Capitolo 23

Veronica Franco Under Revision

(Franco, to a friend who duels.)

I now come for advice to you,
to whom the forms of duels and honour are known,
according to which the world is stricken and slain.
To you, because you're a gallant warrior,
and not only an expert in war,
but through your kindness you bear me love,
I turn for advice; and I am sure
that you will not be of slight help to me,
more from your graciousness than for my merit.
But I do not want to turn at once
to what my longing for revenge invites me,
although the way to it is simple and clear;
I want before I come to pull out weapons,
to communicate my opinion to you
and above all to ask you for counsel,
and if between us we should decide
that I should express my resentment in deeds,
then I won't hesitate to take up arms......

But what if I hold my peace, and some day
it happens that I cross his path
and go to meet him armed for the kill?
Perhaps I shall slake my thirst completely
on his malignant blood, and with pleasure
win a victory without any battle.
Shall I really commit the foul error
of soiling these hands of mine with that blood,
infected with malice and cowardice both?
Enough of thoughts so alien to me!
But what shall I do? Silence is bad,
but action is worse. Oh, useless words of mine!
Give me, my lord, your advice.........

[ll. 10-27, 166-178; pp. 233-241]

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Franco, Veronica Poems and Selected Letters.
2010 Selected Poetry
The Poets Garret
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