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Detto d'Amore - tr. Casciani-Kleinhenz

Love so decrees, and deems it proper,
that I should speak in this particular way
and compose a detto,
so that it may be proclaimed everywhere
how well I served him.
Since he took me in his service
and I made my pledge to him,
I have held him as my lord
and will do so forever.
And this will be a perfect example
for every lover,
so that Love will not
be bitter to him in the end,
but rather that Love will let him have
the object of his desire,
which is more valuable than anything else.
And he is so courteous
that if someone appears before him humbly
or in a position of supplication,
he will help that one obtain
whatever he desires
and will take all his displeasure away.
Love desires no payment,
but he does require this pledge:
that your heart be faithful to him.
Then he says: “I grant you
all that you ask
without your sending any gifts.”
And immediately he gives you a gift
without there being any gifts
of fine silver and gold,
for which reason I worship him
as a devout lover.
To him I give thanks, for I love
that lady who is so well endowed
with every good quality
that her equal cannot be found;
and when she appears before me,
she gives me such great joy
that my heart gives itself over
to serving her constantly,
and I want to become her servant
for so much pleasure is in her.
I don’t know if she wants
me to serve her:
at least she can say she has a servant,
although I am of little worth.
Love refuses no one,
but desires and loves all those
who eagerly fall in love,
and esteems those
who strive to please him
and are completely subservient.
Love is always
completely willing to help
a perfect lover who’s willing to serve.
Thus, he gives his bounty
to the one who does not abandon love
and puts much effort and desire
into doing such penance
as Love imposes
on the one who trusts him;
and if one bears the penance gladly,
Love puts this one in a high place
with respect to the object of his desire:
May such a day dawn for me!
For this reason I do not despair,
but every day hope
for favors, since, in his torture chamber,
I am without pain
and am bound there so securely
that I do not wish a papal legate
to ever loose my bonds:
if others may profit from it, let them be loosed!
For I wish to be bound to Love
no matter what Reason may allege;
Love protects my heart from her,
and it is no longer concerned with her;
she declares herself a goddess,
but she never was nor ever will be one.
Reason censures and disparages Love
and says that he’s dishonorable,
but certainly not with me:
because from her I know for sure
that anyone can be defeated;
she attacks Love as best she knows how.
And she says to me: “Foolish one,
why do you strive so foolishly
to have such a lordship?
I mean that whoever
bears his seal has a terrible lord.
For myself I do not put my seal
on any paper that bears his stamp,
for happiness is too short and fleeting,
and unpleasantness much too long.
Now cut your bonds and go far away
from him, for Love’s nature is such that,
he shuns the one who gets away from him,
and goes the other way.
Thus, do not follow his path,
if you want to escape from him;
otherwise you are plowing a bad field
in which good grain will not grow;
indeed, whoever sows there
will lose his seed.
For God’s sake, get away
from that false pleasure,
and let my pleasure be yours,
for it is perfect
and gives unending joy.
The god in whom you put your faith
will give you no guarantees,
except those that Fortune gives.
You will be in a great storm,
if you do not find a safe harbor
according to what I’ve told you,
and if you don’t cling to me
and learn from what I’ve said.
Now answer me and speak,
for there’s still a lot of time
for you to give me your answer;
but don’t simply reject
what I’ve proposed.
Tell me if I’ve framed the problem well.”
And, after I had heard
Reason, who was intent
upon leading me away from the rule
of Love, who rules the world,
I said to her: “Reason,
I have a sound arrangement
with Love, and we are very happy
with our agreement,
and it’s written in my ledger
that I’m no longer indebted to you.
That account is closed;
for which reason I do - and did - consider you
to be all washed up, as these matters go,
ever since I made my pact
with Love, to whom may God extend a hand,
and may he always keep me safe and sound.
You want to keep me from loving
and you say that Love is bitter,
but I have found him sweet and perfect,
and I liked and will like
his beginning and end,
because in him there is great pleasure.
Now, how could I live?
Whoever lives in the world
lives badly without Love:
without Love he is bereft
of every good virtue,
and he cannot perform good deeds;
without Love there is unpleasantness
who entices the one who dwells with her
to go straight to the place
where Envy has her home.
Therefore, I don’t believe you,
even if you were to say the Creed
and the Our Father, and the Hail Mary,
for so little wisdom is in you.
Goodbye, for I am leaving,
and I will return to being a perfect lover
in order to compose another part
to describe how well proportioned she is,
both in her body and in her members,
just as I remember them.”
Her fine head of hair
seems fashioned of gold,
golden strands that conquered me,
and with these I’ll begin.
Her lovely face
does not resemble wax;
indeed, it is so radiant and beautiful
that my heart takes satisfaction
in never comparing it to others,
such a lovely thing it is.
Her forehead and her eyebrows surpass
the beauty of every other woman:
they are so perfectly arched
that they have turned my thoughts
toward her, who gives me
with her sweet look
more happiness than any jewel.
No one on whom she gazes
is concerned about any sickness,
so lovely is her countenance.
The pupils of her eyes are so brilliant
that they take away the sun’s light
and darken and eclipse it
just as the sun does to the moon.
For this reason I’ve put
all my hope in that star,
and since I live so well with her,
I desire no other earthly realm.
Her mouth and nose and chin
are more beautiful -and I don’t lie-
than those that Helen had;
and her breath is more fragrant
than any panther.
For this reason I have, in good faith,
moved toward her net
and have stumbled into it;
and thus it’s happened
that I’ve been so firmly ensnared there
that never, by my own choice,
will I leave it.
Her throat and her breast
are so resplendent that
I seem to be in God’s presence
on that day in which I look upon that goddess.
So white and creamy is she
that no creature has ever been
born who is as worthy as she.
She is most precious to me,
for she guided me
to make a full study of the law
that Love follows in his court,
where there are no useless laws.
Her hands and arms are slender,
and whoever embraces her
never suffers any ill,
no kidney disease, no gout:
her noble condition
puts everyone who gazes at her
in a blissful state.
For this reason my heart gazes
on her day and night,
and with thoughts of her I always greet the dawn,
because Love has willed it so,
nor has my heart asked
if this could come to an end,
for it would want to love endlessly.
And when she goes along the street,
everyone desires her
for her noble movement;
and when she speaks with someone,
she speaks so sweetly
that it seems to be an angel’s voice.
Her dancing and singing
are more enchanting than those
of any siren,
for they calm the atmosphere.
When she begins to speak
every cloud leaves the sky,
and the air remains crystal clear.
For this reason my heart is so faithful
that it will never seek to exchange her
for another at any rate:
for she is of such worth
that I could never find any
treasure that would be equal to her.
Love, so help me God,
would consider it madness,
and I would indeed be foolish or wicked
if I were to consider this at all.
But Love has so precisely
painted her in my mind
that, no matter if I sleep or am awake,
I see her painted in my heart.
Never was an assassin
so willingly disposed to the Old Man,
nor Prester John to God,
as I am to serve for love
because of the many virtues she possesses.
And if find pity in her
or if I am granted
a little portion of her love,
I will be happier,
because of her great worth,
than if I were to possess Valencia.
If Jealousy has in herself the ability
to take her away from me,
then the God of Love is lying to me.
For I remember well
what pleasure he offered me,
provided that I would serve him faithfully.
To be sure there is a shorter
way, but I do not take it,
for which I have no profit,
since I could enter only one
step through that door.
Guarding the passage is Riches,
who does not look kindly
on those who do not hold her dear.
And yet I was so wise
that I made an attempt
to see if I could go beyond.
“You are wasting your time,”
she said to me with a harsh look.
“You aren’t known to me,
and for this reason I forbid your passage.
It’s not because you’re old,
but because you’ve never made my acquaintance,
and, in fact, you resist me,
and I am hostile to anyone
who avoids me.
Go on your way, and do the best you can,
for this I know well: the able hunter
will certainly catch his prey.
If you do it so that Venus declares
war on Jealousy,
the latter, even though she’s cold,
will have to surrender,
and your lady will reward you
for your service
without any cost to you.
But keep this in mind:
if one day you wish to deal with me
be sure to bring gold and silver;
I will open the door for you
without your waging war.
And so you will be welcomed
by the evil Folle Larghezza
who will loosen the purse strings
and will lay in great supplies
of salt and pantry items
and clothes and wines.
Poverty is her servant:
She’ll rob you
and take your clothes,
including your nice trousers
that you’ll never wear again,
and your shirt and undergarments,
if you get involved with her.
She was the daughter of Cuor Fallito:
for God’s sake, be sure that
what I’ve told you doesn’t go unheeded.
Be loyal to me,
and show your good will
to have my favor;
for Poverty is, in fact,
the epitome of every sorrow.
I have not yet told you
about one of her notorious sons:
they call him Imbolare;
anyone who makes no defense against him,
that one he leads to the gallows,
there where his only choice
is to climb the stairs;
there all good things come to an end,
and he dances to the sound of the wind
without ever having rest.
Now that I’ve read you the psalm,
I believe you know it now by heart,
so clearly I’ve explained it to you.
If you ever wish to be a comfort to me,
think of becoming a teacher
of that subject I’m teaching you here:
consider that Poverty is not your servant,
nor will she ever serve you,
because her service is bad,
and the one whose clothes and shoes she removes
can well say: “I have misfortune”;
for she takes from him every good thing
and reduces him to such a state
that it’s painful to see him.
And his friends and relatives
do not come around him:
they all turn their backs on him
and go away . . . .”
. . .for the fact that Love has enslaved me
or that Reason, whom I love little,
considers me to be foolish
I will never, God willing, nibble
at whatever hook he may present.
Love has armed me with a skewer
which he requires me to wield
if I wish to go in his company.
And he says that if I use any crossbow
other than his,
or if I give heed to any
of Reason’s speeches
with which she provides explanations or exhortations,
or if I put riches
in my purse to keep them safe,
or if I plan to safeguard
what I have gained - and not from him -
then I should not count on him.
But he cuts me off
and says that in his company
I’ll never play a part,
not for any lira or any soldo
that I may ever give him.
Love desires these gifts:
body and wealth and soul;
and he forms a single soul with the one
who gives him these things confidently
(and whoever says otherwise lies),
and Love desires that he alone, as a precious object,
be put by this one in his treasury.
And whoever is captured by Love,
Love wants him to be taught
every beautiful custom
that enhances his beauty.
If one pays him appropriately,
so is he properly paid in return.
He wants one to be without pride,
because he has pledged
not to love you very long,
if you don’t keep away from pride:
for he sins greatly
who commits the sin of pride.
You must be courteous
and loyal and valiant,
and you must give and return his greeting graciously.
If you do all of these things,
you’ll be in Love’s favor,
and he will compensate you well.
And if you’re strong and skillful
be advised when on horseback
to use your spurs elegantly,
so that the people
may look at you with delight.
In the morning you must not find yourself
asleep on some street corner.
If you know some songs,
let the singing of them not weigh on you
as much as a cantare,
so that your loved one
may hear its melody.
If you know how to handle a lance,
take it and throw it,
then run and jump and dance:
all these things make people glad:
by doing what they like to see,
you make them feel special.
Wear the most lovely clothing you can
within your means,
fresh and new garments,
so that your loved one may hear about it,
the one you hold more precious
than the Sultan holds Cairo.
And if they’re made of wool,
it should not be difficult
to design the decorations,
if you have someone to cut them out.
You must always wear
brand new shoes and pants.
Keep your appearance elegant,
and let no evil things
be heard from your mouth,
but esteem and give praise to everyone.
Serve and honor women,
for whoever sets his mind to do it
will receive much honor.
And if the devil tempts someone
to speak badly about women,
tell him to be quiet.
Be generous, but, on the other hand,
don’t divide your heart;
put it all in that place,
where you have placed it:
for whoever has divided his heart
is separated from Love,
for he does not consider that one to be completely loyal
who moves like a bishop in chess,
but he gets along only with the one
who goes straight along his path.
I am not yet finished with my detto,
for you must remember
to look for a perfect friend
who will put heart and body
to your service, if you need it,
and who will be faithful and just toward you
in your every need.
But, by the faith I owe to San Giusto,
true friends are
truly hard to find.
However, if you find a perfect friend,
with his friendship you will be
better off than the Prefect.
And if he has a beautiful female companion,
may yours be more trustworthy,
because Venus gives no guarantees
that she will not have another arrow released,
with which love is engendered.
With them she arouses carnal passion,
more than through the chimes of dawn
or through the service that he might give.
She does not look him directly in the face....