Mountains and forests know

“So now I believe that mountains and river-banks
and rivers and forests know the quality
of my life, hidden from others.”

Francesco Petrarca, The Canzoniere, sonnet XXXV

Ph. Bertona Mountain, view from Vestea, Civitella Casanova, Italy

Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374, Arezzo, Italy) often called the «Father of Humanism» wrote this beautiful sonnet. His influence on history was so important since his works influenced even William Shakespeare.

Alone and thoughtful (full sonnet)

Alone and thoughtful, through the most desolate fields,

I go measuring out slow, hesitant paces,

and keep my eyes intent on fleeing

any place where human footsteps mark the sand.

I find no other defence to protect me

from other people’s open notice,

since in my aspect, whose joy is quenched,

they see from outside how I flame within.

So now I believe that mountains and river-banks

and rivers and forests know the quality

of my life, hidden from others.

Yet I find there is no path so wild or harsh

that love will not always come there

speaking with me, and I with him.

ITALIAN (Original version)

Solo et pensoso i piú deserti campi

vo mesurando a passi tardi et lenti,

et gli occhi porto per fuggire intenti

ove vestigio human l’arena stampi.

Altro schermo non trovo che mi scampi

dal manifesto accorger de le genti,

perché negli atti d’alegrezza spenti

di fuor si legge com’io dentro avampi:

sí ch’io mi credo omai che monti et piagge

et fiumi et selve sappian di che tempre

sia la mia vita, ch’è celata altrui.

Ma pur sí aspre vie né sí selvagge

cercar non so ch’Amor non venga sempre

ragionando con meco, et io co llui.

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