Francesco Petrarch - Secretum

Francesco Petrarch - 1 PETRARCHS SECRET Trans William H Draper(Connecticut Hyperion Press AUTHORS PREFACE OFTEN have I wondered with much curiosity

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1 PETRARCH’S SECRET. Trans. William H. Draper (Connecticut: Hyperion Press) AUTHOR’S PREFACE OFTEN have I wondered with much curiosity as to our coming into this world and what will fol- low our departure. When I was ruminating lately on this matter, not in any dream as one in sick- ness and slumber, but wide awake and with all my wits about me, I was greatly astonished to be- hold a very beautiful Lady, shining with an indescribable light about her. She seemed as one whose beauty is not known, as it might be, to mankind I could not tell how she came there, but from her raiment and appearance I judged her a fair virgin, and her eyes, like the sun, seemed to send forth rays of such light that they made me lower my own before her, so that I was afraid to look up. When she saw this she said, Fear not; and let not the strangeness of my presence affright you in any wise. I saw your steps had gone astray; and I had compassion on you and have come down from above to bring you timely succor. Hitherto your eyes have been darkened and you have looked too much, yes, far too much, upon the things of earth. If these so much delight you, what shall be your rapture when you lift your gaze to things eternal! When I heard her thus speak, though my fear still clung about me, with trembling voice I made reply in Virgil’s words: “What name to call thee by, O virgin fair, I know not, for thy looks are not of earth And more than mortal seems thy countenances” I am that Lady, she answered, whom you have depicted in your poem Africa with rare art and skill, and for whom, like another Amphion of Thebes, you have with poetic hands built a fair and glorious Palace in the far West on Atlas’s lofty peak. Be not afraid, then, to listen and to look upon the face of her who, as your finely wrought alle- gory proves, has been well known to you from of old. Scarcely had she uttered these words when, as I pondered all these things in my mind, it occurred to me this could be none other than Truth herself who thus spoke. I remembered how I had de- scribed her abode on the heights of Atlas; yet was I ignorant from what region she had come, save only that I felt assured she could have come from none other place than Heaven. Therefore I turned my gaze towards her, eagerly desiring to look upon her face; but lo, the eye of man is un- able to gaze on that ethereal Form, wherefore again was I forced to turn them towards the ground. When she took note of this, after a short silence, she spoke once more; and, questioning me many times, she led me to engage with her in long discourse. From this converse I was sensi- ble of gaining a twofold benefit, for I won knowledge, and the very act of talking with her gave me confidence. I found myself by degrees becoming able to look upon the face which at first dismayed me by its splendor, and as soon as I was able to bear it without dread, and gaze fixedly on her wondrous beauty, I looked to see if she were accompanied with any other, or had come
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This note was uploaded on 10/03/2010 for the course HUI 235 taught by Professor Franco during the Spring '08 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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Francesco Petrarch - 1 PETRARCHS SECRET Trans William H Draper(Connecticut Hyperion Press AUTHORS PREFACE OFTEN have I wondered with much curiosity

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