The second reason was the desire for the duration of this friendship; wherefore it is to be known, as the Philosopher says in the ninth book of the Ethics, in the friendship of persons of unequal position it is requisite, for the preservation of that friendship, for a certain proportion to exist between them, which may reduce the dissimilarity to a similarity, as between the master and the servant. For, although the servant cannot render the same benefit to the master that is conferred on him, yet he ought to render the best that he can, with so much solicitude and freewill that that which is dissimilar in itself may become similar through the evidence of good-will, which proves the friendship, confirms and preserves it. Wherefore I, considering myself lower than that Lady, and perceiving myself benefited by her, endeavoured to praise her according to my ability. And, if it be not similar of itself, my prompt freewill proves at least that if I could I would do more, and thus it makes its friendship similar to that of this gentle Lady.
The third reason was an argument of prudence; for, as Boethius says, “It is not sufficient to look only at that which is before the eyes, that is, at the Present; and, therefore, Prudence, Foresight, is given to us, which looks beyond to that which may happen.” I say that I thought that for a long time I might be reproached by many with levity of mind, on hearing that I had turned from my first Love. Wherefore, to remove this reproach, there was no better argument than to state who the Lady was who had thus changed me; that, by her manifest excellence, they might gain some perception of her virtue; and that, by the comprehension of her most exalted virtue, they might be able to see that all stability of mind could be in that mutability: and, therefore, they should not judge me light and unstable. I then began to praise this Lady, and if not in the most suitable manner, at least as well as I could at first; and I began to say: “Love, reasoning of my Lady in my mind.” This Song chiefly has three parts. The first is the whole of the first two stanzas, in which I speak in a preliminary manner. The second is the whole of the six following stanzas, in which is described that which is intended, i.e., the praise of that gentle Lady; the first of which begins: “The Sun sees not in travel round the earth.” The third part is in the last two stanzas, in which, addressing myself to the Song, I purify it from all doubtful interpretation. And these three parts remain to be discussed now in due order.