A nice libretto based on the third chapter of Dante’s La Vita Nuova
Vide Cor Meum
Chorus: E pensando di lei Mi sopragiunse uno soave sonno
Ego dominus tuus Vide cor tuum E d’sto core ardendo Cor tuum
(Chorus: Lei paventosa)
Umilmente pascea Appreso gir lo ne vedea piangendo
La letizia si convertia In amarissimo pianto
Io sono in pace Cor meum Io sono in pace Vide cor meum
Chorus: And thinking of her Sweet sleep overcame me
I am your master Behold your heart
And of this burning heart Your heart
(Chorus: She trembling)
Obediently eats Weeping, I saw him then depart from me
Joy is converted To bitterest tears
I am in peace My heart
I am in peace Here’s my Heart
The passage from La Vita Nuova upon which it is based:
And thinking of her a sweet sleep overcame me, in which a marvellous vision appeared to me: so that it seemed I saw in my room a flame-coloured nebula, in the midst of which I discerned the shape of a lord of fearful aspect to those who gazed on him: and he appeared to me with such joy, so much joy within himself, that it was a miraculous thing: and in his speech he said many things, of which I understood only a few: among them I understood this: ‘Ego dominus tuus: I am your lord.’
It seemed to me he held a figure sleeping in his arms, naked except that it seemed to me to be covered lightly with a crimson cloth: gazing at it very intently I realised it was the lady of the greeting, she who had deigned to greet me before that day. And in one of his hands it seemed to me that he held something completely on fire, and he seemed to say to me these words: ‘Vide cor tuum: Look upon your heart. And when he had stood for a while, he seemed to wake her who slept: and by his art was so forceful that he made her eat the thing that burned in her hand, which she ate hesitantly.
After waiting for a little while his joy was all turned to bitter grief: and, so grieving, he gathered that lady in his arms, and it seemed to me that he ascended with her towards heaven: from which I experienced such anguish that my light sleep could not endure it, and so was broken, and was dispersed. And immediately I began to reflect, and discovered that the hour in which this vision appeared to me was the fourth of that night: so as to be manifestly clear, it was the first hour of the nine last hours of night. Thinking to myself about what had appeared to me, I decided to make it known to many who were famous poets of the time: and as it was a fact that I had already gained for myself to some extent the art of speaking words in rhyme, I decided to shape a sonetto, in which I would greet all those faithful to Amor: and begging them to interpret my vision, I wrote for them what I had seen in my sleep. And then I began this sonetto, that which begins: A ciascun´alma presa e gentil core.
A ciascun’alma presa, e gentil core,
nel cui cospetto ven lo dir presente,
in ciò che mi rescrivan suo parvente
salute in lor segnor, cioè Amore
. Già eran quasi che atterzate l’ore
del tempo che onne stella n’è lucente,
quando m’apparve Amor subitamente
cui essenza membrar mi dà orrore.
Allegro mi sembrava Amor tenendo
meo core in mano, e ne le braccia avea
madonna involta in un drappo dormendo.
Poi la svegliava, e d’esto core ardendo
lei paventosa umilmente pascea:
appresso gir lo ne vedea piangendo.
To every captive soul and gentle heart
into whose sight this present speech may come,
so that they might write its meaning for me,
greetings, in their lord’s name, who is Love.
Already a third of the hours were almost past
of the time when all the stars were shining,
when Love suddenly appeared to me
whose memory fills me with terror.
Joyfully Love seemed to me to hold
my heart in his hand, and held in his arms
my lady wrapped in a cloth sleeping.
Then he woke her, and my burning heart
He fed her reverently, she fearing,
And then, I saw him leave, weeping.
(modified from this translation)