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I’ mi trovai, fanciulle, un bel mattino

I’ mi trovai, fanciulle, un bel mattino

di mezzo maggio in un verde giardino.

Eran d’intorno violette e gigli

fra l’erba verde, e vaghi fior novelli

azzurri gialli candidi e vermigli:

ond’io porsi la mano a côr di quelli

per adornar e’ mie’ biondi capelli

e cinger di grillanda el vago crino.

Ma poi ch’i’ ebbi pien di fiori un lembo,

vidi le rose e non pur d’un colore:

io colsi allor per empir tutto el grembo,

perch’era sì soave il loro odore

che tutto mi senti’ destar el core

di dolce voglia e d’un piacer divino.

I’ posi mente: quelle rose allora

mai non vi potre’ dir quant’eran belle:

quale scoppiava della boccia ancora;

qual’eron un po’ passe e qual novelle.

Amor mi disse allor: «Va’, co’ di quelle

che più vedi fiorite in sullo spino».

Quando la rosa ogni suo’ foglia spande,

quando è più bella, quando è più gradita,

allora è buona a mettere in ghirlande,

prima che sua bellezza sia fuggita:

sicché fanciulle, mentre è più fiorita,

cogliàn la bella rosa del giardino.

Ballad I

MAIDENS, I found myself one morn serene

Of middle May within a garden green.

Violets bloomed round about and lilies too

In verdant grass and buds of every hue,

Azure and gold and purest white and red,

Whereat to gather them my fingers sped,

That I might deck therewith my flaxen hair

And weave a garland for my forehead fair

But when I’d well-night culled a lapful, lo,

I saw the roses multi-coloured, so

I ran to fill my skirts with them and they

Breathed such rare fragrancy that straight away

I felt awaken in this heart of mine

Tender desire and happiness divine.

To savour the sweet roses I was fain,

But to describe their loveliness were vain;

Some I beheld just bursting into flower,

Some still in bud, some who had spent their dower:

Then Love said unto me: “Go, gather them

Thou seest most sweetly blooming on the stem!”

When the rose every petal doth unfold,

When she is tenderest, fairest to behold,

Before her loveliness hath passed its prime,

To set her in a garland it is time.

So, maidens, let us go and pull the rose

When she most sweetly in the garden blows.

Ballad II

I FOUND myself alone, alone one day

Taking my pleasure in a meadow gay.

There’s not a meadow in the world I ween

Where herbs and grasses have so sweet a smell;

I wandered for awhile down pathways green

Till myriad blossoms cast their lovely spell

About me — white, red, every hue pell-mell,

And then I heard a bird uplift his lay.

O very sweetly, tenderly sang he,

Love to the heart of all the world he sped,

Then softly, softly I drew near to see,

I saw that golden were his wings and head,

And every other plume a ruby red,

But back, neck, bosom wore the crystal’s ray

I longed to catch him, for he pleased me well,

But he rose swiftly and away he flew

Back to the nest where he was born; I fell

To following him alone, alone; I knew

That I could take him with the net I threw

Did I but lure him from the woods away

That I could spread a net for him is true,

But since in song his spirit doth rejoice,

Instead of snares and prison-bars I’ll woo,

So far as I am able, with my voice.

That this sweet bird may have what he enjoys

Is the whole reason why I sing this lay.