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Original Language


Donna Mi Priegha
By Guido Cavalcanti

“ A Translation in Sense” by John Lash

Because a Lady asks me
I would tell of something that happens often,
and with force, and brings change upon itself
— which I call love
So that those who deny they can sense its truth
may, in this way, come to know about it,
I believe.

Not that I hope any whose hearts are base
by mere reasoning may assume to comprehend it
For lacking the sense of its own evidence
I have not skill nor wish to offer proof
how it proclaims where it originates,
what is its power and its potency,
its essence and its innate movement,
so delighting that it makes us call it love
—or how anyone can make it show itself.

In that realm where memory resides
it assumes form in self-defining light
that shines, diaphanous, out of a dark,
conflicting hue, then it holds still
so as to be created and sensuously named,
divined from the soul and willed in the heart.

It comes from what is seen as it so intends
which is then taken to the waking mind
as a pure subject, fixed and abiding, yet
even in this, not to be possessed,
because no one can lessen its pure feeling,
its resplendent and perpetual effect, not sensed
merely for delight, but in the contemplation
of how incomparable it truly is.

Devoid of power except in how it gains
a perfection it alone can measure, such as
cannot be reasoned, but is felt, I say.

Beyond salvation, it keeps to its own way
and holds intention worth as much as reason,
yet barely shows how it likes what it lacks
thus by its power seeks its own undoing,
since in its strength that power hides a hindrance
that lends to love the bent of contradiction,
though never turning it against itself,
but measuring how perfectly it varies,
so random none can say how it invites
a continuity not to be commanded
and likely to be taken for abandon.

It is released when will so far exceeds
all that is not within its natural grain
it can no longer hide in resignation—
So it moves, compellingly, and running
through its colors laughs off our fear, then
turns away as it subsides a bit,
sunk in its own veracity.

Only the courageous come to know it,
a feeling ever-new, an ever-moving breath
that drives the self-reflecting mind
to look into another form, uneasy,
but roused as if it broke into a blaze.

None can imagine it who cannot test it,
for it moves not unless it moves as drawn or
as released when its own pulse is touched
with confidence of knowing, great or small.

Its seeming a mere surface guards its nature
so it compares to pleasure which I reckon
can’t keep it hidden once it’s joined up with it:
even before its beauty startles like a dart,
it bores through trepidation, making way for
whoever may deserve to follow its direction.

And not by knowing how its sheer appearance
comprises light of such contrasting moods,
and vivifies without becoming obvious—
but by being led by what flows from it:
Beyond the shades of all divided essence,
hewn from the darkest hue its radiance outshines
every and all deceit called worthy of faith
that from this source alone is born compassion.

You, my song, may go forth well protected
where it may please you, for you are so adorned
to be praised surpassing reason
by all those who sense your intimation—
but for the others, who cannot,
you have no inclination.



Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2018 by John L. Lash.