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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


Ode to Vaucluse

By Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374)

Translated by Leigh Hunt

CLEAR, fresh, and dulcet streams,

Which the fair shape who seems

To me sole woman, haunted at noontide;

Fair bough, so gently fit,

(I sigh to think of it,)

Which lent a pillar to her lovely side;

And turf, and flowers bright-eyed,

O’er which her folded gown

Flowed like an angel’s down;

And you, O holy air and hushed,

Where first my heart at her sweet glances gushed;

Give ear, give ear with one consenting,

To my last words, my last, and my lamenting.

If ’t is my fate below,

And heaven will have it so,

That love must close these dying eyes in tears,

May my poor dust be laid

In middle of your shade,

While my soul naked mounts to its own spheres.

The thought would calm my fears,

When taking, out of breath,

The doubtful step of death;

For never could my spirit find

A stiller port after the stormy wind;

Nor in more calm, abstracted bourne,

Slip from my travailled flesh, and from my bones outworn.

Perhaps, some future hour,

To her accustomed bower

Might come the untamed, and yet the gentle she;

And where she saw me first,

Might turn with eyes athirst

And kinder joy to look again for me;

Then, O the charity!

Seeing amidst the stones

The earth that held my bones,

A sigh for very love at last

Might ask of heaven to pardon me the past:

And heaven itself could not say nay,

As with her gentle veil she wiped the tears away.

How well I call to mind,

When from those boughs the wind

Shook down upon her bosom flower on flower;

And there she sat, meek-eyed,

In midst of all that pride,

Sprinkled and blushing through an amorous shower.

Some to her hair paid dower,

And seemed to dress the curls

Queenlike, with gold and pearls;

Some, snowing, on her drapery stopped,

Some on the earth, some on the water dropped;

While others, fluttering from above,

Seemed wheeling round in pomp, and saying, “Here reigns Love.”

How often then I said,

Inward, and filled with dread,

“Doubtless this creature came from paradise!”

For at her look the while,

Her voice, and her sweet smile,

And heavenly air, truth parted from mine eyes;

So that, with long-drawn sighs,

I said, as far from men,

“How came I here, and when!”

I had forgotten; and alas!

Fancied myself in heaven, not where I was;

And from that time till this I bear

Such love for the green bower I cannot rest elsewhere.