P / Rime etrarch / sparse 30

A young lady beneath a green laurel
I saw, whiter and colder than any snow 1
untouched by the sun for many, many years;
her speech and her beauty and her face and all her hair
so pleased me that I carry her before my eyes
forever, wherever I am, on hill or shore.

When my thoughts come to rest on that shore
when the green leaves are no more on the laurel,
when I have quieted my heart, dried my eyes,
then you will see ice and snow on fire;2
to await that day, I have fewer hairs
than I would be willing to spend in years.

But because time flies and fleeing go the years
and death suddenly casts one from the shore,
crowned either with brown or white hair,3
I will follow the shadow of that sweet laurel
through the burning sun or through the snow,
until the last day closes these eyes.

Never have been seen such beautiful eyes,
in our times or in the first years,
dissolving, melting me as the sun does the snow,
from which flows so large a tear-filled shower
which Love floods at the foot of the hard laurel
with all its diamond branches and golden hair.

I fear I first will change this face and this hair 4
before she will with pity raise her eyes,
she, my idol sculpted in living laurel,
for it is today now seven years
since I have gone sighing from shore to shore
both night and day, both in heat and snow.

Fire within, though white snow without,
alone with these thoughts, with whitened hair,
weeping I go over every shore
in order to make pity run in the eyes
of one who will be born in a thousand years, 5
if so long can live a tended laurel.

The topaz sun all aureate 6 above the snow
is outshined by the yellow hair near those eyes
which lead my years so rapidly to shore.

Translated from the Italian by Richard Hooker



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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 9-31-97