I have translated the poem "She let her gold hair scatter in the breeze" from Italian to English, and I need help annotating it.


She let her gold hair scatter in the breeze

that twined it in a thousand sweet knots,

and wavering light, beyond measure, would burn

in those beautiful eyes, which are now so dim:


and it seemed to me her face wore the colour

of pity, I do not know whether false or true:

I who had the lure of love in my breast,

what wonder if I suddenly caught fire?


Her way of moving was no mortal thing,

but of angelic form: and her speech

rang higher than a mere human voice.


A celestial spirit, a living sun

was what I saw: and if she is not such now,

the wound's not healed, although the bow is slack.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would approach this by beginning with the English translation and providing annotations on the aspects that remain relatively unchanged, such as meaning and imagery. You can discuss the repeated images of gold, fire, burning, and the sun referring only to the translation.

Then use the Italian poem to comment on meter and form (which are not reproduced in this translation) and aural effects which are not or cannot be translated. Clearly, this is easier if you speak Italian, but it can still be done without knowing the language. For instance, here is the first stanza:

Erano i capei d’oro a l’aura sparsi
che ’n mille dolci nodi gli avolgea,
e’l vago lume oltra misura ardea
di quei begli occhi, ch’or ne son sì scarsi;
You do not need to know Italian to observe that the rhymes are feminine (i.e. they have two syllables, a feature repeated throughout the sonnet, the rhyme scheme of which is abba abba cde dce). The name of Petrarch's beloved was Laura, so you have a pun in the first line (Laura/l'aura) which is missed entirely in English. There is also assonance in the words "d'oro a l'aura" which draws attention to the name. A similar assonance comes in the fifth line and the long, moaning "o" sounds in the sixth give a plaintive sound to the line.
e’l viso di pietosi color’ farsi,
non so se vero o falso, mi parea...
It will be easier to identify more instances of assonance, alliteration, and other verbal effects if you listen to the Italian original (sound recording attached below).
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial