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Gaspara Stampa

Rime 208

Love made me such that I live in fire
like a new salamander on earth
or like that other rare creature, the Phoenix,
who expires and rises at the same time

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Every planet above, and every star

Every planet above, and every star,
Gave my lord their powers at his birth:
Each one gave him of their special worth,
To make a single perfect mortal here.
Saturn gave him depths of understanding,
Jupiter for fine actions gave desire,
Mars a greater skill than most in warfare,
Phoebus, elegance and wit in speaking.

Venus beauty too, and gentleness,
Mercury eloquence, but then the moon
Made him too cold for me, in iciness.
Each of these graces, each rare boon,
Make me burn for his fierce brightness,
And yet he freezes, through that one alone.

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O all my labours scattered uselessly

O all my labours scattered uselessly
O, all my useless scattered sighs,
O loyalty, that never, O living fire,
Chilled or burned others so, if I see truly,
O paper marked, to be marked, in vain,
In praise of those loved and ardent eyes,
O those hopes ministering to desires,
That their worthiest prize should claim,

All, all, in a moment, gathered by the breeze,
Since I have heard my impious lord
With my own ears, himself speak free,
Saying when near that he thinks of me,
And yet in leaving, in an instant leaves,
Of all my love, his every memory.

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Rime 08

If I, who am an abject, low-born woman,
Can bear within me such lofty fire,
Why should I not possess at least a little
Poetic power to tell it to the world?
If Love, with such a new unheard-of flint
Lifted me up where I could never climb,
Why cannot I, in an unusual way,
Make pain and pen be equal in myself?
If Love cannot do this by force of nature,
Perhaps as by a miracle he may
Passing and bursting every common measure.
How that can be, I cannot well explain
But yet I feel, because of my great fortune,
My heart imprinted with a strong new style.

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Rime 28

When before those eyes, my life and light,
my beauty and fortune in the world, I stand,
the style, speech, passion, genius I command,
the thoughts, conceits, feelings I incite,
in all I'm overwhelmed, utterly spent,
like a deaf mute, virutally dazed, all reverence, nothing but amazed
in that lovely light, I'm fixed and rent.
Enough, not a word can I intone
for that divine incubus never quits
sapping my strength, leaving my soul prone.
Oh Love, what strange and wonderful fits:
one sole thing, one beauty alone,
can give me life and deprive me of wits

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I swear to you, Love, by your arrows

I swear to you, Love, by your arrows,
And by your powerful holy flame,
I care not if by one I’m maimed,
My heart burned, wasted by the other:
However far through times past or coming,
There never was nor will be woman
Whomever of them you wish to name,
Could know such sharpness, such devouring:

For there’s a virtue born from suffering,
That dims and conquers the sense of pain,
So that it’s barely felt, seems scarcely hurting.
No! This, that torments soul and body again,
This is the real fear presaging my dying:
What if my fire be only straw and flame?

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By Now So Sick Of Waiting

By now so sick of waiting, I'm by now
so beaten by the pain (by now the burn
won't stop and he forgets so quickly how
I trust in his return and how I yearn),

that I cry out for her to give me rest,
she of the pallid face and reaper's knife
whose chilly touch defines the edge of life,
so hard the need that grows within my breast.

But she is deaf and gives me no relief
as if she spurned my being mad with grief,
and deafly he denies himself to me.

My eyes are always wet, and weeping fills
this villa and its shore with misery,
while he lives smugly up there in his hills.

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Sonetto I

LADIES, who of my lord would fain be told,
Picture a gentle knight, full sweet to see,
Though young in years, in wisdom passing old,
Model of glory and of valiancy;
Fair-haired, bright colour glowing in his face,
Tall and well-set, broad-shouldered, finally,
In all his parts a paragon of grace
Except in loving wantonly, ah me!
Who'd know myself, picture a woman wrought
In passion and in presence after pain's
And death's own bitter images, a port
Of safety where untroubled rest remains;
One who with neither tears, nor sighs, nor zest
Wakes pity in her cruel lover's breast.

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Rime 43

Harsh is my fortune, but harsher still is the fate
dealt me by my count: he flees from me,
I follow him; others long for me,
I cannot look at another man's face.

I hate him who loves me,love him who scorns me;
against the humble lover, my heart rebels,
but I am humble to him who kill my hope;
my soul longs for such harmful food.


He constantly gives me cause for anger,
while others seek to give me comfort and peace;
these I ignore, and I cling instead to him.


Thus in your school, Love, we receive
always the opposite of what we deserve:
the humble are despised, the heartless rewarded.

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Sonetto II

DEEPLY repentant of my sinful ways
And of my trivial, manifold desires,
Of squandering, alas, these few brief days
Of fugitive life in tending love's vain fires.
To Thee, Lord, Who dost move hard hearts again,
And render warmth unto the frozen snow,
And lighten every bitter load of pain
For those who with Thy sacred ardours glow,
To Thee I turn, O stretch forth Thy right hand
And from this whirlpool rescue me, for I
Without Thine aid could never reach the land;
O willingly for us didst suffer loss,
And to redeem mankind hung on the Cross,
O gentle Saviour, leave me not to die.

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