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Thy sisters have made music many a day.
Go dwell thou with them as a mourner dwells.
XXXIII. After I had written this poem, I received the visit of a friend whom I counted as second unto me in the degrees of friendship, and who, moreover, had been united by the nearest kindred to that most gracious creature. And when we had a little spoken together, he began to solicit me that I would write somewhat in memory of a lady who had died; and he disguised his speech, so as to seem to be speaking of another who was but lately dead : wherefore I, perceiving that his speech was of none other than that blessed one herself, told him that it should be done as he required. Then afterwards, having thought thereof, I imagined to give vent in a sonnet to some part of my hidden lamentations ; but in such sort that it might seem to be spoken by this friend of mine, to whom I was to give it. And the sonnet saith thus: “Stay now with me," etc.
This sonnet has two parts. In the first, I call the Faithful of Love to hear me. In the second, I relate my miserable condition. The second begins here, “Mark how they force."
Stay now with me, and listen to my sighs,
Ye piteous hearts, as pity bids ye do.
Mark how they force their way out and press through ;
Oftener refuse than I can tell to you
(Even though my endless grief is ever new)
The only home that well befitteth her:
That mourns its joy and its joy's minister.
XXXIV. But when I had written this sonnet, bethinking me who he was to whom I was to give it, that it might appear to be his speech, it seemed to me that this was but a poor and barren gift for one of her so near kindred. Wherefore, before giving him this sonnet, I wrote two stanzas of a poem: the first being written in very sooth as though it were spoken by him, but the other being mine own speech, albeit, unto one who should not look closely, they would both seem to be said by the same person. Nevertheless, looking closely, one must perceive that it is not so, inasmuch as one does not call this most gracious creature his lady, and the other does, as is manifestly apparent. And I gave the poem and the sonnet unto my friend, saying that I had made them only for him.
The poem begins, “Whatever while,” and has two parts. In the first, that is, in the first stanza, this my dear friend, her kinsman, laments. In the second, 1 lament ; that is, in the other stanza, which begins, “ For
ever.” And thus it appears that in this poem two persons lament, of whom one laments as a brother, the other as a servant.
WHATEVER while the thought comes over me
Behold that lady whom I mourn for now,
That I say, Soul of mine, why stayest thou?
Truly the anguish, soul, that we must bow
So that I call on Death
Forever, among all my sighs which burn,
That clamors upon death continually:
But from the height of woman's fairness, she,
Grew perfectly and spiritually fair;
That so she spreads even there
A certain awe of profound marvelling. XXXV. On that day which fulfilled the year since my lady had been made of the citizens of eternal life, remembering me of her as I sat alone, I betook myself to draw the resemblance of an angel upon certain tablets. And while I did thus, chancing to turn my head, I perceived that some were standing beside me to whom I should have given courteous welcome, and that they were observing what I did : also I learned afterwards that they had been there a while before I perceived them. Perceiving whom, I arose for salutation, and said : “ Another was with me." 2
Afterwards, when they had left me, I set myself again to mine occupation, to wit, to the drawing figures of angels : in doing which, I conceived to write of this matter in rhyme, as for her anniversary, and to address my rhymes unto those who had just left me. It was then that I wrote the sonnet which saith, “ That lady”: and as this sonnet hath two commencements, it behoveth me to divide it with both of them here.
I say that, according to the first, this sonnet has three parts. In the first, I say that this lady was then in my memory. In the second, I tell® What Love therefore did with me. In the third, I speak of the effects of Love. The second begins here, “Love knowing”; the third here, “ Forth went they." This part divides into two. In the one, I say that all my sighs issued speaking. In the other, I say how some spoke certain words different from the others. The second begins here, “And still.” In this same manner is it divided with the other beginning, save that, in the first part, I tell when this lady had thus come into my mind, and this I say not in the other.
1 Browning has made a beautiful allusion to however, add the words, “ And therefore was I this passage in his “ One Word More.” — K. in thought": but the shorter speech is perhaps
2 Thus according to some texts. The majority, the more forcible and pathetic.
That lady of all gentle memories
Had lighted on my soul ; — whose new abode
Lies now, as it was well ordained of God, | Among the poor in heart, where Mary is. Love, knowing that dear image to be his,
Woke up within the sick heart sorrow-bowed,
Unto the sighs which are its weary load
Mine eyes with tears when I am left alone.
It is a year to-day that thou art gone." .
The tears of Love; in whom the power abode
Love, knowing that dear image to be his, etc. XXXVI. Then, having sat for some space sorely in thought because of the time that was now past, I was so filled with dolorous imaginings that it became outwardly manifest in mine altered countenance. Whereupon, feeling this and being in dread lest any should have seen me, I lifted mine eyes to look; and then perceived a young and very beautiful lady, who was gazing upon me from a window with a gaze full of pity, so that the very sum of pity appeared gathered together in her. And seeing that unhappy persons, when they beget compassion in others, are then most moved unto weeping, as though they also felt pity for themselves, it came to pass that mine eyes began to be inclined unto tears. Wherefore, becoming fearful lest I should make manifest mine abject condition, I rose up, and went where I could not be seen of that lady; saying afterwards within myself: “ Certainly with her also must abide most noble Love." And with that, I resolved upon writing a sonnet, wherein, speaking unto her, I should say all that I have just said. And as this sonnet is very evident, I will not divide it :
1 The original is ' nel ciel dell' umiltate,' = the heaven of humility.
MINE eyes beheld the blessed pity spring
Into thy countenance immediately
A while agone, when thou beheldst in me
How abject and forlorn my life must be;
And I became afraid that thou shouldst see
Beneath thine eyes' compassionate control.
And afterwards I said within my soul :
XXXVII. It happened after this that whensoever I was seen of this lady, she became pale and of a piteous countenance, as though it had been with love; whereby she remembered me many times of my own most noble lady, who was wont to be of a like paleness. And I know that often, when I could not weep nor in any way give ease unto mine anguish, I went to look upon this lady, who seemed to bring the tears into my eyes by the mere sight of her. Of the which thing I bethought me to speak unto her in rhyme, and then made this sonnet: which begins, Love's pallor,” and which is plain without being divided, by its exposition aforesaid :
LOVE's pallor and the semblance of deep ruth
Were never yet shown forth so perfectly
In any lady's face, chancing to see
When in mine anguish thou hast looked on me;
Until sometimes it seems as if, through thee,
In the sore hope to shed those tears they keep;
Yet cannot they, while thou are present, weep.
XXXVIII. At length, by the constant sight of this lady, mine eyes began to be gladdened overmuch with her company; through which many times I had much unrest, and rebuked myself as a base person: also, many times I cursed the unsteadfastness of mine eyes, and said to them inwardly : “Was not your grievous condition of weeping wont one while to make others weep? And will ye now forget this thing because a lady looketh upon you ? who so looketh merely in compassion of the grief ye then showed for your own blessed lady. But whatso ye can, that do ye, accursed eyes ! many a time will I make you remember it ! for never, till death dry you up, should ye make an end of your weeping.” And when I had spoken thus unto mine eyes, I was taken again with extreme and grievous sighing. And to the end that this inward strife which I had undergone might not be hidden from all saving the miserable wretch who endured it, I proposed to write a sonnet, and to comprehend in it this horrible condition. And I wrote this which begins, “The very bitter weeping."
The sonnet has two parts. In the first, I speak to my eyes, as my heart spoke within myself. In the second, I remove a difficulty, showing who it is that speaks thus : and this part begins here, “So far." It well might receive other divisions also ; but this would be useless, since it is manifest by the preceding exposition.
“ The very bitter weeping that ye made
So long a time together, eyes of mine,
Was wont to make the tears of pity shine
If I, on my part, foully would combine
With you, and not recall each ancient sigh
What while a lady greets me with her eyes.
So far doth my heart utter, and then sighs. XXXIX. The sight of this lady brought me into so unwonted a condition that I often thought of her as of one too dear unto me; and I began to consider her thus: “This lady is young, beautiful, gentle, and wise: perchance it was Love himself who set her in my path, that so my life might find peace.” And there were times when I thought yet more fondly, until my heart consented unto its reasoning. But when it had so consented, my thought would often turn round upon me, as moved by reason, and cause me to say within myself: “What hope is this which would console me after so base a fashion, and which hath taken the place of all other imagining ?" Also there was another voice within me, that said: “And wilt thou, having suffered so much tribulation through Love, not escape while yet thou mayst from so much bitterness? Thou must surely know that this thought carries with it the desire of Love, and drew its life from the gentle eyes of that lady who vouchsafed thee so much pity." Wherefore I, having striven sorely and very often with myself, bethought me to say somewhat thereof in rhyme. And seeing that in the battle of doubts, the victory most often remained with such as inclined towards the lady of whom I speak, it seemed to me that I should address this sonnet unto her: in the first line whereof, I call that thought which spake of her a gentle thought, only because it spoke of her who was gentle; being of itself most vile.1
1 Boccaccio tells us that Dante was married of Beatrice. Can Gemma then be “the lady of to Gemma Donati about a year after the death the window," his love for whom Dante so con