GIOVAN BATTISTA MARINO (1569-1625)

Donna che si lava le gambe

Sovra basi d’argento in conca d’oro
io vidi due colonne alabastrine
dentro linfe odorate e cristalline
franger di perle un candido tesoro.
O (dissi) del mio mal posa e ristoro,
di Natura e d’Amor mète divine,
stabilite per ultimo confine
ne 1’Oceano de le dolcezze loro.

Fossi Alcide novel, chè i miei trofei
dove mai non giungesse uman desio
traspiantandovi in braccio erger vorrei.
0 stringer, qual Sanson, vi potess’io,
chè col vostro cader dolce darei
tomba a la morte e morte al dolor mio.

Woman Washing Her Legs

In a shell of gold upon silver base I saw two columns of alabaster amid perfumed and crystal currents breaking a white treasure of pearls.  O (I said) resting-place and balm of my suffering, divine ends of Nature and Love, set as the utmost bounds in the Ocean of their own delights.

Might I be a new Alcides (Hercules), for, taking you up in my arms, I would raise my trophies where human desire had never reached.  Or might I crush you together, like Samson, for I would give death a tomb with your sweet fall and death to my grief.

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Dafne in Lauro

Deh, perchè fuggi, o Dafne,
da chi ti segue ed ama,
e fuor che i tuoi begli occhi altro non brama?
Se’ molle ninfa? o duro tronco forse
di questo alpestro monte,
rigida e sorda a chi ti prega e chiama?
Ma se tu tronco sei,
come al fuggir le piante hai cosi pronte?
Come non sai fermarti ai preghi miei?
Così dicea, ma scorse
in vero tronco allor cangiata Apollo
la bella fuggitiva
fermarsi immobilmente in su la riva.

Daphne into Laurel

O why do you flee, o Daphne, from him who follows and loves you, and desires nothing other than your lovely eyes?  Are you a soft nymph? or perhaps a hard tree-trunk of this flinty mountain­side, unbending and deaf to him who begs and calls you?  But if you are a trunk, why are your feet so ready to flee? How can you not stay for my entreaties?  So Apollo was speaking, but he saw then the lovely fugitive, changed into a real trunk, stay unmovingly upon the bark.

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Fede rotta

Sovra l’umida arena
de le latine sponde
di propria man Tirrena
queste parole un dì scriver vid’io:
Mirzio è sol l’amor mio.
Ahi fu ben degna di sì fral parola,
crudel, l’arena sola; onde poi l’onde
e del Tebro in un punto e de l’oblio
Mirzio, ch’era il tu’amore,
radessero dal lido e dal tuo core.

Broken Vows

On the damp sands of the Italian shore, I saw Tirrena with her own hand writing these words one day: Mirtius is my only love.  Ah, cruel fair, the sand alone was fit for words so frail; since the waves of the Tiber and forgetfulness at the one instant erased Mirtius, who was your love, from the beach and from your heart.

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Bella schiava

Nera sì, ma se’ bella, o di Natura
fra le belle d’Amor leggiadro mostro.
Fosca è l’alba appo te; perde e s’oscura
presso l’ebeno tuo l’avorio e l’ostro.
Or quando, or dove il mondo antico o il nostro
vide sì viva mai, sentì sì pura
o luce uscir di tenebroso inchiostro,
o di spento carbon nascere arsura?

Servo di chi m’è serva, ecco ch’avvolto
porto di bruno laccio il core intorno,
che per candida man non fia mai sciolto.
Là ‘ve più ardi, o Sol, sol per tuo scorno
un sole è nato; un Sol, che nel bel volto
porta Ia notte ed ha negli occhi il giorno.

Beautiful Slave

Black, yes, but you are beautiful, or a graceful monster of Nature’s among Love’s beauties. The dawn is gloomy where you are; ivory and the rose-hue fade and are darkened beside your ebony. When or where did the ancient world, or ours, see so living, feel so pure a light come from shady ink, or burning spring from burnt-out coal?

Slave of her who is slave to me, look, I bear a dusky noose round my heart that will never be loosed by white hand. Where you most burn, o Sun, a sun has been born for your sole shaming; a sun that wears night upon her face, and in her eyes has day.

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Dipartita

Già fuor de l’onde il Sol sferza i destrieri,
ecco del mio partir l’ora che giunge;
Lilla, intanto, s’Amor ne scalda e punge,
sieno i fidi sospir nostri corrieri.
E come per incogniti sentieri
con Aretusa Alfeo si ricongiunge,
così mentre vivranno i corpi lunge,
a visitarsi tornino i pensieri.

Spesso due stelle in ciel destre e felici,
se ben per vario sito il corso fanno,
scontrarsi almen con lieti aspetti amici.
E due piante talor divise stanno,
ma sotterra però con le radici
se non co’ rami, a ritrovar si vanno.

Leave-taking

ALREADY the sun whips his coursers from the waves, and now the hour of my leave-taking arrives; Lilla, the while, if Love warms and pricks us on, let our faithful sighs be our messengers. And as by unknown ways Alpheus joins himself with Arethusa again, so while our bodies live far apart, let our thoughts come back to visit one another.

Often two stars, nimble and happy in heaven, even though they take their way through different parts, have met at least with glad and loving look.  And two plants often stand separate, but move to find one another again, if not with their branches, still with their roots underground.

L’amore incostante
(al Signor Marcello Sacehetti)

Chi vuol veder, Marcello,
Proteo d’amor novello,
novel camaleonte,
a me giri la fronte,
ch’ognor pensier volgendo,
forme diverse e color van apprendo.

Già defender non oso
il mio fallo amoroso;
anzi l’error confesso,
la colpa accuso io stesso:
ma chi fia che raccoglia
sul corso fren de la sfrenata vog1ia?

Chi d’un cupido amante
il desir vaneggiante
o circoscrive o lega,
che si move e si piega
lieve piú ch’alga o fronda
che tremi in ramo a l’aura,
in lido a l’onda?

Non ha sol un oggetto
il mio bramoso affetto:
cento principi e cento
trov’ io del mio tormento;
sempre che vada o miri,
sempre ho nove cagioni ond’io sospiri.

Ogni beltà, ch’io veggia,
il cor mi tiranneggia;
d’ ogni cortese sguardo
subito avampo ed ardo.
Lasso! ch’a poco a poco
son fatto esca continua ad ogni foco.

Quante forme repente
offre l’occhio a la mente,
tante son lacci ed ami
perch’io vie pià sempr’ami:
or per una languisco,
or per altra mi struggo e ‘ncenerisco.

Me la fresca beltate,
me la piú tarda etate
infiamma e punge e prende:
quella però m’incende
con le grazie e co’ lumi,
questa con gli atti gravi e co’ costumi.

L’una per la sua pura
semplicetta natura,
l’altra per l’altra parte
de l’ingegno e de l’arte,
egualmente mi place
e la rozza bellezza e la sagace.

Usi fregiarsi: i fregi
chi fia che non appregi?
Vada inculta e sprezzata,
sol di se stessa ornata:
quella schiettezza adoro,
quella sua povertate è mio tesoro.

O vezzosa e lasciva,
o ritrosetta e schiva,
quella mi fa sperare
che sia tal qual appare,
questa ii pensier lusinga
ch’ami d’esser amata e che s’infinga.

Colei, perché si vede
che di statura eccede:
costei, perché mi sembra
piú sciolta ne le membra:
preso di doppio nodo,
ambedue fra me stesso ammiro e lodo.

Gota bianca e vermiglia
m’alletta a maraviglia;
pallido e smorto volto
sovente il cor m’ha tolto:
ma s’ama ancor talora
bruno ciglio, occhio oscuro e guancia mora.

O crin d’or biondo e terso
Tra vivi fior cosperso,
che si confonda e spieghi,
leggiadra man disleghi,
scorger parmi in quell’atto
de l’Aurora purpurea il bel ritratto;

o chiome altra mi mostri
del color degl’inchiostri,
raccolte o pur cadenti
sovra due stelle ardenti,
l’assomiglio non meno
della Notte tranquilla al bel sereno.

Se ride un’angeletta,
quel suo viso è saetta;
se piange, a la mia vita
quel suo pianto è ferita;
se non piange né ride,
senza stral, senza piaga ancor m’uccide.

Ninfa ch’or alta, or grave,
snoda voce soave
soavémente, e cria
angelica armonia,
chi fia che non invoglie
a baciar quella bocca, onde la scioglie?

Ove fra lieta schiera
fanciulla lusinghiera
batta con dite argute
dolci fila minute,
qual alma non fia vaga
d’aver da man sì dotta e laccio e piaga?

Veder per piagge o valli
giovinetta che balli,
in vago abito adorno
portar con arte intorno
il piede e la persona;
e qual rustico cor non imprigiona?

Se m’incontro in bellezza
a star tra 1’ coro avvezza
de le nove sirene
di Pindo e d’Ippocrene,
con gil sguardi e co’ carmi
può ferirmi in un punto e può sanarmi.

Havvi donna gentile
ch’al ciel alza il mio stile.
Costei, ch’ama il mio canto,
amo e bramo altrettanto,
e stato cangerei
sol per esserle in sen co’ versi miei.

Altra, qualor mi legge,
mi riprende e corregge.
Allor convien ch’io dica:
--O pur l’avessi amica,
o soggiacer felice
a sì bella maestra e correttrice!

Insomma, e queste e quelle
per me tutte son belle,
di tutte arde il desio.
Marcello, or, s’avess’io
Mill’alme e mille cori,
sarei nido capace a tanti amori?

Inconstant Love
(to Signor Marcello Sacchctti)

Whoever cares to see a Proteus of new love, Marcello, a new chameleon, let him turn his eyes on me, for, as my thoughts come back to this subject at all times, so do I embrace different forms and various colours.
I do not in the least dare defend my amorous failing; rather I confess my being wrong, and charge myself with the fault: but who is there who can catch the bridle of the unbridled will as it careers?
Who can circumscribe or bind the wandering desire of a covet­ous lover which moves and bends lightly as seaweed or leaf trembles on the branch in the breeze, by the seashore in the wave?
My burning affection has not just a single object: I find a hundred causes for torment and a hundred more; as long as I go or look about, I always have new reasons for sighing.
Every beauty I see dominates my heart; I flame and burn in­stantly at each kind look. Alas! I gradually grow to be unfailing fuel for every fire.
The sudden forms the eye offers to the mind are so many traps and hooks to make me love much more and more: now I languish for one woman, now for another am destroyed and turned to ashes.
Fresh beauty or maturer age inflame and spur and take me: the former sets me on fire with her graces and her eyes, the latter with her stately gestures and her ways.
The first for her pure simple nature, the other for the other en­dowment of wit and art, — the uncultivated beauty and the wise one please me equally.
Let a woman be in the habit of tricking herself out: who will not appreciate her ornaments?  Let her be unsophisticated and negligent, adorned only with herself: I adore that directness, that poverty of hers is my treasure.
Let her be winning and lascivious, or shy and backward, the first makes me hope she will be as she seems, the second gives me the flattering idea that she loves to be loved and pretends.
This one, because she is seen to be of uncommon height; that one because she seems more supple of limb: taken in a double knot, I admire and praise each to myself.
A white and crimson cheek delights me wonderfully; a pale, white face has often claimed my heart: but dusky brow, dark eye and swarthy cheek are also to be loved at times.
Let a carefree hand unbind a head of gleaming fair hair, cluster­ing, smooth, loosed about living flowers, I seem to see in that action the fair portrait of the rose-hued Dawn;
or let another show me hair as black as ink, gathered up or fall­ing above two burning stars, I compare her no less to the lovely calm of quiet Night.
If an angelic little creature laughs, that face of hers is an arrow; if she weeps, her weeping is a wound in my life; if she neither weeps nor laughs, without arrow, or wound, she still kills me.
A nymph who looses her soft voice softly, now high, now deep, and utters angelic harmonies, who is there who does not have the desire to kiss that mouth whence she frees her voice?
Where an alluring girl in a gay company strikes the sweet, fine cords with subtle fingers, what soul would not desire to be caught and wounded by so expert a hand?
See a young girl dancing by bank or valley, graceful in a fair dress, who skillfully whirls body and foot; and what rustic heart does she not imprison?
If I meet a beauty that can take her place beside the nine sirens of Pindus and Hippocrenc,[1] with her looks and songs she can wound me and, at the same time, heal me.
There is a courteous lady who extols my style to heaven.  Her who loves my song I love and desire as much, and I would change my nature to be in her bosom with my poems.
Another, when she reads me, reproves and corrects me.  Then must I needs say: “O might I yet have her as lover, --o happy sub­mission to so lovely a teacher and corrector!”
In short, these ones and those, they are all beautiful to me, my desire burns for them all. Now, Marcello, if I had a thousand souls and a thousand hearts, would I be a nest large enough for so many loves?
 
[1] Hippocrene is a fountain of the nine Muses (“sirens”) on Mount Helicon in ancient Greece.