Saturday, 14 July 2018

Ballata. Concerning a Shepherd-maid - Guido Cavalcanti

Within a copse I met a shepherd-maid,
  More fair, I said, than any star to see.

She came with waving tresses pale and bright,
  With rosy cheer, and loving eyes of flame,
Guiding the lambs beneath her wand aright.
  Her naked feet still had the dews on them,
  As, singing like a lover, so she came;
Joyful, and fashion’d for all ecstasy.

I greeted her at once, and question made
  What escort had she through the woods in spring?
But with soft accents she replied and said
  That she was all alone there, wandering;
  Moreover: “Do you know, when the birds sing,
My heart’s desire is for a mate,” said she.

While she was telling me this wish of hers,
  The birds were all in song throughout the wood.
“Even now then,” said my thought, “the time recurs,
  With mine own longing to assuage her mood.”
  And so, in her sweet favour’s name, I sued
That she would kiss there and embrace with me.

She took my hand to her with amorous will,
  And answered that she gave me all her heart,
And drew me where the leaf is fresh and still,
  Where spring the wood-flowers in the shade apart.
  And on that day, by Joy’s enchanted art,
There Love in very presence seem’d to be.

Guido Cavalcanti (1255 – 1300) Italy
Translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Source: Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse, ed. by Thomas Robert Smith. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1921–22

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