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.
Francesco Petrarca, Canzoniere,
translated by Marion Shore.