Tag Archives: Dante Gabriel Rossetti

First sonnet of Dante Alighieri’s “La Vita Nuova,” translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

This is me reading Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s stylized translation of “La Vita Nuova,” by Dante Alighieri.

 

To every heart which the sweet pain doth move,

And unto which these words may now be brought

For true interpretation and kind thought,

Be greeting in our Lord’s name, which is Love.

Of those long hours wherein the stars, above,

Wake and keep watch, the third was almost nought,

When Love was shown me with such terrors fraught

As may not carelessly be spoken of.

He seemed like one who is full of joy, and had

My heart within his hand, and on his arm

My lady, with a mantle round her, slept;

Whom (having wakened her) anon he made

To eat that heart; she ate, as fearing harm.

Then he went out; and as he went, he wept.

 

“Insomnia,” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Thin are the night-skirts left behind
By daybreak hours that onward creep,
And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
That wavers with the spirit’s wind:
But in half-dreams that shift and roll
And still remember and forget,
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Our lives, most dear, are never near,
Our thoughts are never far apart,
Though all that draws us heart to heart
Seems fainter now and now more clear.
To-night Love claims his full control,
And with desire and with regret
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Is there a home where heavy earth
Melts to bright air that breathes no pain,
Where water leaves no thirst again
And springing fire is Love’s new birth?
If faith long bound to one true goal
May there at length its hope beget,
My soul that hour shall draw your soul
For ever nearer yet.

 

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“Portrait of Dante Gabriel Rossetti,” by George Frederic Watts, circa 1871

“One Girl,” by Sappho, circa 620 B.C., translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Like the sweet apple which reddens upon the topmost bough,
Atop on the topmost twig, — which the pluckers forgot, somehow, —
Forget it not, nay; but got it not, for none could get it till now.

Like the wild hyacinth flower which on the hills is found,
Which the passing feet of the shepherds for ever tear and wound,
Until the purple blossom is trodden in the ground.

 

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“A Sonnet is a moment’s monument …”

“A Sonnet”

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A Sonnet is a moment’s monument,
Memorial from the Soul’s eternity
To one dead deathless hour. Look that it be,
Whether for lustral rite or dire portent,
Of its own arduous fulness reverent:
Carve it in ivory or in ebony,
As Day or Night may rule; and let Time see
Its flowering crest impearled and orient.

A Sonnet is a coin: its face reveals
The soul,–its converse, to what Power ’tis due:–
Whether for tribute to the august appeals
Of Life, or dower in Love’s high retinue,
It serve, or, ‘mid the dark wharf’s cavernous breath,
In Charon’s palm it pay the toll to Death.

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