Capitolo 7

Veronica Franco

(An appeal to Franco from an unrequited lover.)

So the great beauty that a kindly star
gave to you with such generous hands
you maintain as a rebel to love and to pity?
Does that soul, which weary virtue rewards
by resting in it after many years of wandering,
wickedly plan to deal death to a man who loves you?
Alas, and what else remains to make
this life of mine totally bitter and grim,
facing disaster on a dark and dire path,
unless ill will be joined to the power

of a beauty unequalled anywhere in the world,
impossible to exceed and without any end?
But why from hell do Tisiphone
and Megaera not rise to do us harm,
since so much evil falls on us from heaven?
Love, you are indeed a child,
more in mind than in years, without eyes or wit
if you leave your kingdom in such a dire state.
You, whom even Jove does not refuse to serve,
with all the heavenly train, and who succeeded

in inflicting wounds even on Dis;
you from whose bow must spread the fame
of numberless trophies and prizes without number,
stronger against those who most resist;
you to whom both men and gods are subject,
she flees and disdains, by a fate I know not,
with my death in her hands.
But if, contrary to heaven's custom,
she eludes all those powers of yours
through the privilege of her beauty,

have recourse now to your own mother, who,
though a perfect and unequalled beauty,
but when you are weary and sated with me,
what prize and what profit will this be to you?
And you, Love, waste and tear me inside and out,
for my agony brings me more contentment
the more that it satisfies my lady's pride.
Carefully eyeing how things may turn out,
I am assailed by unreasoning fear
that heaven may avenge my misery on her;

This in part makes my joy incomplete-
rather, if r am to tell the truth,
I am always weighed down by acute despair;
for if my lady should use her power over me,
or would serve her most willingly,
with a heart full of true and earnest affection.
But that instead of wielding her power
to delight the crowd that dusters around her,
she tears me apart under harsh tyranny-
this afflicts and torments my soul.

Nor, for all my laments and complaints,
does she put a stop to the work she's begun,
but like a sea in tempestuous winds
she grows angrier still when I ask for mercy
and shields her weary eyes against pity.
Shifting her eyes from me, she looks elsewhere,
and however much I weep and sigh for myself,
I merely give further grounds to her cruelty.
Oh, lady, treasure of our age,
indeed, of all centuries, if in you

pride did not destroy your beauty,
why is it that my love vexes you so?
And if I don't come to die at your feet,
you will still say that you are offended;
whatever I do or refrain from doing,
you refuse to fulfil your desire through me,
and the only reward I obtain is your hate.
But though your disdain constantly wounds me,
blows are sweet coming from that face
and from your pale and lovely hands.

Whatever feeling has ever stirred in you,
there is grace in everything you do,
whoever your wise, good master has been.
Whatever pacts nature has made with you,
even your rages and your misdeeds
leave all men full of contentment.
Her influence made you fit for every challenge,
giving you every excellent attribute,
reaching her beneficent hand out to you;
here on earth the highest powers of heaven

are discerned in many different forms,
which in you all seem to be virtues.
Oh, what sweet, what dear and fair looks,
what lofty manners are these of yours,
enough to draw gods as your lovers from heaven!
And since I speak so willingly
of the many graces granted you by heaven,
in an extraordinary gift never seen since,
if you did not hide from me on all sides
those divine and matchless limbs

of which your body is composed,
I would not have heaved such anguished sighs,
nor, unhappy heart, would you have seen
yourself, flaming, engulfed by tears.
But how does it happen that hope rises up
in me, alas! so that I feel through experience
how it makes all my days woeful and dreary?
And even as I invoke my lady's name,
true and unique goddess, supreme on earth,
I must turn to her and say her name.

Pray, be not so wicked and cruel to me
that my sorrow is your boon, and your beauty,
which blesses others, murders me!
But let Love, who has taken you for his guide,
and whose lovely throne resides in your heart,
remove, for my sake, cruelty from you;
which, humbly weeping, I also beg of you.
So the great beauty that a kindly star
gave to you with such generous hands
you maintain as a rebel to love and to pity?

Does that soul, which weary virtue rewards
by resting in it after many years of wandering,
wickedly plan to deal death to a man who loves you?
Alas, and what else remains to make
this life of mine totally bitter and grim,
facing disaster on a dark and dire path,
unless ill will be joined to the power
of a beauty unequalled anywhere in the world,
impossible to exceed and without any end?
But why from hell do Tisiphone

and Megaera not rise to do us harm,
since so much evil falls on us from heaven?
Love, you are indeed a child,
more in mind than in years, without eyes or wit
if you leave your kingdom in such a dire state.
You, whom even Jove does not refuse to serve,
with all the heavenly train, and who succeeded
in inflicting wounds even on Dis;
you from whose bow must spread the fame
of numberless trophies and prizes without number,

stronger against those who most resist;
you to whom both men and gods are subject,
she flees and disdains, by a fate I know not,
with my death in her hands.
But if, contrary to heaven's custom,
she eludes all those powers of yours
through the privilege of her beauty,
have recourse now to your own mother, who,
though a perfect and unequalled beauty,
but when you are weary and sated with me,

what prize and what profit will this be to you?
And you, Love, waste and tear me inside and out,
for my agony brings me more contentment
the more that it satisfies my lady's pride.
Carefully eyeing how things may turn out,
I am assailed by unreasoning fear
that heaven may avenge my misery on her;
This in part makes my joy incomplete-
rather, if r am to tell the truth,
I am always weighed down by acute despair;

for if my lady should use her power over me,
or would serve her most willingly,
with a heart full of true and earnest affection.
But that instead of wielding her power
to delight the crowd that dusters around her,
she tears me apart under harsh tyranny-
this afflicts and torments my soul.
Nor, for all my laments and complaints,
does she put a stop to the work she's begun,
but like a sea in tempestuous winds

she grows angrier still when I ask for mercy
and shields her weary eyes against pity.
Shifting her eyes from me, she looks elsewhere,
and however much I weep and sigh for myself,
I merely give further grounds to her cruelty.
Oh, lady, treasure of our age,
indeed, of all centuries, if in you
pride did not destroy your beauty,
why is it that my love vexes you so?
And if I don't come to die at your feet,

you will still say that you are offended;
whatever I do or refrain from doing,
you refuse to fulfil your desire through me,
and the only reward I obtain is your hate.
But though your disdain constantly wounds me,
blows are sweet coming from that face
and from your pale and lovely hands.
Whatever feeling has ever stirred in you,
there is grace in everything you do,
whoever your wise, good master has been.

Whatever pacts nature has made with you,
even your rages and your misdeeds
leave all men full of contentment.
Her influence made you fit for every challenge,
giving you every excellent attribute,
reaching her beneficent hand out to you;
here on earth the highest powers of heaven
are discerned in many different forms,
which in you all seem to be virtues.
Oh, what sweet, what dear and fair looks,

what lofty manners are these of yours,
enough to draw gods as your lovers from heaven!
And since I speak so willingly
of the many graces granted you by heaven,
in an extraordinary gift never seen since,
if you did not hide from me on all sides
those divine and matchless limbs
of which your body is composed,
I would not have heaved such anguished sighs,
nor, unhappy heart, would you have seen

yourself, flaming, engulfed by tears.
But how does it happen that hope rises up
in me, alas! so that I feel through experience
how it makes all my days woeful and dreary?
And even as I invoke my lady's name,
true and unique goddess, supreme on earth,
I must turn to her and say her name.
Pray, be not so wicked and cruel to me
that my sorrow is your boon, and your beauty,
which blesses others, murders me!

But let Love, who has taken you for his guide,
and whose lovely throne resides in your heart,
remove, for my sake, cruelty from you;
which, humbly weeping, I also beg of you.


[ll. 1 - 184; pp. 89-97]




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