Poetry, VOLUME 8

Giovanni Boccaccio – “Ballata” [Poem]

Andrea_del_Castagno_Giovanni_Boccaccio_c_1450

Today is the birthday of the Italian poet, Giovanni Boccaccio, born 1313.

GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO (Giovanni di Boccaccio da Chellino), born at Paris, the son of a Florentine merchant. He came to Florence at an early age, studied commerce in Naples, but soon abandoned this for literature. About 1334 or 1338 he fell in love with Maria d’ Aquino, a natural daughter of King Robert of Naples, who, as “Fiammetta,” inspired a number of his works. In 1349, on his father’s death, he returned to Florence, where he entertained Petrarch, with whom he formed a close friendship. About 1362 he was so influenced by a priest called Gioacchino Ciani as completely to change his moral views and mode of life. In 1373 he read and commented in public on the Divina Commedia.

 

Ballata
Giovanni Boccaccio

I AM young and fain to sing
In this happy tide of spring
Of love and many a gentle thing,
I wander through green meadows dight
With blossoms gold and red and white;
Rose by the thorn and lily fair,
Both one and all I do compare
With him who, worshipping my charms,
For aye would fold me in his arms
As one unto his service sworn.
Then, when I find a flower that seems
Like to the object of my dreams,
I gather it and kiss it there,
I flatter it in accents fair,
My heart outpour, my soul stoop down,
Then weave it in a fragrant crown
Among my flaxen locks to wear.
The rapture nature’s floweret gay
Awakes in me doth last alway,
As if I tarried face to face
With him whose true love is my grace;
Thoughts which its fragrancy inspires
I cannot frame to my desires,
My sighs their pilgrimage do trace.
My sights are neither harsh nor sad
As other women’s are, but glad
And tender; in so fond a wise
They seek my love that he replies
By coming hither, and so gives
Delight to her who in him lives
Yet almost wept: “Come, for hope dies.”

Source (for bio and poem):
An Anthology of Italian Poems 13th-19th Century selected and translated by Lorna de’ Lucchi, Alfred A. Knopf, New York; 1922

 





C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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