To Sylvia

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O Sylvia, dost thou remember still
  That period of thy mortal life,
  When beauty so bewildering
  Shone in thy laughing, glancing eyes,
  As thou, so merry, yet so wise,
  Youth's threshold then wast entering?

  How did the quiet rooms,
  And all the paths around,
  With thy perpetual song resound,
  As thou didst sit, on woman's work intent,
  Abundantly content
  With the vague future, floating on thy mind!
  Thy custom thus to spend the day
  In that sweet time of youth and May!

  How could I, then, at times,
  In those fair days of youth,
  The only happy days I ever knew,
  My hard tasks dropping, or my careless rhymes,
  My station take, on father's balcony,
  And listen to thy voice's melody,
  And watch thy hands, as they would deftly fly
  O'er thy embroidery!
  I gazed upon the heaven serene,
  The sun-lit paths, the orchards green,
  The distant mountain here,
  And there, the far-off sea.
  Ah, mortal tongue cannot express
  What then I felt of happiness!

  What gentle thoughts, what hopes divine,
  What loving hearts, O Sylvia mine!
  In what bright colors then portrayed
  Were human life and fate!
  Oh, when I think of such fond hopes betrayed,
  A feeling seizes me
  Of bitterness and misery,
  And tenfold is my grief renewed!
  O Nature, why this treachery?
  Why thus, with broken promises,
  Thy children's hearts delude?

  Thou, ere the grass was touched with winter's frost,
  By fell disease attacked and overcome,
  O tender plant, didst die!
  The flower of thy days thou ne'er didst see;
  Nor did thy soft heart move
  Now of thy raven locks the tender praise,
  Now of thy eyes, so loving and so shy;
  Nor with thee, on the holidays,
  Did thy companions talk of love.

  So perished, too, erelong,
  My own sweet hope;
  So too, unto my years
  Did Fate their youth deny.
  Alas, alas the day,
  Lamented hope, companion dear,
  How hast thou passed away!
  Is _this_ that world? These the delights,
  The love, the labors, the events,
  Of which we once so fondly spoke?
  And must _all_ mortals wear this weary yoke?
  Ah, when the truth appeared,
  It better seemed to die!
  Cold death, the barren tomb, didst thou prefer
  To harsh reality.

© Giacomo Leopardi