Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.



By Vasile Alecsandri (1821–1890)

Translated by Henry Stanley

ONE evening in the Piazzetta,

Mocenigo, the handsome:

“Biondinetta, Biondinetta!”

He exclaimed gayly, meeting me;

“Dost thou know, dear Venetian,

That thy Madonna has given thee

The small hand of a Patrician,

And large eyes to be loved?

“Dost thou know that it seems to me,

Cospetto! a great sin,

That you should carry water to sell

On your delicate shoulder?

Come with me, dear one, come,

For I would bring you up

To rule like a queen

In palaces of looking-glass.”

One day beside the fountain

Titian said to me, softly:

“There is no hand in a condition

To attempt thy portrait;

But I swear by the superb sun,

If thou wishest it, on the spot,

I will make thee immortal,

Attempting only thy shadow.”

To-day, in the morning mist,

The new Doge perceived me,

And in the piazza of St. Mark,

Was coming down from the palace.

“Venetian maiden,

Biondinetta!” said he,

“To-morrow into the Adriatic Sea

I am to throw this ring.

“To-morrow, in purple and in gold,

I am to be crowned,

And in the old Bucentaur

To be carried through Venice.

Say that thou wilt be my wife,

I swear by Saint Mark

To devote to thee, Biondina, to thee,

All the pomp of a monarch.”

But Biondinetta, the discerning one,

Pursuing rapidly her course,

To all three with sweet words

Answered thus, laughing:

“There is no clearer looking-glass,

There is no portrait more angelic,

Than that which shows itself to me

When I look into the fountain.

“There are no marks of grandeur,

Nor rings of ruby,

With a sweeter glistening

Than the eyes of Tonin.

Than the gondolas in the Piazzetta

There is no throne more to be desired

By his beloved Biondinetta

When he rows her, the happy one.”