Songs and Sonnets: 248

Look at her. You will see nature’s power
Hanging like the sun over a blind world.

Quickly. Death searches out the gentlest.
Loveliness is mortal. She is looked for.

He sidles up beside a creature in spring
Temper, everything wonderful in one flesh.

My crazed verse is stricken with sun.
Look on this glare before blindness

Rides weeping over the world.

by Francesco Petrarch, trans. Nicholas Kilmer

This translation of ‘Songs and Sonnets: 248’ is copyright © Nicholas Kilmer, 2011. It is reprinted from Songs and Sonnets (Poetica 8), published by Anvil Press, 2011. This is an enlarged edition of Songs and Sonnets from Laura’s Lifetime published by Anvil Press in 1980.

Notes from Anvil Press:

‘Petrarch deserves to be valued as a real man, a careful thinker, a good poet,’ writes Nicholas Kilmer introducing his enlarged selection of the great Italian poet who lived from 1304 to 1374. Free in form yet holding close to the central impulses of Petrarch’s inspiration, Kilmer’s ‘readings’ in this bilingual edition present Petrarch as a confessional poet and a humane moralist of startling honesty.

Nicholas Kilmer lives in Cambridge, MA, USA. Since leaving teaching in 1982 he has worked as an art dealer and curator. As well as poetry and translations, he also writes mysteries set in the art world. You can learn more about Kilmer here.

Anvil Press, founded in 1968, is based in Greenwich, south-east London, in a building off Royal Hill that has been used at various points in its 150-year history as a dance-hall and a printing works. Anvil grew out of a poetry magazine which Peter Jay ran as a student in Oxford and retains its small company ethos.

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