Tanto gentil e tanto onesta pare (translated)

A sonnet by Dante Alighieri translated from Italian.

Translation © Luigi Pagano 2021

Dante Alighieri – So gentle and honest she seems

So gentle and honest my lady seems
when greeting others with great flair
that quivering tongues become still
and prying eyes do not dare to stare.
She goes and listens to the adulation
but retains a deep sense of humility
and it looks like she has come down
to earth to show the power of divinity.
Her beauty catches the people’s eye
engendering a sweetness in the heart
unfathomable to those who don’t taste it.
And it looks as if her lips will impart
the loving words of a charming spirit
which is saying to the soul: Sigh .
© Luigi Pagano 2020

Original text

Dante Alighieri – Tanto gentil e tanto onesta pare


Tanto gentil e tanto onesta pare
la donna mia quand’ella altrui saluta,
ch’ogne lingua deven tremando muta,
e li occhi no l’ardiscon di guardare.


Ella si va, sentendosi laudare,
benignamente d’umiltà vestuta;
e par che sia una cosa venuta
da cielo in terra a miracol mostrare.


Mostrasi sì piacente a chi la mira,
che dà per li occhi una dolcezza al core,
che ‘ntender non la può chi no la prova;


e par che de la sua labbia si mova
uno spirito soave pien d’amore,
che va dicendo a l’anima: Sospira.

© ionicus 2023
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A loving translation, congratulations Luigi! Being a typical British monoglot; if there was one other language I would love to learn – it has to be Italian.


It is as if Dante himself were writing in English. You have captured the essence of his words.


Enjoyed the poem, Luigi. More translations coming? E. Montale?

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