Capitolo 22

Veronica Franco Under Revision

(Franco, to Venice and her distant lover.)

Everything that brings solace and joy
throughout these fields and lovely shores
causes me pain and heavy, dismal grief.
The sunny valleys, full of breezes and scents,
the grasses, the branches, the birds, the cool springs
that pour from crystalline, pure streams,
the shady groves and cultivated hills,
so delightful and so welcoming to climb,
and easier the farther up one goes,
and all the things that art, nature, and heaven
with industrious hands have created here
are savage and foreign deserts to me.
No sweetness can assuage the bitterness I feel
because of the painful departure I took
from my dearly beloved native soil:
leaving, I left my life behind,
which, lying ignored at my cruel lover's feet,
lies torn asunder and parted from me.
And yet among these flowers and plants
I go seeking it, and the tracks of that vile man
who stands before me wherever I go.
And I seem to see him, transforming himself
now into a beech tree, now a fir, now a pine,
now a laurel, now a myrtle, into all sorts of shapes.
It seems to me that I can see him close by,
and I reach out with eager hands to seize him,
and try to bring my lips close, to kiss him.
In this confusion I see and understand
that, deluded by imagination and hope,
I embrace and hold a tree trunk or a rock.
If I see two little singing birds
land together in joy on a branch,
with the desire Love gently imprints in the heart,
I realize that I count in vain
on distance as a cure for my misery,
in a place where no one assists me.
And then two birds share sweet delight,
coming together to enjoy that good
that fulfils their desire and hope as one;
in the groves and woods, one senses Love,
driven from the company of men, among
the animals, which love each other equally;
mutual desire draws wild creatures
to the sweet invitation of love's delights,
with feeling shared equally between two hearts;
in mountains, valleys, groves, banks, and shores,
here and there, joined in tight embrace,
pairs of wild beasts wander in twos,
and man, chosen by heaven to be lord
over all the other beasts of the earth,
endowed with reason and with intellect,
man, who by choice errs rarely or never,
desiring sweet love, wages against himself
such a continuous and abominable war
that in the end it is impossible for him
to love without finding his beloved's heart
marked with desires that resist his own........

[ll. 13-69; pp. 219-221]

If you have any suggestions or questions regarding these poems please email me

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