Errante in la foresta scura, io soffro
Errante in la foresta scura, io soffro,
Disarmato contro la brutale tempesta
Che me piove come una nera botta:
Vuole a me uccidere, l’indifeso.
Credevo che me dominare potuto,
Però mi desio corso a distanza
Et ora soli sto, m’anima mi tenta,
Ch’ una grazia me salva, io spero.
Penso ch’ io no lo poto resistare,
Se me rassegno a l’attroce sconfitta
Et mai mi porta spererò a conseguire.
Allora, vedo un luce che traballare
Et mio desio salta fuori a l’ignota
Così lo perseguo per lo progredire.
Wandering (or erring) in a dark forest, I suffer, unarmed against the fierce storm that rains down upon me like an angry blow: it wishes to kill me, defenseless against it.
I once believed that I could control myself, but my desire galloped out of reach, and now alone I remain, seeking only myself, and hope that some slight grace might save me.
I think that I cannot resist this assault, so I resign myself to this awful defeat, and never again hope to attain my goal.
But now I see a glimmering light, and my desire springs towards it, into the unknown, and so I follow it so that I may continue on my way.
I originally planned to write no direct translation on purpose for this rime, but was urged to provide one – thus the prose translation following the initial rime (and the style of the prose translation was taken from Durling’s prose translations of Petrarch’s poems). Rather than explain in prose exactly what I composed in Italian, I chose to translate the rime according to two period schools of thought in mid-16 th century England. The first mimics the poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt, who translated many of Petrarch’s poems for the court of Henry VIII. The second is based on the works of Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, who was just under a generation younger than Wyatt. There will be more explanation on each of these “translations” below the poems themselves. I wrote this for a rapier-centric event held here in Atlantia called "Academie of the Rapier." There was an on-site sonnet competition to be held that day, but as I was not going to go, I wanted to send along some effort that I thought might help inspire the poets who were present to compete.
Petrarch referred to his invented sonnet form (14 lines, each possessing roughly 12 syllables, with a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBACDECDE) as rime sparse, or “scattered rhymes.” Throughout the course of his collection of 366 sonnets, first to a married woman named Laura and later to the Virgin Mary, Petrarch mentally climbed a neoplatonic ladder of ideology by viewing Laura less and less as an object of physical desire and more an image of God. I wanted to write a rime that could have been plausibly used as the basis for a Wyatt or Surrey sonnet – they preferred the earlier rimes, when Laura was still alive and Petrarch still under the sway of desire (basically the opposite of what Petrarch wanted his poems to end up doing). This rime is based on Petrarch’s Rime 6, in which his desire is a horse that gallops uncontrollably after a fleeing Laura, but the narrator cannot seem to reach her. Though he admits he is caught up in the action of the poem, he regrets his base emotions now that the experience has passed.
In my rime, I attempted to capture that same basic image/fore-conceit, but without the overwhelming images of Petrarch’s Laura (the story of Daphne and the laurel tree, upon whose name Petrarch punned when describing his beloved). Since it is mimicking a rime early on in Petrarch’s sequence, the idea of physical desire (the beginning of the neoplatonic ladder) remains prominent, but I attempted to instill enough sense of awareness and regret for the physical lust that the narrator is able to comment and reflect (however slightly) upon the lack of virtue of his actions.