XII Imitated from PETRARCA

Imitated from PETRARCA [1] 

Can I look back, and view with tranquil eye
The course of my sad life? what vain desires
Have kindled in my heart consuming fires!
That heart accustom'd each extreme to try
Of hope, and chilling fear; What torturing dreams5
Have vex'd my soul with phantoms of despair,
Which wearied now regrets its wasted care!
Repentant shame its former anguish deems
Unworthy of that sacred spark of life
From heav'n received; exhausted in the strife10
To thee Oh God! my sinking soul would turn!
To thee devote the remnant of my years;
Oh Thou! who see'st my sorrows, calm my fears,
Nor let thy wrath against thy creature burn!


[1] EDITOR'S NOTE: "Can I look back, and view with tranquil eye" is printed in Mary as "Sonnet" (which does not identify it as a translation) and is dated December 1796 in NLI MS 49,155/1. It presents a verse translation of Petrarch's Sonnet 273:

Che fai? che pensi? ché pur dietro guardi
nel tempo che tornar non pote omai?
Anima sconsolata, ché pur vai
giugnendo legno al foco ove tu ardi?
Le soavi parole e i dolci sguardi 5
ch' ad un ad un descritti et depinti ài
son levati de terra, et è, ben sai,
qui ricercarli intempestivo et tardi.
Deh, non rinovellar quel che n'ancide,
non seguir più penser vago fallace 10
ma saldo et certo, ch' a buon fin ne guide;
cerchiamo 'l Ciel se qui nulla ne piace,
ché mal per noi quella beltà si vide
se viva et morta ne devea tor pace.
Mark Musa translates Sonnet 273 as follows:
What’s going on? What thoughts are these? Why still
look back to times that never can return?
Unhappy soul, why do you keep on heaping
more wood upon the fire burning you?
The gentle words and the enchanting glances5
which you described and colored one by one
have been removed from earth; as well you know
it’s foolish and too late to seek them here.
Ah, don’t renew what tortures us to death;
stop following a vague, deceptive thought;10
pursue what’s fixed and true that leads to good.
Let’s look for Heaven, since nothing pleases here,
for all too badly we have seen that beauty,
alive or dead, must rob us of our peace.