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Petrarch — Lassare il velo o per sole o per ombra

Lady, you’ve not let slip your veil, in sunlight or in shade,
since first you recognised the great desire my eyes betrayed:
desire so strong, it drives all other longings from my heart.

While I kept thoughts of love a secret, hidden and apart
(such was my shame of them, a death-wish overtook my mind),
the face you showed me was adorned with pity. You were kind —

until Love made you wary of me. Now your blonde hair’s veiled
when you go out, your loving glance removed. You have withheld
the very thing I craved the most. This covering you wear,

all the year long, both governs me and drives me to despair.
Shield you it may, from summer’s heat and winter’s icy breath;
to me, your lovely eyes’ sweet light is dimmed, and that is death.

Audio file

Listen to this translation — read by Peter Hetherington

Lassare il velo o per sole o per ombra — Petrarch

Lassare il velo o per sole o per ombra,
donna, non vi vid’ io,
poi che in me conosceste il gran desio
ch’ ogni altra voglia d’entr’ al cor mi sgombra.
Mentr’ io portava i be’ pensier celati
ch’ ànno la mente desiando morta,
vidivi di pietate ornare il volto;
ma poi ch’ Amor di me vi fece accorta,
fuor i biondi capelli allor velati
e l'amoroso sguardo in sé raccolto.
Quel ch’ i’ più desiava in voi m’è tolto;
sì mi governa il velo,
che per mia morte et al caldo et al gielo
de’ be’ vostr’ occhi il dolce lume adombra.