Guido Guinizelli (c.1240-1276) Volvol te levi

"A twister take you"

A twister take you, rancorous old shrew;
the whirlwind hurl you out upon your head!
Why stay you hidden in your hole, instead
of letting lightning make an end of you?
May heaven's rainbow send excruciating
arrows that divide you toe to top
and your obnoxious life abruptly stop—
then there would be joy and celebrating!

Why aren't all the vultures, kites, and crows
crying out on high for sovereign God
to let them have you? Why? the whole world knows
your meat is tough and smells like you're in season:
Not even carrion eaters want your bod—
they favor Roman women, for good reason.


translation©2001 Leonard Cottrell

Volvol te levi, vecchia rabbiosa
e sturbignon te fera in su la testa:
perché dimor' ha' in te tanto nascosa,
che non te vèn ancider la tempesta?
Arco da cielo te mandi angosciosa
saetta che te fenda, e sia presta:
che se fenisse tua vita noiosa,
avrei, senz' altr' aver, gran gio' e festa.

Ché non fanno lamento li avoltori,
nibbi e corbi a l'alto Dio sovranó,
che lor te renda? Già se' lor ragione.
Ma tant' ha' tu sugose carni e dure,
che non se curano averti tra mano:
però romane, e quest' è la cagione.


Thanks to L. Young, a singer in the San Francisco Choral Society, for calling Guido Guinizelli to my attention and suggesting this sonnet for translation.