wrote this sonnet : 

My lady looks so gentle and so pure 
When yielding salutation by the way, 
That the tongue trembles and has nought to say, 
And the eyes, which fain would see, may not endure. 

And still, amid the praise she hears secure. 
She walks with humbleness for her array ; 
Seeming a creature sent from Heaven to stay 
On earth, and show a miracle made sure. 

She is so pleasant in the eyes of men 

That through the sight the inmost heart doth gain 

Che intender non la pu6 chi non la prova. 
E par che della sua labbia si muova 
Un spirito soave e pien d' amore, 
Che va dicendo all' anima : " Sospira."-^ 

Questo sonetto i st piano ad intendere, per quello che nar- 
rato h dinanzi, che non ha bisogno d* alcuna divisione / e 
pero lasciando lui. 


Dico che questa mia donna venne in tanta grazia, 
che non solamente era ella onorata e laudata, ma per 
lei erano onorate e laudate molte. Ond' io veggendo 
ci6 e volendo manifestare a chi ci6 non vedea, proposi 
anche di dire parole, nelle quali cio fosse significato : 
e dissi questo sonetto, lo quale narra come la sua virtii 
adoperava nelle altre. 

Vede perfettamente ogni salute 

Chi la mia donna tra le donne vede : 
Quelle, che van con lei, sono tenute 
Di bella grazia a Dio render mercede. 
E sua beltate e di tanta virtute, 

A sweetness which needs proof to know it by : 
And from between her lips there seems to move 
A soothing spirit that is full of love, 
Saying for ever to the soul, " O sigh ! " 

This sonnet is so easy to understand, from what is afore 
narrated, that it needs no division : and therefore, leaving it. 

I say also that this excellent lady came into such 
favour with all men, that not only she herself was 
honoured and commended ; but through her com- 
panionship, honour and commendation came unto 
others. Wherefore I, perceiving this and wishing 
that it should also be made manifest to those that 
beheld it not, wrote the sonnet here following ; 
wherein is signified the power which her virtue had 
upon other ladies : 

For certain he hath seen all perfectness 
Who among other ladies hath seen mine : 
They that go with her humbly should combine 
To thank their God for such peculiar grace. 

So perfect is the beauty of her face 

Che nulla invidia alP altre ne precede, 

Anzi le face andar seco vestute 

Di gentilezza, d* amore e di fede. 
La vista sua face ognl cosa umile, 

E non fa sola s^ parer piacente, 

Ma ciascuna per lei riceve onore. 
Ed h negli atti suoi tanto gentile, 

Che nessun la si pu6 recare a mente, 

Che non sospiri in dolcezza d' amore. 

Questo sonetto ha tre parti : nella prima dico tra che 
gente questa donna piti mirabile parea ; nella seconda dico 
come era graziosa la sua compagnia ; nella terxa dico di 
quelle cose ch* ella virtuosamente operava in altrui. La 
seconda comincia quivi : " Quelle che van ; " la terza 
quivi : " E sua beltate." Quesf ultima parte si divide in 
tre : nella prima dico quello che operava nelle donne, cio^ 
per loro medesime ; nella seconda dico quello che operava in 
loro per altrui ; nella terza dico come non solamente nelle 
donne operava, ma in tutte le persone, e non solamente nella 
sua presenza, ma, ricordandosi di lei, mirabilmente operava. 
La seconda comincia quivi : " La vista ; " la terza quivi : 

Ed e negli atti:' 


That it begets in no wise any sign 

Of envy, but draws round her a clear line 

Of love, and blessed faith, and gentleness. 
Merely the sight of her makes all things bow : 

Not she herself alone is holier 

Than all ; but hers, through her, are raised above. 
From all her acts such lovely graces flow 

That truly one may never think of her 

Without a passion of exceeding love. 

This sonnet has three parts. In the first ^ I say in what 
company this lady appeared most wondrous. In the second, 
I say hozv gracious was her society. In the third, I tell oj 
the things which she, with pozver, worked upon others. The 
second begins here, " They that go with her ; " the third 
here, " So perfect.''^ This last part divides into three. In 
the first, I tell what she operated upon women, that is, by 
their own faculties. In the second, I tell what she operated 
in them through others. In the third, I say how she not 
only operated in women, but in all people ; and not only 
while herself present, but, by memory of her, operated 
wondrous ly. The second begins here, " Merely the sight; " 
the third here, " From all her acts'' 



Appresso ci6, cominciai a pensare un giorno sopra 
quelle che detto avea della mia donna, cioe in 
quest! due sonetti precedent! ; e veggendo nel mio 
penslero ch' io non avea detto di quello che al 
presente tempo adoperava in me, parvemi difettiva- 
mente aver parlato ; e per6 proposi di dire parole, 
nelle quali io dicessi come mi parea esser disposto 
alia sua operazione, e come operava in me la sua 
virtude. E non credendo ci6 poter. narrare in 
brevitd di sonetto, cominciai allora una canzone, la 
quale comincia : 

Si lungamente m' ha tenuto Amore, 
E costumato alia sua signoria, 
Che si com' egli m' era forte in pria, 
Cosl mi sta soave ora nel core. 
Per6 quando mi toglie si '1 valore, 
Che gli spirit! par che fuggan via, 
Allor sente la frale anima mia 
Tanta dolcezza, che '1 viso ne smuore. 
Poi prende Amore in me tanta virtute, 
Che fa 1! mie! sospiri gir parlando ; 
Ed escon fuor chiamando 
La donna mia, per darm! pii salute. 

Thereafter on a day, I began to consider that which 
I had said of my lady : to wit, in these two sonnets 
aforegone : and becoming aware that I had not spoken 
of her immediate effect on me at that especial time, 
it seemed to me that I had spoken defectively. Where- 
upon I resolved to write somewhat of the manner 
wherein I was then subject to her influence, and of 
what her influence then was. And conceiving that I 
should not be able to say these things in the small 
compass of a sonnet, I began therefore a poem with 
this beginning : 

Love hath so long possess'd me for his own 
And made his lordship so familiar 
That he, who at first irk'd me, is now grown 
Unto my heart as its best secrets are. 
And thus, when he in such sore wise doth 

My life that all its strength seems gone from it. 
Mine inmost being then feels thoroughly quit 
Of anguish, and all evil keeps afar. 
Love also gathers to such power in me 
That my sighs speak, each one a grievous thing. 
Always soliciting 
My lady's salutation piteously. 

Questo m' awiene ovunque ella mi vede, 
E si ^ cosa umil, che non si crede. 

" Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo ! facta est 
quasi vidua domina gentium.''^ 

lo era nel proponimento ancora di questa canzone, 
e compiuta n' avea questa sovrascritta stanza, 
quando lo Signore della giustizia chiam6 questa 
gentilissima a gloriarc sotto 1' insegna di quella 
reina benedetta Maria, lo cui nome fue in grand- 
issima reverenza nelle parole di questa Beatrice 
beata. Ed awegna che forse piacerebbe al pre- 
sente trattare alquanto della sua partita da noi, 
non e mio intendimento di trattarne qui per 
tre ragioni : la prima si e, che ci6 non h. del 
presente proposito, se volemo guardare nel 
proemio, che precede questo libello ; la seconda 
si h, che, posto che fosse del presente proposito, 
ancora non sarebbe sufficiente la mia penna a 
trattare, come si converrebbe, di cio ; la terza 
si h. che, posto che fosse 1' uno e V altro, non e 
convenevole a me trattare di cio, per quello che, 

Whenever she beholds me, it is so, 

Who is more sweet than any words can show. 


" How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of 
people ! how is she become a widow ! " 

I was still occupied with this poem, (having com- 
posed thereof only the above-written stanza,) when 
the Lord God of justice called my most gracious lady 
unto Himself, that she might be glorious under the 
banner of that blessed Queen Mary, whose name had 
always a deep reverence^tirxhe'words of holy Beatrice. 
And because haply it might be found good that I 
should say somewhat concerning her departure, I will 
herein declare what are the reasons which make that 
I shall not do so. And the reasons are three. The 
first is, that such matter belongeth not of right to the 
present argument, if one consider the opening of this 
little book. The second is, that even though the present 
argument required it, my pen doth not suffice to write 
in a fit manner of this thing. And the third is, that 
were it both possible and of absolute necessity, it would 
still be unseemly for me to speak thereof, seeing that 

trattando, mi converrebbe essere lodatore di 
me medesimo (la qual cosa h al postutto biasime- 
vole a chi '1 fa), e per6 lascio cotale trattato ad 
altro chiosatore. JfKTuttavia, perch^ molte volte 
il numero del nove ha preso luogo tra le parole 
dinanzi, onde pare che sia non senza ragione, )|f^ 
e nella sua partita cotale numero pare che 
avesse molto luogo, conviensi qui dire alcuna 
cosa, acci6 che pare al proposito convenirsi. 
Onde prima dir6 come ebbe luogo nella sua 
partita, e poi ne assegner6 alcuna ragione, 
perch^ questo numero fu a lei cotanto 

lo dico che, secondo V usanza d' Italia, 
V anima sua nobilissima si parti nella prima ora 
del nono giorno del mese ; e secondo 1' usanza 
di Siria, ella si parti nel nono mese dell' 
anno ; perche il primo mese h ivi Tismin, il 
quale a noi h Ottobre. E secondo V usanza 
nostra, ella si parti in quello anno della 
nostra indizione, cio^ degli anni Domini, in cui 

thereby it must behove me to speak also mine own 
praises : a thing that in whosoever doeth it is worthy 
of blame. For the which reasons, I will leave this 
matter to be treated of by some other than myself. 
^Nevertheless, as the number nine, which number 
hath often had mention in what hath gone before, 
(and not, as it might appear, without reason,) seems 
also to have borne a part in the manner of her death ':"34- 
it is therefore right that I should say somewhat thereof. 
And for this cause, having first said what was the 
part it bore herein, I will afterwards point out a 
reason which made that this number was so closely 
allied unto my lady. 

/p I say, then, that according to the division of time 
in Italy, her most noble spirit departed from among 
us in the first hour of the ninth day of t he month ; 
and according to the division of time in Syria, in the 
ninth month of the year : seeing that Tismim, which 
with us is October, is there the first month. Also 
she was taken from among us in that year of our 
reckoning (to wit, of the years of our Lord) in which 


^ % ''' 

il perfetto numero nove volte era compiuto in 
quel centinaio, nel quale in questo mondo ella 
fu posta : ed ella fu de' cristiani del 
terzodecimo centinaio. Perch^ questo numero 
le fosse tanto amico, questa potrebb' essere 
una ragione; conciossiacosa che, secondo Tolomeo 
e secondo la cristiana verit^, nove siano li cieli 
che si muovono, e secondo comune opinione 
astrologica li detti cieli adoperino quaggii secondo 
la loro abitudine insieme ; questo numero 
fu amico di lei per dare ad intendere, che 
nella sua generazione tutti e nove li mobili cieli 
perfettissimamente s' aveano insieme. Questa 
6 una ragione di ci6 ; ma piii sottilmente 
pensando, e secondo la infallibile veritji, questo 
numero fu ella medesima ; per similitudine 
dico, e ci6 intendo cosl : Lo numero del tre e 
la radice del nove, per6 che senz' altro numero, 
per sh medesimo moltiplicato, fa nove, si 
come vedemo manifestamente che tre via tre 
fa nove. Dunque se il tre ^ fattore per sh 
medesimo del nove, e lo fattore dei* miracoli 
per sh medesimo h tre, cio^ Padre, Figliuolo 
e Spirito Santo, li quali sono tre ed uno, 
questa donna fu accompagnata dal numero 

the perfect number was nine times multiplied within 
that century wherein she was born into the world : 
which is to say, the thirteenth century of Christians. 
And touching the reason why this number was so 
closely allied unto her, it may peradventure be this. 
According to Ptolemy, (and also to the Christian 
verity,) the revolving heavens are niae ; and accord- 
ing to the common opinion among astrologers, these 
nine^heavens^ together have influence over the earth. 
Wherefore it would appear that this number was thus 
allied unto her for the purpose of signifying that, at 
her birth, all these nine heavens were at perfect unity 
with each other as to their influence. This is one 

"reason that may be brought : but more narrowly con- 
sidering, and according to the infallible truth, this 
number was her own self : that is to say*by similitude. 
As thus. The n umber three is the roo t of the num- 
ber nine ; seeing that without the interposition of 
any^ther number, being multiplied merely by itself, 

. it produceth nine, as we manifestly perceive that three 
times three are nine. Thus, three being of itself the 
efficient of nine, and the Great Efficient of Miracles 
being of Hi mself Three Pe rsons (to wit : the Father, 
the Son, and the Holy Spirit), whid^J^eing Three, are 
also One : — this lad^^was acco mpanied by tKe~number 
14 f 

del nove a dare ad intendere, che ella era un 
nove, cio^ un miracolo, la cui radice h solamente 
la mirabile Trinitade. Forse ancora per piu 
sottil persona si vedrebbe in ci6 piu sottil ragione ; 
ma questa h quella ch' io ne veggio, e che piu mi 

Poi che la gentilissima donna fu partita da questo 
secolo, rimase tutta la sopradetta cittade quasi vedova 
e dispogliata di ogni dignitade, ond' io, ancora 
lagrimando in questa desolata cittade, scrissi a' principi 
della terra alquanto della sua condizione, pigliando 
quello cominciamento di Geremia : " Quomodo sedet sola 
civitas ! " E questo dico, acci6 che altri non si mera- 
vigli, perch^ io 1' abbia allegato di sopra, quasi come 
entrata della nuova materia che appresso viene. E 
se alcuno volesse me riprendere di ci6 che non scrivo 
qui le parole che seguitano a quelle allegate, scuso- 
mene, per6 che Io intendimento mio non fu da 
principio di scrivere altro che per volgare : onde, 
conciossiacosa che le parole, che seguitano a quelle 
che sono allegate, sieno tutte latine, sarebbe fuori 

ni ne to th e end t>>aj;_|T|p" rpig^t (;^e^Lr\vJ^rce]ve^ her 
t o be a nin e, that is, a miracle, whose only rootjs the 
Holy Trinity. It may be that a more subtile person 
would hnd tor this thing a reason of greater subtilty : 
but such is the reason that I find, and that liketh me 


After this most gracious creature had gone out 
from among us, the whole city came to be as it were 
widowed and despoiled of all dignity. Then I, left 
mourning in this desolate city, wrote unto the prin- 
cipal persons thereof, in an epistle, concerning its 
condition ; taking for my commencement those words 
of Jeremias : "How doth the city sit solitary ! " And 
I make mention of this, that none may marvel where- 
fore I set down these words before, in beginning to 
treat of her death. Also if any should blame me, in 
that I do not transcribe that epistle whereof I have 
spoken, I will make it mine excuse that I began this 
little book with the intent that it should be written 
altogether in the vulgar tongue ; wherefore, seeing 
that the epistle I speak of is in Latin, it belongeth 

del mio intendimento se io le scrivessi ; e simile 
intenzione so che ebbe questo mio amico, a cui 
ci6 scrivo, cio^ ch* io gli scrivessi solamente in 

Poi che gli occhi miei ebbero per alquanto tempo 
lagrimato, e tanto afFaticati erano ch' io- non potea 
disfogare la mia tristizia, pensai di voler dlsfogarla 
con alquante parole dolorose ; e per6 proposi di 
fare una canzone, nella quale piangendo ragionassi 
di lei, per cui tanto dolore era fatto distruggltore 
dell' anima mia ; e cominciai allora : " Gli occhi 
dolenti" ec. 

Accio che questa canzone paia rmanere viepih vedova 
dopo il suo fine, la dwiderh prima cV io la scriva : e 
cotal modo terro da qui innanzi. Io dico che questa catti- 
vella canzone ha tre parti : la prima t proemio ; nella 
seconda ra^ono di lei; nella terza park alia canzone 
pietosamente. La seconda comincia quivi : " Ita »* i 
Beatrice ; " la terza quivi : " Pietosa mia canzone." 
La prima si divide in tre: nella prima dico per che 
mi muovo a dire; nella seconda dico, a cui voglio dire ; 

not to mine undertaking : more especially as I know 
that my chief friend, for whom I write this book, 
wished also that the whole of it should be in the 
vulgar tongue. 

When mine eyes had wept for some while, until 
they were so weary with weeping that I could no 
longer through them give ease to my sorrow, I 
bethought me that a few mournful words might stand 
me instead of tears. And therefore I proposed to 
make a poem, that weeping I might speak therein of 
her for whom so much sorrow had destroyed my 
spirit ; and then I began " The eyes that weep." 

^hat this poem may seem to remain the more widowed at 
its close y I will divide it before writing it; and this method 
I will observe henceforward. I say that this poor little 
poem has three parts. The first is a prelude. In the 
second, I speak of her. In the third, I speak pitifully to 
the poem. The second begins here, " Beatrice is gone up ; " 
the third here, " JVeep, pitiful Song of mine." The first 
divides into three. In the first, I say what moves me to 
speak. In the second, I say to whom I mean to speak. 

nella terza dico, di cut voglio dire. La seconda comincia 
quivi : "^ perche mi ricorda ;" la terza quivi : "£ 
dicerb.''^ Poscia quando dico: ^^ Ita n* e Beatrice,* 
ragLono di lei, e intorno a cih fo due parti. Prima dico 
la cagtone perchi tolta ne fu; appresso dico come altri si 
piange della sua partita, e comincia questa parte quivi : 
^^ Partis si della suaP Questa parte si divide in tre : 
nella prima dico chi non la piange; nella seconda dico 
chi la piange ; nella terza dico della mia condizione. 
La seconda comincia quivi : " Ma vien tristizia e 
doglia;" la terza : ^* Dannomi angoscia.^' Poscia quando 
dico: ^* Pietosa mia canzone,'" park a questa mia can- 
zone, designandole a quali donne sen vada, e steasi con 

Gli occhi dolenti per pieta del core 
Hanno di lagrimar sofFerta pena, 
Si che per vinti son rimasi omai. 
Ora s' io voglio sfogar^lo dolore, 
Che a poco a poco alia morte mi mena, 
Convenemi parlar traendo guai. 
E perche mi ricorda ch' io parlai 
Della mia donna, mentre che vivia, 
Donne gentili, volentier con vui, 
Non vo' parlarne altrui, 

In the third, I say of whom I mean to_ speak. The second 
begins here, *■'■ And because often, thinking; " the third here, 
" And I will say.''^ Then, when I say, " Beatrice is gone 
up," I speak of her ; and concerning this I have two parts. 
First, I tell the cause why she was taken away from us : 
afterwards, I say how one weeps her parting; and this 
part commences here, " Wonderfully." This part divides 
into three. In the first, I say who it is that weeps her 
not. In the second, I say who it is that doth weep her. 
In the third, I speak of my condition. The second begins 
here, " But sighing comes, and grief ; " the third, " With 
sighs." Then, when I say, " Weep, pitiful Song of mine" 
I speak to this my song, telling it what ladies to go to, and 
stay with. 

The eyes that weep for pity of the heart 

Have wept so long that their grief languisheth 
And they have no more tears to weep withal : 
And now, if I would ease me of a part 
Of what, little by little, leads to death, 
It must be done by speech, or not at all. 
And because often, thinking, I recall 
How it was pleasant, ere she went afar. 
To talk of her with you, kind damozels, 
I talk with no one else, 


Se non a cor gentil che 'n donna sia ; 
E dicer6 di lei piangendo, pui 
Che se n* h gita in ciel subitamente, 
Ed ha lasciato Amor meco dolente. 

Ita n' i Beatrice in P alto cielo, 

Nel reame ove gli angeli hanno pace, 

E sta con loro ; e voi, donne, ha lasciate. 

Non la ci tolse qualita di gelo, 

N^ di calor, si come T altre face ; 

Ma sola fu sua gran benignitate. 

Ch^ luce della sua umilitate 

Pass6 li cieli con tanta virtute, 

Che fe' maravigliar 1' eterno Sire, 

SI che dolce desire 

Ld giunse di chiamar tanta salute ; 

E fella di quaggiuso a s^ venire ; 

Perch^ vedea ch' esta vita noiosa 

Non era degna di si gentil cosa. 

Partissi della sua bella persona 
Piena di grazia V anima gentile, 
Ed ^ssi glori'osa in loco degno. 
Chi non la piange, quando ne ragiona, 
Core ha di pietra si malvagio e vile, 
Ch' entrar non vi pu6 spirito benegno. 

But only with such hearts as women's are. 
And I will say, — still sobbing as speech fails, — 
That she hath gone to Heaven suddenly, 
And hath left Love below, to mourn with me. 

Beatrice is gone up into high Heaven, 

The kingdom where the angels are at peace ; 
And lives with them ; and to her friends is dead. 
Not by the frost of winter was she driven 
Away, like others ; nor by summer-heats ; 
But through a perfect gentleness, instead. 
For from the lamp of her meek lowlihead 
Such an exceeding glory went up hence 
That it woke wonder in the Eternal Sire, 
Until a sweet desire 
Enter'd Him for that lovely excellence. 
So that He bade her to Himself aspire : 
Counting this weary and most evil place 
Unworthy of a thing so full of grace. 

Wonderfully out of the beautiful form 

Soar'd her clear spirit, waxing glad the while ; 
And is in its first home, there where it is. 
Who speaks thereof, and feels not the tears warm 
Upon his face, must have become so vile 
As to be dead to all sweet sympathies. 

Non h di cor villan si alto ingegno, 
Che possa immaginar di lei alquanto, 
E per6 non gli vien di pianger voglia : 
Ma vien tristizia e doglia 
Di sospirare e di morir di pianto, 
E d' ogni consolar P anima spoglia, 
Chi vede nel pensiero alcuna volta 
Qual ella fu, e com' ella n' h tolta. 

Dannomi angoscia li sospiri forte, 

Quando il pensiero nella mente grave 

Mi reca quella che m' ha il cor diviso : 

E spesse fiate pensando la morte, 

Me ne viene un desio tanto soave, 

Che mi tramuta lo color nel viso. 

E quando '1 maginar mi tien ben fiso, 

Giugnemi tanta pena d' ogni parte, 

Ch' i' mi riscuoto per dolor ch' io sento ; 

E si fatto divento, 

Che dalle genti vergogna mi parte. 

Poscia piangendo, sol nel mio lamento 

Chiamo Beatrice ; e dico : " Or se' tu morta ! " 

E mentre ch' io la chiamo, mi conforta. 

Pianger di doglia e sospirar d' angoscia 
Mi strugge il core ovunque sol mi trovo, 

Out upon him ! an abject wretch like this 

May not imagine anything of her, — 

He needs no bitter tears for his relief. 

But sighing comes, and grief, 

And the desire to find no comforter, 

(Save only Death, who makes all sorrow brief,) 

To him who for a while turns in his thought 

How she hath been among us, and is not. 

With sighs my bosom always laboureth 
On thinking, as I do continually. 
Of her for whom my heart now breaks apace ; 
And very often when I think of death, 
Such a great inward longing comes to me 
That it will change the colour of my face ; 
And, if the idea settles in its place. 
All my limbs shake as with an ague-fit ; 
Till, starting up in wild bewilderment, 
I do become so shent 
That I go forth, lest folk misdoubt of it. 
Afterward, calling with a sore lament 
On Beatrice, I ask, " Canst thou be dead ? " 
And calling on her, I am comforted. 

Grief with its tears, and anguish with its sighs 
Come to me now whene'er I am alone ; 

Si che ne increscerebbe a chi '1 vedesse : 

E qual h stata la mia vita, poscia 

Che la mia donna and6 nel secolo novo, 

Lingua non e che dicer lo sapesse : 

E per6, donne mie, per ch' io volesse, 

Non vi saprei ben dicer quel ch' io sono ; 

Si mi fa travagliar V acerba vita ; 

La quale h si invilita, 

Che ogni uom par che mi dica : " Io t\abbandono,' 

Vedendo la mia labbia tramortita. 

Ma qual ch' io sia, la mia donna sel vede, 

Ed io ne spero ancor da lei mercede. 

Pietosa mia canzone, or va piangendo ; 
E ritrova le donne e le donzelle, 
A cui le tue sorelle 
Erano usate di portar letizia ; 
E tu, che sei figliuola di tristizia, 
Vattene sconsolata a star con elle. 

Poi che detta fu questa canzone, si venne a me 
uno, il quale secondo li gradi delP amistade era 

So that I think the sight of me gives pain. 
And what my life hath been, that living dies, 
Since for my lady the New Birth*s begun, 
I have not any language to explain. 
And so, dear ladies, though my heart were fain, 
I scarce could tell indeed how I am thus. 
All joy is with my bitter life at war ; 
Yea, I am fallen so far 

That all men seem to say, " Go out from us," 
Eyeing my cold white lips, how dead they are. 
But she, though I be bow'd unto the dust. 
Watches me ; and will guerdon me, I trust. 

Weep, pitiful Song of mine, upon thy way. 
To the dames going, and the damozels. 
For whom, and for none else. 
Thy sisters have made music many a day. 
Thou, that art very sad and not as they, 
Go dwell thou with them as a mourner dwells. 

After I had written this poem, I received the visit 
of a friend whom I counted as second unto me in the 

amico a me immediatamente dopo il primo : e 
quest! fu tanto distretto di sangulnit4 con questa 
gloriosa, che nullo piii presso 1' era. E poi che fu 
meco a ragionare, mi preg6 che io gli dovessi dire 
alcuna cosa per una donna che s* era morta ; e 
simulava sue parole, acci6 che paresse che dicesse 
d' un' altra, la quale morta era cortamente : 
ond' io accorgendomi che questi dicea solo per 
quella benedetta, dissi di fare ci6 che mi doman- 
dava Io suo prego. Ond' io poi pensando a 
ci6, proposi di fare un sonetto, nel quale mi 
lamentassi alquanto, e di darlo a questo mio 
amico, acci6 che paresse, che per lui 1' avessi 
fatto ; e dissi allora querto sonetto : " Venite a 
intendere" etc. 

Questo sonetto ha due parti : nella prima chiamo U fedeli 
d* Amore che m* intendano ; nella seconda narro della mia 
misera condizione. La seconda comincia quivi : " Li quali 

Venite a intender li sospiri miei, 
O cor gentili, ch^ pieta il desia ; 
Li quali sconsolati vanno via, 
E s* e* non fosser, di dolor morrei. 
1 60 

degrees of friendship, and who, moreover, had been 
united by the nearest kindred to that most gracious 
creature. And when we had a little spoken together, 
he began to solicit me that I would write somewhat 
in memory of a lady who had died ; and he disguised 
his speech, so as to seem to be speaking of another 
who was but lately dead : wherefore I, perceiving that 
his speech was of none other than that blessed one 
herself, told him that it should be done as he required. 
Then afterwards, having thought thereof, I imagined 
to give vent in a sonnet to some part of my hidden 
lamentations : but in such sort that it might seem 
to be spoken by this friend of mine, to whom I was 
to give it. And the sonnet saith thus : " Stay now 
with me," etc. 

This sonnet has two parts. In the first, I call the 
Faithful of Love to hear me. In the second, I relate my 
miserable condition. The second begins here, " Mark how 
they force. ^"^ 

Stay now with me, and listen to my sighs, 
Ye piteous hearts, as pity bids ye do. 
Mark how they force their way out and press 

through ; 
If they be once pent up, the whole life dies. 
IX i6i 

Per6 che gli occhi mi sarebbon rei 
Molte flfate piu ch' io non vorria, 
Lasso ! di pianger si la donna mia, 
Ch' io sfogherei lo cor, piangendo lei. 

Voi udirete lor chiamar sovente 

La mia donna gentil, che se n* h gita 
Al secol degno della sua virtute ; 

E dispregiar talora questa vita, 
In persona dell' anima dolente, 
Abbandonata dalla sua salute. 

Poi che detto ebbi questo sonetto, pensan- 
domi chi questi era, cui lo intendeva dare 
quasi come per lui fatto, vidi che povero 
mi pareva lo servigio e nudo a cosi dis- 
tretta persona di questa gloriosa. E per6 in- 
nanzi ch' io gli dessi il soprascritto sonetto, 
dissi due stanze di una canzone ; 1* una per 
costui veracemente, e 1* altra per me, avvegna 
che paia T una e 1* altra per una persona 
detta, a chi non guarda sottilmente. Ma 
chi sottilmente le mira vede bene che 

Seeing that now indeed my weary eyes 
Oftener refuse than I can tell to you, 
(Even though my endless grief is ever new,) 
To weep, and let the smother'd anguish rise. 

Also in sighing ye shall hear me call 

On her whose blessed presence doth enrich 
The only home that well befitteth her : 

And ye shall hear a bitter scorn of all 

Sent from the inmost of my spirit in speech 
That mourns its joy and its joy's minister. 


But when I had written this sonnet, bethinking me 
who he was to whom I was to give it, that it might 
appear to be his speech, it seemed to me that this was 
but a poor and barren gift for one of her so near 
kindred. Wherefore, before giving him this sonnet, 
I wrote two stanzas of a poem : the first being 
written in very sooth as though it were spoken by 
him, but the other being mine own speech, albeit, 
unto one who should not look closely, they would 
both seem to be said by the same person. Neverthe- 
less, looking closely, one must perceive that it is not 

diverse persone parlano; in ci6 che 1* una non 
chiama sua donna costei, e T altra si, come appare 
manifestamente. Questa canzone e questo sonetto 
gli diedi, dicendo io che per lui solo fatto 1' avea. 

La canzone comincia : " Quantunque volte^^ ed ha due 
parti : neW una, cioi nella prima stanza, si /amenta questo 
mio caro amico, distretto a lei ; nella seconda mi lamento io, 
cioi nelP altra stanza che comincia : " E^ si raccoglie.^* 
E cos] appare che in questa canzone si lamentano due per- 
sone, r una delle quali si lamenta come fratello, V altra 
come servitore. 

Quantunque volte, lasso ! mi rimembra 
Ch' io non debbo giammai 
Veder la donna, ond' io vo si dolente, 
Tanto dolore intorno al cor m' assembra 
La dolorosa mente, 

Ch' io dico : " Anima mia, che non ten vai ? 
Che li tormenti, che tu porterai 
Nel secol che t' h gi^ tanto noioso. 
Mi fan pensoso di paura forte ; 
Ond' io chiamo la Morte, 
Come soave e dolce mio riposo ; 
E dico : * Vieni a me, con tanto amore, 
Ch' io sono astioso di chiunque muore.' " 

so, inasmuch as one does not call this most gracious 
creature his lady, and the other does, as is manifestly- 
apparent. And I gave the poem and the sonnet unto 
my friend, saying that I had made them only for him. 

The poem begins, " Whatever while," and has two 
parts. In the first, that is, in the first stanTUi, this my 
dear friend, her kinsman, laments. In the second, I 
lament ; that is, in the other stanza, which begins, " For 
ever." And thus it appears that in this poem two persons 
lament, of whom one laments as a brother, the other as a 

Whatever while the thought comes over me 
That I may not again 
Behold that lady whom I mourn for now. 
About my heart my mind brings constantly 
So much of extreme pain 
That I say : " Soul of mine, why stayest thou ? 
Truly the anguish, Soul, that we must bow 
Beneath, until we win out of this life, 
Gives me full oft a fear that trembleth : 
So that I call on Death 
Even as on Sleep one calleth after strife. 
Saying : * Come unto me. Life showeth grim 
And bare ; and if one dies, I envy him.' " 

E' si raccoglie negli miei sospiri 
Un suono di pietate, 
Che va chlamando Morte tuttavia. 
A lei si volser tutti i miei desiri, 
Quando la donna mia 
Fu giunta dalla sua crudelitate : 
Perch^ il piacere della sua beltate 
Partendo sh dalla nostra veduta, 
Divenne spirital bellezza grande, 
Che per lo cielo spande 
Luce d' amor, che gli angeli saluta, 
E lo intelletto loro alto e sottile 
Face maravigliar ; tanto e gentile ! 

In quel giorno, nel quale si compiva P 
anno, che questa donna era fatta de' cittadini 
di vita eterna, io mi sedea in parte, nella 
quale ricordandomi di lei, disegnava un 
angelo sopra certe tavolette : e mentre io *1 
disegnava, volsi gli occhi, e vidi lungo 
me uomini a' quali si convenia di fare 
onore. E' riguardavano quelle ch* io facea ; e 

For ever, among all my sighs which burn, 
There is a piteous speech 
That clamours upon Death continually : 
Yea, unto him doth my whole spirit turn 
Since first his hand did reach 
My lady's life with most foul cruelty. 
But from the height of woman's fairness, she, 
Going up from us with the joy we had, 
Grew perfectly and spiritually fair ; 
That so she spreads even there 
A light of Love which makes the Angels glad. 
And even unto their subtle minds can bring 
A certain awe of profound marvelling. 


On that day which fulfilled the year since my 
lady had been made of the citizens of eternal life, 
remembering me of her as I sat alone, I betook my- 
self to draw the resemblance of an angel upon certain 
tablets. And while I did thus, chancing to turn my 
head, I perceived that some were standing beside me 
to whom I should have given courteous welcome, 
and that they were observing what I did : also I 

secondo che mi fu detto poi, egli erano stati gii 
alquanto anzi che io me n' accorgessi. Quando 
li vidi, mi levai, e salutando loro dissi : " Altri 
era test^ meco, e perci6 pensava." Onde partiti 
costoro, ritornaimi alia mia opera, cioh del 
disegnare figure d' angeli : facendo ci6, mi venne 
un pensiero di dire parole per rima, quasi per 
annovale di lei, e scrivere a costoro, li quali erano 
venuti a me : e dissi allora questo sonetto, che 
comincia " Era venuta," lo quale ha due comincia- 
menti ; e pero lo dividero secondo V uno e V 

Dico che secondo il primOj questo sonetto ha tre parti : 
nella prima dico, che questa donna era gia nella mia 
memoria; nella seconda dico quello che Amore perh mi 
facea ; nella terza dico degli effetti </' Amore. La seconda 
comincia quivi : " Amor che ; " la terza quivi : " Pian- 
gendo usciano." Questa parte si divide in due: neW 
una dico che tutti i miei sospiri usciano parlando ; neW 
altra dico come alquanti diceano certe parole diverse dagli 
altri. La seconda comincia quivi: '^ Ma quelli." Per 
questo medesimo modo si divide secondo P altro comincia- 
mentOy salvo che nella prima parte dico quando questa donna 
era cost venuta nella mia mente, e cio non dico neW altro. 

learned afterwards that they had been there a while 
before I perceived them. Perceiving whom, I arose 
for salutation, and said : " Another was with me." 
Afterwards, when they had left me, I set myself 
again to mine occupation, to wit, to the drawing 
figures of angels : in doing which, I conceived to 
write of this matter in rhyme, as for her anniversary, 
and to address my rhymes unto those who had just 
left me. It was then that I wrote the sonnet which 
saith, " That lady : " and as this sonnet hath two 
commencements, it behoveth me to divide it with 
both of them here. 

/ sa';} that, according to the first, this sonnet has three 
parts. In the first, I say that this lady was then in my 
memory. In the second, I tell what Love therefore did 
with me. In the third, I speak of the effects of Love. 
The second begins here, " Love, knowing; " the third here, 
" Forth went they.^^ This part divides into two. In the 
one, I say that all my sighs issued speaking. In the 
other, I say how some spoke certain zvords different from 
the others. The second begins here, ^^ And still.'^ In 
this same manner is it divided with the other beginning, 
save that, in the first part, I tell when this lady had 
thus come into my mind, and this I say not in the other. 


Era venuta nella mente mia 

La gentil donna, che per suo valore 
Fu posta dalP altissimo Signore 
Nel del deir umiltate, ov' h Maria. 


Era venuta nella mente mia 

Quella donna gentil, cui piange Amore, 
Entro quel punto, che lo suo valore 
Vi trasse a riguardar quel ch' io facia. 

Amor, che nella mente la sentia, 
S' era svegliato nel distrutto core, 
E diceva a' sospiri : " Andate fuore ; " 
Per che ciascun dolente sen partia. 

Piangendo usciano fuori del mio petto 
Con una voce, che sovente mena 
Le lagrime dogliose agli occhi tristi. 

Ma quelli, che n' uscian con maggior pena, 
Venien dicendo : " O nobile intelletto, 
Oggi fa 1* anno che nel ciel salisti." 



First Commencement 

That lady of all gentle memories 

Had lighted on my soul ; — whose new abode 
Lies now, as it was well ordain'd of God, 
Among the poor in heart, where Mary is. 

Second Commencement. 

That lady of all gentle memories 

Had lighted on my soul ; — for whose sake flow'd 
The tears of Love ; in whom the power abode 
Which led you to observe while I did this. 

Love, knowing that dear image to be his, 

Woke up within the sick heart sorrow-bow'd, 

Unto the sighs which are its weary load. 

Saying, " Go forth." And they went forth, I wis ; 

Forth went they from my breast that throbb'd and 
ached ; 
With such a pang as oftentimes will bathe 
Mine eyes with tears when I am left alone. 

And still those sighs which drew the heaviest breath 
Came whispering thus : " O noble intellect ! 
It is a year to-day that thou art gone." 


Pol per alquanto tempo, conciofossecosa che io fossi 
i n parte, nella quale mi rlcordava del passato tempo, 
molto stava pensoso, e con dolorosi pensamenti tanto 
che mi faceano parere di fuori d' una vista di terribile 
sbigottimento. Ond* io, accorgendomi del mio tra- 
vagliare, levai gli occhi per vedere s' altri me vedesse ; 
allora vidi una gentil donna giovane e bella molto, la 
quale da una fenestra mi riguardava molto pietosamente 
quant' alia vista ; si che tutta la pietade pareva in lei 
accolta. Onde, conciossiacosa che quando i miseri 
veggono di loro compassione altrui, piu tosto si 
muovono a lagrimare, quasi come di sh stessi avendo 
pietade, io sentii allora li miei occhi cominciare a 
voler piangere ; e pero, temendo di non mostrare la 
mia vile vita, mi partii dinanzi dagli occhi di questa 
gentile ; e dicea poi fra me medesimo : " E' non 
pu6 essere, che con quella pietosa donna non sia 
nobilissimo Amore." E pero proposi di dire un 
sonetto, nel quale io parlassi a lei, e conchiudessi 
in esso tutto cio che narrato e in questa ragione. 
E pero che questa ragione e assai manifesta, nol 

Videro gli occhi miei quanta pietate 
Era apparita in la vostra figura, 

Then, having sat for some space sorely In thought 
because of the time that was now past, I was so filled 
with dolorous imaginings that it became outwardly 
manifest in mine altered countenance. Whereupon, 
feeling this and being in dread lest any should have 
seen me, I lifted mine eyes to look ; and then per- 
ceived a vrfurig^nj^vpry \)f^^ut\fu] lady^ who was gazing CbZ^ < 
upon me from a window with a gaze full of pity, so 
that the very sum of pity appeared gathered together 
in her. And seeing that unhappy persons, when they 
beget compassion in others, are then most moved unto 
weeping, as though they also felt pity for themselves, 
it came to pass that mine eyes began to be inclined 
unto tears. Wherefore, becoming fearful lest I should 
make manifest mine abject condition, I rose up, and 
went where I could not be seen of that lady ; saying 
afterwards within myself : "r* Certainly with her also 
must abid e most noble Love." And with that, I 
resolved upon writing a sonnet, wherein, speaking 
unto her, I should say all that I have just said. 
And as this sonnet is very evident, I will not 
divide it. ^ 

Mine eyes beheld the blessed pity spring 
Into thy countenance immediately 

Quando guardaste gli atti e la statura, 
Ch' io facia pel dolor molte fi'ate. 

Allor m' accorsi che voi pensavate 
La qualiti della mia vita oscura, 
Si che mi giunse nello cor paura 
Di dimostrar cogli occhi mia viltate. 

E tolsimi dinanzi a voi, sentendo 
Che si movean le lagrime dal core, 
Ch' era sommosso dalla vostra vista. ^ 

Io dicea poscia nell' anima trista : 

" Ben 6 con quella donna quello Amore, 
Lo qual mi face andar cosl piangendo " 


Awenne poi che ovunque questa donna mi 
vedea, si facea d' una vista pietosa e d' un color 
pallido, quasi come d' amore : onde molte fiate 
mi ricordava della mia nobilissima donna, che di 
simile colore mi si mostrava. E certo molte volte 
non potendo lagrimare n^ disfogare la mia 
tristizia, io andava per vedere questa pietosa 
donna, la quale parea che tirasse le lagrime fuori 
delli miei occhi per la sua vista. E per6 mi 

A while agone, when thou beheld*st in me 
The sickness only hidden grief can bring ; 

And then I knew thou wast considering 
How abject and forlorn my life must be ; 
And I became afraid that thou shouldst see 
My weeping, and account it a base thing. 

Therefore I went out from thee ; feeling how 
The tears were straightway loosen'd at my heart 
Beneath thine eyes' compassionate control. 

And afterwards I said within my soul : 

IP* Lo ! with this lady dwells the counterpart 

Of the same Love who holds me weeping now." ^ 


It happened after this, that whensoever I was seen 
of this lady, she became pale and of a piteous counte- 
nance, as though it had been with love ; whereby she 
remembered me many times of my own most noble 
lady, who was wont to be of a like paleness. And I 
know that often, when I could not weep nor in any 
way give ease unto mine anguish, I went to look upon 
this lady, who seemed to bring the tears into my eyes 
by the mere sight of her. Of the which thing I 

renne anche volontade di dire parole, parlando a 
lei ; e dissi questo sonetto, che comincia " Color 
d' amore," e ch' e piano senza dividerlo, per la 
sua precedente ragione. 

Color d' amore, e di piet^ sembianti, 

Non preser mai cosi mirabilmente 

Viso di donna, per veder sovente 

Occhi gentili e dolorosi pianti, 
Come lo vostro, qualora davanti 

Vedetevi la mia labbia dolente ; 

Si che per voi mi vien cosa alia mente, 

Ch' io temo forte non lo cor si schianti. 
lo non posso tener gli occhi distrutti 

Che non riguardin voi spesse ffate, 

Pel desiderio di pianger ch' egli hanno : 
E voi crescete si lor volontate, 

Che della voglia si consuman tutti ; 

Ma lagrimar dinanzi a voi non sanno. 


lo venni a tanto per la vista di questa 
donna, che li miei occhi si cominciaro a dilet- 
tare troppo di vederla ; onde molte volte me 

bethought me to speak unto her in rhyme, and then 
made this sonnet : which begins, " Love's pallor," 
and which is plain without being divided, by its 
exposition aforesaid. 

Love's pallor and the semblance of deep ruth 
Were never yet shown forth so perfectly 
In any lady's face, chancing to see 
Grief's miserable countenance uncouth, 

As in thine, lady, they have sprung to soothe. 
When in mine anguish thou hast look'd on me ; 
Until sometimes it seems as if, through thee. 
My heart might almost wander from its truth. 

Yet so it is, I cannot hold mine eyes 
From gazing very often upon thine 
In the sore hope to shed those tears they keep ; 

And at such time, thou mak'st the pent tears rise 
Even to the brim, till the eyes waste and pine ; 
Yet cannot they, while thou art present, weep. 


At length, by the constant sight of this lady mine 
eyes began to be gladdened overmuch with her com- 
pany ; through which thing many times I had much 
12 177 

ne crucciava, ed avevamene per vile assai ; e p'lh 
volte bestejnmiava la vanita degli occhi miei, e 
dicea loro nel mio pensiero : " Or voi solevate far 
piangere chi vedea la vostra dolorosa condizione, 
ed ora pare che vogliate dimenticarlo per questa 
donna che vi mira, e che non vi mira se non in 
quanto le pesa della gloriosa donna di cui pianger 
solete ; ma quanto far potete, fate ; ch^ io la vi 
rimembrer6 molto spesso, maledetti occhi ^: ch^ mai, 
se non dopo la morte, non dovrebbero le vostre 
lagrime esser ristate." E quando fra me medesimo 
cosi avea detto alii miei occhi, e li sospiri m' assaliano 
grandissimi ed angosciosi. Ed acci6 che questa 
battaglia, che io avea meco, non rimanesse saputa 
pur dal misero che la sentia, proposi di fare un 
sonetto, e di comprendere in esso questa orribile 
condizione, e dissi questo che comincia : " U amaro 

// soneUo ha due parti : nella prima park agli occhi 
miei s\ come parlava Io mio core in me medesimo ; nella 
seconda rimovo alcuna dubitazioney manifestando chi k che 
cosi parla ; e questa parte comincia quivi : " Cos\ dice.** 
Potrebbe bene ancora ricevere piu divisioni, ma sarebbe 
indarnoy perchi ^ manifesto per la precedente ra^one. 

unrest, and rebuked myself as a base person : also, 
many times I cursed the unsteadfastness of mine eyes, 
and said to them inwardly : " Was not your grievous 
condition of weeping wont one while to make others 
weep ? And will ye now forget this thing because a 
lady looketh upon you ? who so looketh merely in 
compassion of the grief ye then showed for your own 
blessed lady. But whatso ye can, that do ye, accursed 
eyes ! many a time will I make you remember it ! 
for never, till death dry you up, should ye make an 
end of your weeping." And when I had spoken 
thus unto mine eyes, I was taken again with extreme 
and grievous sighing. And to the end that this 
inward strife which I had undergone might not be 
hidden from all saving the miserable wretch who 
endured it, I proposed to write a sonnet, and to 
comprehend in it this horrible condition. And I 
wrote this which begins " The very bitter weeping." 

T^he sonnet has two parts. In the first, I speak to my 
eyes, as my heart spoke within myself. In the second, I 
remove a difficulty, showing who it is that speaks thus : 
and this part begins here, " So far.^* It well might 
receive other divisions also ; but this would be useless y 
since it is manifest by the preceding exposition. 


" L' amaro lagrimar che voi faceste, 
Occhi miei, cosi lunga stagione, 
Facea lagrimar P altre persone 
Delia pletate, come voi vedeste. 

Ora mi par che voi V obliereste, 
S' io fossi dal mio lato si fellone, 
Ch' io non ven disturbassi ogni cagione, 
Membrandovi colei, cui'voi piangeste. 

La vostra vanita mi fa pensare, 

E spaventami si, ch' io temo forte 
Del viso d' una donna che vi mira. 

Voi non dovreste mai, se non per morte, 
La nostra donna, ch' e morta, obliare ; " 
Cosi dice il mio core, e poi sospira. 

Recommi la vista di questa donna in si 
nova condizione, che molte volte ne pensava 
come di persona che troppo mi piacesse; e pen- 
sava di lei cosi ^" Questa h una donna gentile, 
bella, giovane e savia, ed apparita forse per volontA 
d' Amore, acci6 che la mia vita si riposi."<jir E 
molte volte pensava piii amorosamente, tanto che il 

" The very bitter weeping that ye made 
So long a time together, eyes of mine, 
Was wont to make the tears of pity shine 
In other eyes full oft, as I have said. 

But now this thing were scarce remembered 
If I, on my part, foully would combine 
With you, and not recall each ancient sign 
Of grief, and her for whom your tears were shed. 

It is your fickleness that doth betray 

My mind to fears, and makes me tremble thus 
What while a lady greets me with her eyes. 

Except by death, we must not any way 
Forget our lady who is gone from us." 
So far doth my heart utter, and then sighs. 


The sight of this lady brought me into so unwonted 
a condition that I often thought of her as of one too 
dear unto me ; and I began to consider her thus : 
"This lady is young, beautiful, gentle, and wise : 
perchance it was Love himself who set her In my 
path, that so my life might find peace." And there 
were times when I thought yet more fondly, until my 

core consentiva in lui, cio^ nel suo ragionare. 
E quando avea consentito ci6, io mi ripensava 
si come dalla ragione mosso, e dicea fra me 
medesimo : " Deh, che pensiero h questo, che 
in cosi vile modo mi vuol consolare, e non 
mi lascia quasi altro pensare ! " Poi si rilevava 
un altro pensiero, e dicea : " Or che tu se' 
stato in tanta tribuiazione d' Amore, perch^ 
non vuoi tu ritrarti da tanta amaritudine ? 
Tu vedi che questo h uno spiramento, che 
ne reca li desiri d' Amore dinanzi, ed e mosso 
da cosi gentil parte, com' 6 quella degli occhi 
della donna, che tanto pietosa ti s' h mostrata." 
Ond' io avendo cosi piu volte combattuto 
in me medesimo, ancora ne volli dire alquante 
parole ; e per6 che la battaglia de' pensieri 
vinceano coloro che per lei parlavano, mi 
parve che si convenisse di parlare a lei ; e 
dissi questo sonetto, il quale comincia : " Gen- 
til pensiero ; " e dissi " gentile " in quanto 
ragionava di gentil donna, che per altro era 

In questo sonetto fo due parti di me, secondo che 
li miei pensieri erano in due divisi. V una parte 

heart consented unto its reasoning. But when it had 
so consented, my thought would often turn round 
upon me, as moved by reason, and cause me to say 
within myself: "What hope is this which would 
console me after so base a fashion, and which hath 
taken the place of all other imagining ? " Also there 
was another voice within me, that said : " And wilt 
thou, having suffered so much tribulation through 
Love, not escape while yet thou mayest from so much 
bitterness ? Thou must surely know that this thought 
carries with it the desire of Love, and drew its life 
from the gentle eyes of that lady who vouchsafed thee 
so much pity." Wherefore I, having striven sorely 
and very often with myself, bethought me to say 
somewhat thereof in rhyme. And seeing that in the 
battle of doubts, the victory most often remained 
with such as inclined towards the lady of whom I 
speak, it seemed to me that I should address this 
sonnet unto her : in the first line whereof, I call that 
thought which spake of her a gentle thought, only 
because it spoke of one who was gentle ; being of 
itself most vile. 

In this sonnet I make myself into tzvo, according as my 
thoughts were divided one from the other. The one part I 

chiamo " Cuore" cioi P appetito ; P altra ^'■Animay^ cioh 
la ragione ; e dico come /' uno dice aW altro. E che 
degno sia chiamare V appetito cuore, e la ra^one anima 
assai ^ manifesto a coloro, a cut mi piace che cio sia 
aperto. Vero t che nel precedente sonetto io fo la parte 
del cuore contro a quella degli occhi, e cio pare contrario 
di quel ch^ io dico nel presente ; e perh dico, che anche 
ivi il cuore intendo per V appetito, perh che mag^or 
desiderio era il mio ancora di ricordarmi della gentilissima 
donna mia, che di vedere costei, avvegna che alcuno 
appetito ne avessi gta, ma leg^er parea : onde appare che 
V uno detto non ^ contrario aW altro. Questo sonetto ha 
tre parti : nella prima comincio a dire a questa donna 
come Io mio desiderio si volge tutto verso lei ; nella seconda 
dico come P anima, cioi la ragione, dice al cuore, cioi alP 
appetito; nella terxa dico come le risponde. La seconda 
comincia quivi : " U anima dice ; " la terza quivi : " Ei 
le risponde." 

Gen til pensiero, che park di vui, 

Sen viene a dimorar meco sovente, 

E ragiona d' amor si dolcemente, 

Che face consentir Io core in lui. 
L' anima dice al cor : " Chi k costui, 

Che viene a consolar la nostra mente ; 

call Heart, tha t is, appetite; the other , Soul , that is, 
reason ; and I tell wTai one saith to the other. And that 
it is fitting to call the appetite Heart, and the reason Soul^ 
is manifest enough to them to whom I wish this to be open. 
True it is that, in the preceding sonnet, I take the part of 
the Heart against the Eyes ; and that appears contrary to 
what I say in the present ; and therefore I say that, there 
also, by the Heart I mean appetite, because yet greater was 
my desire to remember my most gentle lady than to see this 
dther, although indeed I had some appetite towards her, but 
it appeared slight : wherefore it appears that the one state- 
ment is not contrary to the other. This sonnet has three 
parts. In the first, I begin to say to this lady how my 
desires turn all towards her. In the second, I say how 
the Soul, that is, the reason, speaks to the Heart, that is, to 
the appetite. In the third, I say how the latter answers. 
The second begins here, " Jnd what is this ? " the third 
here, " And the heart answers.''^ 

A gentle thought there is will often start, 
Within my secret self, to speech of thee ; 
Also of Love it speaks so tenderly 
That much in me consents and takes its part. 

" And what is this," the soul saith to the heart, 
" That Cometh thus to comfort thee and me, 

Ed ^ la sua virti tanto possente, 

Cli' altro pensier non lascia star con nui ? 

Ei le risponde : " O anima pensosa, 
Questi e uno spiritel nuovo d' Amore, 
Che reca innanzi a me li suol desiri : 

E la sua vita, e tutto il suo valore, 
Mosse dagli occhi di quella pietosa, 
Che si turbava de' nostri martiri." 

Contra questo awersario della ragione si 
levo un di, quasi nell' ora di nona, una forte 
immaginazione in me ; che mi parea vedere 
questa gloriosa Beatrice con quelle vestimenta 
sanguigne, colle quali apparve prima agli occhi 
miei ; e pareami giovane in simile etade a quella, 
in che prima la vidi. <^llora incominciai a 
pensare di lei ; e secondd T ordine del tempo 
passato, ricordandomene, lo mio core incominci6 
dolorosamente a pentirsi del desiderio, a cui 
cosi vilmente s* avea lasciato possedere al- 
quanti di contro alia costanza della ragione : ;3)r 
e discacciato questo cotal malvagio desiderio, 

And thence where it would dwell, thus potently 
Can drive all other thoughts by its strange art ? " 

And the heart answers 1^" Be no more at strife C^e^le 

'Twixt doubt and doubt : this is Love's messenger ^^ ^ 
And speaketh but his words, from him received ; . 

And all the strength it owns and all the life ^^ ., 

It draweth from the gentle eyes of her 
Who, looking on our grief, hath often grieved." -^Ir 

But against this adversary of reason, there rose up in 
me on a certain day, ab out the ninth hour, a strong 
visible phantasy, wherein I seemed to behold the most 
gracious Beatrice, habited in that crimson raiment 
which she had worn when I had first beheld her ; 
also she appeared to me of the same tender age as then. 
Whereupon I fell into a deep thought of her : and my 
memory ran back according to the order of time, unto 
all those matters in the which she had borne a part ; 
and my heart began painfully to repent of the desire 
by which it had so basely let itself be possessed during 
so many days, contrary to the constancy of reason. 
And then, this evil desire being quite gone from me, 

si rivolsero tutti i miei pensamenti alia loro gentil- 
issima Beatrice. E dico che d' allora innanzi 
cominciai a pensare di lei si con tutto il vergognoso 
cuore, che li sospiri manifestavano ci6 molte volte ; 
per6 che quasi tutti diceano nel loro uscire quello 
•che nel cuore si ragionava, cio^ lo nome di quella 
gentilissima, e come si partlo da noi. E molte volte 
avvenia che tanto dolore avea in se alcuno pensiero, 
che io dimenticava lui, e \k dov' io era. - Per questo 
raccendimento di sospiri si raccese lo sollevato 
lagrimare in guisa, che li miei occhi pareano due 
cose, che desiderassero pur di piangere : e spesso 
avvenia che, per lo lungo continuare del pianto, 
dintorno loro si facea un colore purpureo, quale 
apparir suole per alcuno martirio ch' altri riceva : 
onde appare che della loro vanit4 furono degnamente 
guiderdonati, si che da indi innanzi non poterono 
mirare persona che li guardasse si che loro potesse 
trarre a simile intendimento. Onde io volendo che 
cotal desiderio malvagio e vana tentazione paressero 
distrutti si che alcuno dubbio non potessero inducere 
le rimate parole, ch* io avea dette dinnanzi, proposi di 
fare un sonetto, nel quale io comprendessi la sentenza 
di questa ragione. E dissi allora : " Lasso ! per 
forza" etc. 

all my thoughts turned again unto their excellent 
Beatrice. And I say most truly that from that hour 
I thought constantly of her with the whole humbled 
and ashamed heart ; the which became often manifest 
in sighs, that had among them the name of that most 
gracious creature, and how she departed from us. 
Also it would come to pass very often, through the 
bitter anguish of some one thought, that I forgot both 
it, and myself, and where I was. By this increase of 
sighs, my weeping, which before had been somewhat 
lessened, increased in like manner ; so that mine eyes 
seemed to long only for tears and to cherish them, 
and came at last to be circled about with red as 
though they had suffered martyrdom ; neither were 
they abie_ to jQQ]L_again_jipoji„ .the beauty of any 
face that mig ht again bri ng them to shame and evil ; 
from which things it will appear that they 
were fitly guerdoned for their unsteadfastness. 
Wherefore I, (wishing that mine abandonment 
of all such evil desires and vain temptations should 
be certified and made manifest, beyond all doubts 
which might have been suggested by the rhymes 
afore written,) proposed to write a sonnet, wherein I 
should express this purport. And I then wrote^ 
" Woe's me ! " 


Dissi " lasso,^' in quanto mi vergognava di cio che U miei 
occhi aveano cost vaneggiato. Questo sonetto non dlvidoy 
pero che k assai manifesta la sua ragione. 

Lasso ! per forza de* molti sospiri, 

Che nascon de' pensier che son nel core, 
Gli occhi son vinti, e non hanno valore 
Di riguardar persona che gli miri. 

E fatti son, che paion due desiri 
Di lagrimare e di mostrar dolore, 
E spesse volte piangon si, ch' Amore 
Gli cerchia di corona di martiri. 

Questi pensieri, e li sospir ch' io gitto, 
Diventano nel cor si angosciosi, 
Ch' Amor vi tramortisce, si glien duole ; 

Per6 ch' egli hanno in s^ li dolorosi 
Quel dolce nome di madonna scritto, 
E della morte sua molte parole. 

Dopo questa tribolazione awenne, in quel 
tempo che molta gente andava per vedere 
quella imagine benedetta, la quale Gesu Cristo 


/ said J " Woe's me f^ because I zvas ashamed of the 
trifling of mine eyes. This sonnet I do not divide j since its 
purport is manifest enough. 

Woe's me ! by dint of all these sighs that come 
Forth of my heart, its endless grief to prove, 
Mine eyes are conquer' d, so that even to move 
Their lids for greeting is grown troublesome. 

They wept so long that now they are griePs home 
And count their tears all laughter far above : 
They wept till they are circled now by Love 
With a red circle in sign of martyrdom. 

These musings, and the sighs they bring from me, 
Are grown at last so constant and so sore 
That Love swoons in my spirit with faint breath; 

Hearing in those sad sounds continually 

The most sweet name that my dear lady bore, 
With many grievous words touching her death. 


About this time, it happened that a great number 
of persons undertook a pilgrimage, to the end that 
they might behold that blessed portraiture bequeathed 

Iasci6 a noi per esempio della sua bellissima figura 
(la quale vede la mia donna gloriosamente), che 
alquanti peregrini passavano per una via, la quale 
h quasi in mezzo della cittade, ove nacque,. 
vivette e morfo la gentilissima donna, e andavano^ 
secondo che mi parve, molto pensosi. Ond' io 
pensando a loro, dissi fra me medesimo : " Questi 
peregrini mi paiono di lontana parte, e non 
credo che anche udissero parlare . di questa 
donna, e non ne sanno niente ; anzi i loro 
pensieri sono d' altre cose che di questa qui ; 
ch6 forse pensano delli loro amici lontani, li 
quali noi non conoscemo." Poi dicea fra me mede- 
simo : " Io so che se questi fossero di propinquo 
paese, in alcuna vista parrebbero turbati, passando 
per Io mezzo della dolorosa cittade." Poi dicea 
fra me stesso : " S' io li potessi tenere alquanto,. 
io pur gli farei piangere anzi ch* egli uscissero 
di questa cittade, per6 che io direi parole, che 
farebbero piangere chiunque le intendesse." Onde, 
passati costoro dalla mia veduta, proposi di fare un 
sonetto, nel quale manifestassi ci6 ch' io avea detto 
fra me medesimo ; ed acci6 che piu paresse 
pietoso, proposi di dire come se io avessi parlata 
loro ; e dissi questo sonetto, Io quale comincia r 

unto us by our Lord Jesus Christ as the image of His 
beautiful countenance, (upon which countenance my 
dear lady now looketh continually). And certain 
among these pilgrims, who seemed very thoughtful, 
passed by a path which is wellnigh in the midst of 
the city where my most gracious lady was born, and 
abode, and at last died. Then I, beholding them, said 
within myself: "These pilgrims seem to be come from 
very far ; and I think they cannot have heard speak 
of this lady, or know anything concerning her. Their 
thoughts are not of her, but of other things ; it may 
be, of their friends who are far distant, and whom we, 
in our turn, know not." And I went on to say : " I 
know that if they were of a country near unto us, 
they would in some wise seem disturbed, passing 
through this city which is so full of grief" And I 
said also : " If I could speak with them a space, I am 
certain that I should make them weep before they 
went forth of this city ; for those things that they 
would hear from me must needs beget weeping in 
any." And when the last of them had gone by me, I 
bethought me to write a sonnet, showing forth mine 
inward speech ; and that it might seem the more 
pitiful, I made as though I had spoken it indeed unto 
them. And I wrote this sonnet, which beginneth : 
13 193 

'*Deh peregrini" ec. Dissi "peregrini," secondo 
la larga signiiicazione del vocabolo : ch^ peregrini 
si possono intendere in due modi, in uno largo 
ed in uno stretto. In largo, in quanto h peregrino 
chiunque h fuori della patria sua ; in modo 
stretto non s' intende peregrino, se non chi va 
verso la casa di santo Jacopo, o riede : e per6 k da 
sapere, che in tre modi si chiamano propriamente 
le genti, che vanno al servigio dell' Altissimo. 
Chiamansi "palmieri" in quanto vanno oltremare, 
Ik onde molte volte recano la palma ; chia- 
mansi "peregrini" in quanto vanno alia casa di 
Galizia, pero che la sepoltura di santo Jacopo, fu 
pii lontana dalla sua patria, che d' alcuno altro 
apostolo ; chiamansi " romei " in quanto vanno 
a Roma, U ove questi ch' io chiamo peregrini 

Quesfo sonetto non si dividey perl cK assai il manifesta 
la sua ra^one. 

Deh peregrini, che pensosi andate 
Forse di cosa che non v' h presente, 
Venite voi di si lontana gente 
Come alia vista voi ne dimostrate — 

Che non piangete, quando voi passate 

" Ye pilgrim-folk." I made use of the word pilgrim 
for its general signification ; for " pilgrim " may be 
understood in two senses, one general, and one special. 
General, so far as any man may be called a pilgrim 
who leaveth the place of his birth ; whereas, more 
narrowly speaking, he is only a pilgrim who goeth 
towards or frowards the House of St. James. For 
there are three separate denominations proper unto 
those who undertake journeys to the glory of God. 
They are called Palmers who go beyond the seas east- 
ward, whence often they bring palm-branches. And 
Pilgrims, as I have said, are they who journey unto the 
holy House of Gallicia ; seeing that no other apostle 
was buried so far from his birth-place as was the blessed 
Saint James. And there is a third sort who are called 
Romers ; in that they go whither these whom I have 
called pilgrims went : which is to say, unto Rome. 

Tlhis sonnet is not divided, because its own words 
sufficiently declare it. 

Ye pilgrim-folk, advancing pensively 

As if in thought of distant things, I pray. 

Is your own land indeed so far away 

As by your aspect it would seem to be, — 

That nothing of our grief comes over ye 

Per lo suo mezzo la citti dolente, 
Come quelle persone, che neente 
Par che intendesser la sua gravitate ? 

Se voi restate, per volere udire, 
Certo lo core ne* sospir mi dice, 
Che lagrimando n' uscirete pui. 

Ella ha perduta la sua Beatrice ; 

E le parole, ch' uom di lei pu6 dire, 
Hanno virtu di far piangere altrui. 


Poi mandaro due donne gentili a me, pre- 
gandomi che mandassi loro di queste mie 
parole rimate ; ond' io, pensando la loro 
nobilta, proposi di mandar loro e di fare una 
cosa nuova, la quale io mandassi loro con 
esse, acci6 che piu onorevolmente adempiessi 
li loro prieghi. E dissi allora un sonetto, 
il quale narra il mio stato, e mandailo 
loro col precedente sonetto accompagnato, 
e con un altro che comincia " Venite 

Though passing through the mournful town mid- 

Like unto men that understand to-day 

Nothin g at all of her great misery ? 

Yet if ye will but stay, whom I accost, 
And listen to my words a little space. 
At going ye shall mourn with a loud voice. 

It is her Beatrice that she hath lost ; 

Of whom the least word spoken holds such grace 
That men weep hearing it, and have no choice. 

A while after these things, two gentle ladies sent 
unto me, praying that I would bestow upon them 
certain of these my rhymes. And I, (taking into 
account their worthiness and consideration,) resolved 
that I would write also a new thing, and send it them 
together with those others, to the end that their 
wishes might be more honourably fulfilled. Therefore 
I made a sonnet, which narrates my condition, and 
which I caused to be conveyed to them, accompanied 
with the one preceding, and with that other which 

a intender " ec. II sonetto, il quale io feci allora, ^ 
*' Oltre la spera " ec. 

Questo sonetto ha in s^ cinque parti : nella prima dico la 
ove va il mio pensiero, nominandolo per nome di alcuno suo 
effetto ; nella seconda dico per che va lassu, e chi Hfa cost 
andare ; nella terza dico quello che vide^ cioe una donna 
onorata. E chiamolo allora " spirito peregrino," accih che 
spiritualmente va lassu^ e s} come peregrino, lo quale k 
fuori della sua patria vista ; nella quarta dico coni* egli la 
vede taky cioe in tale qualita, cV io non la posso intendere ; 
cioh a dire che il mio pensiero sale nella qualita di costei in 
grado che il mio intelletto ml pub comprendere ; conciossia- 
cosa che il nostro intelletto j' abbia a quelle benedette anime, 
come r occhio nostro debole al sole : e cib dice il Filosofo nel 
Secondo della Metafisica ; nella quinta dico che, avvegna che 
io non possa vedere la ove il pensiero mi trae, cioh alia 
sua mirabile qualita, almeno intendo questo, cioh che tal h 
il pensare della mia donna, perchh io sento spesso il suo 
nome nel mio pensiero. E nel fine di questa quinta parte 
dico '■'' donne mie care^^ a dare ad intendere che son 
donne coloro a cui park. La seconda parte incomincia : 
" Intelligenza nuova ; " la terza ; " Quand^ egli h 
giunto;'' la quarta: ''■ Vedela tal;'''' la quinta: "5o io 
ch' el par la. *^ Potrebbesi piu sottilmente ancora divider e, 

begins, " Stay now with me and listen to my sighs." 
And the new sonnet is, " Beyond the sphere." 

This sonnet comprises Jive parts. In the first, I tell 
whither my thought goeth, naming the place by the name of 
one of its ejects. In the second, I say wherefore it goeth 
up, and who makes it go thus. In the third, I tell what it 
saw, namely, a lady honoured. And I then call it a 
" Pilgrim Spirit, ^^ because it goes up spiritually, and like 
a pilgrim who is out of his known country. In the fourth, 
I say how the spirit sees her such {that is, in such quality) 
that I cannot understand her ; that is to say, my thought 
rises into the quality of her in a degree that my intellect 
cannot comprehend, seeing that our intellect is, towards 
those blessed souls, like our eye weak against the sun ; and 
this the Philosopher says in the Second of the Metaphysics. 
In the fifth, I say that, although I cannot see there whither 
my thought carries me — that-if, to her admirable essence — 
/ at least understand this, namely, that it is a thought 
of my lady, because 7 often hear her name therein. And 
at the end of this fifth part, I say, " Ladies mine," Jo 
show that they are ladies to whom I speak. The second 
part begins, " A neio perception ; "~7he third, " JVhen it 
hath reached; " the fourth, " // sees her such ; " the fifth, 
" And yet I know." It might be divided yet more nicely, 


€ piu fare intendere, ma puossi passare con questa 
dwisioney e perh non mi trametto di piu dividerlo. 

Oltre la spera, che pii larga gira, 

Passa il sospiro ch' esce del mio core : 

Intelligenza nuova, che V Amore 

Piangendo mette in lui, pur su lo tira. 
Quand' egli h. giunto U, dov' el desira, 

Vede una donna, che riceve onore, 

E luce si, che per lo suo splendore 

Lo peregrino spirito la mira. 
Vedela tal, che, quando il mi ridice, 

lo non lo intendo, si park sottile 

Al cor dolente, che lo fa parlare. 
So io ch' el parla di quella gentile, 

Per6 che spesso ricorda Beatrice, 

SI ch' io lo intendo ben, donne mie care. 

Appresso a questo sonetto apparve a me una 

mirabil visione, nella quale vidi cose, che mi 

, fecero proporre di non dir piu di questa 

\ benedetta, infino a tanto che io non potessi 

and made yet clearer ; but this dimsion may pass, and 
therefore I stay not to divide it further. 

Beyond the sphere which spreads to widest space 
Now soars the sigh that my heart sends above : 
A new perception born of grieving Love 
Guideth it upward the untrodden ways. 

When it hath reach'd unto the end, and stays, 
It sees a lady round whom splendours move 
In homage ; till, by the great light thereof 
Abash'd, the pilgrim spirit stands at gaze. 

It sees her such, that when it tells me this 
Which it hath seen, I understand it not. 
It hath a speech so subtile and so fine. 

And yet I know its voice within my thought 
Often remembereth me of Beatrice : 
So that I understand it, ladies mine. 

After writing this sonnet, it was given unto me to 

behold a very wonderful vision ; wherein I saw things 

which determined me that I would say nothing further 

of this most blessed one, until such time as I could 

20 X 

plu degnamente trattare di lei. E di venire a 
ci6 io studio quanto posso, si com' ella sa verace- 
mente. SI che, se piacere sarit di Colui, per cui 
tutte le cose vivono, che la mia vita per alquanti 
anni duri, jpero di dire di lei quello che mai 
non fu detto d' alcuna. E poi piaccia a Colui, 
ch' h Sire della cortesia, che la mia anima se ne 
possa gire a vedere la gloria della sua donna, cio^ 
di quella benedetta Beatrice, che gloriosamente 
mira nella faccia di Colui, gui est per omnia sacula 


discourse more worthily concerning her. And to this 
end I labour all I can ; as she well knoweth. Where- 
fore if it be His pleasure through whom is the life of 
all things, that my life continue with me a few years, 
it is my hope that I shall yet write concerning her 
what hath not before been written of any woman. 
After the which, may it seem good unto Him who 
is the Master of Grace, that my spirit should go 
hence to behold the glory of its lady ; to wit, of that 
blessed Beatrice who now gazeth continually on His 
countenance, who is blessed throughout all ages. 



p. 3, 1. 3. " Here beginneth the New Life." Ot this 
title Rossetti says : '* The adjective Nuovo, nmva, or Novella, 
novella, literally neiv, is often used by Dante and other early 
writers in the sense oi young. This has induced some editors 
of the Vita Nuova to explain the title as meaning Early Life, 
I should be glad on some accounts to adopt this supposition, 
as everything is a gain which increases clearness to the 
modern reader ; but on consideration I think the more mys- 
tical interpretation of the words, as Neiv Life (in reference 
to that revulsion of his being which Dante so minutely 
describes as having occurred simultaneously with his first 
sight of Beatrice), appears the primary one, and therefore 
the most necessary to be given in a translation. The proba- 
bility may be that both were meant, but this I cannot 

This rendering of Neiv Life is now almost universally 
adopted. It should be added that though we often find 
nova eta = early life, no passage has yet been discovered in 
which nova vita has that meaning. On the other hand, this 
latter phrase occurs in one of the poems of Dante da Majano 
(that beginning Giovane donna dentro al cor mi siede^ with the 
obvious meaning of neiv life: Gli spiriti innamorati cui diletta 
Queita lor nova vita (" the enamoured spirits, whom this 
new life of theirs delights "). The passage in Purg. xxx. 
115, which is mostly quoted in favour of the "early life" 

theory, should therefore most probably be used in support 
of the other rendering : Questi Ju tal nella sua vita nuova = 
'< this man was such in his new Wie^' (i.e. in the new life 
into which love led him). 

p. 3, 1. 8 sqq. j^Nine times already . . . eyes. Dante first 
met Beatrice when he was nine years old : the heaven of 
light, /. e. the sun, had made nine revolutions round the 
earth since the poet's birth. He is of course following the 
Ptolemaic system of astronomy, then in general use.'*!^ 

This figure nine recur s fr equently throughout the Vit a 
Nuova . (See below pp". 7, 9, 11, 21, 4 ^, 145, 187^ Dante 
himself explains the mysti c and sym Folirdl iHtjatii ug of t he 
number on pp. 147, 149. 

p. 3, 1. 11 sq. even she . . . ivherefore. Though Rossetti 
rendered this difficult passage correctly from the first, it was 
not till he published the second edition of his book that he 
fully grasped its meaning. He always realized that the 
literal rendering of the words is: "The glorious lady of my 
mind who was called Beatrice by many who knew not how 
she was called." But somehow he went wrong in the inter- 
pretation till, in 1873, he found the solution which seems 
most acceptable to modern scholars : " May not the meaning 
be merely that any person looking on so noble and lovely a 
creation, without knowledge of her name, must have spon- 
taneously called her Beatrice, — /. e. the giver of blessing ? 
This would be analogous by antithesis to the translation I 
have adopted in my text " 

p. 3, 1. 13 sqq. She haa already been . . . aegree. In the 
Convivio, II. 6, Dante says of the heaven of the sun that it 
"moves, following the movement of the starry sphere, from 
west to east one degree in a hundred years." Thus the 
twelfth part of a degree is eight years and four months ; and 
this was the age of Beatrice at the time of her first meeting 
with Dante. 


p. 5 J !• 8 sqq. The spirit of life . . . animate spirit . . . 
natural spirit correspond to the potentia vitalis, potentia animalis 
and potentia vegititi'va (or naturalis) of the schoolmen. Hugh 
de St. Victor speaks of them as follows : '' The vital power 
dwells within the heart, and whilst, in order to mitigate its 
heat, it inhales and exhales the air, it communicates life and 
wellbeing to the whole body ; for, by means of the arteries, 
it drives the blood, vivified by the pure air, through the 
whole body, and by the movements of the blood physicians 
recognize the regular or deficient action of the heart. — The 
animal power has its seat in the brain, from which it imparts 
life to the four senses, and stimulates the organs of speech 
into expression as well as the limbs to motion. There are, 
in fact, three brain-chambers : a front chamber, from which 
all sensation, a back one, from which all motion, and a 
third and intermediate one, from which the whole reasoning 
faculties emanate. — The natural power prepares within the 
liver the blood and other juices, which spread by means of 
the veins throughout the whole body ^^ (^De Anima, II. 13; 
the passage translated by Sir Theodore Martin). 

p. 7, 1. 7 sqq. The ultimate reference is to the Iliad, xxiv 
258 sq. : 

'Au5p6s ye durjrov trals ffifievai aWoi Oedio. 
" He seems not the son of mortal man, but of God." 

But Dante was almost certainly ignorant of Greek, and 
probably derived his knowledge of the passage from some 
Latin version of Aristotle's Ethica Nicom. VII. i, where it is 
quoted ; that he was acquainted with this particular book 
of the Ethics is proved by Conv. IV. 20. 

p. 7, 1. 2iJT nine years exactly. This second meeting there- 
fore took place on May Day, 1283. -jj^ 

p 9, 1 8. Great Cycle, eternal life. 

p. 9, 1. 21. lord of terrible aspect, Love. 

p. II, 1. lo sqq. Several of the commentators refer to the 
various legends of eaten hearts current in the Middle Ages, 
such as those connected with Guillem de Cabestanh and the 
Chatelain de Coucy ; likewise to the planh on the death of 
Blacatz, in which Sordello urges the princes of Christendom 
to eat of the dead man's heart, so that they may gain 
courage and virtue. Of course it is possible that Dante may 
have derived his general conception from one or other of 
these cases ; but there all resemblance ceases. 

p. 1 1 , 1. 2o sq. It is clear that the vision took'place during 
the fourth of the twelve hours of night ; and that when 
Rossetti writes " third " in line 6 of the sonnet on p. 13 he 
is mistranslating atterxate. There Dante says that the hours 
were almost divided by three — that is, the fourth hour had not 
yet passed. 

p. 15. 1. I sqq. Of the "many answers" three are pre- 
served, those of Cino da Pistoja, Dante da Majano and 
Guido Cavalcanti. They run as follows in Rossetti's 
version : 

CiNO DA Pistoja 

Each lover's longing leads him naturally 
Unto his lady's heart his heart to show ; 
And this it is that Love would have thee know 
By the strange vision which he sent to thee. 

With thy heart, therefore, flaming outwardly. 
In humble guise he fed thy lady so, 
Who long had lain in slumber, from all woe 
Folded within a mantle silently. 

Also, in coming, Love might not repress 
His joy, to yield thee thy desire achieved. 
Whence heart should unto heart true service bring. 


But understanding the great love-sickness 
Which in thy lady's bosom was conceived, 
He pitied her, and wept in vanishing. 

Dante da Majano 

Of that wherein thou art a questioner 
Considering, I make answer briefly thus. 
Good friend, in wit but little prosperous : 
And from my words the truth thou shalt infer, — 

So hearken to thy dream's interpreter. 

If, sound of frame, thou soundly canst discuss 

In reason, — then, to expel this overplus 

Of vapours which hath made thy speech to err, 

See that thou lave and purge thy stomach soon. 
But if thou art afflicted with disease. 
Know that I count it mere delirium. 

Thus of my thought I write thee back the sum : 
Nor my conclusions can be changed from these 
Till to the leach thy water I have shown. 

GuiDO Cavalcanti 

Upon my thinking, thou beheld'st all worth. 
All joy, as much of good as man may know. 
If thou wert in his power who here below 
Is honour's righteous lord throughout this earth. 

Where evil dies, even there he has his birth. 
Whose justice out of pity's self doth grow. 
Softly to sleeping persons he will go. 
And, with no pain to them, their hearts draw forth 

Thy heart he took, as knowing well, alas I 
That Death had claimed thy lady for a prey : 
In fear whereof, he fed her with thy heart. 

But when he seemed in sorrow to depart. 

Sweet was thy dream ; for by that sign, I say, 
Surely the opposite shall come to pass. 

14 209 

Cino da Pistoja (1270-1336 or 1337) was not only one of 
the chief lyrical poets of his time, but a distinguished jurist 
as well, lecturing on law in several important cities. That 
he and Dante were great personal friends is proved by the 
fact that the latter usually speaks of himself in the De 
Vulgari Eloquio as amicus Cini. Moreover, Dante addressed two 
sonnets to him (which are preserved, together with the 
replies), and Cino composed a beautiful canzone on the 
death of Beatrice, to console her lover (see below, note to 
p. 145, 1. 3 sq.). Rossetti held that «' of his claims as a poet 
it may be said that he filled creditably the interval which 
elapsed between the death of Dante and the full blaze of 
Petrarch's success." 

Of Dante da Majano we know so little that his very 
existence was questioned by Borgognoni in 1882: however, 
Novati (1883) succeeded in proving beyond a doubt that 
there was such a person. "All the writers on early Italian 
poetry (says Rossetti) seem to agree in specially censuring 
this poet's rhymes as coarse and trivial in manner ; neverthe- 
less, they are sometimes distinguished by a careless force not 
to be despised, and even by snatches of real beauty." I, for 
my part, feel bound to agree rather with the general verdict : 
Dante da Majano was not merely coarse (as the present 
sonnet proves), but very unoriginal, imitating the Proven9als 
even more slavishly than did the other early Italians. 

To G uido Cava l canti ( c. 1253-1300) the Vita Nuova wdL% 
dedica!ea (^see pT'i5i71. 2). Here and~"'elsewKere (see 
pp:*ii9, 123, 151) Dante calls him the first of his friends; 
in the De Vulgari Eloquio there are numerous references to 
Guido's poems ; while the Pur mt orio (yd. qt-qq^ contains 
the well-known passage — <' On e 6u^ hatTiTalcen f rom the 
other the glory of our tongue ;'"an(rperchance one is born 
wh o sliaH"^chase bot h tr onPThe ntibl "■^'--vghfcl'e — Ihr ' • 6'ne 
Gtfido " is generall y' interpreted as GuiHo CavalcaiTfi, " the 
other ' as Guido LiumicHllij aiKt hhfT^hpfwhn is d'estmed to 
surpass them both as Dante himself. Our Guido was the 

son of the Cavalcante Cavalcanti and the son-in-law ot the 
Farinata degli Uberti to whose fatherly love and to whose 
love of country, respectively, so splendid a memorial is set 
in the tenth canto of the Inferno. In politics he was a White 
Guelph ; and it so happened that during Dante's Priorate, 
in 1300, the feud between this faction and the Blacks under 
Corso Donati became so violent that it was found necessary 
to banish the heads of the parties. Guido was sent to 
Sarzana, an unhealthy spot, where he soon sickened and 
died (in August, 1300). No episode in Dante's life reflects 
more surely his impartiality and stern sense of justice. 
Guide's claims as a lyric poet seem in some ways under- 
stated in the following estimate by Rossetti : " The stiffness 
and cold conceits which prevail in this poem (the canzone 
Donna mi priegd) may be found disfiguring much of what 
Cavalcanti has left, while much besides is blunt, obscure and 
abrupt : nevertheless, if it need hardly be said how far he falls 
short of Dante in variety and personal directness, it may be 
admitted that he worked worthily at his side, and perhaps 
before him, in adding those qualities to Italian poetry. 
That Guido's poems dwelt in the mind of Dante is evident 
by his having appropriated lines from them . . . with little 
alteration, more than once, in the Commedla" 

p. 17, 1. 8 sq. ivhere ivords .... glory, i. e. in a church. 

p. 19, 1. 7. divers rhymes. The identification of such of 
these poems as do not appear in the Vita Nuova has much 
exercised the commentators. It seems clear, from a reading 
recently adopted, that the well-known sonnet, Guido, vorrei 
che tu e Lapo ed io, is one of the pieces in question (see 
Appendix I, No. 3). According to this theory, we must in 
line 9 substitute Lagia for Bice. Vanna would be Guido's 
mistress and Lagia the beloved of Lapo, while the lady 
who served as a screen would be the one who occurred 
thirtieth in the j/rw/i/^jf (unfortunately lost) to which Dante 
refers in line 10 of the Guido, vorrei sonnet, and more fully 

a little further on in the present passage (p. 19,1. 16). The 
same screening lady seems to have inspired the canzone, La 
dispietata mente che pur mira (see Appendix I, No. 4). — The 
term sirventese, adopted from the Provencal sirventes, generally 
applied to poems of a non-amorous character. 

p. 21, 1. 14. sonnet. " It will be observed that this poem is 
not what we now call a sonnet. Its structure, however, is 
analogous to that of the sonnet, being two sextetts followed 
by two quattrains, instead of two quattrains followed by two 
triplets. Dante applies the term sonnet to both these forms 
of composition, and to no other " (Rossetti). The technical 
name of this sonnet form is sonetio doppio. Another instance 
occurs on pp. 27, 29. 

p. 21,1. 15, sqq. because .... understands. If Dante, in 
writing this double sonnet, succeeded in putting his friends 
off the scent as completely as he has confused his editors, he 
may be said to have achieved his object to the full. I have 
never understood which portion refers to the screening 
lady, and which to Beatrice ; nor do any of the suggested 
explanations satisfy me. 

p. 23, 1. 18 sqq. These lines are, of course, a paraphrase 
oi Lamentations^ I. 12 (quoted in Latin on p. 23, 1. 20 jyy.). 

p. 25, 1. 13 sqq. ivhich thing. understands. Opinions 

differ as to whether the reference is to the lines on p. 27, 
5-10, or to those on p. 29, 11-14. Some editors (including 
Rossetti) think that the allusion is to both passages ; but this 
seems very doubtful. On the whole there appear to be least 
objections to the second set of lines. Those who favour 
the earlier ones rely on p. 123, 11. 15, 16. 

p. 31,1. 3. thitkerivaras. Why attempt to locate this spot, 
and to identify the journey with some otherwise known 
episode of Dante's life ? See, however, the note to p. 75, 
1. 3 sqq. 

p. 39, 1. z^ sqq. ^^ I am . . . not thus." Rossetti hazards 
the following explanation of this difficult passage as " a not 
unlikely one ": *' Love is weeping on Dante's account and not 
on his own. He says, < I am the centre of a circle {Amor che 
mmve il sole e le altre stelle) : therefore all lovable objects, 
whether in heaven or earth, or any part of the circle's cir- 
cumference, are equally near to me. Not so thou, who wilt 
one day lose Beatrice when she goes to heaven,' The 
phrase would thus contain an intimation of the death of 
Beatrice, accounting for Dante being next told not to inquire 
the meaning of the speech, — ' Demand no more than may be 
useful to thee.'" — Todeschini interprets as follows, and his 
view has found much favour with modern Italian editors : 
" I am, says Love, the centre of the circle, the circumference 
ol which is occupied by all lovers, and therefore the trials 
of all converge in me. Now I am troubled by the anxiety 
of Beatrice, who, eagerly responding to the warm and pure 
affection which she thought you cherished towards her, is 
grieved by your deceptions, by which she is led to believe 
that, setting her aside, you play at love now with this, now 
with that one." — For my part I think we have no right to 
credit Beatrice with sentiments for which there is no 
support in the Vita Ntwva, and which seem to miss entirely 
the spirit of the work ; and for that reason I am inclined to 
support the interpretation of Witte, which is in the same 
direction, but does not go so far: '<One single love sends 
forth its rays equally to all the parts of the circumference, 
that is, manifests itself equally in all the lover's actions ; 
but your actions have more than one centre." 

p. 43,1. 8. music. That music was regarded as an essential 
feature of Provencal lyrical poetry, is well known ; and it 
seems probable that it was in very general use among the 
early Italians too. Thus it seems clear, even without the 
explanatory note of the Anonimo, that in Purg. ii. 112-114, 
Casella sings to Dante a setting of the latter's canzone, Amor 
che nella mente mi ragiona. 


p. 47, 1. 4. leave her; idonnei, literally, " leave converse 
with a lady." The affirmative of the verb donneare is 
derived from Prov. domneiar^ " serve a mistress." 

p. 49, 1. 2. At a more difficult passage. See below, p. 1 23, 1. 6 
jyy., where Dante justifies his concrete use of apparently 
abstract matters. 

p. 49, 1. 19 jy. Names are the consequents of things. Foerster 
notes that this phrase frequently recurs in the disputes 
between the nominalists and realists. 

p. 53, 1. 18 sq. and p. 57, 1. 10 sqq. Who yet .. . . life ; of 
a surety .... return. " It is difficult not to connect Dante's 
agony at this wedding feast with our knowledge that in her 
twenty-first year Beatrice was wedded to Simone de' Bardi. 
That she herself was the bride on this occasion might seem 
out of the question from its not being in any way so stated ; 
but, on the other hand, Dante's silence throughout the Vita 
Nuova as regards her marriage (which must have brought 
deep sorrow even to his ideal love) is so startling, that we 
might almost be led to conceive in this passage the only 
intimation of it which he thought fit to give " (Rossetti). 
From this note it is clear that Rossetti (and he stands by no 
means alone) had not grasped the fact that marriage had no 
place in the love literature of the Proven9als and of the early 
Italians, their imitators ; nearly all the women celebrated by 
these poets were married women ; but the circumstance of 
their marriage is rarely alluded to with a word. That was 
the convention ; and though Dante's love for Beatrice was, of 
course, anything rather than conventional, yet the poet's 
literary treatment of his passion follows conventional lines 
throughout. Any allusion to the marriage of his beloved 
would have been entirely out of the picture according to the 
views of the time, and would have come as a shock to all 
his listeners and readers. So that it is quite safe to assume 
that the nuptials described are not those of Beatrice ; and 

that Dante's agony was caused solely by her contemptuous 
treatment of him, for which he was to be pitied, but for 
which, in the circumstances, she could not be blamed. 

p. 59, 1. 22. instruments, that is, the eyes. In view of 
Dante's words {And this difficulty, etc.), one hesitates to 
explain this passage at length. Besides, it seems clear 

p. 69, 1. 12 jy. Of another matter more noble than the foregoing. 
These words, as well as the dialogue with the ladies on pp. 
71, 73, will become clear if read together with the passage 
in the Preface, p. xiv, explaining the threefold division of 
the Vita Nuova. 

p. 75, 1. 3 sqq. Here again! do not see that it is part or 
an editor's duty to spoil the atmosphere of the narrative by 
elaborately attempting to define the ''clear water," or any- 
thing else. Most people, whether rightly or wrongly, will 
think of the river here and on p. 31 as the Arno ; while the 
'' city " of p. 75, 1. 17, is, of course, Florence. 

p. 77, 1. I sqq. Ladies that have intelligence in love. Readers 
of the Purgatorio will remember the dialogue between 
Buonagiunta ot Lucca (a typical representative of the early 
conventional school of love poetry) and Dante, the leader of 
tbej chool of the ddce stil nuovo ^ : '' « But tell me if I see here 
him who invented the new rhymes beginning : Ladies that 
have intelligence in Love F And I to him: 'I am one who, 
when Love inspires me, take note, and go setting it forth 
after the fashion which he dictates within me.' * Oh brother,* 
said he, ' now I see the knot which kept back the Notary 
[Jacopo da Lentini], and Guittone [d'Arezzo], and me, 
short of the sweet new style that I hear. Truly I see how 
your pens follow close after him who dictates [i. e. Love], 
which certainly befell not with ours. And he who sets 
himself to search farther, has lost all sense of difference 
between the one style and the other ' ; and, as if satisfied, he 

was silent " C £itfr«yiP^^ 49-^3 )' — The circumstance that 
Buonagiunta selectsas an exainpie of tht doice stil nuovo this 
poem with which begins the second and loftier portion of 
the Vita Nuova, is not without significance. 

p. 79, 1. 3 sqq. There ijohere . . . fray. The " one " 
is, of course, Dante ; but whether the two following lines 
should be taken as a forecast of the Commedia, or as an 
expression of the poet's sense of his own worthlessness as 
compared with the transcendent qualities of his mistress, is 
very difficult to decide. The former and more obvious inter- 
pretation is rejected by many critics on the ground that we 
cannot assume Dante to have conceived the Commedia as early 
as the period to which this poem would seem to belong 
(some time before the death of Beatrice). This rejection is of 
course based on the theory that Dante actually wrote all the 
poems of the Vita Nuova on the occasions and in the order 
specified by him. On the same principle we must interpret 
the words <' wh o dreads the los^ of her " not as a reference 
to the death of B eatric e, but merely as a iiaiL in th e poet 's 
conceptio n of her ; t or him she was a heaxenlx__bguig^ an 
angel, whose proper place was really n ever on earth , but 
• ^o nad been lent by Go ^ to the p oor mortals b elow, so that 
the y mfgTirgroW itt Vit-tue and good ^g eeds. — ForTny~part I 
prefer the sfmpler explanation. Dante may very well have 
formed the plan of his great poem as a young man. There 
is no occasion to place this canzone earlier than 1292 (when 
it appears in a MS., though these particular lines happen to 
be missing). Beatrice died in 1290 ; so that there would be 
no inconsistency between this explanation and the passage 
on p. 203, and we could still adhere to the theory, which, 
indeed, no lover of Dante would care to give up, that the 
QjSuaedia was i nspired by t he poet's passion for Beatrice. The 
only theory thztwould have to be given up is that according 
to which all the poems of the Vita Nuova were actually 
inspired and composed in the manner set forth by the poet in 
the prose passages. There can be no doubt that, as a genera] 

rule, they were. But are we to concede nothing to poetic 
licence ? And is it inconceivable that Dante may have 
written the present poem after the death of Beatrice, with 
the full intention of introducing it as though it belonged to 
the period preceding that catastrophe ; feeling that the 
mystic and prophetic touches, which were mystic and 
prophetic to none but the reader, would add to the general 
effect and intensity of the piece ? 

p. 8i, 1. 11. Smile, Rossetti adopts the reading riso 
though the best MS. evidence is all in favour of viso. He 
and the editors who think with him, are supported both by 
the explanatory prose passage on p. 83, 1. 13 sqq., where 
the greeting of Beatrice is defined as <« an act o fh^n mouth," 
i.e. a sm^te^ [cE~7^7r^. 133 jy."'*' When__weread how the 
fond smile was kissed'i)y sucTi a Ipyer " ] ; an3~By the lines 
in the canzone beginning, Amor_s]l£...nella mente mi ra^iona : 
"Things are revealed in her aspect which shows us of the 
joys of Paradise, I mean in her eyes and in her sweet smile, 
which lJ6"^~assigneth there as to thfiix. proper place." The 
sot ihet and prose pas sage on p p. 91, 9 3, on the whole seem to 
favour the sam^l^terpretation. 

p. 85, 1, 15, above ivritten. The reference is to passages 

like p. 35, 1. 15 sq.; p. 37, 1. 21 sqq.; p. 7I, 1. 2Z sqq. 

p. 87, 1. 6. What thing love is. The nature of love 
formed one of the main themes of all the early Italian poets, 
from Pier della Vigna and Jacopo da Lentini down to 
Guinicelli, Cavalcanti and Dante. I reproduce the epoch- 
making canzone of Guido Guinicelli {Al cor gentil ripara sempre 
Amore\ in the first place because it is perhaps the most 
important poem of the class ; and secondly because there is 
a reference to it a few lines lower down (p. 87, 1. 15 sq.\ 
where the <«wise man" is none other than Guido. Dante 
had the greatest admiration for his fore-runner, his numer- 
ous references to quel nobile Guido Guinicelli^ dominus Guido 

Guinicelli, maximus Guido, being topped by the splendid eulogy 
in Purg. xxvi, 97 jyy., where he speaks of him as "the 
father of myself, and of others my betters, who ever used 
sweet and graceful rhymes of love." — Of this poet, whom 
Rossetti calls " certainly the greatest of his time," little 
is known. He was a member of the Ghibelline Principi 
family of Bologna, where he was born about the year 1230. 
He was Podesta of Castelfranco in 1270, and exiled from 
Bologna in 1274, together with the Lambertazzi and other 
Ghibellines. According to some authorities he died at 
Verona in 1276. His earlier poetry is in the manner ot 
Guittone d'Arezzo ; but he soon recognised its artificiality 
and convention {cf Purg. xxvi. 124-126); and by uniting 
the best qualities of his predecessors to greater spontaneity 
and directness, and trusting to inspiration more than they 
had done, he b ecame \\\e^ fnnnH er of the Florentine^ fijiool, 
andnumberedCa va lcanti and T?ant6 attiohg his discT pJesT 

The famous canzone runs as follows in Rossetti's version 

"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 its 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 [bow d 

For which the lamp's high flame is fanned and 
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 shall 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 unveiled 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 daredst thou ? 

(When my soul stands with all her acts review'd ; ) 

" Thou passedst Heaven, into thy 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 slayeth 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." 

In Appendix I, No. 8, will be found another sonnet of 
Dante's dealing with the nature of love, probably composed 
about the same time, and rejected in favour of the one on 
p. 87 sq. 

p. 89, 1. 13 sqq, this subject . . . as Jorm does matter. The 
subject is the heart, X.\i^ poiver is love. L ove is t he essence of 
t he heart , m akes the heart what it is F^ven' as, in the 
language of tlie schoolmen, the form is the essence of any 
object (or matter'). 

p. 93, 1. 22 and p. 95, 1. I sqq. Those who, like the 
present editor, firmly believe in the identification of Dante's 
Beatrice with Beatrice Portinari, will be interested to learn 
something about her father, Folco. Most of the details 
concerning his life were first made known by Passerini in 
the Storia degli stabil'imenti di benejicenza ecc. delta citta di Firenze 
(Florence, 1853, p. 284 jyy.). He married Cilia di Gherardo 
di Caponsacchi, who bore him not only Beatrice, but several 
sons (to one of whom there is evidently a reference on p. 159, 
1. 20, see note). He was a wealthy Ghibelline of Florence, 
who in 1282 became one of the fourteen buonomini, and later 
in the same year one of the Priors — an office he again held 
in 1283 and 1287. In 1285 he conceived the idea of found- 
ing a public hospital, the S. Maria Novella, which was 
completed in June, 1288, and is still standing. He died on 
Dec. 31, 1289, and was accorded a public funeral. In his 

will he bequeathed to his daughter, Beatrice, the sum of 
fifty pounds (JEtem, dominte Bicijilia mea, et uxori Domini Simonis 
de BardiSf reliqui libr, 50, adjloren.^. 

p. 95, 1. 10 sqq. And because it is the usage . . ivith zvomen 
This custom, for which it would be easy to find parallels (so 
with the Jews to this day) is illustrated by Boccaccio in the 
Decameron (ii. 8): "To the chief church was the dead body 
carried, to be generally seen of all the people, his mother 
and friends weeping heavily by it, as many more did the 
like beside, because he was beloved of every one. In which 
time of universal mourning, the honest man (in whose 
house he died) spake thus to his wife : ' Disguise thyself in 
some decent manner, and go to the church, where (as I 
hear) they have laid the body of leronimo. Crowd in 
amongst the women, as I will do the like amongst the men, 
to hear what opinion passeth of his death, and whether we 
shall be scandalised thereby, or no.' " (Anonymous transla- 
tion, London, 1620.) 

p. 97, 1. 16. Ana therefore I "wrote tivo sonnets. It seems 
highly probable that Dante wrote two further sonnets on the 
same theme, which will be found in Appendix I, Nos. 9 
and lo. 

p. 99, 1. 17 sq. The reference is to the lines on p. 77, 1 
1 1 sqq. : But only ivill discourse . . . ivith any else. 

p. 103, 1. 19 sqq. It has been suggested that this passage, 
based on p. 113, 1. ^^ sqq., was inspired by Revelation, vi, 

p. 105, 1. 3. out of life, literally, " out of this life " (the 
earthly, as opposed to the eternal). 

p. 105, 1. 8. cloua. Witte hints that this beautiful con- 
ception (based on the poetic version of p. 115, 1. 10) may be 
derived from early Italian art. 


p. 105, 1. 10 jy. " Hosannah in the highest " — the words 
with which the Jews greeted Christ on his entry into Jeru- 
salem (cf. Si. Matthetju, xxi, 9 ; St. Mark, xi, 10 ; St. Luke, 
xix, 38 ; and St. John, xii, 13). 

p. 107, 11. 12 and 1 8. a young and gentle lady . . . ivho indeea 
•was of my very near kindred. Perhaps, as some think, that 
sister of Dante's, who, as Boccaccio tells us (in the Com- 
mentary on InJ. viii. i), was married to Leone Poggi. 

p. 109, 1. 20. this poem. It will be remembered that this 
is the canzone, which, according to Norton (see Preface, 
p. xiv), forms the centre of the work. 

p. 119, 1. 20 sqq. and p. 121. a certain lady. This is the 
Joan mentioned in the sonnet addressed by Dante to Guido 
Cavalcanti (see above, note to p. 19, 1. 7, and Appendix I, 
No. 3). Though Guido, who was not distinguished for 
his faithfulness in matters of love, never mentions this lady 
by name (a compliment he pays to others) yet there can be 
no doubt that she existed. The nickname of " Spring " 
supplies Dante with an opportunity for a play upon words 
(to which Rossetti says, <« I have given as near an equiva- 
lent as I could ") ; he was much addicted to this practice (see 
above, note to p. 3, 1. 12 jy., for another and a finer instance), 
as were his contemporaries and successors in Italy and else- 
where. — Here, in the prose passage, Dante sets forth a 
thought that struck him when the episode occurred (though 
of course it may not have struck him till later) ; which 
thought he omitted in the poem itself, because he believed 
that Guido's *' heart still regarded the beauty of her that 
was called Spring." And indeed, assuming that Guido 
still loved his Giovanna, it was as well to omit the conceit 
that, even as John {^Giovanni) preceded Christ, and spring 
{primavera) precedes summer, so Joan {Giovanna and Prima- 
•vera) preceded Beatrice. Rossetti, too, held that Dante 
suppressed "from delicacy towards his friend, the words in 
which Love describes Joan as merely the forerunner of 

Beatrice " ; and with regard to the final words ot the prose 
section that have just been quoted, he adds that perhaps 
"a reproach is gently conveyed to the fickle Guido Caval- 
canti, who may already have transferred his homage (though 
Dante had not then learned it) from Joan to Mandetta." — It 
seems probable that Joan figures again in the sonnet that 
will be found in Appendix I, No. ii. 

p. 121, 1. i6 sj. Si. Mattheiv, iii, 3 ; St. Mark, i, i ; St. 
Luke, iii, 4; St. John, \, 23. 

pp. 123-133. This digression, which was promised on p. 
49,11. 1,2, is full of interest to the student of things medieval, 
though it cannot be said to enhance the purely assthetic 
beauty of the work (any more than the dissertation on the 
figure nine on pp. 147, 149). If separated from its side- 
issues, Dante's main argument is as follows : In the preced- 
ing section Love, though in reality an abstraction, has 
become personified and been given human attributes. Now, 
poets in the vulgar tongue may do this, seeing that the 
great poets of antiquity did it ; only they must take care, 
as did their predecessors, that their personifications do not 
exceed the bounds of reason. 

p. 125,1. 16. philosophy, literally, "the philosopher," i.e. 
Aristotle. Dante is here alluding to passages like the 
following in the Metaphysics (from the section corresponding 
to chapter ii of the "little first book") which is here 
quoted in the old Arabic-Latin version : et etiam materia necesse 
est ut imaginetur in re mota (freely translated : " and also we 
must conceive that there is matter [a body] in anything that 
moves "). 

p. 125, 1. 20 sq. /acuities . . . unto man. Cf. the Epistle to 
Can Grande, section 26 : si homo est, risibiUs est ; and the De 
Vulg. Eloq. , I. 2 : solus homo habet commercium sermonis. 

p. 127, 1. 16. language of oco and the language oj" si. Dante, 

in common with others of his age, several times distin- 
guishes a language or dialect by the affirmative particle. 
Thus in De Vulg. Eloq., i. 8: "But a third idiom prevailed 

in all that part of Europe of them who speak it, 

some say in affirmation oc, others oil and others si, namely, 
the Spaniards, the French and the Italians." — As a matter 
of fact, oc was the affirmative of the Provencals, who are in- 
tended both here and in our passage, as is clear from another 
place in the De Vulg. Eloq. (u. 12): "The Spaniards have 
also used this line [of ten syllables], and I mean by 
Spaniards those who have written poetry in the vernacular 
of o<;" ; these words being followed by an example from the 
Proven9al troubadour, Aimeric de Belenoi. 

p. 127,1. \'] sqq. We shall not . . . hundrea ana fftyy ears. 
This is true of Italy, but not of Provence, unless Dante 
is referring only to the best period of the troubadours. 
However, it is quite possible that even if he knew the 
poems of the earliest troubadour, William IX, Count of 
Poitiers (and he may well have done so, in spite of De Vulg. 
El., I. 10), he may have been ignorant of the fact that he 
lived from 1071-1127. 

p. 127, 1. 19 sq. certain of a very mean sort. Dante is ob- 
viously alluding to some of the earlier poets, such as those 
mentioned in Purg. xxiv. (the passage is quoted above, in 
the note to p. 77, 1. i sqq.). 

p. 127, 1. 22. the first ivas moved . . . -was difficult. This 
theory is almost certainly not correct ; at any rate the 
earliest poems of Provence and Italy known to us are not 
love-songs. However, it is so beautiful that one likes to 
dally with it ; and the case of the modern Provenyal, 
Roumanille, who was led to write in his " vulgar tongue" 
rather than in French in order to be understood (not indeed 
by a mistress but) by bis mother, shows that there is at least 
potential truth in what Dante wrote. 

p. 127, 1. 25 JJ'. This thing is against such as rhyme concerning 
other matters than Love. The Commedia affords practical proof 
that Dante's views on this point were considerably modified 
in the course of time. In the De Vulg. Eloq. (n. 2) we find 
his later theory, or rather the germs of it: << Wherefore 
these three things, namely, safety, love, and virtue, appear 
to be those capital matters which ought to be treated of 
supremely, I mean the things which are most important in 
respect of them, as prowess in arms, the fire of love, and 
the direction of the will. And if we duly consider, we 
shall find that the illustrious writers have written poetry in 
the vulgar tongue on these subjects exclusively : namely, 
Bertran de Born on Arms, Arnaut Daniel on Love, Giraut 
de Borneil on Righteousness, Cino of Pistoja on Love, his 
friend [i.e. Dante himself] on. Righteousness. ... I do not. 
find, however, that any Italian has as yet written poetry on 
the subject of Arms. Having then arrived at this point, we 
know what are the proper subjects to be sung in the highest 
vernacular language" (tr. by Ferrers-Howell. ) 

p. 129, 1. 10. poets, i.e. Latin poets, whose unrhymed 
metre is throughout this section contrasted with the rhymes 
of the "vulgar" poets. 

p. 129, 1. 24 sqq. The two passages from the JEneia run 
as follows in Mackail's version (the speaker in the second 
being Phoebus, who addresses the Trojans) : 

" 'jEoIus — for to thee hath the father of gods and king ot 
men given the wind that lulls and that lifts the waves — a 
people mine enemy sails the Tyrrhene sea, carrying into 
Italy the conquered gods of their Ilian home. Rouse thy 
winds to fury, and overwhelm their sinking vessels, or drive 
them asunder and strew ocean with their bodies. Mine are 
twice seven nymphs of passing loveliness ; her who of them 
all is most excellent in beauty, Deiopea, I will unite to 
thee in wedlock to be thine for ever ; that for this thy ser- 
vice she may fulfil all her years at thy side, and make thee 
15 225 

father of a beautiful race.' -Solus thus returned : 'Thine, 
O queen, to search whereto thou hast desire ; for me it is 
right to do thy bidding. From thee have I this poor king- 
dom, from thee my sceptre and Jove's grace ; thou dost 
grant me to take my seat at the feasts of the gods, and 
makest me sovereign over clouds and storms."* {^neid, i., 

" Stubborn race of Dardanus, the same hand that bore you 
by parentage of old shall receive you again on her bountiful 
breast. Seek out your ancient mother ; hence shall the 
house of ^neas sway all regions, his children's children and 
they who shall be born of them. ' " (in. , 94 sqq. ) 

p. 131, 1. 8 jy. Lucan. In this passage from the Pharsalia 
(i., 44 sqq.^ the reading now adopted is debet instead of debts ; 
which would spoil Dante's point. However, editors like 
Weber give debes as a variant, and with this reading we get 
the whole passage as follows : *' To these destined wars, oh 
Caesar, let the famine of Perusia and the struggles of 
Mutina be added, the fleets, too, which rugged Leucadia 
overwhelmed, and the servile wars beneath the burning 
^tna ; still, much dost thou, oh Rome, owe to the arms of 
thy citizens, since for thy sake these events have come to 

p. 131, 1. 10 sqq. These words are from the Art of Poetry 
of Horace, 141 sqq. : " How much more to the purpose is he 
who attempts nothing improperly ! < Sing for me, my 
muse, the man who, after the time of the destruction of 
Troy, surveyed the manners and cities of many men.' " As 
Dante knew no Greek it is probably best to assume that he 
learnt from some commentator of Horace the fact that the 
lines quoted by him form the opening of the Odyssey. 

p. 131,1. 14 sqq. Ovid's Remedia Amor'ts begins thus : 
"Love had read the title and the name of this treatise, 
when he said : < War, I see, war is being meditated against 


p. 1 33 J 1. 4 -ryy- of ■whom . . . many. Though Dante had 
no doubt many poets in his eye, there seems to be a special 
jocose reference to Guido Cavalcanti, " the first of his 
friends," and Guido Orlandi. The former had written a 
poem in which he said that if it were not that death was a 
mere trifle to him, he would make Love weep for pity (^ se 
non fosse che'l morir m''e gioco, Farene di pieta pianger Amore) ; and 
at this sentiment Orlandi seems to be poking fun, when he 
wrote in a sonnet that ** sincere love neither weeps nor 
laughs " {cK amor slncero non piange ne ride). 

p. 137, 1. 2. labbia should rather be translated "counte- 
nance" — so, too, below, p. 159, 1. 10 and p. 177, 1. 10 
Students of the Commedia are familiar with this use of the 
word — with Pluto's enfiata labbia {Inf. vii. 7) ; with Virgil's 
miglior labbia {Inf. xiv. 67) and contenta labbia {Inf. xix. 1 2); 
and with Forese Donati's cambiata labbia {furg. xxiii. 47). 

p. 143, 1. 3 sq. Lamentations of Jeremiah, i. I. See below, 

p. 149, 1. is^qq- 

p. 143, 1. 8 sqq. that she might be glorious . . . Beatrice. In 
D ate's Paradise the position of Beatjritejs just bqlo\y the 
Vir gin Hilar y, separated from her only bx. ?iY!?_(see Par 
xxxii. 4-9). For the 'passage describThg Dante's first sight 
of Beatrice in the Empyrean, see Appendix IV, 2, 

p. 143, 1. 1 1 sq. Ana because haply . . . aeparture. Here 
would belong the beautiful canzone, Morte perch^ io non trtiovo, 
Rossetti's translation of which is in every way worthy of 
the original. But unfortunately it seems that we can 
no longer attribute it to Dante, and that it is rather an 
exquisite imitation of Dante by Jacopo Cecchi : so that I 
have, with the utmost reluctance, decided to exclude it from 
Appendix I. 

p. 143,1. 14^5-5-. TJie first is . . . little booi. Can Dante 
mean that the '< new life " which began with his love for 
Beatrice came to an end (temporarily, at least) with her 
death ? 


p. 143, 1. 20 sqq. it ivoula still he . . mine oivn praises. 
Witte and Carducci admitted that they could make nothing 
of this passage ; nor does it appear to me that any of the 
explanations that have been suggested since are at all 
satisfactory. — That it is wrong for a man to speak of him- 
self under any circumstances (cf. p. 145, 1. 2^7) was demon- 
strated by Dante in the Conv. i. 2 ; see too Purg. xxx. 55, 
62, 63. 

p. 145,1. '^sq. For the ivhich reasons . . . than myself. We 
have already seen (note to p. 15, 1. i sqq.) that Cino da 
Pistoja wrote a canzone on the death of Beatrice ; and the 
theory that Dante is here referring to that poem is decidedly 
attractive. Rossetti rendered it as follows : 

Albeit my prayers have not so long delay'd, 

But craved for thee, ere this, that Pity and Love 

Which only bring our heavy life some rest ; 

Yet is not now the time so much o'erstay'd 

But that these words of mine which tow'rds thee move 

Must find thee still with spirit dispossess'd, 

And say to thee: " In Heaven she now is bless'd 

Even as the blessed name men call'd her by ; 

While thou dost ever cry, 

' Alas 1 the blessing of mine eyes is flown 1 ' " 

Behold, these words set down 

Are needed still, for still thou sorrowest. 

Then hearken ; I would yield advisedly 

Some comfort : Stay these sighs : give ear to me. 

We know for certain that in this blind world 
Each man's subsistence is of grief and pain. 
Still trail'd by fortune through all bitterness : 
At last the flesh within a shroud is furl'd, 
And unto Heaven's rejoicing doth attain 
The joyful soul made free of earthly stress. 
Then wherefore sighs thy heart in abjectness 
Which for her triumph should exult aloud ? 

For He the Lord our God 

Hath call'd her, hearkening what the Angel said, 

To have Heaven perfected. 

Each saint for a new thing beholds her face, 

And she the face of our Redemption sees. 

Discoursing with immortal substances. 

Why now do pangs of torment clutch thy heart 
Which with thy love should make thee overjoy'd, 
As him whose intellect hath pass'd the skies ? 
Behold, the spirits of thy life depart 
Daily to Heaven with her, they so are buoy'd 
With their desire, and Love so bids them rise. 

God 1 and thou, a man whom God made wise. 
To nurse a charge of care, and love the same 1 

1 tell thee in His Name 

From sin of sighing grief to hold thy breath, 

Nor let thy heart to death, 

Nor harbour death's resemblance in thine eyes. 

God hath her with Himself eternally. 

Yet she inhabits every hour with thee. 

Be comforted. Love cries, be comforted I 

Devotion pleads, Peace, for the love of God I 
O yield thyself to prayers so full of grace ; 
And make thee naked now of this dull weed 
Which 'neath thy foot were better to be trod ; 
For man through grief despairs and ends his days 
How ever shouldst thou see the lovely face 
If any desperate death should once be thine? 
From justice so condign 

Withdraw thyself even now ; that in the end 
Thy heart may not offend 
Against thy soul, which in the holy place, 
In Heaven, still hopes to see her and to be 
Within her arms. Let this hope comfort thee 

Look thou into the pleasure wherein dwells 
Thy lovely lady who is in Heaven crown'd, 
Who is herself thy hope in Heaven, the while 
To make thy memory hallow'd, she avails ; 
Being a soul within the deep Heaven bound, 
A face on thy heart painted, to beguile 
Thy heart of grief which else should turn it vile. 
Even as she seem'd a wonder here below, 
On high she seemeth so, — 

Yea, better known, is there more wondrous yet. 
And even as she was met 

First by the angels with sweet song and smile, 
Thy spirit bears her back upon the wing, - 
Which often in those ways is journeying. 

Of thee she entertains the blessed throngs, 

And says to them : " While yet my body thrave 
On earth, I gat much honour which he gave. 
Commending me in his commended songs." 
Also she asks alway of God our Lord 
To give thee peace according to His word. 

p. 145,1. 14 iqq. Dr. Moore was the first to clear up all 
the difficulties of this very difficult passage. Here are his 
conclusions in his own words : " It is admittedly Dante's 
object to find the number nine pervading the date of Beatrice's 
death in respect of the day^ the months and the year. The 
year presents no difficulty, ' secondo 1' usanza nostra,' since 
1290 is the year in which the perfect number (ten) was nine 
times completed in that century. As to the months he has 
recourse to the Calendar of Syria, in which, the first month 
' Tisrin ' corresponding to October, June would be the ninth 
month. Now this information Dante doubtless obtained 
from Alfraganus, Elementa Astronomica, ch. I, where it is 
stated that « Tixryn ' is the first month of the Syrian year, 
and also that it corresponds with October. [There is no 
possible doubt that Dante was habitually indebted to 

Alfraganus for his astronomical acts, especially in the 
Conmto, where more than once he definitely acknowledges 
his obligation to him.] Finally, that the day of Beatrice's 
death should be the ninth day, he has to appeal to another 
Calendar, that of Arabia. [For Italia on p. 144, 1. 14 read 
Arabia. I was compelled to let Italia stand in the text, as 
Rossetti had adopted this reading. — Editor. 1 Now turning to 
the same chapter of Alfraganus, in the paragraph immediately 
preceding the last quoted, we read ' Auspicantur enim Arabes 
diem quemque cum sua nocte, id est civilem, abeo momenta quo sol 
occidit . . . sed apud Romanos, etc., dies nocti praemittitur, 
et dies quisque civilis incipit ab exortu solis.' Here is clearly 
the key to Dante's reference to < the use or Arabia,' and we 
perceive (what I believe has not been suspected before) that 
Beatrice really died on the evening of June 8, and not, as 
commonly supposed, on June 9, and that in order that 
Dante might still be able to call it June 9 he was obliged to 
have recourse to the Arabian system in which * the evening 
and the morning ' make up each day, and June 9 * secondo 
I'usanza nostra' began at sunset on June 8. Thus Dante 
has to a ppeal to thre e different calendars in order to secure 
the myst ical nqrnKer'nine i n the ujnpro miTin g date June 8, 
1222) Arabian for* the day, S yrianjor the month, Italian for 
th(i_y;ear7' {Studies in Dante, II, pp. l23-l24rDxford, 1899 j 
first communicated to the Academy of Dec. i, 1894.) 

p. I47j !• 6 sq. According to Ptolemy . . . are nine. See the 
arguments in Con-v. 11. 3, summed up in the words: ''So 
that according to him [/. e. Ptolemy] and according to the 
tenets of astrology and philosophy . . . the moving heavens 
are nine." — Readers of the Paradiso know what splendid 
use Dante made of these nine heavens of the Moon, Mercury, 
Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, of the Stellar 
Heaven and the Primum Mobile. 

p. 149, 1. 10 sq. ivroteunto the principal persons thereof. — Terra 
as a synonym for citta is found frequently in the Commedia and 

in later writers (down toTasso); so that Rossetti's rendering 
is perfectly justified, and many commentators agree with him. 
However, as Gaspary and others point out, it is curious that 
Dante should have gone out of his way to use the word terra 
immediately after cittade ; and the letter may well have been 
addressed to the princes of the earth (much as the Vita 
Nuova contains poems addressed to the faithful onies of love, 
to the ladies and to the pilgrims) — not with the object of 
being actually perused by them, but rather in the way that 
scholastic exercises were addressed to persons more or less 
appropriate. The fact that the epistle was in Latin supports 
this theory : why should Dante have written to the principal 
people of his native town in Latin ? 

p. 15 1> 1- 13 ^9' That this poem . . . its close. To those 
who have grasped Dante's mode of thought, this little touch, 
which might at first sight appear affected, is full of beauty 
and significance. 

p. 153 > !• 21 sqq. And because often ... as nvomens are 
Several poems contained in, or belonging to the period of, 
the Vita Nuova are addressed to the donne : see above, pp. 77, 
91, 97, and Appendix I, Nos. i, 7, 9, 10. 

p. 159, 1. 3. Nezu Birth. — secolo novo is here used in the 
same way a.s gran secolo on p. g, 1. 8. Conversely, on p. 165, 
1. 19, secolo, by itself, means " this earthly life." 

p. 159, 1. 16. Thy sisters are of course the other poems 
addressed to Beatrice. This seems clear enough, but in the 
Convivio, where everything has to be explained, Dante thus 
justifies his use of the word : "I say, ' sister ' by similitude, 
for as a woman begotten by the same begetter is called sister, 
so may a man call a work that is done by the same doer a 
sister ; for our doing is in a kind of way begetting " (iii. 9). 

p. 159, 1. 20 sqq. of a friend . . . gracious creature. It 
seems clear, especially in view of the express statement on 


p. 165, 1. 10 (as a brother) that this refers to one of the five 
brothers of Beatrice, of whose existence we learn in Folco 
Portinari's will (dated January 15, 1287) and elsewhere. In 
this document the two elder brothers, Manetto and Ricovero, 
are appointed to act as governors to the three younger ones, 
Pigello, Gherardo and Jacopo ; and it seems natural to 
assume that Dante's friend was one of the two older men, as 
the others would be almost too young for the friendship of 
a man aged twenty-five or twenty-six. 

p. 167, 1. 14 jy. on that day . . . life. We have now reached 
June 8, 1291. 

p. 167, 1. 16 sqq. I betook myself . . . tablets. Readers Ot 
Browning will recall how he has based a poem — Ofie Word 
More, on this angel drawn by Dante and a sonnet written by 
Raphael. It is not surprising to learn from Dante that he 
drew in his youth, for the Commedia contains a number of 
passages testifying to his love for and understanding of the 
fine arts. 

pp. 173-187. a young ana very beaut ful laay. To readers 
of the P^ita Nuova this whole episode of the yg«/// donna 
presents no difficulties: sh e was a girl whos e^ beaifty a nd 
s ympath y for a t ime cau sed Dante to forget Beatrice. tTn- 
fortunately, the poet saw fi t, at a later JiejOfld of his life, to 
envelop her in a shroud of mystery" and allegory, a proceed- 
ing_whicli7 in itsTurn", lias given birth to a whole irB'rary of 
more or less valuable commentary. An effort will be made 
in^SppgTidix II to set forth Dante's later views on this subject 
of thegentil donna; but it cannot be too strongly and too fre- 
quently impressed on readers of the F'ita Nuova that these 
later views do not really concern them at all. 

It may, however, be mentioned in this place that this lady 
is said (in Con-v. ii. 2, fully quoted in Appendix II) to have 
been first seen by Dante when " the star of Venus had twice 
already revolved in that circle of hers which makes her 
appear at even or at morn, according to the two divers 


periods, since the passing away of that blessed Beatrice who 
liveth in heaven with the angels and on earth with my 
soul." Lubin has proved (in his Dante e gli Astrononi Italiant) 
that each of these periods must be taken as 583 days and 
odd hours; proved it "beyond all possibility of dispute," 
according to Mr. Wicksteed (Convivio, Appendix n), who 
is more learned than most scholars in Dante's astronomy. 
Accordingly the lady of the window does not make her 
appearance till well over three years after the death of 

Every attempt to identify this lady leads to failure. How- 
ever, I give the following note of Rossetti's, not because I 
believe in the identification with Gemma Doriati, or indeed 
with any other woman we know of, but because the general 
axiom it contains is undoubtedly true : " Boccac cio te ll s us 
t hat Dante was married to Gemma Dona ti-aJjtgut a year after 
the death ot ijeatric e. Can Oemma then betKe ' lady of 
the Window,' his love for whom Dante so contemns ? Such 
a passing conjecture (when considered together with the 
interpretation of this passage in Dante's later work, the 
Convito) would of course imply an admission of what I believe 
to lie at the heart of all true Dantesque commentary ; that 
is, the existence alway s^oLfche actual e vents even w^ &rfij;he 
al legorical superstruc ture has beeBT-lTfeti Dy Uante Himself." 

p. 175,1. 15 Jyy- "whereby . paleness. See p. 81, 1. Z sq, 

p. 177, 1. 12. My heart . . . truth, literally, '<lest my 
heart be broken." Rossetti seems to have associated the 
idea of " split " with " torn from its allegiance." 

p. 179. 1. 3 sqq. Was not . . , others iveep. See above, 
pp. 107, 109. 

p. 185, 1. 4- to them to ivhom I luish this to be spoken, to Students 
of these distinctions, /. e. to students of philosophy. 

p. 187, 1. 10. about the ninth hour is a somewhat awkward 
translation of neW ora dinona. Perhaps "the time of nones " 


would be better. This would properly be 3 p.m. ; but, as 
"nones" were actually said at 12 "by anticipation," the 
hour here indicated is noon (cf. Purg. xxvii. 4 and Con-v. iv, 
23). This practice accounts for the English word " noon " ; 
the Spanish siesta (" [after-]noon sleep") is, strictly speaking, 
to a correcter term. 

p. 187, 1. 19, sqq. ana my heart . . . of reason. For the 
passage in the Purgatorio where Beatrice reproaches Dante 
with his forgetfulness of her, see Appendix III, No. i. Note 
*'.hat "bf' thprp (^Purg. XXX. 134) makes mention of visions 
(^sogno), such a^_thg^ane_described inThV present sectlQn7°Srs 
one o f tKe means she employed to call him.liack.tQ her... . 

alquanti di, rendereT'Iiy Rbssettl as '* so many"""3syr,^' is a 
rather vague term. It seems quite likely that the "thirty 
Ijionths " of which Dant^^speaks in Con'o. 11. 13 (see App'endix 
II^T'Wtren he is try ing to i denti fy the l ady_jwith Philosophy, 
re _Bj:esents the period of hisln fadellty tjo_the jnemory of 

p. 189, 1. 23. rhymes ajoreivr'itten^ i.e. the four sonnets 
written in honour of the donna gentile (yt-p. 173, 177, 181 and 

p. 191, 1. 18 sqq. About this time . . . beautiful countenance. 
Rossetti, who is very free in this passage, appears to follow 
the reading in quel tempo che molta gente andava, on which those 
commentators rely who think that a special pilgrimage is 
here referred to, namely, the huge concourse that was 
attracted to Rome by the Jubilee of the year 1300. How- 
ever, this seems in many ways unsatisfactory. There would 
be a gap of from five to six years between the present 
section and the preceding one ; and we would have to set 
the completion of the Fita Nuova far later in the poet's 
life than seems desirable. Besides, the best MSS. have che 
molta gente va : "After this sorrow, it happened, at that 
period when many people go to see the blessed image 

. . " ; and the reference would thus be to a particular 


period of any year, and not to a particular year at all. 
The periods of the greatest concourse were January and 
Easter, and probably the latter is intended. 

The image is of course the " Veronica " [Fera icon, or true 
image) ; that is (as Rossetti puts it) <« the napkin with which 
a woman was said to have wiped our Saviour's face on his 
way to the cross, and which miraculously retained its like- 
ness." In Par. XXXI. 103 sqq. Dante makes use of the 
Veronica in a simile to illustrate his rapture at the sight of 
St. Bernard : "As is he who perchance from Croatia cometh 
to look on our Veronica, and because of ancient fame is 
sated not, but saith in thought, so long as it be shown : 
' My Lord Jesus Christ, true God, and was this, then, the 
fashion of thy semblance ? ' " . . . 

p. 193, 1. 5. a path, perhaps the street known as dei Corso, 
where the Portinari dwelt. 

p. 195, 1. 7. At the shrine of Santiago di Compostella in 
Galicia (Spain). In the Paradiso (xxv. 17 sq.), St. James is 
heralded with the words : " Look ! look 1 behold the Baron 
for whose sake, down below, they seek Galicia." 

p. 195, 1. 16. Romers. The English verb " to roam " was 
modified in form owing to its association in the popular 
mind with Rome ; originally, of course, it had nothing to 
do with that city, being connected with A.S. araman and 
romigan = spread, stretch out (or over). 

p. 197, 1. 20. that other. See p. 161. 

p. 199, 1. 14 jy. In the first chapter of the second book 
of the Metaphysics (corresponding to what is now known 
as the "little first book," already quoted in the note to p. 
125, 1. 17) Aristotle says (according to the Arabic-Latin 
version) : E jus sit duobis modis : dignum est ut sit dijfficilis nan 
propter res sed propter nos. Dispositio enim intellectus in anima 
apud illud quod est in natura valde manifestum : similis est dispositioni 

oculorum vespertilionis apud lucem soils (which, freely translated, 
runs : '< And since this difficulty [/. e. of knowing the truth] 
is twofold, it is noteworthy that the difficulty is not in the 
object but with us. For the capacity of the intellect in the 
soul towards that which is quite manifest in nature is like 
the capacity of the eyes of a bat in the light of the sun "). 

p. 20 1, 1. 3. Beyona the sphere . . . space, indicating the 
motionless Empyrean, which is beyond the Ninth Heaven, 
or Primum Mobile. 

p. 201, i. 19. ivhich determined me . . any ivoman. The 
work indicated is of course the Commedia, in which Beatrice 
(Heavenly Wisdom) first directs Virgil (Earthly Wisdom) to 
save Dante from sin, by showing him the pains of Hell and 
Purgatory, and then herself guides him upwards, through 
the Earthly Purgatory and the heavens of Paradise, into the 
very presence of God. Every reader of the Vita Nuova may 
be trusted, if he has not already done so, to make a study of 
the Commedia ; but (as indicated in the notes) I have decided 
to give in Appendix III those passages from the Purgatorio 
and Paradise which appear to me to have special bearing on 
the Fita Nuova. For this purpose the version of Gary has 
been selected, which, being the most literary (rather than 
the most literal) extant, seemed to harmonise best with 
Rossetti's rendering of the Vita Nuo^a. 

p. 203, 1. II. Some of the MSS. close with the word 




£' nt' incresce di me si malamente 
[Seems to belong to the early days of Dante's passion] 

I mourn my piteous state so painfully, 
That the amount of grief 
From pity and from suffering is the same 
For now, alas ! I feel with deep regret 
That in my will's despite, 
The breath of the last sigh is gathering 
Within that heart, which the fair eyes did wound, 
When Love, with his own hand disclosed their charms. 
To bring me to the pass of my undoing. 
Ah me I how calm and meek, 
How soft and sweet toward me they were raised, 
When they at first began 
To cause my death, which now I so deplore. 
Saying : Our beams are messengers of peace. 

Peace to the heart we bring, to your delight, 
Said once unto my eyes 


Those of the lady kind and beautiful ; 

But when they from their intellect had learned 

That through the force of her 

My mind was taken from me totally, 

They turned and bore Love's banners far away ; 

So that their pleasing show of victory 

Hath never from that moment been beheld : 

Hence hath my soul remained 

In sorrow, who from them expected joy ; 

And now she sees the heart, 

At brink of death, to whom she was espoused, 

And is compelled to part from it enamoured. 

Enamoured and lamenting, takes her way. 
Beyond the gates of life, 
The soul disconsolate, whom Love expels : 
In such affliction deep she leaves the world, 
That ere she hence departs. 
Her Maker with compassion hears her plaint. 
At the heart's inmost core she makes a stand. 
Together with the remnant of that life 
Which is extinguished only by her flight : 
There she complains of Love, 
Who drives her from the confines of this world ; 
And many a fond embrace 
She gives the spirits, which weep unceasingly, 
That their companion they are soon to lose. 

The image of this lady hath a seat 
Exalted in my mind, 

On which Love placed her, for he was her guide 
And all the ills she sees affect not her ; 
But she more beauteous is 
Than ever now, and happier seems her smile ; 
Her fatal eyes she raises, and exclaims. 
Calling to her who grieves she must depart 

Begone, thou wretched one, away, begone : 

This the beloved exclaimed, 

Who wars against me thus as she is wont ; 

But now my pain is less. 

For all my feeling is far less acute, 

And nearer is the ending of my woes. 

The day on which this lady came to earth. 
As it is found inscribed 
In memory's record, which begins to fade, 
My young and tender frame was made to feel 
A passion then unknown. 
So potent that it left me full of fear ; 
For over all my faculties was thrown 
A curb so sudden, that I fell to earth, 
O'erpowered by a voice which struck the heart 
And, if the record errs not, 
The master-spirit trembled with such force. 
That it seemed sure that Death 
Was come into the world to take it thence : 
He who was cause of this laments it now. 

When the great beauty I again beheld 

Which makes me so lament. 

Ye gentle ladies whom I have addressed, 

That virtue which has most nobility. 

In gazing with delight. 

Perceived full well that its chief ill was born ; 

And knew what the desire created was, 

By admiration so intent and strong ; 

So that in tears it to the others said : 

There shall arrive, in place 

Of one whom I have seen, the beauteous form 

Which makes me fear even now ; 

And over all of us shall mistress be, 

Soon as her eyes their pleasure shall declare. 
16 241 

To you, O youthful ladies, have I sung. 
Whose eyes with every beauty are adorned, 
And who have thoughtful minds subdued by Love ; 
To you then let my words 
Be recommended wheresoe'er they are heard ; 
And hear me now declare. 
That 1 forgive that beauteous thing, my death, 
Who is the cause, and pity ne'er hath shown. 



Deh nwvoletta che in ombra cfamore 

[Seems to belong to the early days of Dante's passion] 

O cloud-like phantom, that in Love's sweet shade 
So suddenly before these eyes appeared, 
Have pity on the heart which thou hast wounded ; 
Which hopes in thee, and in desiring dies 

Phantom divine, excelling human form. 
Thou hast implanted in my mind a fire. 
With thy discourse, which kills. 
And then, by virtue of thy fervent spirit, 
Thou hast created hope, which partly heals 
Whene'er thou smil'st on me. 
O heed not the presumption of my hope ; 
But on the love which burns me turn thine eyes ; 
For many a lady has been doomed to feel 
Another's pain, by comfort too late given. 




Guido vorrei che tu e Lapo ed to 

[See Note to p. 19,1. 7] 

Guido, I wish that Lapo, thou and I 

Could be by spells conveyed, as it were now, 
Upon a barque, with all the winds that blow 
Across all seas at our good will to live. 

So no mischance nor temper of the sky 

Should mar our course with spite or cruel slip 

But we, observing old companionship. 

To be companions still should long thereby. 

And Lady Joan, and Lady Beatrice [rd'^^ Lagia], 
And her the thirtieth on my roll, with us 
Should our good wizard set, o'er seas to move 

And not to talk of anything but love : 
And they three ever to be well at ease, 
As we should be, I think if this were thus. 


La dispietata mente che pur mira 
[See Note to p. 19, 1. 7] 

Remembrance, which unpitying turns the view 
Backward to times that are for ever gone, 
On one hand carries war into my heart ; 
On th' other hand, the fond desire, which draws 
My thoughts to the sweet country I have left. 
Oppresses it with all the force of love : 
Nor do I feel within it strength enough 
And courage to maintain a long defence, 
Gentle Madonna, if not helped by you : 


If then you may think fit 

Ever to try and save it by your aid, 

O now be pleased to send your kind salute, 

By which its virtue may be comforted. 

Be pleased, O Lady mine, to fail me not, 

In this the heart's distress which loves you so ; 

For succour it expects from you alone. 

The generous master never checks his steed 

When by the servant called who needs relief ; 

For his own honour he defends, not him. 

And truly, my heart's grief afflicts me more 

When I reflect. Madonna, that your form - 

Is there depicted by the hand of Love ; 

An argument why you 

Should deem it worthy of the greater care ; 

For He, from whom all goodness must be learned, 

Holds us more dear that we his image are. 

If you, my sweetest hope should hesitate, 
And still delay in granting my request, 
Know, that expectance has the limit reached ; 
For on the verge of death my powers stand : 
And this you cannot doubt, who see me moved 
To seek the very last resource of hope : 
For man should every grievous burthen bear, 
Even the load which presses to the death. 
Rather than prove his greatest friend's true faith, 
Not knowing what may chance. 
And should an evil answer be returned. 
Thing there is not that costs a man so dear ; 
For death it hastens and embitters more. 

You, lady, are the one whom most I love, 
And who the boon most valued can confer. 
And upon whom my hope rests most secure : 
For only to serve you I covet life ; 

And what may to your honour best conduce 

I wish and ask ; all else to me gives pain : 

*Tis yours to give me what none other dares ; 

For " yes " and «< no " hath Love placed in your hand, 

Unfettered ; whence my service is my pride. 

My confidence in you 

From your humane and noble bearing springs ; 

For he who sees you by your outward air 

Well knows that pity hath her seat within. 

Then let your kind salute at last go forth, 
And come into the long expecting heart. 
Whose wishes, gentle lady, you have heard : 
But know, that at the entrance there is found 
A portal strong, barred by the dart which Love 
Hurled on the day when I was made his thrall : 
Wherefore admission is denied to all 
Except Love's messengers, who have the power 
To open, by his will who keeps it closed: 
Hence, in the war I wage, 
This aid's arrival might be to my loss. 
If unattended by the messengers 
Of him, the lord whose pleasure I obey. 

My Song, thy journey should be short and swift, 
For well thou knowest how brief will be the time 
That he who sends thee, if unhelped, can last. 



Dagli occhi delta m'la donna si muove 

[Seems to reflect the state of mind depicted on pp. 61-63] 

Forth from my lady's eyes there streams a light 
So gentle, that wherever she appears 

Things are beheld that may not be described ; 

Such their sublimity and nature are. 
And by their beams upon my heart is showered 

Such fear as makes me tremble and exclaim : 

Here will I never venture to return : 

But soon are all my resolutions lost ; 
And thither I return, again to fall ; 

Giving new courage to the timorous eyes 

That had already felt her powerful beams- 
Alas 1 when there arrived, my eyes are closed, 

And the desire which leads them perisheth : 

Hence let my state, O Love, engage thy care, 

' LycU 

Per una gh'irlandetta 

[Seems to reier to some episode similar to that narrated in 
the section on pp. 69-75] 

A garland have I seen 
So fair, that every flower 
Will cause my sighs to flow. 

Lady, I saw a garland borne by you. 
Lovely as fairest flower ; 
And blithely fluttering over it, beheld 
A little angel of Love's gentle quire, 
Who sung an artful lay. 
Which said, who me beholds 
Shall praise my sovereign lord. 

Let me be found where tender floweret blooms, 
Then will my sighs break, forth. 
Then shall I say, my lady fair and kind 

Bears on her head the flowerets of my Sire j 
But to increase desire, 
Soon shall my lady come 
Crowned by the hand of Love. 

Of flowers these new and trifling rhymes of mine 
A ballad have composed ; 

From them, to win a grace, they have ta'en a robe 
That never to another hath been given : 
Therefore let me entreat, 
When ye shall sing the lay, 
That ye will do it honour. 



lo mi son pargoletta bella e nuova 

[Sets forth the spiritual beauties of Beatrice and belongs to 
the period covered by the second part of the Vita Nuovd\ 

Ladies, behold a maiden fair and young ; 
To you I come, to show you in myself 
The beauties of the place where I have been. 

In heaven I dwelt, and thither shall return, 
To impart delight to others with my beams : 
And he who sees me and is not enamoured 
Shall never have intelligence of love; 
When Nature sought the grant of me from Him 
Who willed that I should bear you company. 

Each planet showers down upon mine eyes 
Most bounteously its virtue and its light : 
Beauties are mine the world has never seen, 
For I obtained them in the realms above ; 
And ever must their nature rest unknown, 
Unless to the intelligence of him 
In whom Love dwells to give to others bliss 

These words were written on the gentle brow 
Of a fair angel who appeared to us ; 
Whence I, to save myself, gazed full on her, 
And hazarded the losing of my life ; 
For so severe a wound I then received 
From one whom I beheld within her eyes, 
That ever since I weep, nor peace have known. 


Molti volendo dir che Josse Amore 
[See Note to p. 87, 1. 7] 

Many who fain would tell us what is Love 

Have lavished store of words, but still have failed 
To tell of him in terms approaching truth. 
And to define the nature of his worth. 

One hath described him as a mental flame. 
Imagination's offspring, born of Thought ; 
Others have said he was Desire, the child 
Of Will, and born of Pleasure in the heart. 

But I would say that Love no substance hath, 
Nor is a thing corporeal having form ; 
But rather is a passion in desiring ; 

Pleasure from beauty springing, nature's gift ; 
Such that the heart's wish every wish exceeds, 
And all-sufficient while that pleasure lasts. 


Onae venite voi cost pensose 
[See Note to p. 97, 1. 16] 

Whence come you, all of you so sorrowful? 
An it may please you, speak for courtesy. 
I fear for my dear lady's sake, lest she 
Have made you to return thus fiU'd with dule. 

O gentle ladies, be not hard to school 
In gentleness, but to some pause agree, 
And something of my lady say to me. 
For with a little my desire is full. 

Howbeit it be a heavy thing to hear : 

For love now utterly has thrust me forth, 
"With hand for ever lifted, striking fear. 

See if I be not worn unto the earth : 

Yea, and my spirit must fail from me here. 
If, when you speak, your words are of no worth. 



Vol donne che p'letoso atto mostrate 

[See Note to p. 97, 1. 16] 

<' Ye ladies, walking past me piteous-eyed. 
Who is the lady that lies prostrate here ? 
Can this be even she my heart holds dear ? 
Nay, if it be so, speak, and nothing hide. 

Her very aspect seems itself beside. 

And all her features of such alter'd cheer 
That to my thinking they do not appear 
Hers who makes others seem beatified." 

" If thou forget to know our lady thus. 

Whom grief o'ercomes, we wonder in no wise, 
For also the same thing befalleth us. 

Yet if thou watch the movement of her eyes. 
Of her thou shalt be straightway conscious, 

weep no more ! thou art all wan with sighs." 

Di aonne io vidi una gentile schiera 
[See Note to p. 119, 1. 20 sqq.^ etc.] 

Last All Saint's holy-day, even now gone by, 

1 met a gathering of damozels ; 


She that came first, as one doth who excels, 
Had Love with her, bearing her company : 

A flame burn'd forward through her steadfast eye. 
As when in living fire a spirit dwells : 
So, gazing with the boldness which prevails 
O'er doubt, I saw an angel visibly. 

As she pass'd on, she bow'd her mild approof 
And salutation to all men of worth. 
Lifting the soul to solemn thoughts aloof. 

In Heaven itself that lady had her birth, 
I think, and is with us for our behoof: 
Blessed are they who meet her on the earth. 




THE Donna Gentile OF THE F'Ha Nuova AND OF THE Convi-vio. 
[See Note to pp. 173-187.] 

In the opening chapter of the Convivio Dante writes 
— (the translation used is that of Mr. P. H. Wicksteed) : 
** The viands of this banquet will be served in fourteen 
fashions, that is to say fourteen odes, treating as well of love 
as of virtue, which without the present bread had the 
shadow of a certain obscurity, so that to many their beauty 
was more in favour than their excellence. But this bread, to 
wit the present exposition, will be the light which shall 
make apparent every line of their significance. And if in 
the present work (which is entitled, and which I wish to be, 
the Banquet) the handling be more virile than in the Neiv 
Life, I do not intend thereby to throw a slight in any respect 
upon the latter, but rather to strengthen that by this ; seeing 
that it conforms to reason that that should be fervid and 
impassioned, this temperate and virile. For a different 
thing is comely to say and to do at one age than another ; 
wherefore certain ways are suitable and laudable at one age 
which are foul and blameworthy at another. . . . And in 
that I spoke before entrance on the prime of manhood, and 
in this when I had already passed the same. And inasmuch 
as my true purpose was other than the aforesaid odes out- 
wardly display, I intend to set them forth by allegorical 
exposition after having discussed the literal story. So that 
the one account and the other will supply a relish to those 
who are invited to this feast. ..." (1. 1) 

Now, of the fourteen canzoni which were to be expounded 
in the Convivio, only three were actually treated — for the 
work is a fragment ; and of these three we are concerned 
only with the first — P^oi che intendendo il terzo del movete. This 
poem deals with the fresh love which, as described towards 
the end of the Vita Nuova, threatened for a time to oust the 
love of Beatrice from Dante's breast. The piece was 
rendered as follows by Lyell : 

Ye who by intellect the third heaven move, 
Give ear unto the reasoning in my heart, 
Which none but you may hear, so strange it seems : 
The heaven that obeys your influence. 
Creatures who are all gentleness and love, 
Hath drawn me to the state in which I am ; 
Hence the discourse upon the life I prove. 
It seems, should meetly be address'd to you ; 
Therefore I pray you to attend to me. 
I will unfold to you the heart's new cares 
How the dejected soul within it weeps ; 
And how a spirit against her reasoneth, 
Which on the beams of your fair heart descends. 

The joyless heart was wont to be sustain'd 
In life by a sweet thought, which often bent 
Its flight unto the footstool of your Sire ; 
Where it beheld a lady glorified. 
Of whom so sweetly it discoursed to me. 
That the soul said, would I could follow her I 
Now appears one which drives the thought away. 
And rules me with such power, that it makes 
The heart to tremble so as to be seen. 
A lady this one makes me to regard. 
And says, he who would see the bliss of heaven, 
Lfet him intently view his lady's eyes. 
Unless the painfulness of sighs he dread. 

This rival spirit opposes and destroys 

The humble thought, accustom'd to discourse 
Of a bright angel who in heaven is crown'd. 
The soul so mourns her loss that still she weeps, 
And says, ah woe is me I how flees away 
The pitying thought that was my comforter 1 
Again, the troubled soul says of mine eyes, 
What was the hour this lady look'd on them ? 
And why believed they not my v/ords ol her ? 
I said, full surely in that lady's eyes 
Must dwell the power that such as me destroys ; 
And it avail'd me not that I foresaw 
They should not gaze on her, whence I am dead. 

Thou art not dead, but in delusion strayest, 
Poor soul, who so lamentest thy estate, 
Exclaims a little gentle spirit of love ; 
For this fair lady, who disquiets thee. 
Has so transformed thy life, that thou hast fear 
Of her, so spiritless thou art become, 
Behold how piteous and how meek she is, 
How courteous in her greatness and how sage ; 
And think to call her mistress evermore : 
For thou shalt see, if not by self deceived. 
The beauty of such lofty miracles, 
That thou wilt say, O Love, my sovereign true, 
Behold thy handmaid ; do as pleaseth thee. 

My Song, I do believe that there are few 

Who will thy reasoning rightly understand, 
To them so hard and dark is thy discourse. 
Hence peradventure, if it come to pass 
That thou shouldst find thyself with persons who 
Appear unskill'd to comprehend thee well, 
I pray thee then, my young and well beloved, 
Be not discomforted, but say to them, 
Take note at least how beautiful I am. 


Before proceeding with his commentary, Dante says '<it 
should be known that writings may be taken and should be 
expounded chiefly in four senses. The first is called the 
literal, and it is the one that extends no further than the 
letter as it stands; the second is called the allegorical, and is 
the one that hides itself under the mantle of these tales, and 
is a truth hidden under beauteous fashion . . . ." (n.»i) 
The third and fourth are the "moral" and the "anagogi- 
cal," respectively, which we shall not require. 

In the following chapter (ii. 2) the literal exposition is 
begun : " To begin with, then, I say that the star of Venus 
had twice already revolved in that circle of hers which 
makes her appear at even or at morn, according to the two 
divers periods, since the passing away of that blessed 
Beatrice who liveth in heaven with the angels and on earth 
with my soul, when that gentle lady, of whom I made 
mention in the end of the Vita Nuova, first appeared to my 
eyes accompanied with love, and took some place in my 
mind. And, as is told by me in the aforesaid book, more 
of her gentleness than of my choice it came to pass that I 
consented to be hers ; for she showed herself to be impas- 
sioned by so great pity for my widowed life that the spirits 
of my eyes became in supreme degree her friends. And 
when thus affected, they so wrought within me that my 
pleasure was content to put itself at the disposal of this 
image. But because love cometh not to birth and growth 
and perfect state in a moment, but needeth some certain 
time and nourishment of thoughts, especially where there 
be counter thoughts that impede it, it was necessary ere 
this new love became perfect that there should be much 
strife between the thought which nourished it and that 
which was counter to it, and which still held the citadel of 
my mind on behalf of that glorified Beatrice. Wherefore 
the one was constantly reinforced from behind. And the 
reinforcement from before increased day by day (which the 
other might not) a hindering me, in a certain sense, from 

turning my face backwards. Wherefore it seemed to me so 
strange, and also so hard to endure, that I might not 
sustain it ; and with a kind of cry (to excuse myself for the 
change wherein, methought, I showed lack of firmness) I 
directed my voice to that quarter whence came the victory 
of the new thought (and the same, being a celestial virtue, 
was most victorious), and I began to say, — 

T'e ivho by intellect the third heaven move. " 

The complete literal commentary fills chapters 2-12, 
which must be left to the advanced student. It may, how- 
ever, be noted in passing that Dante is led to speak at 
length on immortality, <' for in such discourse will be a fair 
ending of my speech concerning that living Beatrice, in 
bliss, of whom I purpose to speak no further in this book ; " 
and that he winds up the digression with the words : " and 
so I believe, so aver, and so am assured, of the passage after 
this life to another better life, where this lady liveth in 
glory . . . " (u. 9.) 

The allegorical interpretation, too, occupies a number ot 
chapters ; but the main argument is again contained in one 
of them (11. 13) which alone will be given here : 

" Now that the literal meaning has been adequately 
explained, we are to proceed to the allegorical and true 
exposition. And therefore, beginning again from the 
beginning, I say that when I lost the first delight of my 
soul, whereof mention is made above, I was pierced by so 
great sorrow that no comfort availed me. Yet after a 
certain time my mind, which was casting about to heal 
itself, made proof (since neither my own consolation nor 
that of others availed) to fall back upon the manner which 
a certain disconsolate one had erst followed to console 
himself. And I set myself to read that book of Boethius, 
not known to many, wherein, a captive and an exile, he 
had consoled himself. And hearing further that TuUy had 


written another book wherein, treating Of Friendship, he 
had touched upon words of the consolation of Lelius, a 
man of highest excellence, on the death of Scipio his friend, 
I set myself to reading it. And although it was at first 
difficult for me to enter into their meaning, finally I entered 
as deeply into it as my command of Latin, and what little 
wit I had, enabled me to do ; by which wit I already began 
to perceive many things as in a dream ; as may be seen in 
the Fita Nuova. And as it is wont to chance that a man 
goeth in search of silver and beyond his purpose findeth 
gold, the which some hidden cause presents, not, I take it, 
without divine command ; so I, who was seeking to console 
myself, found not only a cure for my tears, but words of 
authors, and of sciences, and ot books, pondering upon 
which I judged that Philosophy, who was the lady of these 
authors, of these sciences, and of these books, was a thing 
supreme ; and I conceived her after the fashion of a gentle 
lady, and I might not conceive her in any attitude save that 
of compassion ; wherefore the sense for truth so loved to 
gaze upon her that I could scarce turn it away from her ; 
and impelled by this imagination of her, I began to go 
where she was in very truth revealed, to wit, to the schools 
of the religious orders, and to the disputations of the 
philosophers ; so that in a short time, I suppose some thirty 
months, I began to feel so much of her sweetness that the 
love of her expelled and destroyed every other thought. 
Wherefore, feeling myself raised from the thought of that 
first love even to the virtue of this, as though in amazement 
I opened my mouth in the utterance of the ode before us, 
expressing my state under the figure of other things ; 
because rhyme in any vernacular was unworthy to speak in 
open terms of the lady of whom I was enamoured ; nor were 
the hearers so well prepared as to have easily apprehended 
straightforward words ; nor would they have given credence 
to the true meaning, as they did to the fictitious ; and, 
accordingly, folk did, in fact, altogether believe that I had 

been disposed to this love, which they did not believe of 
the other. I began therefore to say : 

Ye ivho by intellect the third heaven move." 

There seems no occasion to add anything to these 
passages : they may be allowed to speak for themselves. 





Purgatorio, xxx, 12-45, xxxi, xxxii, 1-9. 

I have beheld, ere now, at break of day, 

The eastern clime all roseate, and the sky 

Oppos'd, one deep and beautiful serene, 

And the sun's face so shaded, and with mists 

Attemper'd at his rising, that the eye 

Long while endur'd the sight : thus in a cloud 

Of flowers, that from those hands angelic rose, 

And down, within and outside of the car, 

Fell showering, in white veil with olive wreath'd, 

A virgin in my view appear'd, beneath 

Green mantle, rob'd in hue of living flame : 

And o'er my spirit, that in former days 

Within her presence had abode so long. 

No shudd'ring terror crept. Mine eyes, no^fl^ore 

Had knowledge of her ; yCtrthefe mov'd ifrom her 

A hidden virtue, at whose touch awak'd, 

The power of ancient love was strong within me. 

No sooner on my vision streaming, smote 

The heav'nly influence, which, years past, and e'en 

In childhood, thrill'd me, than towards Virgil I 


Turn'd me to leftward, panting, like a babe, 
That flees for refuge to his mother's breast, 
If aught have terrified or work'd him woe : 
And would have cried : " There is no dram of blood. 
That doth not quiver in me. The old flame 
Throws out clear tokens of reviving fire ; " 
But Virgil had bereav'd us of himself, 
Virgil, my best-lov'd father ; Virgil, he 
To whom I gave me up for safety : nor, 
All, our prime mother lost, avail'd to save 
My undew'd cheeks from blur of soiling tears. 
" Dante, weep not, that Virgil leaves thee : nay, 
Weep thou not yet : behoves thee feel the edge 
Of other sword, and thou shalt weep for that." 
As to the prow or stern, some admiral 
Paces the deck, inspiriting his crew. 
When 'mid the sail-yards all hands ply aloof; 
Thus on the left side of the car I saw 
(Turning me at the sound of mine own name, 
Which here I am compell'd to register) 
The virgin station'd, who before appear'd 
Veil'd in that festive shower angelical. 
Towards me, across the stream, she bent her eyes ; 
Though from her brow the veil descending, bound 
With foliage of Minerva, suffer'd not 
That 1 beheld her clearly ; then with act 
Full royal, still insulting o'er her thrall, 
Added, as one, who speaking keepeth back 
The bitterest saying, to conclude the speech :■ 
'< Observe me well. I am, in sooth, I am 
Beatrice. What I and hast thou deign'd at last 
Approach the mountain ? Knewest not, O man I' 
Thy happiness is here ? " Down fell mine eyes 
On the clear fount, but there, myself espying, 
Recoil'd, and sought the greensward : such a weight 
Of shame was on my forehead. With a mien 
17—2 259 

Of that stern majesty, which doth surround 
A mother's presence to her awe-struck child, 
She look'd ; a flavour of such bitterness 
Was mingled in her pity. There her words 
Brake off, and suddenly the angels sang : 
" In thee, O gracious Lord, my hope hath been : " 
But went no farther than, " Thou, Lord, hast set 
My feet in ample room." As snow, that lies 
Amidst the living rafters on the back 
Of Italy congeal'd, when drifted high 
And closely pil'd by rough Sclavonian blasts. 
Breathe but the land whereon no shadow falls, 
And straightway melting it distils away, 
Like a fire- wasted taper : thus was I, 
Without a sigh or tear, or ever these 
Did sing, that with the chiming of heav'n's sphere, 
Still in their warbling chime: but when the strain 
Of dulcet symphony, express'd for me 
Their soft compassion, more than could the words 
"Virgin, why so consum'st him? " then the ice, 
Congeal'd about my bosom, turn'd itself 
To spirit and water, and with anguish forth 
Gush'd through the lips and eyelids from the heart. 
Upon the chariot's right edge still she stood. 
Immovable, and thus address'd her words 
To those bright semblances with pity touch'd : 
" Ye, in th' eternal day your vigils keep, 
So that nor night nor slumber, with close stealth. 
Conveys from you a single step in all 
The goings on of life : thence with more heed 
I shape mine answer, for his ear intended. 
Who there stands weeping, that the sorrow now 
May equal the transgression. Not alone 
Through operations of the mighty orbs. 
That mark each seed to some predestin'd aim. 
As with aspect or fortunate or ill 

The constellations meet, but through benign 

Largess of heav'nly graces, which rain down 

From such a height as mocks our vision, this man 

Was in the freshness of his being, such, 

So gifted virtually, that in him 

All better habits wond'rously had thriv'd. 

The more of kindly strength is in the soil. 

So much doth evil seed and lack of culture 

Mar it the more, and make it run to wildness. 

These looks sometime upheld him ; for I show'd 

My youthful eyes, and led him by their light 

In upright walking. Soon as I had reach'd 

The threshold of my second age, and chang'd 

My mortal for immortal, then he left me, 

And gave himself to others. When from flesh 

To spirit I had risen, and increase 

Of beauty and of virtue circled me, 

I was less dear to him, and valued less. 

His steps were turn'd into deceitful ways, 

Following false images of good, that make 

No promise perfect. Nor avail'd me aught 

To sue for inspirations, with the which 

I, both in dreams of night, and otherwise, 

Did call him back ; of them so little reck'd him, 

Such depth he fell, that all device was short 

Of his preserving, save that he should view 

The children of perdition. To this end 

I visited the purlieus of the dead : 

And one, who hath conducted him thus high, 

Received my supplications urg'd with weeping. 

It were a breaking of God's high decree. 

If Lethe should be past, and such food tasted 

Without the cost of some repentant tear." 

" O thou ! " her words she thus without delay 
Resuming, turn'd their point on me, to whom 

They but with lateral edge seem'd harsh before, 
'* Say thou, who stand'st beyond the holy stream, 
If this be true. A charge so grievous needs 
Thine own avowal." On my faculty 
Such strange amazement hung, the voice expir'd 
Imperfect, ere its organs gave it birth. 
A little space refraining, then she spake: 
" What dost thou muse on ? Answer me. The wave 
On thy remembrances of evil yet 
Hath done no injury." A mingled sense 
Of fear and of confusion, from my lips 
Did such a " Yea " produce, as needed help 
Of vision to interpret. As when breaks' 
In act to be discharg'd, a cross-bow bent 
Beyond its pitch, both nerve and bow o'erstretch'd. 
The flagging weapon feebly hits the mark ; 
Thus, tears and sighs forth gushing, did I burst 
Beneath the heavy load, and thus my voice 
Was slacken'd on its way. She straight began : 
*' When my desire invited thee to love 
The good, which sets a bound to our aspirings, 
What bar of thwarting foss or linked chain 
Did meet thee, that thou so should'st quit the hope 
Of further progress, or what bait of ease 
Or promise of allurement led thee on 
Elsewhere, that thou elsewhere should'st rather wait ? " 
A bitter sigh I drew, then scarce found voice 
To answer, hardly to these sounds my lips 
Gave utterance, wailing: *' Thy fair looks withdrawn. 
Things present, with deceitful pleasures, turn'd 
My steps aside." She answering spake : " Hadst thou 
Been silent, or denied what thou avow'st, 
Thou hadst not hid thy sin the more : such eye 
Observes it. But whene'er the sinner's cheek 
Breaks forth into the precious-streaming tears 
Of self-accusing, in our court the wheel 

Of justice doth run counter to the edge. 
Howe'er, that thou may'st profit by thy shame 
For errors past, and that henceforth more strength 
May arm thee, when thou hear'st the Syren-voice', 
Lay thou aside the motive to this grief, 
And lend attentive ear, while I unfold 
How opposite a way my buried flesh 
Should have impelled thee. Never didst thou spy 
In art or nature aught so passing sweet, 
As were the limbs, that in their beauteous frame 
Enclos'd me, and are scatter'd now in dust. 
If sweetest thing thus fail'd thee with my death, 
What, afterward, of mortal should thy wish 
Have tempted ? When thou first hadst felt the dart 
Of perishable things, in my departing 
For better realms, thy wing thou should'st have prun'd 
To follow me, and never stoop'd again 
To 'bide a second blow for a slight girl, 
Or other gaud as transient and as vain. 
The new and inexperienc'd bird awaits, 
Twice it may be, or thrice, the fowler's aim ; 
But in the sight of one whose plumes are full, 
In vain the net is spread, the arrow wing'd." 
I stood, as children silent and asham'd 
Stand, list'ning, with their eyes upon the earth, 
Acknowledging their fault and self-condemn'd. 
And she resum'd : "If, but to hear thus pains thee. 
Raise thou thy beard, and lo I what sight shall do I ** 
With less reluctance yields a sturdy holm. 
Rent from its fibres by a blast, that blows 
From off the pole, or from larbas' land, 
Than I at her behest my visage rais'd : 
And thus the face denoting by the beard, 
I mark'd the secret sting her words convey'd. 
No sooner lifted I mine aspect up, 
Than downward sunk that vision I beheld 

Of goodly creatures vanish ; and mine eyes 
Yet unassur'd and wavering, bent their light 
On Beatrice. Towards the animal, 
Who joins two natures in one form, she turn'd, 
And, even under shadow of her veil. 
And parted by the verdant rill, that flow'd 
Between, in loveliness appear'd as much 
Her former self surpassing, as on earth 
All others she surpass'd. Remorseful goads 
Shot sudden through me. Each thing else, the more 
Its love had late beguil'd me, now the more 
Was loathsome. On my heart so keenly smote 
The bitter consciousness, that on the ground 
O'erpower'd I fell : and what my state was then. 
She knows who was the cause. When now my strength 
Flow'd back, returning outward from the heart, 
The lady, whom alone I first had seen, 
I found above me. '« Loose me not," she cried : 
"Loose not thy hold ; " and lo ! had dragg'd me high 
As to my neck into the stream, while she. 
Still as she drew me after, swept along, 
Swift as a shuttle, bounding o'er the wave. 
The blessed shore approaching, then was heard 
So sweetly, " Tu asperges me" that I 
May not remember, much less tell the sound. 
The beauteous dame, her arms expanding, clasped 
My temples, and immerg'd me, where 'twas fit 
The wave should drench me ; and, thence raising up, 
Within the fourfold dance of lovely nymphs 
Presented me so lav'd, and with their arm 
They each did cover me. " Here are we nymphs, 
And in the heav'n are stars. Or ever earth 
Was visited of Beatrice, we 
Appointed for her handmaids, tended on her. 
We to her eyes will lead thee ; but the light 
Of gladness that is in them, well to scan, 

Those yonder three, of deeper ken than ours, 
Thy sight shall quicken." Thus began their song ; 
And then they led me to the Gryphon's breast, 
While, turn'd toward us, Beatrice stood. 
** Spare not thy vision. We have stationed thee 
Before the emeralds, whence love erewhile 
Hath drawn his weapons on thee." As they spake, 
A thousand fervent wishes riveted 
Mine eyes upon her beaming eyes, that stood 
Still fix'd toward the Gryphon motionless. 
As the sun strikes a mirror, even thus 
Within those orbs the twifold being shone, 
For ever varying, in one figure now 
Reflected, now in other. Reader I muse 
How wond'rous in my sight it seem'd to mark 
A thing, albeit steadfast in itself, 
Yet in its imag'd semblance mutable. 
Full of amaze, and joyous, while my soul 
Fed on the viand, whereof still desire 
Grows with satiety, the other three 
With gesture, that declar'd a loftier line, 
Advanc'd : to their own carol on they came 
Dancing in festive ring angelical, 
" Turn, Beatrice 1 " was their song : << O turn 
Thy saintly sight on this thy faithful one. 
Who to behold thee many a wearisome pace 
Hath measur'd. Gracious at our pray'r vouchsafe 
Unveil to him thy cheeks : that he may mark 
Thy second beauty, now conceal'd." O splendour! 
O sacred light eternal 1 who is he 
So pale with musing in Pierian shades, 
Or with that fount so lavishly imbued, 
Whose spirit should not fail him in th' essay 
To represent thee such as thou didst seem, 
When under cope of the still chiming heaven 
Thou gav'st to open air thy charms reveal'd ? 

Mine eyes with such an eager coveting, 
Were bent to rid them of their ten years' thirst, 
No other sense was waking : and e'en they 
Were fenc'd on either side from heed of aught ; 
So tangled in its custom'd toils that smile 
Of saintly brightness drew me to itself. 
When forcibly toward the left my sight 
The sacred virgins turn'd ; for from their lips 
I heard the warning sounds : " Too fix'd a gaze I 


Paradiso, xxxi. 52-93 

So rov'd my ken, and in its general form 
All Paradise surveyed : when round I turn'd 
With purpose of my lady to inquire 
Once more of things that held my thought suspense, 
But answer found from other than I ween'd ; 
For, Beatrice, when I thought to see, 
I saw instead a senior at my side, 
Rob'd, as the rest, in glory. Joy benign 
Glow'd in his eye, and o'er his cheek diffus'd. 
With gestures such as spake a father's love. 
And, <* Whither is she vanish'd? " straight I ask'd. 
*' By Beatrice summon'd," he replied, 
" I come to aid thy wish. Looking aloft 
To the third circle from the highest, there 
Behold her on the throne, wherein her merit 
Hath plac'd her." Answering not, mine eyes I rais'd, 
And saw her, where aloof she sat, her brow 
A wreath reflecting of eternal beams. 
Not from the centre of the sea so far 
Unto the region of the highest thunder, 

As was my ken from hers ; and yet the form 

Came through that medium down, unmix'd and pure. 

*< O Lady I thou in whom my hopes have rest I 

Who, for my safety, hast not scorn'd, in hell 

To leave the traces of thy footsteps mark'd I 

For all mine eyes have seen, I, to thy power 

And goodness, virtue owe and grace. Of slave 

Thou hast to freedom brought me ; and no means, 

For my deliverance apt, has left untried. 

Thy liberal bounty still toward me keep, 

That, when my spirit, which thou madest whole. 

Is loosen'd from this body, it may find 

Favour with thee." So I my suit preferr'd : 

And she, so distant as appear'd, look'd down. 

And smil'd ; then tow'rds th' eternal fountain turned. 



LYELL (1835) 

So noble and so modest doth appear 
My lady when she any one salutes, 
That every tongue becomes in trembling mute, 
And none dare raise the eyes to look on her. 

Robed in humility she hears her praise, 
And passes on with calm benignity ; 
Appearing not a thing on earth, but come 
From heaven, to show mankind a miracle. 

So pleasing is the sight of her, that he 

Who gazes feels a sweetness reach the heart 
That must be proved or cannot be conceived. 

And from her countenance there seems to flow 
A spirit full of mildness and of love, 
Which says for ever to the soul, O sigh. 

GARROw (1846) 

I say then that she was of so noble a presence, so abounding 
in every charm, that those who looked upon her felt within 
them so chaste, so gentle a sense of pleasure, that they were 
incapable of describing it. Nor was there any one that had 
the opportunity of seeing her, who did not instantly feel 
compelled to sigh. These and other extraordinary effects 

were produced by her, actually and miraculously ; wherefore 
reflecting on all this, and desiring to resume my former style 
of writing in her praise, I purposed saying some words 
whereby I might be able to make known her excellent and 
admirable powers ; so that, not only those who had occasion 
actually to see her, but that others also might know as much 
of her as can be conveyed by words ; and 1 made the following 
sonnet : 

My lady doth appear so fair and chaste, 
When turning to salute the passers by, 
That every tongue grows silent tremblingly, 
And on her not an eye presumes to rest. 

Sh~e passes on (hearing her praise expressed) 
Benignly clothed in her modesty, 
And seems a thing just 'lighted from the sky 
On earth, a miracle to manifest. 

Her face so charmeth those it shines upon. 

That, through the eyes, it sendeth back alway 
Sweet thoughts, which none that hath not felt can tell, 

And from her lips there seems to flow as well 
A soft and loving spirit, which doth say 
Unto the soul incessantly : " Sigh on I " 

MARTIN (1862) 

I say, her demeanour was so full of grace and dignity and 
every charm, that, looking upon her, men felt within them 
an emotion af inexpressible sweetness and elevation ; nor 
was it possible for anyone to look upon her, but straightway 
a sigh arose from his breast, These and even more mar- 
vellous effects were wrought by her in a manner at once 
most strange and admirable ; much meditating whereon, and 
wishing to resume my verses in her praise, I determined to 
express in words something of her wondrous and excelling 
influence, in order that not only those who had beheld her in 
the flesh, but others, might know what of her fair perfection 

might be conveyed in words. Thereupon I composed thit 
sonnet : 

So kind, so full of gentle courtesy, 

My lady's feeling is, that every tongue 

To silence thrills, and eyes, that on her hung 

With mute observance, dare no more to see. 

Onwards she moves, clothed with humility. 
Hearing, with look benign, her praises rung ; 
A being, seeming sent from heaven among 
Mankind, to show what heavenly wonders be. 

Within her looks such stores of pleasure lie^ 
That through the gazer's eye creeps to his heart 
A sweetness must be tasted to be known ; 

And from his lips, with love in every tone, 
A spirit soft and gentle seems to part, 
Which to her soul keeps saying, <« Sigh 1 oh sigh I " 

NORTON (1867) 
I say that she showed herself so gentle and so full of 
pleasantness, that those who looked on her comprehended in 
themselves a pure and sweet delight, such as they could not 
after tell in words ; nor was there any who might look upon 
her but that at first he needs must sigh. These and more 
admirable things proceeded from her admirably and with 
power. Wherefore I, thinking upon this, desiring to resume 
the style of her praise, resolved to say words in which I 
would set forth her admirable and excellent influences, to 
the end that not only those who might actually behold 
her, but also others, should know of her whatever words 
could tell. Then I devised this sonnet : 

So gentle and so modest doth appear 
My lady when she giveth her salute. 
That every tongue becometh, trembling, mute ; 
Nor do the eyes to look upon her dare. 

Although she hears her praises, she doth go 
Benignly vested with humility ; 
And like a thing come down, she seems to be, 
From heaven to earth, a miracle to show. 

So pleaseth she whoever cometh nigh. 

She gives the heart a sweetness through the eyes. 
Which none can understand who doth not prove. 

And from her countenance there seems to move 
A spirit sweet and in Love's very guise, 
Who to the soul, in going, sayeth : Sigh ! 

PLUMPTRE (1887) 

So gentle and so fair she seems to be, 
My lady, when she others doth salute, 
That every tongue becomes, all trembling, mute, 
And every eye is half afraid to see ; 

She goes her way and hears men's praises free, 
Clothed in a garb of kindness, meek and low, 
And seems as if from heaven she came, to show 
Upon the earth a wondrous mystery. 

To one who looks on her she seems so kind. 

That through the eyes a sweetness fills the heart, 
Which only he can know who doth it try. 

And through her face there breatheth from her mind 
A spirit sweet and full ol Love's true art. 
Which to the soul saith, as it cometh, " Sigh." 

BoswoRTH (1895) 

She showed herself, 1 say, so gentle, and so full of all 
pleasing qualities, that all who looked on her felt within 

themselves a noble and sweet delight, such as they could not 
express ; and not one was there who could look upon her but 
he must needs sigh incontinent. Such and yet more 
marvellous things proceeded from her in wondrous and 
virtuous wise. So I, considering this, and fain to resume the 
theme of her praises, resolved to indite somewhat, wherein 
I might make her wondrous and excellent virtues known, to 
the end that not they alone who could see her with the eye 
of sense, but others too, might know such things concerning 
her as words have power to declare. Then I indited this 
sonnet : 

So gentle and so noble seemeth my lady, when she 
greeteth any, that every tongue, faltering, becomes mute, 
and the eyes no longer dare to gaze. She goes on her way, 
feeling that she is lauded, clad in the kindly garb of 
humility : and she seemeth as though she were a creature 
come from heaven to earth, that she might reveal a miracle. 
She appears so pleasing to whoso regardeth her, that she 
sendeth to the heart a sweetness which none who proveth it 
not may know. And from out her lips there seemeth to 
move a spirit, sweet and full of love, which enters into the 
soul, and says, '< Sigh I " 

DE MEV (1902) 

I say, of a truth, she displayed such gentleness, and was so 
full of all that is lovely, those who beheld her were imbued 
with a soothing calm, past all words to describe ; nor was 
there anyone who looked on her, but forthwith he fell a- 
sighing. These, and even yet more marvellous acts, were 
wrought through her wondrous virtue. Whence I, eager 
to continue her praises, sought to find words to express her 
strange and beneficent influence; that not only those who 
behold her, but others also might know of her, in so far as 
words have power to make it comprehensible. And then I 
made this sonnet : 


So gentle and so modest in her ways 

My Lady looks, whome'er she doth salute, 
His tongue to silence stricken trembles mute, 
He dares not e'en his eyelids lift to gaze. 

She passes on, and hearing her own praise. 
Clad in humility, pursues her route ; 
So heavenly her mien, none would dispute, 
That heav'n, on earth, a miracle displays. 

More pleasing still to those who meet her eye, 
Since through the eyes a sweetness she distils ; 
None apprehends save he alone doth prove : 

Between her lips a spirit seems to move. 

Which in each heart a calm, pure love instils, 
And to the soul comes softly whisp'ring: '<Sigh 

Ricci (edited by, 1903) 

I say that she showed herself to be so gentle and so full of 
every grace and beauty, that those who gazed upon her 
experienced in themselves such unutterable sweetness and 
joy that they could not express them in words ; nor was 
there any one who could gaze on her without sighing at her 
first glance. These and more wonderful things still pro- 
ceeded from her in a marvellous and powerful way. And 
thus it came to pass that I, thinking upon this, and wishing 
to resume the theme of her praise, proposed to say words in 
which I should show forth her surpassing and excellent 
<ieeds ; so that not only those who could see her with the 
eye of sense, but others besides, might know concerning her 
that which words might convey. Thereupon I wrote this 
sonnet : 

So gentle and so meek she doth appear 
This lady mine, when men she doth salute. 
That every tongue doth tremble and grows mute, 
Their eyes to gaze upon her do not dare. 


Onward she goes, and hears them sing her praise, 
And yet she is with meekness clothed so, 
She seems as come from Heaven to earth to show 
Some wondrous miracle of Heaven's high grace. 

To him who looks she's passing fair to view, 
A sweetness from her eyes him pierces through ; 
Who feels it not, knows not the reason why. 

It seems that in her features there doth move 
A spirit sweet and running o'er with love. 
That to the soul is ever saying : Sigh. 

OKEY (1906) 

I say that she showed herself so gentle and so filled with 
all winsomeness, that they who gazed upon her, felt within 
them a pleasant and modest sweetness, such that none could 
tell it again, nor was any who could look upon her without 
being first constrained to sigh. These and more wondrous 
things proceeded from her by her power. Wherefore, 
pondering on this, and desiring to resume the manner of 
her praise, I purposed to say words in which I should make 
some of her wondrous and excellent effects understood, in 
order that not only those who could behold her with their 
bodily senses but that others should know of her as much as 
words can convey to understanding. Then I composed this 
sonnet : 

So gentle and so modest my lady seems when she saluteth 
others, that every tongue grows tremblingly dumb, and eyes 
dare not to look on her. She goeth her way, hearing her 
praises, benignly clothed in humility, and seemeth to be 
a thing come from heaven to earth, to show forth a miracle. 
Herself she sheweth so winsome to him who gazeth on her, 
that through his eyes she giveth a sweetness to his heart, 
such that he who proveth it not, cannot understand it. And 
it seemeth that from her countenance a spirit moveth, gentle 
and filled with love, that goeth saying to the soul : sigh I 


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AruLKius, Cupid and Psyche, etc. Adlimgton's trans. No. 12. 
AssER, The Life of King Alfred. No. 57. 
Benedict (Saint), The Rule of. No. 59. 
Boniface (Saint), English Correspondence of. No. 53. 
Browning (Robert), Men and Women. 2 volt. Nos. 26, 27. 
Bury (Richard de). The Love of Books (Philobiblon). No. i. 
Calderon, Six Dramas of. Translated by Edward FitzGerald* 
Double volume. No. 2. 

'X^AVALIER to his LaDY, ThE. No. 56. 

^HARLEMAGNE,^ Early Lives of. No. 22. 
^Chatelaine of Vergi, The. No. 63. 

CMAUCKfi^ The Prologue and Minor Poems* In modern Engiuk 
by ProfeMor Skeat. No, 47, 


Chaucer, The Knight's Tale. In modern English. No. 8. 

Chaucer, The Man of Law's Tale, etc. „ „ No. 9, 

Chaucer, The Prioress's Tale, etc. „ „ No. 10. 

Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women „ „ No. 4 1 . 

Chaucer, The Parliament of Birds, and the House of Fame. 
In modern English. No. 48. 

Cicero, Friendship, Old Age, and Scipio's Dream. No. 23. 

CoiNci (Gautier de), Of the Tumbler of Our Lady. No. 62. 

Daniel and Drayton, Delia and Idea. No. 60. 

Dante, The Vita Nuova. Italian text with D. G. Rossetti^s 
translation on the opposite pages. No. 46. 

Dante, Early Lives of. No. 14. 

Dekker (Thomas), The Gull's Hornbook. No. 19. 

EiKON Basilike. No. 5. 

Eoot (George), Silas Marner, No. 30. 

Evelyn (John), The Life of Margaret Godolphin. No. 13. 

FitzGerald (Edward), Polonius. No. 16. [See Calderon. 

FuLK Fitz-Warine, The Romance of. No. 11. 

Gaskell (Mrs.), Cranford. No. 49. 

Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield. No. 31. 

Icelandic, Translations from the. No. 58. 

JocELYN OF Brakelond, The Chronicle of. No. 3. 

Kings' Letters. Nos. 6, 7, 51, 52. 

Langland, The Vision of Piers the Plowman. In modern 
English by Professor Skeat. No. 18. 

Manning (Miss), The Household of Sir Thomas More. No. 33. 


Medieval Lore. No. 17. 

Monmouth, Memoirs of Robert Gary, Earl of. No. zi. 
More (Sir Thomas), Utopia, No. 40. 
More (Sir Thomas), The Four Last Things. No. 44. 
Morris (William), The Defence of Guenevere, etc. No. 25. 
Nun's Rule, The, or Ancren Riwle. In modern English. Double 
volume. No. 20. 

Pearl. With a translation into Modern English by Professor 
I. Gollancz. No. 50. 

Pettie (George), The Petite Pallace. T-wo -volumes. Nos. 36, 37. 

PisAN (Christine de). The Book of the Duke of True Lovers. 
No. 61. 

PoE (E. a.). Poems. No. 28. 

Poets Royal of England and Scotland. No. 39. 

Reade (Charles), PegWoffington. No. 32. 

Roland, The Song of. No. 45. 

Roper (William), The Life of Sir Thomas More. No. 4. 

Sappho : One Hundred Lyrics. By Bliss Carman. No. 34. 

Shakespeare, The Sonnets. No. 29. 

Swift, The Battle of the Books, with Extracts from the Litera- 
ture of the Phalaris Controversy. No. 42. 

Svmonds (J. A.), Wine, Women, and Song. No. 35. 

Temple (Sir W.), On the Gardens of Epicurus, etc. No. 43. 

Walpole (Horace), The Castle of Otranto. No. 38. 

White (James), The Falstaff Letters. No. 15. 

Wordsworth, The Prelude. Double 'volume. No. 24. 



1. THE LOVE OF BOOKS: being the Philo- 

biblon of Richard de Bury. 

Translated by E. C. Thomas. Frontispiece, Seal of Richard 
de Bury (as Bishop of Durham). 


Translated by Edward FitzGerald. Editor, H. Oelsner, 
M.A., Ph.D. Frontispiece, Portrait of Calderon, from an 
etching by M. Egusquiza. [Double •volume. 


BURY : a Picture of Monastic and Social Life 
in the Xllth Century. 
Newly translated, from the original Latin, with notes, table of 
dates relating to the Abbey of St. Edmundsbury, and index, 
by L. C. Jane, M.A. Introduction by the Right Rev. Abbot 
Gasquet. Frontispiece, Seal of Abbot Samson (a.d. 1200). 
(See No. 20.) 


By his son-in-law, William Roper. With letters to and from 
his famous daughter, Margaret Roper. Frontispiece, Portrait of 
Sir Thomas More, after Holbern. 

5. EIKON BASILIKE : or. The King's Book. 

Edited by Edward Almack, F.S.A. Frontispiece, Portrait of 
King Charles I. This edition, which has been printed from an 
advance copy of the King's Book seized by Cromwell's soldiers, 
is the first inexpensive one for a hundred years in which the 
original spelling of the first edition has been preserved. 



Part I. Letters of the Kings of England, from Alfred to the 
Coming of the Tudors, newly edited from the originals by 
Robert Steele, F.S.A. Frontispiece, Portrait of Henry V. 

Part II. From the Early Tudors, with the love-letters of 
Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn, and with frontispiece. Portrait 
of Anne Boleyn. (See also Nos. 51, 52.) 


and Arcite. 

In modern English by Professor Skeat, Litt.D. Frontispiece, 
" The Canterbury Pilgrims," from an illuminated MS. 


Squire's Tale, and Nun's Priest's Tale. 

In modern English by Professor Skeat, Litt.D. Frontispiece 
from an illuminated MS. 


doner's Tale, Clerk's Tale, and Canon's 
Yeoman's Tale. 

In modern English by Professor Skeat, Litt.D. Frontispiece, 
" The Patient Griselda," from the well-known fifteenth-century 
picture of the Umbrian School in the National Gallery. 



Newly translated from the Anglo-French by Alice Kemp- 
Welch, with an introduction by Professor Brandin. Frontis- 
piece, Whittington Castle in Shropshire, the seat of the 


From "The Golden Ass" of Apuleius, translated by W. 
Adlington (1566), edited by W. H. D. Rouse, Litt.D. With 
frontispiece representing the " Marriage of Cupid and Psyche," 
after a gem now in the British Museum. 



By John Evelyn, the famous diarist. Re-edited from the 
edition of Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. Frontispiece^ 
Portrait of Margaret Godolphin engraved on copper. 


Comprising Boccaccio's Life of Dante, Leonardo Bruni's Life 
of Dante, and other important contemporary records. 

Translated and edited by the Rev. Philip H. Wicksteed. 
Frontispiece, The Death-mask of Dante. 


By James White, possibly with the assistance of Charles^ 
Lamb, cf. the Introduction. Frontispiece, Sir John Falstaff dancing 
to Master Brook's fiddle, from the original edition. 

16. POLONIUS, a Collection of Wise Saws and 

Modern Instances. 

By Edward FitzGerald. With portrait of Edward Fitz- 
Gerald from the miniature by Mrs. E. M. B. Rivett-Carnac 
as frontispiece ; notes and index. Contains a preface by Edward 
FitzGerald, on Aphorisms generally. 


From Bartholomaeus Anglicus. Edited with notes, index and 
glossary by Robert Steele. Preface by the late William 
Morris. Frontispiece, an old illumination, representing 
Astrologers using Astrolabes. 

The book is drawn from one of the most widely-read works 
of mediaeval times. Its popularity is explained by its scope, 
which comprises explanations of allusions to natural objects 
met with in Scripture and elsewhere. It was, in fact, an 
account of the properties of things in general. 


By V/iLLiAM Langland ; in modern English by Professor 
Skeat, Litt.D. Frontispiece, "God Speed the Plough," from 
an old MS. 



By Thomas Dekker. Editor, R. B. McKerrow. Frontis- 
piece, The nave of St. Paul's Cathedral at the time of Elizabeth. 

20. THE NUN'S RULE, or Ancren Riwle, in 

Modern English. [Double -volume. 

Being the injunctions of Bishop Poore intended for the 
guidance of nuns or anchoresses, as set forth in this famous 
thirteenth-century MS. 

Editor, the Right Rev. Abbot Gasqukt. Frontispiece, Seal 
of Bishop Poore. (See Nos. 3, 59.) 


Earl of Monmouth. 

Being a contemporary record of the life of that nobleman as 
Warden of the Marches and at the Court of Elizabeth. 

Editor, G. H. Powell. With frontispiece from the original 
edition, representing Queen Elizabeth in a state procession, with 
the Earl of Monmouth and others in attendance. 


Translated and edited by A. J. Grant. With frontispiece 
representing an early bronze figure of Charlemagne from the 
Mus^e Carnavalet, Paris. 

We have here given us two " Lives " of Charlemagne by 
contemporary authorities — one by Eginhard and the other by 
the Monk of St. Gall. Very different in style, when brought 
together in one volume each supplies the deficiencies of the 



From early translations. Editor, W. H. D. Rouse, Litt.D. 
Frontispiece, "Scipio, Laelius, and Cato conversing," from a 
fourteenth-century MS. 



The introduction and notes have been written by W. Basil 
WoRSFOLD, M.A., and the frontispiece is taken from the portrait 
of Wordsworth by H. W. PICKKRSGIL^ R.A., in the National 
Gallery. A map of the Lake District is added. 

[Double volume. 


other Poems by William Morris. 
Editor, Robert Steele. With reproduction of Dantk 
Gabriel Rossetti's picture of "Lancelot and Guenevere at 
King Arthur's tomb" as frontispiece. 


Edited with introduction and notes by W. Basil Worsfold, 
M.A. Two volumes, each with portrait of Browning as 
frontispiece. [/« two -volumes. 


Editor, Edward Hutton. Frontispiece, Drawing of Poe's 


Editor, Mrs. C. C. Stopes. Frontispiece, Portrait of the Earl 
of Southampton. 


Frontispiece, Portrait of George Eliot, from a water-colour 
drawing by Mrs. Charles Bray. Introduction by Richard 


Introduction by Richard Garnett. Frontispiece, Portrait of 
Oliver Goldsmith. 


Frontispiece, Portrait of Peg Woffington. Introduction by 
Richard Garnett. 




By Anne Manning. Preface by Richard Garnett. Frontis- 
piece, " The Family of Sir Thomas More." 

34. SAPPHO : One Hundred Lyrics. 

By Bliss Carman. With frontispiece after a Greek gem. 


Mediaeval students' songs, translated from the Latin, with an 
essay, by John Addington Symonds. Frontispiece after a 
fifteenth-century woodcut. 


The popular Elizabethan book containing twelve classica 
love-stories — " Sinorix and Camma," ** Tereus and Progne," 
etc. — in style the precursor of Euphues, now first reprinted 
under the editorship of Professor I. Gollancz. Frontispieces, 
a reproduction of the original title-page, and of a page of the 
original text. [/« ttvo volumes. 


The introduction of Sir Walter Scott. Preface by Miss C. 
Sfurgeon. Frontispiece, Portrait of Walpole, after a contem- 
porary engraving. 



Being Original Poems by English Kings and other Royal and 
Noble Persons, now first collected and edited by W. Bailkv- 
Kempling. Frontispiece, Portrait of King James I. of Scotland 
after an early engraving. 



Now for the first time edited in modern spelling from thefint 
English edition^ with notes and bibliography by Robert Steele. 
Frontispiece, Portrait of Sir Thomas More, after an early 



In modern English^ with notes and introduction, by Professor 
W. W. Skeat, Litt.D. Frontispiece, "Ariadne Deserted," after 
the painting by Angelica Kaufmann. 


Together with Selections from the Literature of 
the Ancient and Modern Learning Controversy. 
Edited by A.Guthkelch, with notes and introduction. Frontis- 
piece after an old engraving illustrating the Epistles of Phalaris. 


GARDENS OF EPICURUS ; together with 
other XVIIth Century Garden Essays. 
Edited, and with notes and introduction, by A. Forbes 
SiEVEKiNG, F.S.A. Frontispiece, Portrait of Sir William 
Temple, and five reproductions of early " Garden " engravings. 


More, together with A Spiritual Consolation 
and other Treatises by John Fisher, Bishop of 
Edited by Daniel O'Connor. Frontispiece after two deftiga* 
from the " Daunce of Death." [In preparation. 


Newly translated from the old French by Mrs. Crosland. 
Introduction by Professor Brandin, University of London. 
Frontispiece after a page of the Oxford MS. 



The Italian text with D. G. Rossetti's translation on the 
opposite page. Introduction and notes by Professor H. Oelsner, 
Ph.D., Lecturer in Romance Literature, Oxford University. 
Frontispiece after the original water-colour sketch for " Dante's 
Dream," by D. G. Rossetti. 



In modern English by Professor Skeat, Litt.D. -Frontispiece, 
Portrait of Chaucer after the EUesmere MS. 



In modern English by Professor Skeat, Litt.D. Frontispiece, 
after Sir E. Burne- Jones, from the Kelmscott Chaucer. 


With an Introduction by R. Brimley Johnson. The frontis- 
piece reproduced after the portrait by Sir W. Richmond, R.A. 

50. PEARL. 

An English Poem of the Fourteenth Century. Edited with 
a modern rendering and Introduction by Professor I. Gollancz, 
Litt.D. With a Frontispiece after W. Holman Hunt, and 
Prefatory lines by the late Lord Tennyson. A revision of the 
edition of 1 89 1. (See No. 18.) [In preparation, 

51. 52. KINGS' LETTERS. 

Parts III and IV. Edited from the originals by Robert 
Steele, F.S.A. (See Nos. 6, 7.) \In preparation. 


Being the letters exchanged between "The Apostle of the 
Germans," while engaged in his missionary labours on the Con- 


tinent, and his English friends. Translated and edited, and with 
a brief Introductory sketch of the Life of Saint Boniface, by 
E. J. Kylie, M.A. [In preparation. 


Anthology of XVIIth Century Love Songs. 
Selected and edited by Frank Sidgwick. With a frontispiece 
after a water-colour drawing by Byam Shaw, R.I. 


Newly translated and edited by L. C. Jane, M.A. The 
frontispiece reproduces King Alfred's jewel, while a facsimile is 
also given of a page of the lost MS. 


LANDIC : select passages from Icelandic 
Literature, in prose and verse. 
Translated and edited by the Rev. W. C. Green, M.A. 
Frontispiece, a drawing of the Thor Cross, Kirkbride. 


Translated and edited by the Right Rev. Abbot Gasquet. 
Frontispiece after the painting by Sassoferrato at Perugia. 


"IDEA": two Elizabethan sonnet-sequences. 
Edited by Arundell Esdaile, M.A. Frontispiece, Portrait* 
of Daniel and Drayton. 



A Romance of the Court, now first translated from the unique 
MS. in the Middle French by Christine di Pisan, with Note* 
and Introduction, by Alice Kemp-Welch 




Now first translated from the Middle French MSS. anony- 
mous and by Gautikr oe Coinci (preserved at Soissons), with 
Notes and Introduction, by Alice Kemp- Welch. 


A Romance of the Court, translated from the Middle French 
by Alice Kemp-Welch, with Introduction by L. Branoin, Ph.D., 
and with the original Text, Edition Raynaud. 
Other •volumes in preparation. 

NOTE. — At the date of this listj April 1910, Nos. 1-43, 
45-49, and 56-63 vuere published. Other numbers subsequent to 43 
tvere in preparation. 


General Editor, Professor I. Gollancz, Litt.D. 


A detailed Prospectus post-free upon application. 


A aeries of selected classics of the Romance Languages, with 
Notes and, where necessary, Introductions in the original 
language of the several volumes. Cartridge paper binding, Sd. 
net } cloth, is, net. Sixty-five Volumes are now ready. 

Prospectus upon application. 

London : CHATTO fif, WINDUS, 1 1 1 St. Martin's Lane, W.C.