Capitolo 3

Veronica Franco

(Elegiac verses written by Franco, away from Venice.)

This your faithful Franca writes you,
tender, well-bred, and gallant lover,
she who in misery lives far away from you.
No sooner, alas, had I turned my steps
from the maiden of Adria, where my heart dwells,
than I was transformed in will and appearance:
my life bereft of any strength,
with my face turned pale and bathed in tears,
I passed a time weighed down with grief;
and, with my spirit forced to languish,

my only real pleasure came from reciting
heavy, pain-filled lays and from weeping.
Alas, I say now and will always say
that life is cruel death to me without you,
and pleasures to me are torments and woes.
Often, as I cried aloud that dear name,
Echo, touched with pity by my lament,
answered me with brief and broken calls.
At times in mid-course the sun and the sky
stood still, intent, and even the earth

bent down to hear my pitiful tones.
Coming out of their secret lairs,
even tigers wept at my weeping
and the mortal pain that stabs my heart.
And Procne and Philomela joined in
with my sad melody and words,
singing in harmony both day and night.
The cool roses, lilies, and violets
were burnt by the wind of my hot sighs,
and I saw the sun turn pale with pity.

Moving their eyes in tearful swirls,
the rivers stood still, and the sea quelled its rage,
through tender pity for my suffering.
Oh, how many times the trembling leaves
stood still and the breeze ceased to blow,
in order to listen to my bitter pain.
And finally, never could I make my way
through any place where I did not see
even stones weep openly for my grief.
I live, if a person can be said to live

who finds herself bereft of her own soul;
I live, but a life of misery and mourning,
and I lament the hour and the day
that I was taken from my home and my beloved,
for whom my bones now melt into ash.
Fortunate dwelling of mine, which still enfolds
the man to whom I always return in thought,
from whom I live at such distance and pain!
I implore the little god, blindfolded archer,
who wounded my heart and stole away my life,
to show that man how I perish for love of him.

Alas, how I curse my departure from you,
although, dear soul, in all my thoughts,
you are still tightly united with me,
but joined to me by jealousy, too,
which, far from you, little by little, burns me,
with its freezing, dark, savage flame!
The tears that I shed quench the fire, in part,
and I live only in the hope
of seeing you soon again, in that sweet place.
The moment I reach the room I have longed for,

I will bow down, my knees on the ground,
before my Apollo in knowledge and beauty.
Then, vanquished by him in loving war,
I'll follow after him, my soul freed from fear,
on valour's path, from which he never strays.
This is the man I love, who surpasses
every other man in enduring pain,
and whose faithfulness leaves all others behind.
I'll willingly make up to you for past suffering,
my lord, as far as my power allows,

bringing pleasure to you, good to myself,
ending my suffering and your desire.

[ll. 1-73; pp. 73-77]

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Franco, Veronica Poems and Selected Letters.
2010 Selected Poetry
The Poets Garret
Tir Na nOg Poetry Community