To Guido Orlandi. He explains the miracles of the Madonna of Or San Michele, by telling whose image it is.


Una figura della Donna mia         
s’adora, Guido, a San Michele in Orto,  
che, di bella sembianza, onesta e pia,     
de’ peccatori è gran rifugio e porto.        

E qual con devozion lei s’umilìa, 
chi più languisce, più n’ha di conforto:  
li ’nfermi sana e’ domon’ caccia via        
e gli occhi orbati fa vedere scorto.           

Sana ’n publico loco gran langori;           
con reverenza la gente la ’nchina;      
d[i] luminara l’adornan di fòri.   

La voce va per lontane camina,    
ma dicon ch’è idolatra i Fra’ Minori,      
per invidia che non è lor vicina.


MY Lady's face it is they worship there.
At San Michele in Orto, Guido mine,
Near her fair semblance that is clear and holy
Sinners take refuge and get consolation.
Whoso before her kneeleth reverently
No longer wasteth but is comforted;
The sick are healed and devils driven forth,
And those with crooked eyes see straightway straight.
Great ills she cureth in an open place,
With reverence the folk all kneel unto her,
And two lamps shed the glow about her form.
Her voice is borne out through far-lying ways
'Till brothers minor cry: "Idolatry,"
For envy of her precious neighborhood.

 Trans. Ezra Pound, 1912


Note: The number XXXV corresponds to Pound's numbering in his volume, The Sonnets and Ballate of Guido Cavalcanti. Boston: Small, Maynard and Co, 1912. Otherwise, the sonnet is numbered 48.



In answer to the foregoing Sonnet.

  • If thou hadst offer'd, friend, to blessed Mary
  • A pious voluntary,
  • As thus: “Fair rose, in holy garden set:”
  • Thou then hadst found a true similitude:
  • Because all truth and good
  • Are hers, who was the mansion and the gate
  • Wherein abode our High Salvation,
  • Conceived in her, a Son,
  • Even by the angel's greeting whom she met.
  • 10Be thou assured that if one cry to her,
  • Confessing, “I did err,”
  • For death she gives him life; for she is great.
  • Ah! how may'st thou be counsell'd to implead
  • With God thine own misdeed,
  • And not another's? Ponder what thou art;
  • And humbly lay to heart
  • That Publican who wept his proper need.


Cavalcanti, Guido. Una figura della donna mia. Web. 1 June 2016. 

Orlandi, Guido. Madrigal. Trans. D.G. Rossetti. Early Italian Poets, 1861. 334-335.

Pound, Ezra. Poems and Translations. Ed. Richard Sieburth. New York: Library of America, 2003.



The Fifth Decad

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Cantos LII - LXXI

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