Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Waddington, ed. > The Sonnets of Europe
Samuel Waddington, comp.  The Sonnets of Europe.  1888.
“Ye Haunts Recluse”
By Pietro Bembo (1470–1547)
Translated by James Glassford, of Dougalston

YE 1 haunts recluse, where pleased I still retreat
  From crowds, and live alone, what spell denies
  My visit, now that Phœbus in our skies,
  Leaving the Twins, has gathered all his heat!
Nowhere so calm and free my heart will beat,        5
  Or thoughts so far above the earth can rise,
  Nowhere my spirit, fed with such supplies,
  Approaches nearer to its native seat.
How sweet it is in solitude to range
  I learned from thee; sweet when the world no more        10
  Distracts us, and our anxious fears are laid.
O wood and stream beloved, might I exchange
  This restless ocean and its burning shore
  For thy fresh waters and thy verdant shade!
Note 1. The following extract from Vasari’s “Lives of the Painters” respecting Cardinal Bembo are not without interest:—
  “Among the portraits executed by Giovanni Bellini was that of a lady beloved by Messer Pietro Bembo, before the latter went to Rome to Pope Leo X.; and whom he portrayed with so much truth and animation, that as Simon of Siena was celebrated by the first Petrarch the Florentine; so was Giovanni by this second Petrarch the Venetian, as may be seen in the sonnet,
  ‘O imagine mia celeste e pura,’
wherein he says, in the commencement of the second quatrain,
  ‘Credo che ’l mio Bellin con la figura,’
with that which follows. And what greater reward could our artists desire for their labours than that of seeing themselves celebrated by the pens of illustrious poets, as the most excellent Titian, also by the learned Messer Giovanni della Casa, in that sonnet which begins—
  ‘Ben veggo io Tiziano, in forme nuove.’”
  … “He who knows how closely, not only painting, but all the arts of design resemble poetry, knows also that verse proceeding from the poetic furor is the only good and true poesy; in like manner the works of men excellent in the arts of design are much better when produced by the force of a sudden inspiration, than when they are the result of long beating about, and gradual spinning forth with pains and labour. Whoever has the clear idea of what he desires to produce in his mind, as all ought to have from the first instant, will ever march confidently and with readiness towards the perfection of the work which he proposes to execute. Nevertheless, as all minds are not of the same character, there are, doubtless, some who can only do well when they proceed slowly, but the instances are rare. And, not to confine ourselves to painting, there is a proof of this among poets, as we are told, in the practice of the most venerable and most learned Bembo, who laboured in such sort that he would sometimes expend many months, nay, possibly years, if we dare give credit to the words of those who affirm it, in the production of a sonnet.” [back]

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