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Beautiful crimson roses

Beautiful crimson roses
not opening at dawn
among thorns;
But, as priests of love,
you keep safe
the treasure of pretty teeth.

Speak to me, precious roses,
my sweethearts;
tell me why, when I stare
at you with a look of passion,
you suddenly
melt into a beautiful smile?

Beautiful roses, or wounds,
O for pity
of which now gives me cause
to sing your praise
in new ways;
yet this only makes you laugh.

It's true, when it's carefree
the world laughs,
the sky laughs when it’s joyful;
that’s all true; but they don't know
as well as you
how to laugh so charmingly.

English translation by Paul Archer of the text of Belle rose porporine by Giulio Caccini (1551-1618). Text by Gabriello Chiabrera (1552-1638). See the copyright notice below.

Belle rose porporine

Belle rose porporine
Che tra spine
Sull'aurora non aprite;
Ma, ministri degl'amori,
Bei tesori
Di bei denti custodite.

Dite, rose preziose,
Amorose;
Dit'ond'è, che s'io m'affiso
Nel bel guardo acceso ardente
Voi repente
Disciogliete un bel sorriso? 

Belle rose, ò feritate,
O pietate
Del si far la cagion sia
Io vo dir in nuovi modi
Vostri lodi;
Ma ridete tuttavia.

Ben è ver, quand'è giocondo
Rid'il mondo,
Rid'il ciel quand'è gioioso;
Ben è ver; ma non san poi
Come voi
Far un riso grazioso.

 

Copyright notice. The translation is provided as an aid to musicians and audiences. Publication of the translation in print or digital formats is expressly forbidden unless permission from the author has been first obtained and acknowledgement of authorship is duly made. Permission will usually be granted so please contact Paul Archer with details of how you wish to make use of the translation.

For more translations into English of early music texts, go to:
Translations of early music texts.

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