Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374)
I once beheld on earth celestial graces
And heavenly beauties scarce to mortals known,
Whose memory yields nor joy nor grief alone,
But all things else in cloud and dreams effaces.
I saw how tears had left their weary traces
Within those eyes that once the sun outshone,
I heard those lips, in low and plaintive moan,
Breathe words to stir the mountains from their places.
Love, wisdom, courage, tenderness, and truth
Made in their mourning strains more high and dear
Than ever wove soft sounds for mortal ear;
And heaven seemed listening in such saddest ruth
The very leaves upon the bough to soothe,
Such sweetness filled the blissful atmosphere.
Translated by Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1903)
Photo: Courtesy of Annie Spratt / Unsplash