by Francesco Petrarca (1304 - 1374)
Translation © by A. S. Kline

Standomi un giorno solo a la fenestra
Language: Italian (Italiano) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Standomi un giorno solo a la fenestra,
onde cose vedea tante, et sí nove,
ch'era sol di mirar quasi già stancho,
una fera m'apparve da man destra,
con fronte humana, da far arder Giove,
cacciata da duo veltri, un nero, un biancho;
che l'un et l'altro fiancho
de la fera gentil mordean sí forte,
che 'n poco tempo la menaro al passo
ove, chiusa in un sasso,
vinse molta bellezza acerba morte:
et mi fe' sospirar sua dura sorte.

Indi per alto mar vidi una nave,
con le sarte di seta, et d'òr la vela,
tutta d'avorio et d'ebeno contesta;
e 'l mar tranquillo, et l'aura era soave,
e 'l ciel qual è se nulla nube il vela,
ella carca di ricca merce honesta:
poi repente tempesta
orßental turbò sí l'aere et l'onde,
che la nave percosse ad uno scoglio.
O che grave cordoglio!
Breve hora oppresse, et poco spatio asconde,
l'alte ricchezze a nul'altre seconde.

In un boschetto novo, i rami santi
fiorian d'un lauro giovenetto et schietto,
ch'un delli arbor' parea di paradiso;
et di sua ombra uscian sí dolci canti
di vari augelli, et tant'altro diletto,
che dal mondo m'avean tutto diviso;
et mirandol io fiso,
cangiossi 'l cielo intorno, et tinto in vista,
folgorando 'l percosse, et da radice
quella pianta felice
súbito svelse: onde mia vita è trista,
ché simile ombra mai non si racquista.

Chiara fontana in quel medesmo bosco
sorgea d'un sasso, et acque fresche et dolci
spargea, soavemente mormorando;
al bel seggio, riposto, ombroso et fosco,
né pastori appressavan né bifolci,
ma ninphe et muse a quel tenor cantando:
ivi m'assisi; et quando
piú dolcezza prendea di tal concento
et di tal vista, aprir vidi uno speco,
et portarsene seco
la fonte e 'l loco: ond'anchor doglia sento,
et sol de la memoria mi sgomento.

Una strania fenice, ambedue l'ale
di porpora vestita, e 'l capo d'oro,
vedendo per la selva altera et sola,
veder forma celeste et immortale
prima pensai, fin ch'a lo svelto alloro
giunse, et al fonte che la terra invola:
ogni cosa al fin vola;
ché, mirando le frondi a terra sparse,
e 'l troncon rotto, et quel vivo humor secco,
volse in se stessa il becco,
quasi sdegnando, e 'n un punto disparse:
onde 'l cor di pietate, et d'amor m'arse.

Alfin vid'io per entro i fiori et l'erba
pensosa ir sí leggiadra et bella donna,
che mai nol penso ch'i' non arda et treme:
humile in sé, ma 'ncontra Amor superba;
et avea indosso sí candida gonna,
sí texta, ch'oro et neve parea inseme;
ma le parti supreme
eran avolte d'una nebbia oscura:
punta poi nel tallon d'un picciol angue,
come fior colto langue,
lieta si dipartio, nonché secura.
Ahi, nulla, altro che pianto, al mondo dura!

Canzon, tu puoi ben dire:
- Queste sei visßoni al signor mio
àn fatto un dolce di morir desio. -

About the headline (FAQ)


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (A. S. Kline) , no title, copyright © 2002, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 75
Word count: 481

One day, standing alone at my window
Language: English  after the Italian (Italiano) 
One day, standing alone at my window,
from which I saw so many novel things,
I was almost weary merely from gazing,
I saw a wild creature appear from my right,
with human features enough to make Jove burn,
hunted by two hounds, one white, one black:
that gnawed the two flanks
of that gentle creature so fiercely
that in no time at all it led to such a pass,
that she was enclosed by stone,
bitter death had conquered great beauty:
and I was left sighing at her harsh fate.

Then I saw a ship in the deep ocean,
with silken ropes, and golden sails,
the rest equal to ivory and ebony:
the sea was calm, and the breeze was gentle,
and the sky as when no cloud veils it,
and she carried a rich cargo of virtue:
then a sudden tempest
from the east churned air and waves,
so that the ship foundered on a reef.
Oh what a heavy sadness!
A brief hour conquered, a small space hid,
that noble treasure without a peer.

In a fresh grove, the sacred branches
of a laurel flowered, young and slender,
it seemed a tree of paradise:
and such sweet singing of varied birds
issued from its shade, such noble joy,
that I was lifted above this world:
and gazing intently,
the sky altered all round, and darkened,
lightning struck, and suddenly
that happy plant
was torn up by its roots: so my life is saddened,
since I cannot ask for such another shade.

In that same grove a crystal fountain sprang
from beneath a stone, and sprinkled
sweet fresh water, murmuring gently:
no shepherd or flocks ever approached
that lovely place, secret, shadowy and dark,
but nymphs and Muses singing to its tones:
there I sat: and while
I absorbed the sweetness of that harmony,
and of the sight, I saw a cave yawn wide,
and carry with it
the fountain and its site: so I feel the grief,
and the memory alone dismays me.

I saw a strange phoenix, both its wings
clothed in crimson, and its head with gold,
solitary and alone in the wood,
I first thought its form heavenly and immortal
to the sight, till it reached the uprooted laurel,
and the fountain that the earth had swallowed:
all things fly towards their end:
seeing the leaves scattered on the ground,
and the broken trunk, and that dry spring,
it turned its beak on itself,
almost disdainfully, and in a moment vanished:
so that my heart burns with pity and love.

Lastly I saw a lovely graceful lady
go pensive among the flowers and grass,
so I can’t think of her without burning, trembling:
humble in herself, she was proud before Love:
and she had on so white a gown,
so woven it seemed gold mixed with snow:
but the crown of her head
was hidden by a dark mist:
then, stung by a little snake in the heel,
she bowed like a flower when picked,
glad and confident to depart.
Ah, nothing but weeping lasts in this world!

Song, you might well say:
"These visions have given
my lord a sweet desire to die."

About the headline (FAQ)


  • Translation from Italian (Italiano) to English copyright © 2002 by A. S. Kline, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2015-03-11
Line count: 75
Word count: 530