The Recantation, a Canzonet to Nysa
Specimen of Translation from Metastasio No. 2
Dear Nysa, calm thy just disdain,
And, oh, forgive a luckless swain
Who pity claims from thee!
True, I did boast thy chains were broke,
But I no more from Love’s sweet yoke
Will vaunt of Liberty.
’Tis true, the ardor in my breast
I tried to hide, and scorn suppressed
That love might not be seen;
But whether at thy name my face
Changes or not, there all may trace
How fares my heart within.
If thou art not in ev’ry dream,
Waking I always with thee seem;
Absent thou’rt near in thought;
’Tis thou alone, or far or near,
By whom with pain or joy sincere
My soul’s to transport wrought.
And if I talk not of thy charms
A peevish heat my temper warms,
All is forgot or wrong;
On thee I dwell, who’er draws nigh,
E’en to my rival’s self do I
With joy the theme prolong.
A single glance of thy disdain —
One word of grace — I guard in vain
’Gainst favor or ’gainst scorn:
Thy sweet rule only I’ll obey,
That impulse is decreed to sway
Which long my heart has borne.
Not pleasing thee, nought joys me now,
And no delight sits on my brow
If ’tis not giv’n by thee:
With thee all pleases — be it grove,
Or hill, or mead; far from thee, Love,
’Tis all a blank to me.
Now I will speak my thoughts sincere —
Not only lovely you appear,
And that beyond compare,
But oft in ev’ry other face
Unjustly I defects can trace,
And only beauties there.
I could not break the rooted dart
I thought to draw from out my heart
Tho’t almost kill’d to cure;
Trying t’escape from grief and pain,
I’m more oppress’d, but not again
Could I such strife endure.
The bird that’s caught in limy snares
Struggling for flight his plumage tears,
But cannot flee away —
The more he tries to wave his wings,
The more the viscous traitor clings
That doth his flight betray.
No, I not wish my former flame
Extinct — the more I thus declaim
The less I wish it so.
A nat’ral ardor lovers prove
To talk, and while they talk of love
No end their love can know.
Thus, fate adverse, the Chief forswears
Inconstant Mars, yet still repairs
Where’er his banner shows;
But custom thus the Slave again
Tho’ freed, resumes content the chain
From whence his sorrows rose.
I speak of thee, and thee alone,
No new affection can I own,
Nor can I change from thee;
I ask thy pity in each line,
For thy decrees, and only thine,
Shall always govern me.
Ah, then, a constant heart console,
Give, to revive a culprit’s soul,
Thy love as once ’twas kind!
The lovely Nysa knows, at least,
In her repentant Lover’s breast
She no deceit will find.
Oh bid my doubts and troubles cease!
And if thou givst one pledge of peace,
Balm of my heart to prove,
As much as erst, in angry strain,
I sung of coldness and disdain,
I then will sing of Love.