Variations on Petrarch's Canzoniere 90.
Variations on Petrarch's Canzoniere 90
The breeze raised aureoles in her hair,
A thousand curls all sweet and fair,
A measureless luminance from her eyes
(So different now; such scarce supply),
Whether truly or whether falsely,
Coloured her face with a woman's pity:
And I, so burning with desire,
What wonder that my heart caught fire?
She did not walk in human wise
But like an angel in disguise;
Her words seemed far above the flow
Of human voices here below;
The light's long dimmed that round her shone,
Yet a wound still aches when the weapon's gone.
Her golden hair undone to the breeze,
A thousand unkempt knots of it;
That light without pause flowing from her eyes
(Where it's now so scarce); and it seemed to me--
Whether truth or lie I just don't know--
Her face reflected a tincture of pity.
Dying to flash and burn with the tire
Of love, any wonder that I did?
No other girl came near those fine,
Simple movements; no other voice came near
The sort sounds of her voice;
Yes, she was once a centre of sunlight,
A woman of dreams; and if not so now,
Old wounds still ache when their cause is gone.
The breeze made sunbursts of her hair,
A thousand loops, sweet enterprise;
The measureless luminance from her eyes
(Now diminished) had made me dare--
Whether truly or falsely I cannot swear--
Find in her cheeks soft pity's dyes;
And I, who'd felt sparks flash and rise,
What wonder then love's flames I'd bear?
She did not walk like a human being,
But like an angel, and her voice
Belonged in heaven; how she shone,
That spirit of sunlight I was seeing.
Though time dims all (we have no choice),
Old wounds yet ache when the weapon's gone.
Her golden hair was Ioosed to the breeze,
sweetly curled a thousand times,
and endless light burned in her eyes,
where now it's scarce; it seemed to me
(right or wrong? true or false?)
her face was touched with tints of pity:
the heat so smouldering in my breast,
what wonder that I burst in flames?
Her walk was not of mortal kind
but of some angel, and her words
were free of any human tone:
celestial spirit, or living sun--
and if your light must now burn low,
a wound's not healed by an unstrung bow.
Wild hair, warm eyes, and girlhood's blush--
a long time past.
I burned like winter grass near Karkloof.
Movement for her a shimmer of poplar leaves,
voice a low murmur of doves in a shady Hilton suburb.
Briefly illumined once by stained-glass
in the parish church on a bright Sunday morning;
whose crystals pierced me years ago,
but never left my blood-stream.