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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. 132-135, 353.

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


Notes and translation by Lorna de’ Lucchi


Biographical Note

VITTORIA COLONNA, born at Marino; in 1509 married the Marchese di Pescara, who died from wounds in 1525. His death left her inconsolable, and this and religious subjects inspired all her poetry. Many famous men congregated in her house in Rome; the most illustrious of her friends was Michaelangelo. Most of her life after 1525 was spent in convents in Orvieto, Viterbo, and Rome. Her lyrics tend to imitate Petrarch, but are tempered by the originality of a strong and lofty intellect.





O WHEN the tender breeze and my sweet light
Made beautiful the day and pure and clear
The air, by paths secure in daring flight
I sought to raise myself on wings from here.
134 The glory disappeared, and early ways
Perforce I then abandoned and am sore
Troubled, for through dark skies and wildering maze
A friendly, guiding flame doth shine no more.
   Lost is the vigour that my wings did raise,
And the desire, that hope despiseth, grown
Helpless, in vain, in vain doth lift its gaze;
I tarry here below for, mortal pain
Defeating, I still live but loveless, lone,
The while thought soareth where my Sun doth reign.




MENTRE l’ aura amorosa e ’l mio bel lume
fean vago il giorno e l’ aer chiaro e puro,
con largo volo, per cammin securo
cercai d’ alzarmi anch’ io con queste piume.
133 La luce sparve e ’l mio primo costume
lasciar convenne: or più non m’ assicuro
chè ’l sentier intricato e ’l cielo oscuro
non ho chi m’ apra e non ho chi m’ allume.
   Spento è il vigor che pria sostenne l’ ale;
onde al desio che la speranza atterga,
convien che senza guida indarno s’ erga.
Rimane il nome in me, perchè ’l mortale
dolor vincendo vivo; e il pensier sale
privo d’ affetto ove il mio Sole alberga.


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