Capitolo 11

Veronica Franco

(By an unknown author, in praise of Verona, where Franco is staying.)

Truly, fair Verona, you are one of a kind,
now that my gentle Veronica
beautifies you with her unique beauty.
She, who's never had an equal or peer,
Adria's nymph now with her fair face
brings you in midwinter an April full of joy;
the sun of her face and the stars of her eyes
and the calm serenity of her sweet laugh
turn you, indeed, to a heaven on earth;
but the brilliant intellect that the heavenly Mover

gave her, in his image, united
with her other beautiful qualities,
so far surpasses all those other gifts
that our human vision cannot reach far enough
to perceive such great virtue at such a distance.
The bodily eye can scarcely bear
the splendor of her brow; beholding it,
human sight becomes dazzled and dazed:
this lady of mine, gently turning around,
sets the air all about her to sparkling

and banishes tempests and clouds far away.
The gleam of her eye bedecks the world
with roses and violets, and with her,
gay, everlasting spring comes to stay.
Alas! what cruel planet's influence,
unique and truthful light of her eyes,
suddenly hides you and keeps me away?
Adria, who takes our paradise elsewhere?
so that, like me, you are saddened and grieving,
since our bright day has been turned into darkness?

Alas, every other object repels me
now that 1'm denied the sight that I long for,
of my beautiful radiance, bright as the sky.
Clearly, in my feeble, woeful mind's eye,
I enviously see the town of Verona
happily preening herself to my cost;
amid other people's joy and contentment,
I see, alas, and deliberately in my mind,
turn over and over my increasing loss.
Adria, for her you were the kindly shelter

of all the most perfect and highest blessings
that heaven habitually bestows upon us:
now of her lately and unfairly deprived,
along the ancient line of your coast
the troubled sea roars on all of your shores.
All the more does Verona grow gay and merry,
and she abounds in a sweet, flowering May
while we must endure deep winter and hard frost.
There the dear ray of my beautiful sun
displays her multiple, undying graces,
which point out the pathway to heaven.

Through the force of her bright-shining light
plants can be seen taking on new hues
and gaining strength for their hidden roots.
The mild air and precious scent
exhaled from the rosy lips
of this daughter of Pallas and Love
infuse vital nourishment in every place,
so that all at once, from this freshening force,
all rises, is reborn, and inhales anew:
the harmoniousness of her angelic voice

stops rivers in their course and convinces the hills
to pause and listen, and heaven stops, intent on hearing:
weeping in Adria, the sky, laughing elsewhere,
wherever my sweet goddess on earth
rains down sweetness and grace from her eyes,
pours down every blessing on the place where she dwells,
through the fortunate fate of that other lover
and the hard-heartedness of my star to me.
Another man makes good gain from my loss,
another enjoys the light of my fair sun,

and I, stripped bare, weep in misery here.
But if she hears and understands my grief,
why doesn't she come to, remove from my heart
the famished worm that devours and gnaws it?
And if she hears me not, woe to my frail hopes!
for the sky cuts off any path for my sighs,
and against the sky man struggles in vain.
But you, countryside so blessed and fertile,
who've just taken in and welcomed such a boon,
like a man overwhelmed by falling into bliss,

look on those delights, so quick and so swift
to leave Adria behind; and wiser for our loss,
judge how brief and fleeting is the passing of your days.
Now you see yourself up at the top
and perhaps don't consider how from any peak
fortune can bring down the highest things;
Here on earth there is no good that's stable,
rarely does it last more than a moment,
and even in joy, tears and grief find their way.
But happy and fortunate country indeed,

that at that moment given for our pleasure,
you possess a good so perfect and unique.
Plain, hill, fountain, and wood blessed by fate,
for at a glance, at one touch of her fair foot,
you take on the form of a heavenly place.
May the high, unheard of miracle
dwelling within you preserve forever
all the good brought you by her arrival:
may neither ice nor winter nor any other harm
ever wound you, but may the flowery season

remain with you forever,
provided that she returns to us soon,
to the place she was born, which, now without her,
lives out its days in sadness and shadow.
Pray, my dear light, do come back,
marked by the ray of divinity, to the place
which never ceases to mourn for your going.
It is time, my lady, at last to return,
to bring comfort, with your blessed sight,
to the longing eyes of this, your native land,

and to grant my ailing and sorrowful mind
by the sweet visibility of your fair light
a remedy for the woe that so aggrieves it:
and if my heart demands too much of you,
let my penance be that your fair face's splendor
may consume and burn me at dose hand;
and let the double sun of those lovely eyes
be turned nowhere else, until you see me
reduced to fine dust by this fire of mine.
And in order to do this, speed your return.

[ll. 1-121; pp. 119-123]

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