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"Can you be cruel enough to sadden me thus with reproaches?
Germans speak, I suppose, bitterly when they're in love.
Bear it I must when the gossips bring forth accusations: I'm guilty—
Or am I not? But, alas, all of my guilt was with you.
Clothes that you've given bear witness for envious neighbors
That the poor widow no more grieves for her husband alone.
Did you not thoughtlessly visit me in the disguise of a cleric,
Muffled all up in a cloak, hair all rounded behind?
Who was it chose that gray monk if not you? Well then a prelate
Now is my lover—Ah, who is my prelate but you?
Never, incredible as it may sound in this clerical city,
Has any cleric brought me—swear it I will—to his bed.
I was sufficiently poor, sad to say. I was young. The seducers
Noted it well. Falconier ogled me often enough.
One of the pimps for Albani with billets doux very impressive
Called me to Ostia once. Quattro Fontani next time.
Who was it did not appear there? Why, who but the very same girl who
Hated with all of her heart stockings both violet and red.
For: 'In the end you poor girls are the ones who are sure to be cheated.'
So said my father although—Mother was not much impressed.
Father was right. Here I stand in the end being cheated and scolded.
You don't believe your own words. They're your excuse to escape.
Go, then. Unworthy of women are men. We, who carry your children
Next to our hearts, in these hearts loyalty we bear you, too.
As for you men, when you've poured out your potency in our embraces
And your desires dissipate, love with them passes away."
These things expressed, and taking her child from its chair, my beloved
Presses it close to her heart, kisses it, tears in her eyes.
I'm now so very ashamed of myself for having permitted
Gossip of neighbors to spoil picture so eloquent.
For a short moment a fire may burn darkly while smoke swirls about it.
Water dashed on the coals suddenly smothers their glow.
Rapidly then renewed heat overcomes those lowering vapors,
Sends up a flame that anew bright and more powerful gleams.