Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
III. Love’s Beginnings
Francesca Da Rimini
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321)
From the Italian by Lord Byron

From the “Divina Commedia: Inferno”

  AND then I turned unto their side my eyes,
And said,—“Francesca, thy sad destinies
Have made me sorrow till the tears arise.
  But tell me, in the season of sweet sighs,
By what and how thy love to passion rose,        5
So as his dim desires to recognize.”
  Then she to me: “The greatest of all woes
Is, to remind us of our happy days
In misery; and that thy teacher knows.
  But if to learn our passion’s first root preys        10
Upon thy spirit with such sympathy,
I will do even as he who weeps and says.
  We read one day for pastime, seated nigh,
Of Lancilot, how Love enchained him too.
We were alone, quite unsuspiciously.        15
  But oft our eyes met, and our cheeks in hue
All o’er discolored by that reading were;
But one point only wholly us o’erthrew:
  When we read the long sighed-for smile of her,
To be thus kissed by such devoted lover,        20
He who from me can be divided ne’er
  Kissed my mouth, trembling in the act all over.
Accursèd was the book and he who wrote!
That day no further leaf we did uncover.”

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