Italian love-poem for wedding
February 26, 2008 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Is anyone familiar with an Italian love-poem that would be beautiful and appropriate to read at a wedding ceremony (in Italian and then in English translation)?

I (Mrs. Chinston) will be serving as a matron of honor for a good friend, and she has (somewhat incredibly) outsourced to me the task of finding a beautiful Italian love-poem to be read at the ceremony. She said she didn't want anything "too tortured." Not sure what that means. My first thought was Petrarch, but I haven't had much luck so far.

But anyway, if someone is intimately familiar with Italian poetry, or even with one very good (and not too tortured!) Italian love-poem, I would appreciate your help.
posted by chinston to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might try "11 February 1946" by Primo Levi although it might be a little tortured for your friends tastes;

I kept searching for you in the stars
When I questioned them as a child.
I asked the mountains for you,
But they gave me solitude and brief peace
Only a few times.
Because you weren't there, in the long evenings
I considered the rash blasphemy
That the world was God's error,
Myself an error in the world.
And when I was face to face with death --
No, I shouted from every fibre.
I hadn't finished yet;
There was still too much to do.
Because you were there before me,
With me beside you, just like today,
A man a woman under the sun.
I came back because you were there.

posted by merocet at 6:14 PM on February 26, 2008

This may not quite work, but one of my favorite Italian love poems has always been selections from Dante's La Vita Nuova.

In particular, from canzone XXVI:

Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare
la donna mia, quand'ella altrui saluta,
ch'ogne lingua deven tremando muta,
e li occhi no l'ardiscon di guardare.
Ella si va, sentendosi laudare,
benignamente d'umiltà vestuta;
e par che sia una cosa venuta
da cielo in terra a miracol mostrare.
Mostrasi sì piacente a chi la mira,
che dà per li occhi una dolcezza al core,
che 'ntender no la può chi non la prova:
e par che de la sua labbia si mova
un spirito soave pien d'amore,
che va dicendo a l'anima: "Sospira!"


Vede perfettamente ogne salute
chi la mia donna tra le donne vede;
quelle che vanno con lei son tenute
di bella grazia a Dio render merzede.
E sua bieltate è di tanta vertute,
che nulla invidia a l'altre ne procede,
anzi le face andar seco vestute
di gentilezza d'amore e di fede.
La vista sua fa ogne cosa umile;
e non fa sola sé parer piacente,
ma ciascuna per lei riceve onore.
Ed è ne li atti suoi tanto gentile,
che nessun la si può recare a mente,
che non sospiri in dolcezza d'amore.

Though this is a functional translation, rather than a poetic one, it's all I have at the moment:

So gentle and so pure appears
my lady when she greets others,
that every tongue trembles and is mute,
and their eyes do not dare gaze at her.
She goes by, aware of their praise,
benignly dressed in humility:
and seems as if she were a thing come
from Heaven to Earth to show a miracle.
She shows herself so pleasing to those who gaze,
through the eyes she sends a sweetness to the heart,
that no one can understand who does not know it:
and from her lips there comes
a sweet spirit full of love,
that goes saying to the soul: ‘Sigh.’


They have seen perfection of all welcome
who see my lady among the other ladies:
those who go by with her are moved
to render thanks to God for lovely grace.
Her beauty is of such virtue,
that no envy can arise from it,
but makes them go clothed with
nobility, with love and with loyalty.
The sight of her makes all humble:
and does not only make her appear pleasing,
but all receive honour through her.
And she is so gentle in her effect,
that no one can recall her to mind.
who does not sigh in sweetness of love.

posted by J-Train at 8:37 AM on February 27, 2008

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