Capitolo 4

Veronica Franco

(A response to Franco from an unnamed writer.)

To you, lady, belongs the blame,
to me the pain of all the griefs
that my heart feels and your pen describes.
Taking away the bright shine and sweet fire
of those blessed eyes, you stood hard
as a diamond against my love's charge.
I implored you, I poured out my lament
from my eyes and deep sighs from my breast;
pity was no help and love of no avail.
Your concern for another was far stronger than for me,

and though I begged you humbly for mercy,
I still remained under a lonely roof.
You chose to go elsewhere, I stayed alone,
as your will and my cruel fate decreed,
so that I envied the most wretched creatures.
And if it's now the case that my heavy grief
makes you, repentant, suffer some pain,
it's right that I, loving you, take comfort from it.
So for me pity's fire is not entirely spent,
that pity which, wherever it dwells,

gives visible proof of a gentle soul.
From you, loved by heaven and praised by the world,
who alone can be proud of such beauty and virtue,
with whom the Graces make their sweet home,
the honour's greater still if in the cloak of your body,
where Venus habitually tarries with Love,
you enclose virtue so valued by heaven.
H your heart grieves for my grief,
if your heart corresponds to my longing,
ah, your great gifts, and my unique good fortune!

Among all the men Love strikes with gold arrows,
and among all those the sun looks down on,
no other burns and sighs so sweetly as I.
My suffering is sweet when it is most intense,
if, as it seems from your pitying speech,
you feel pain and grief for my woe.
But that you love as much as I do you
is impossible, for my burning flame
has no equal in the kingdom of love.
Heaven too kindly consents to my longing

if the flame that escaped from my heart
thaws the ice of your cold mind.
In you I don't seek affection so strong
that it makes one of two and two of one,
and to transfix two with a single stroke.
My life would be too full of happy hours
and my happiness too complete,
should love of such rarity happen to me.
The less often Love decrees that two hearts
under his rule should equally share

one flame, the prouder I'll be of my fate.
Because my hope is much too daring
to send such bold thoughts to my heart
on a path untravelled by everyday speech,
on one hand, the thought of how slight is my merit,
compared to your worth, waylays my soul,
off the path of its high hope;
on the other hand, I call on gentle Love
to lessen my great-inferiority to you,
and I am hoarse from calling for mercy.

Of Love, which by habit spares no one loved
from loving in return, wherever a fair breast
encloses courteous thoughts, I invoke the might
that might through which he alone
shuts and opens heaven, and unleashes the spirits
from the core of the earth, which is not deep to him,
I pray him to sustain my troubled, weary soul;
and if not, then I pray that pity may reign
there where your pride refuses to bend.
Do not make me suffer under pretended pity,

all the more since I adore you;
and return as soon as you possibly can,
for I long and desire to be always at your side.

[ll. 1-73; pp. 79-83]

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