For it is always one and the same beauty that binds and trammels me

A very Proustian sentiment in a sonnet of Cino da Pistoia‘s – explaining his apparent inconstancy. Rime CXV in the Barbi edition with the Boyde and Foster translation:

Dante, ever since harsh exile made me a wanderer from my birthplace and put a distance between me and the most exquisite beauty that ever the infinite Beauty fashioned, I have gone grieving about the world, a poor wretch disdained by death; but when I’ve found near me any beauty like to that one, I’ve said it was this one that wounded my heart. Nor – though I expect no help – have I ever left those first pitiless arms from which a well-grounded despair releases me: for it is always one and the same beauty that binds and trammels me; and this perforce delights me in whatever is like it in beauty in many different women.

Poi ch’i’ fu’, Dante, dal mio natal sito
fatto per greve essilio pellegrino
e lontanato dal piacer più fino
che mai formasse il Piacer infinito,

io son piangendo per lo mondo gito
sdegnato del morir come meschino,
e s’ho trovato a lui simil vicino,
dett’ho che questi m’ha lo cor ferito.

Né da le prime braccia dispietate,
onde ’l fermato disperar m’assolve,
son mosso perch’aiuto non aspetti;

ch’un piacer sempre me lega ed involve,
il qual conven che a simil di beltate
in molte donne sparte mi diletti.

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