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INTRODUCTION

I Have always cherished for the translator a feeling of esteem tempered with pity and some concern. I have watched him sally forth on an arduous errand, his soul aflame with the spark of a very legitimate egoism, and, when asked to justify his existence, I have heard him reply: "I would beautify and enrich my homeland with the golden fruits of pilgrimage!" So far, so good! But then I have seen him reaping the reward of his labours, and alas, more often than not, it has been a harvest of contumely, increased and multiplied if he has dared so greatly as to forsake the highway of prose for the perilously alluring paths of poesy! And probably he has deserved all the trouble for which it will be averred he went asking! Be that as it may, I was persuaded that in this regard total abstention was the only sagacious course. Then happy circumstances led me to the study of Italian, and suddenly I found myself wandering in a garden of perennial spring. After a while, for most of us are children at heart, I longed to run home with some, at any rate, of the blossoms I had gathered: how irresistible was my impulse this volume serves to show. It is, I believe, the first attempt to render into English verse representative gems of Italian lyrical poetry through the vicissitudes of six centuries. Every version is the fruit of labour wedded to love, and I can but trust that the harmony of these twain may commend me to the indulgence of the reader. I will not dwell on the almost insuperable technical difficulties that beset me in the accomplishment of my task, for these are sufficiently evident. In addition I was menaced by what I will call a "spiritual" dilemma. One of the leading characteristics of Italian lyrical poetry is its individualism: every poet has a well-defined personality which, as a rule, finds very adequate expression in his writings. Thus, in the course of my work, I was obliged, in so far as I was able, to invest myself with a bewildering diversity of moods, a feat calling for considerable virtuosity, as I think the reader will agree and, I hope, take into account!

In the few cases where I have given fresh versions of poems already translated, and exquisitely well, I have done so with trepidation, and solely because the poems in question were such as could not in conscience be omitted from any representative anthology.

Since my desire is to lead all readers to the fountain-head, the original text will be found side by side with its English version, although, owing to consequent exigency of space, the number both of authors and of poems has had to be considerably reduced.

My warm thanks are due to the firm of Zanichelli, of Bologna, for allowing me to translate and reproduce selections from the poems of Carducci.

In conclusion I claim the proud and happy privilege of dedicating my work to two all-glorious mothers—England who bore me, and Italy who took me to her heart.

LORNA DE' LUCCHI

Padua, 1921

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, TORQUATO TASSO Madrigale

35

Sonetto

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GABRIELLO CHIABRERA „

Madrigale Ode i Alessandro TASSONI Sonetto

GIOVAMBATTISTA MARINO „

55

CLAUDIO ACHILLINI „

FULVIO TESTI „

FRANCESCO REDI Ditirambo
Tommaso Stigliani Sonetto

VINCENZO DA FILICAIA „
CARLO INNOCENZO FRUGONI

Canzone Pietro Metastasio Sonetto

Non è sempre di colpa .

Forse perchè d'altrui .

Dal ciel discese .

Quanto dirne

Beati voi che su nel del

La Notte (written on a statue)

Mentre l'aura

Io pur, la Dio mercè

Cancheri e beccafichi .

Degna nutrice

Voi, donna, ed io .

O sonno, o della quieta

Amor m'impenna l'ale.

Poi che spiegat' ho l' ale

Chi vuol conoscer

Mesta e pentita .

Mentre in grembo

Non è questo un morire

Qual rugiada

Vecchio ed alato dio

Tu parti, o rondinella .

Amore alma è del mondo

Negli anni acerbi .

Scipio, o pietade è morta

Quando a suoi gioghi .

Dico alle Muse

Apertamente dice la gente

Parenti miei

Apre l ' uomo infelice .

Altri canti di Marte

Là nel mezzo del tempio

Non aura popolar.

Ronchi, tu forse al piè .

Bacco in Toscana

Quel musico augellin .

Italia, Italia, o tu cui .

Nascondetevi, o vezzose
Che speri, instabil Dea .
Sogni e favole io fingo .

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