“If no love is, O God, what fele I so?”

By Petrarch 1304–1374 Petrarch

Translated By Geoffrey Chaucer

If no love is, O God, what fele I so?
    And if love is, what thing and which is he?
    If love be good, from whennes cometh my woo?
    If it be wikke, a wonder thynketh me,
    When every torment and adversite
    That cometh of hym, may to me savory thinke,
    For ay thurst I, the more that ich it drynke.
And if that at myn owen lust I brenne,
    From whennes cometh my waillynge and my pleynte?
    If harm agree me, whereto pleyne I thenne?
    I noot, ne whi unwery that I feynte.
    O quike deth, O swete harm so queynte,
    How may of the in me swich quantite,
    But if that I consente that it be?
And if that I consente, I wrongfully
    Compleyne, iwis.   Thus possed to and fro,
    Al sterelees withinne a boot am I
    Amydde the see, betwixen wyndes two,
    That in contrarie stonden evere mo.
    Allas! what is this wondre maladie?
    For hete of cold, for cold of hete, I dye.

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Poet Petrarch 1304–1374


Subjects Love, Realistic & Complicated



Francesco Petrarch was born in 1304 in Arezzo, Italy, though he spent most of his childhood living around Florence, Tuscany, and Avignon.  After briefly studying law in Bologna in 1320, Petrarch decided to abandon the field, against his father’s wishes, to begin studying the classics and begin a religious life.  In 1326 he took minor ecclesiastical orders and began serving under Cardinal Colonna, which allowed him to travel and . . .

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SUBJECT Love, Realistic & Complicated


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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