Petrarch (1304-1374) Erano i capei d'oro a l'aura sparsi

She let her sunlit tresses fly

She let her sunlit tresses fly
tangled and golden in the air.
Unmeasurable light was in her eyes
(how fine they were!) and now that look is rare.
Her kindness showed in tender glances,
wind-flushed cheeks. At least that's how it seemed.
I was walking tinder, I took chances.
The next part might be something that I dreamed:

A fiery lightness in her bearing,
a voice that wasn't mortal—it was song,
a sort of angel presence she was wearing.
She was a thing from heaven. If I'm wrong
I'd just as soon not know.
To heal the wound you don't unstring the bow.

translation © 1999, 2001 Leonard Cottrell. All rights reserved
main index for rhymed translations

Erano i capei d'oro a l'aura sparsi,
che'n mille dolci nodi gli avolgea;
e'l vago lume oltra misura ardea
di quei begli occhi, ch'or ne son sì scarsi.
E'l viso di pietosi color farsi,
non so se vero o falso, mi parea:
I' che l'esca amorosa al petto avea,
qual meraviglia se di subit' arsi?

Non era l'andar suo cosa mortale,
ma d'angelica forma; e le parole
sonavan altro che pur voce umana.
Un spirto celeste, un vivo sole
fu quel ch' i' vidi; e se non fosse or tale,
piaga per allentar d'arco non sana.