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Petrarch — L’ardente nodo ov’ io fui, d’ora in ora

Death has untied the burning knot where I’ve been caught,
hour by slow hour, for twenty-one whole years. I never knew
such weight of sorrow. Formerly, I thought
that men could die of grief. It isn’t true.

Blind to my suffering, Love had no desire
to lose me yet. Down in the grass another snare he’d laid;
with new dry tinder he had lit another fire.
His stratagems weren’t easy to evade.

But for the many past afflictions I had seen,
he would have caught and burned me yet again
more fiercely, since my wood’s no longer green.

So Death has come once more to set me free.
He broke the knot, he doused the flame; and it is he
we struggle to outwit or overcome in vain.

Audio file

Listen to this translation — read by Peter Hetherington

L’ardente nodo ov’ io fui, d’ora in ora — Petrarch

L’ardente nodo ov’ io fui, d’ora in ora
contando, anni ventuno interi preso
Morte disciolse, né giamai tal peso

provai, né credo ch’ uom di dolor mora.

Non volendomi Amor perdere anchora,

ebbe un altro lacciuol fra l’erba teso

et di nova esca un altro foco acceso,

tal ch’ a gran pena indi scampato fora.

Et se non fosse esperienzia molta
de’ primi affanni, i’ sarei preso et arso
tanto più quanto son men verde legno.

Morte m’à liberato un’altra volta

et rotto ’l nodo, e ’l foco à spento et sparso,
contra la qual non val forza né ’ngegno.