Monday, September 4, 2017

John Milton, Italian Sonnets No. 3

As on a rugged hill, when evening falls,
The skilled young shepherdess
Waters the strange and beautiful plant
That can scarcely spread its leaves

So far from its lifegiving native springtime,
So on my agile tongue love awakens
The new flower of a strange language.

To sing as best I can of you,
So gracious and lovely,
I give up being heard by my own countrymen
And trade familiar Thames for the fair Arno.

Love so willed it, and I, from the sighs of others,
Know that love never willed in vain.
Ah, if only my dull heart and stony breast
were as fine a soil as for heavenly seed.

Compendium of online translations, with some additions by me. Below, the original.

Qual in colle aspro, al imbrunir di sera
L'avezza giovinetta pastorella
Va bagnando l'herbetta strana e bella
Che mal si spande a disusata spera

Fuor di sua natia alma primavera,
Cosi Amor meco insù la lingua snella
Desta il fior novo de strania favella,
Mentre io di te, vezzosamente altera,

Canto, dal mio buon popol non inteso
E'l bel Tamigi cangio col bel Arno.
Amor lo volse, ed io a l'altrui peso

Seppi ch'Amor cosa mai volse indarno.
Deh! foss'il mio cuor lento e'l duro seno
A chi pianta dal ciel si buon terreno.

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