FOUND AND LOST
Poetry has always been one of my first loves since my high school English teacher, Mrs. Nina Driggers (some names you just never forget), at Lee Academy in Cleveland, TN, read from Lord Byron’s, “She walks in beauty, like the night.” That’s why I was so taken by what Francesco Petrarca, known to English readers as Petrarch, an Italian scholar, and poet during the Renaissance in Italy wrote after he first laid eyes on Laura in the Sunday morning service, the sixth of April in 1327, in the Church of Saint Clare at Avignon. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. But alas, he found out later she was already taken. So, in his despair, he wrote a poem bemoaning his misfortune. I thought you romantics out there might enjoy the first two stanzas.
‘Voi ch’ascoltate in rime sparse il suono’
You who hear the sound, in scattered rhymes,
of those sighs on which I fed my heart,
in my first vagrant youthfulness,
when I was not being what I am,
I hope to find pity and forgiveness,
for all the modes in which I talk and weep,
between vain hope and vain sadness,
in those who understand love through its trials.
Yet I see clearly now I have become
an old fairytale amongst these people, so that
it often makes me ashamed of myself;
And shame is the fruit of my vanities,
and remorse, and the clearest knowledge
of how the world’s delight is a brief dream.
‘Per fare una leggiadra sua vendetta’
To make a graceful act of revenge,
and punish a thousand wrongs in a single day,
Love secretly took up his bow again,
like a man who waits the time and place to strike.
My power was constricted in my heart,
making defense there and in my eyes,
when the mortal blow descended there,
where all other arrows had been blunted.
So, confused by the first assault,
it had no opportunity or strength
to take up arms when they were needed,
or withdraw me shrewdly to the high,
steep hill, out of the torment,
from which it wishes to save me now but cannot.
Do you feel his grief and pain? Losing any chance of having the woman he thought most beautiful; so near and yet so far away. If not, you need to have your heart checked for love density. But as I read it, I wondered if this lament might not one day apply to those souls who were first touched by the love of God through Jesus Christ, yet never felt prepared to accept His offer and become one with Him in an everlasting relationship. It’s like looking at the blood-stained cross of the Lamb of God and saying, not right now, I’ve given my heart to someone else. Such an eternal goodbye to God will be a heartbreak impossible to describe, even in the most poetic form. But no matter how far you’ve wandered away, He’s still waiting for you. – Dr. Robert R Seyda