by Francesco Petrarca
Translated by Marion Shore
Ashamed sometimes, my lady, that I still
cannot express your beauty in my rhyme,
I wander to that sweet and distant time
when you alone gained power of my will.
But even there I find no guiding skill,
no strength to scale a height I cannot climb,
for such a task demands a force sublime,
at whose attempt I fall back, mute and still.
How often do I move my lips to speak,
and find my voice lies buried in my breast --
but then, what sound could ever rise so high?
How often in my verses do I seek
to find the words my tongue cannot express,
but pen and hand are vanquished with each try.
Note: A recitation can be heard here.
- Mark Olival-Bartley
- Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now writing a dissertation on the sonnets of E. A. Robinson at LMU, where he tutors composition alongside editing flyers on poetry and style. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor at Review of International American Studies. He also teaches at Münchner Volkshochschule and leads the Amerikahaus Literaturkreis.