• Translation

Al Poco Giorno e al gran cerchio d'ombra by Dante Alighieri


To the short day and the great arc of shadow

I've come, alas, walking over the pale hills

Where all the colors have vanished from the grass.

Yet my longing never loses its green

As it becomes barbed in the ancient stone,

Which speaks and hears as though it were a woman.

In like manner is this fairest of woman

Frozen like snow beneath the shadow;

She is unmoved much like a stone

By the sweet season that warms the hills

And converts them from white to green

Because it covers them with flowers and grass.

When she wears her garland made of grass

She overshadows every other woman,

For she weaves with beauty yellow and green

Such that Love comes to rest within her shadow,

Which has locked me inside these little hills

With greater force than any calcined stone.

Her beauty has more worth than precious stone,

Her blows cannot be treated with any grass;

For I have fled on every plane and every hill

In order to escape such a woman;

But from her blinding light there is no shadow

Either by wall, or knoll, or fronds of green.

Many a time have I seen her dressed in green,

So clad that she would have instilled in stone

The love which I now bear her shadow.

Thus have I beckoned her on fields of green:

She seemed as much in love as any woman

Who sits and waits enclosed among rolling hills.

But well will each river flow back to the hills

Before this wood so soft and green

Becomes inflamed as does this woman

Who burns my soul. For I’d gladly sleep on stone

As long as needed, and like beasts graze on grass

For just a chance to see her cast a shadow.

Although the hills now cast a darker shadow,

Beneath the sweet green that fair woman

Makes each one vanish as grass does a stone.

Translation © David B. Gosselin