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Or che ‘l ciel e la terra e ‘l vento tace by Francesco Petrarch


At this hour, when sky and earth and wind are still,

When all the birds and beasts are caught in sleep,

As night rolls out her starry cart upon its curving track

And the quiet sea rests waveless in its bed,

I lie awake in thought, aflame, in tears, for she appears

Before me always in this joyous pain, and now that war’s

Become my status quo, along with paroxysmal agony and rage,

It’s only thoughts of her that serve to bring me peace again.

Thus, from a single living, limpid spring flows everything,

The sweet and bitter both, the font of all my nourishment:

My injury and healing issued from this selfsame cruel hand.

And because my shipwrecked mind can’t ever find the shore,

I die a thousand times each day and am a thousand times

Reborn, so far from me, so awfully distant, lies salvation.


Translation by D.B. Jonas


Original


Or che ’l ciel et la terra e ’l vento tace

et le fere e gli augelli il sonno affrena,

Notte il carro stellato in giro mena

et nel suo letto il mar senz’onda giace,

vegghio, penso, ardo, piango; et chi mi sface

sempre m’è inanzi per mia dolce pena:

guerra è ’l mio stato, d’ira et di duol piena,

et sol di lei pensando ò qualche pace.

Cosí sol d’una chiara fonte viva

move ’l dolce et l’amaro ond’io mi pasco;

una man sola mi risana et punge;

e perché ’l mio martir non giunga a riva,

mille volte il dí moro et mille nasco,

tanto da la salute mia son lunge.

3 Comments


martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Sep 30, 2023

The test of any good translation is whether it sounds like a translation or whether it sounds like an original poem. I read this aloud a number of times and the latter is definitely the case because it just flows along. An excellent job.

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winestone.poet
Sep 29, 2023

Here we have yet another wonderful translation! This is a beautiful piece, and I thank D.B. Jonas for imbuing Petrarch’s timeless work with new life.


- Shannon

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bobbyfunderburk1
bobbyfunderburk1
Sep 28, 2023

Love, the most powerful force man must contend with. Difficult to find; harder to civilize; impossible to hold. It must be freely given and then only by God's intervention does it bring new life to the emotions and spirit, and that most elusive of treasures-peace.


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