“Amor che ne la mente mi ragiona”


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Lord Love, who talks and reasons1 in my mind
about my lady so desirously,2
moves things3 that have to do with her, in me,
through which my intellect then goes astray.
His speaking always makes so sweet a sound,
the soul which listens to and . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


1I use two verbs to translate the one “ragiona,” and not simply to fill up the ten syllables of the line. Ragionare often does mean “to converse” or “to discuss,” but the root of the word cannot be ignored—it is no accident that Dante pairs ragione, reason, with Amor, Love, since the alchemical marriage of the two is a central theme not only of this poem but of Dante’s entire oeuvre.

2“Desirously” is disiosamente in Dante’s poem. In the Divine Comedy, too, Dante will often use adverbs ending with -mente (the Italian equivalent of our -ly adverbs) to slow a verse down for emotional emphasis.

3Dante likes the word cosa/cose (sg. and pl. for “things”) a lot, using it over four hundred times in the Convivio alone. He doesn’t specify what, precisely, because these “things” (qualities, wonders, attractions) are mysterious. He doesn’t know quite what they are so he uses the generic word.