Dante's Sestina Stone Rhyme: Al Poco Giorno e al gran cerchio d'ombra
To the short day and great arc of shadow
I've come, alas, and to the paling hills
When all the colors have vanished from the grass
Where yet, my longing loses not its green
As it becomes so barbed in stone,
Which speaks and hears as though it were a woman.
In such a fashion is this fair woman
Frozen like snow beneath the shadow;
She is not moved much like a stone
By the sweet season that warms the hills
And makes them turn 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 lie in her shadow,
Which has locked me inside those little hills
With greater force than any calcined stone.
Her beauty has more worth than precious stone
Her blows one cannot treat with any grass;
For I have fled on every plane and every hill
In order to escape such a woman;
But from her light there is no shadow
Either by wall, or knoll or fronds of green.
I have already 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’s all around enclosed by climbing hills.
But well will each river flow back to its 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 it need be, and go on grazing 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 hides stone.
Translation © David B. Gosselin