Saturday, October 06, 2012


A Sonnet to Sleep, by Giovanni Della Casa

A sonnet by Giovanni Della Casa (1503-1556), tr. Lorna de' Lucchi in An Anthology of Italian Poems: 13th-19th Century (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922), pp. 138-139:
O Sleep, of the quiet night of dusk and dew
The placid son, O thou who dost relieve
Man’s bitter load of suffering and endue
With merciful oblivion those who grieve,
Rescue this heart that faints yet cannot rest,
Uplift these frail, out-wearied limbs! O Sleep,
Spread wide thy sombre pinions o'er this breast,
And for a little while thy vigil keep!
    Where is the silence that puts day to flight?
Where the soft dreams that used to follow thee
With faltering footsteps? O unhappy plight!
In vain, in vain I call, in vain to me
Would lure these dim and gelid shades; O bed
Of misery, O cruel nights and dread!

O Sonno, o della quieta, umida, ombrosa
notte placido figlio; o de' mortali
egri conforto, oblio dolce de' mali
sì gravi, ond’ è la vita aspra e noiosa;
socorri al core omai, che langue e posa
non have; e queste membra stanche e frali
solleva: a me ten vola, o sonno, e l' ali
tue brune sovra me distendi e posa!
    Ov' è 'l silenzio, che 'l dì fugge e 'l lume?
E i lievi sogni, che con non secure
vestigia di seguirti han per costume?
Lasso! chè 'nvan te chiamo, e queste oscure
e gelide ombre invan lusingo. O piume
d' asprezze colme! o notti acerbe e dure!
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

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