Se'l dolce sguardo di costei

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General information

Author: Francesco Petrarca in Il Canzoniere. 183

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Text and translations

Italian.png Italian text

Se ’l dolce sguardo di costei m’ancide,
et le soavi parolette accorte,
et s’Amor sopra me la fa sí forte
sol quando parla, over quando sorride,

lasso, che fia, se forse ella divide,
o per mia colpa o per malvaggia sorte,
gli occhi suoi da mercè, sicché di morte,
là dove or m’assicura, allor mi sfide?

Però s’i’ tremo, et vo col cor gelato,
qualor veggio cangiata sua figura,
questo temer d’antiche prove è nato.

Femina è cosa mobil per natura:
ond’io so ben ch’un amoroso stato
in cor di donna picciol tempo dura.

German.png German translation

Wenn mich ihr süßer Blick zum Tod' entzückte,
Und ihre zarten, hold verständ'gen Laute,
Wenn Amor ihr so viel Gewalt vertraute,
daß mich ein Lächeln, ja ein Wort beglückte;

Was würd' ach! wenn sie minder freundlich blickte —
Aus Fügung oder Schuld —, als sonst sie schaute,
So daß der Tod da, wo mir nimmer graute
Durch ihre Gunst, nun schreckhaft mich berückte!

Muß schaudernd drum in Frost mein Herz erbeben,
Wann umgewandelt sie einmal zu schauen,
Hat solche Furcht Erfahrung mir gegeben.

Beweglich ist das Weib, nicht drauf zu bauen;
Ich weiß, es währt der Liebe süßes Leben
Gar kleine Zeit im Herzen nur der Frauen.

Translation by Karl Förster
English.png English translation

If that sweet look of hers can kill me,
and the sweet subtlety of her words,
and if Love has such power over me
when she merely speaks, or when she smiles,

then what would happen, alas, if her eyes
were free of Mercy, either through my fault
or evil fate, and if I feared death itself
there where I now feel secure?

So if I tremble, and go with icy heart,
when I see her expression change,
it is a fear born of long experience.

Woman by nature is a changeable thing:
so that I know a loving mood
lasts only a little time in a lady’s heart.

Translation by Anthony S. Kline ©