top of page

Renaissance Portraits Translations

"Il contrasto de' cinque sensi"
Composed by Barbara Strozzi

Chi di noi vaglia piu,

e di gioia maggior ministro sia

fiera lite ogn'hor fu.

Io miro. Io sento. Io gusto. Io fiuto.

Io tocco, e nella donna mia tal'hor

anco merce d'un picciol bacio tutto tutto trabocco.

Tocca, pur quanta sai

che nel sol tocco

Amore il verace gioir non pose mai.

Ne sia giudice il cor

mesto e languente.

Ohimè, senti ch'il cor

dentro ci dice:

ch'un sol bacio, ch'e niente,

il sà felice.

Which of us is valued more and is the greater minister of joy

has always been a fierce dispute.

I look. I hear. I taste. I smell.

I touch, and in my lady, of times

also thanks to a tiny kiss

I utterly overflow.

Touch, well you know that Love,

in the touch alone

true delight has never placed.

May the judge be the sad

and languishing heart.

Alas, hear what the heart

within says to us:

that a single kiss, which is nothing, knows happiness.

"Audivi vocem in caelo"
Composed by Raffaella Aleotti

Audivi vocem in caelo

duorum Angelorum, dicentium:

Timite Deum et adorate eum,

et date claritatem illi,

qui fecit caelum et terram,

mare et fontes aquarum.

I heard the voice in heaven

of two angels saying,

“Fear God and worship him,

and give glory to him

who made heaven and earth,

the sea and springs of water.”

"S'io men vò, morirò"

Composed by Francesca Caccini


S’io men v`0, morirò,

Ahi, crudel dipartita.


Prima parte:

S’ora il cor non ha virtù

Contra il duol di sua ferita

Come lei non miri liù

Chi salvar potrà mia vita


Seconda parte:

Onde omai spero pietà,

O sventur empia infinita

Statti addio somma beltà

Mia speranz’al vento è gita.

Terza parte:

Deh se voce di mercè

Appò voi fu mai sentita

La memoria di mia fè

Su’l partir non sia schernita.


If I leave, I will die;

Alas, cruel farewell.


First part:

If now the heart has no virtue

Against the pain of its wound,

How will it no longer look upon her?

Who will save my life?


Second part:

Since at this point I hope for mercy,

Oh misfortune, cruel and endless,

Stay! Goodbye exalted beauty,

My hope has gone with the wind.

Third part:

Alas, if the voice of mercy

Was ever heard by you,

Let the memory of my faith

Not be scorned upon its departure.

"Miserere mei deus"
Composed by Raffaella Aleotti

Miserere mei, Deus,

miserere mei:

quoniam in te confidit anima mea.

Et in umbra alarum tuarum

[sperabo]: donec

transeat iniquatatis.

Have mercy on me, O God,

have mercy on me;

for my soul trusts in you.

And in the shadow of your wings

[I will hope], until iniquity

has passed by.

"Il mio distruggo, et ardo"
Composed by Francesca Caccini

Io mi distruggo, et ardo

Nè trovo al mio

dolor conforto, e pace,

Ch’un sol pietoso sguardo

Temprar no può d’Amor

l’ardent face,

Nè sfoagr posso in pianto

il dolor mio. Come viver poss’io?

Occhi, deh per pietà,

mentre splendete

E dolci saettando il cor m’ardete,

Toglietemi la vita

Ch’Io vò morir se non

mi date aita.

I waste away, and burn

Nor do I find comfort

for my pain, or peace,

For a single merciful glance

Cannot temper Love’s

burning torch,

Nor can I vent my pain

with tears. How can I live,

Eyes (alas, for mercy),

while you shine

And, sweetly shooting your arrows, burn in my heart? Take my life,

For I wish to die if you do not come to my rescue.

"Io felice"
Composed by Madalena Casulana

Io felice pastore,

quel di fausto

et ameno,

non parea star' in terra

ma nel cielo,

e di celest' ardore,

e d'amoroso zelo,

senti l'alma infiammata venir' meno,

indi non piu desio,

mi pors' un picciol rio,

ch'el mio nobil tesoro, honora cinto di sacrat' al horo.

Per lei pos' in oblio,

le vag' e biond' arene,

tanto gradite, tanto gradite,

tanto gradite al gran popul di Marte,

et ogni pensier mio,

pingend' in vive carte,

lei sol' andra per queste

piagg' amene,

e da lei stanc' e frale,

attend' ambe due l'ale,

per gir sempre volando,

volando, qual cigno lieto lei

sola cantando sola cantando.

I, happy shepherd,

On that pleasant and

auspicious day,

didn’t seem to belong to earth

but to heaven,

and I felt my soul, burning with celestial passion

and loving devotion, failing me,

then not desire anymore,

came to me from a small stream

that honors my noble love

with a laurel crown.

For her I have forgotten

the beautiful golden arenas

so dear, so dear, so dear

to the great warriors

and in every one of my thoughts,

crying over her letters,

she alone will roam

these pleasant shores,

and, frail and tired,

will spread her wings,

to go always flying,

flying, like a gentle swan, she

alone singing alone singing.

"Dov'io credea le mie speranze"
Composed by Francesca Caccini

Dov’io credea le mie speranze vere –

Io vi trovai smarita piu la fede

Cosi va chi troppo ama

e troppo crede

Il cor sincero che con fede ama va

Senza speme tradito

al fin si vede Cosi va.


Il mio amor la mia fede

El’ al trui inganno d’un

finito duol m’ha fatto erede

Cosi va…

Lasso ch’io pur m’accorgo et ard’il veggio

Che fede non puo dar chi non ha fede

Cosi va…

Where I believed my true hopes were

I found faith no longer there

So it goes with those who love too much

and believe too much.

The sincere heart that with faith

goes to love without hope

is betrayed in the end


So it goes..

My love, my faith, with his deception

of finite pain he made me heir

So it goes...

In time I also realize and ardently see

What faith cannot give to one who does not have faith

So it goes...

"Gli amanti fallitti"
Composed by Barbara Strozzi

Amor, amor, noi ricorriamo a te

Supplichevoli avanti senza credito

Ò fe falliti amanti.

Se di forze ci spoglia

grave cadente età

S’andiam ogni hora più giù

Se non potiamo più

La tua pietà ci toglia da dura servitù.

Amor, amor, noi ricorriamo a te

S’à noi manca ogni splendida richezza

Se miseri e dolenti

d’ogni nostra bellezza

Miriamo i fior languenti

E se non ritroviam chi più ci guardi,

Frena, Amor, i toi dardi.

Non bersagliar in vano

Ch’il dar morte a manchevoli

Sarebbe scorno della tua mano.

Love, Love, we turn to you,

entreating without assurance

or repute, we fading lovers.

As advancing age deprives us of strength,

as we decline further every hour,

as we become feeble,

let your mercy remove us

from harsh servitude.

Love, Love, we turn to you.

Since we lack resplendent comeliness,

miserable and suffering,

since we watch the flowers of our charms

fade, and as we no longer find anyone

who looks at us,

restrain your arrows, Cupid;

don’t shoot to no purpose,

for to give death to weaklings

would dishonour your bow.

"Preigo ad amore"
Composed by Barbara Strozzi

Pietosissimo Amore.

Tu mai non abbandoni

chi h consacra

riverente il core.

Chi cieco ti figura,

chi nudo, chi bendato,

chi di saette armato.


Non provo tua dolcissima natura

ne morir mai languir,

rna per un poco e gloria del tuo foco

Vieni, deh vieni a noi.

Vieni, gioia dell' alme.

Spargi benigno i doni tuoi.

E d'un cortese affetto al

Ia Barbara mia

feconda il petto.

Most merciful Love.

You never abandon

one who reverently

offers the heart to you.

Who envisions Thee blind,

naked, blindfolded,

armed with arrows.


Untested is your sweet nature

either by death or misery,

but brief is the glory of your fire.

Come, ah come to us.

Come, joy of the soul.

Bestow your sweet gifts..

And for a kind affection

toward my Barbara

make the heart fertile.


"Ecce iterum/Se je souspire"

Composed by Margaret of Austria

Bottom voice:

Ecce iterum novus dolor accedit!

Nec satis erat infortunissime

Cesaris lie, conjugem amissise dilectissimum;

Nisi etiam fratrem unicum

mors acerba surriperet.

Doleo super te, frater mi Philippe,

rex optime; nec est qui

me consoletur.

O vos omnes

qui transitis per viam,

attendite et videte si est dolor

sicut dolor meus!


Upper voices:

Se je souspire et plaingz,

disant “Helas, aymy!”

Et par champs,

et par plains je plains mon doulx amy.

Sur tous l’avoir eslu,

mais ere destinée par mort

le m’a toulu, dolente infortunée.

Mes chantz sont de deuil plains;

bon jour n’ay ne demy.

Vous qui oyes mes plaints,

ayez pitie de my!


Behold, again a new sorrow comes!

It was not enough for the most

unfortunate daughter of the Emperor

to have lost her dearest husband;

bitter death must steal

even her only brother.

I mourn thee, my brother Phillip,

greatest king; nor is there anyone

to console me.

O ye who pass this way,

attend and see if there is any sorrow

like unto my sorrow!


Upper voices:

Thus I sigh and lament,

saying “Helas, aymy!”

And in elds and plains

I grieve for my sweet friend.

He was chosen above all,

but proud destiny has by death

taken him from me,

and sad unfortunate one. My songs

are full of sorrow; I have neither

a good day nor half. You hear

my laments, have pity on me!

"Diligam te dombine"
Composed by Raffaella Aleotti

Diligam te, Domine,

fortitudo mea.

Dominus firmamentum meum,

et refugium meum,

et liberator meus.

Deus meus adjutor meus,

et sperabo in eum:

Diligam te, Domine,

fortitudo mea.

Dominus firmamentum meum,

et refugium meum,

et liberator meus.

Deus meus adjutor meus,

et sperabo in eum:

I will love you,

O Lord my strength.

The Lord is my firmament,

and my refuge,

and my deliverer.

My God is my helper,

and I will hope in him;

my protector,

and the horn of my salvation,

and my support.

With praise

I will call upon the Lord;

and I shall be saved

from my enemies.

"Silentio nocive"
Composed by Barbara Strozzi

Dolcissimi respiri

De’ nostri cori amanti

Son le parole

affettuose e i canti.

Sfoga, o mio core,

il tuo cocente ardore,

Se tal’hor non ti tocca

Nodrirti almen

di due soavi baci.

Afflittissima bocca,

Stolta sei se tu taci:

Parla, canta, respira, esala il duolo,

Canta, canta, che solo

Dolcissimi respiri...

Sweetest breaths

are the passionate

words and songs

of our loving hearts.

Express, oh my heart,

your burning desire,

when at times you cannot

at least nourish yourself

with two sweet kisses.

Afflicted mouth, you’re foolish

if you remain silent:

Speak, sing, divulge your suffering,

sing, sing, for only

Sweetest breaths...

"Fresche aurette"
Composed by Francesca Caccini

Fresche aurette, vezzosette

Dolci fiati or qui spirate

Augelletti, Amoresetti

Nuovi canti oggi formate.


Ecco l’Aura,

Che restaura

Ogni spirto e’l mondo abbella

Seco il giorno

Or fa ritorno

E più bel so rinovella.


Non isa Ninfa

In chiara linfa,

Che non esca

ai lieti balli

I pastori

In dolce cori

Venghin fuor de’boschi, è valli.




Nudi ancor venghin gl’Amori

Qui ballando

Alzin cantando

Dell’Aurora al Ciel gl’onori.

Fresh flirtations, breezes,

Sweet breaths you blow this way;

Amorous, Little birds,

New songs you compose today.


Here is the breeze,

Which restores

All souls, and makes the world lovelier;

In her, the day

Now returns,

And is remade even more beautiful.


There is no nymph

In the clear dew

That is not drawn

to the happy dances;

Let shepherds,

In sweet choirs,

Come from the woods and valleys.


Let the sensuous


Naked Cupids come

Dancing here,

And raise in song

Dawn’s praises to the sky.

"Non plangete"
Composed by Rosa Badalla

Non plangete, no, antiqui Patres,

In ombra taciturna, in cella nocturna

Limbi obscure, gaudete.

Non plangete, no.

O veridici prophetae,

vaticinia beata,

iam ex redice Jesse nata est virga,

beatissima Virgo quae germinabit

Nazarenum florem

et producet salvatorem.

Cara dies fortunata.

Me rapite caeli aeterni,

iam sunt clausae protae inferni,

sum contenta, sum beata;

cara dies fortunata.

In glorioso estasi

protanto contento

elevator anima mea,

pro Maria nascente

cum tanto gaudio exultat meum cor.

Non plus me tentate,

no mundanae Sirenae;

iam vestrae catene

nunc conqueassate,

non plus me tentate. Alleluia.

No do not weep, ancient Fathers,

in silent shadow, in your nocturnal cell

in the darkness of Limbo, rejoice,

do not weep, no.

O true prophets, blessed augurs,

now a rod has sprung

from the root of Jesse, the Blessed

Virgin who will give birth to the Nazarene,

who will bring forth

the flower of salvation.

O dear and fortunate day!

Bear me away, eternal heavens!

Now the gates of hell are closed.

I am happy, I am blest!

O dear and fortunate day!

In ecstasy for such glories contentment

my soul is raised up,

with such great joy

for the birth of Mary

does my heart rejoice.

Tempt me no longer,

no, ye Sirens of this world;

now your chains have been broken.

Tempt me no longer.


"Lasciatemi qui solo"
Composed by Francesca Caccini

Lasciatemi qui solo

Tornate augelli al nido

Mentre l’anim’e’l duolo

Spiro su questo lido

Altri meco non voglio

Ch’un freddo scogli,

E’l mio fatal martire.

Lasciatemi morire.

Dolcissime sirene,

Che’n sì pietoso canto

Raddolcite mie pene

Fate soave il pianto

Movet’il nuoto altronde

Togliete al’onde

I crudi sdegni, e l’ire.

Lasciatemi morire.


Plicidissimi venti

Tornate al vostro speco

Sol miei duri lamenti

Chieggio che restin meco.

Vostri sospir non chiamo


Solino bramo

I miei dolor finir.

Lasciatemi morire.


Felicissimi amanti

Tornate al bel diletto

Fere eccels’o notanti

Figgite il mesto aspetto

Sol dolcezza di morte

Aspra le porte

All’ultimo Languire.

Lasciatemi morire.


Avarissimi lumi

Che su’l morir versate

Amarissimmi fiumi

Tar’è vostra pietate

Già mi sento mancare

O luci avar’e


Tarde al mio conforto

Già sono esangu’e smorto.

(Lasciatemi morire.)

Leave me here alone,

Return, birds, to your nests,

While my soul, and my pain,

I give up on these shores.

I want no one else with me

Other than a cold rock.

And my fated death.

Leave me to die.


Sweetest Sirens,

Who with such merciful song

Sweeten my sufferings and

Soften my weeping,

Go elsewhere to swim,

Dampen the waves’

Cruel scorn, and their ire.

Leave me to die.


Calmest winds,

Return to your cave;

I ask that only my harsh laments

Remain with me.

I do not call upon your sighs;


Alone I wish

To end my sufferings.

Leave me to die.


Happiest lovers,

Return to your beautiful pleasure;

Wild beasts, whether birds or fish,

Flee from this sad countenance;

Only the sweetness of death

Should open its doors

To this final languishing.

Leave me to die.


Most avariscious eyes,

That on point of death spill

The bitterest rivers,

Your pity comes too late,

Already I feel myself fail:

Oh eyes, stingy


And slow to comfort me,

I am already bloodless and lifeless.

(Let me die.)

"Ben venga"
Composed by Madalena Casulana

"Ben venga la mia nimph'

Ben venga il pastor

anz' il mio sole",

dicea sul vago lit'

al fin del giorno,

con soavi parole

Lidia ambi pieni di desio,

vola van d'ogn'intorni Lieti

scherzand' i pargolett' amori,

e in su le labbia lor s'uniro 'i cori.

Adio Lidia mia bella,

Caro mio Meri adio,

poi ch'el ciel vole

Dicea scura arn' al Apparir del sole

Pastor afflitto,

aflitta pastorella,

Piangev' el, piangev' ella

Piangea con essi amore

E quinc'e quindi

si divis' il core.

“Welcome to my nymph,

Welcome to the shepherd

Or better, my sun”,

Lidia was saying at the end of the day,

with sweet words,

both of them full of desire,

the cupids flying around

with cheerful joy

and on their lips their hearts

joined in a kiss.

Good bye, my beautiful Lidia

Good bye, my beloved Meri

since the heaven wants it,

She said as the sun was rising,

Shepherd brokenhearted,

brokenhearted shepherdess,

He was crying, she was crying,

And Love crying with them

And then and there

their heart broke.

"No sò se quel sorriso"
Composed by Francesca Caccini

Non sò se quel sorriso

Mi schernisce o m’affida

Se quel mirami fiso

M’allesta o mi diffida

Già schernito e deriso

Da bella donna infida

Non vorrei piu che’l core

Fosse strazio d’amore.


Non vò più per dolcezza

D’immaginato bene

Nutriemi d’amarezza

Vivendo sempre in pene,

Nè per nuova bellezza

Portar lacci, e catene,

Nè gravar l’alma ancella

Di misenta novella.

Se tu vuoi ch’io t’adori

D’amor stella gentile

Ti canti, e ch’io t’onori

Su la mia cetra virile

A più degni tesori?

A guiderdon non vile

Chiama l’avida speme,

Che spregiata già teme.


Soffrir io più non voglio

La ferità crudele

D’un cor cinto d’orgoglio,

D’un anima infidele,

N`e tra scoglio

Affidar più le vele

Della mia libertate

Senza certa pietate.

I do not know if that smile

Mocks me or encourages me,

If that intent look

Rouses me or is suspiciouos of me;

Having been mocked and laughed at

By a beautiful faithless lady,

I would not want my heart

Ravaged by love again.

I do not want, for the sweetness

Of an imagind prize,

To feed on bitterness,

Living in constant suffering

Not for a new beauty

To be bound and chained,

Nor to burden my enslaved soul

With new mystery.

If you want me to adore you,

Gentle star of love,

To sing of you, and to honor you

With my manly lyre,

To more worthy treasures,

To a not inconsiderable reward,

Call my greedy hope,

Which, despised, is already afraid.

I no longer want to suffer

The cruel ferocity

Of a heart girded with pride,

Of an unfaithful soul;

Nor do I wish, among the rocks,

To trust another with the sails

Of my freedom

Without the certainty of mercy.

"L'Amante modesto"
Composed by Barbara Strozzi

Volano frettolosi i giorni,

e presto un secolo sarà

ch'io t'amo, a Clori. Ne de' miei

lunghi ossequiosi amori un picciol

guiderdone anco t'hò chiesto.


Amante son, ma candido e modesto.

Voglio che taciturno il cor ti adori,

e voglio disfogar

gl'interni ardori

col muto fiato

d'un sospir honesto.

Godati chi di me

piu fortunato nacque ai diletti impuri.

A me sol basta saper

dalla mia Clori esser amato.

Cosi mai non guerreggia

e non contrasta rivalità.

Diverso è il nostro stato.

Egli t'ama impudica. Io t'amo casta.

Senza certa pietate.

The days are flying swiftly,

and almost a century

have I loved you, oh Clori.

For my long, devoted love,

not even a small reward have I asked.


A lover I am, but pure and modest.

I wish the heart to adore you silently,

and I wish to release

the internal passions

with the mute breath

of an honest sigh.

Let he who is born

more fortunate than I

enjoy impure delights.

To me it is enough to know

that I am loved by my Clori.

Thus, never warring and never

conflicting is our rivalry.

Diverse is our condition. He loves you wanton.

I love you chaste.

bottom of page