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From An Anthology of Italian Poems 13th-19th Century selected and translated by Lorna de’ Lucchi, Alfred A. Knopf, New York; 1922; pp. 118-119, 352.

[For purists, the Italian text of the poems follows the English translation.]

PIETRO BEMBO, 1470-1547

Notes and translation by Lorna de’ Lucchi


Biographical Note

PIETRO BEMBO, born in Venice; studied Greek under Lascaris, 1492; lived in Ferrara, 1492-1500; where he loved Lucrezia Borgia and became a friend of Ariosto; 1505-1512 spent at the Court of Urbino, then accompanied Giuliano de’ Medici to Rome; secretary to Leo X., on whose death he returned to Padua and devoted himself to study; made Cardinal in 1539, then Bishop of Gubbio, and later of Bergamo; died at Rome. His works are: Gli Asolani, Le Prose della volgar lingua, Rime, Lettere; and in Latin: Rerum venetarum Historia, Libri XI. His poems are closely imitated from Petrarch, and deserve praise mainly because of their restraint at a time when conceits were beginning to appear in Italian lyrics.





THOU too then, Brother, in the tide of spring
Dying, hast left me solitary here,
Whence life, before so bright and glad a thing,
Is shadowed over with dismay and fear;
Justice it would have been and passionate
Desire of mine that hitherwards the dart
Firstly had sped, that as I was not late
In coming, so I might betimes depart.
   Then I would not have known such deep despair,
Nor seen myself’s best portion borne away,
Nor been subjected to such misery;
But now, since I before thee might not fare,
God grant, Who loveth equity, I may
Be liberated soon and follow thee.




ADUNQUE m’ hai tu pure in sul fiorire,
morendo, senza te, Fratel, lasciato,
perchè il mio, dianzi, chiaro e lieto stato
ora si volge in tenebre e martire?
Gran giustizia era, e mio summo desire,
da me la strale avesse incominciato,
e come al venir qui son primo stato,
ancora stato fossi al dipartire.
   Che non avrei veduto il mio gran danno,
di me stesso sparir la miglior parte,
e sarei teco fuor di questo affanno!
Or ch’ io non ho potuto innanzi andarte,
piaccia al Signor, a cui non piace inganno,
ch’ io possa in breve e scarco seguitarte.


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