Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Why do you still draw your bow

Why do you still draw your bow,
Cupid, you who have never been wise?
What more do you want from me,
Have you not had enough yet?
See how thickly the snow
Covers my hair,
And my days draw ever close
To their final one.

So, my kind lady, grant me this
So I can hold my head up high:
Call me yours,
But your lover, no.
Ardent lovers sigh for you,
Pleading for your pity:
My eyes just look at you,
And that’s truly enough for them.

Ah! Why can’t I be
Young again,
Now that the world has found
The epitome of beauty?
What sorceress can offer
Her aid to my desire,
So that I can rise up again
Before my days are ended?

What am I saying? Who answers?
Ah! I can’t see what’s true!
I am overwhelmed and confounded
By a storm of thoughts;
I condemn myself, I forgive myself,
Caught between hope and fear;
But, in spite of everything, I place myself,
Cupid, in your hands.

English translation by Paul Archer of the text of A che più l'arco tendere by Stefano Landi (1587-1639). See the copyright notice below.

A che più l'arco tendere

A che più l'arco tendere
O non mai saggio Amor?
Di me che più vuoi prendere,
Non sei tu sazio ancor?
Mira che folte fioccano
Le nev'in su'l mio crin,
E che miei giorni toccano
Homai l'ultimo fin.

Dunque ò gentil degnatemi,
che tutto altier n'andrò;
Vostro a nome chiamatemi,
Ma vostr'amante, no.
Gli amanti arsi sospiranvi
Chiedendo alta mercè:
Gli occhi miei solo miranvi,
E basta alla lor fè.

Deh! Perché non rinovasi
Mia giovenil età,
Hoggi che al mondo trovasi
I fior della beltà?
Quale può maga porgere
Aita ai miei desir?
Ond'io vegga risorgere
Mio giorno in su'l finir.

Che parlo? Chi rispondermi?
Ah! Che non scerno il ver!
Sommergemi, confondemi
Tempesta di pensier;
Condannomi, perdonomi
Fra speme e fra timor;
Ma pur tutto abandonomi
Nelle tue mani Amor.

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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