The 7 Days of CryAction

The 7 Days of CryAction
Banner by The Magic Trio

Monday, August 29, 2016

Recreation of the World


Marvel Minotaur movie: a still from the set

Harbor Pearl

Meet the Lucifers: Satan, Sin, Death

Four 'reboots' of illustrations from the book: Torquato Tasso, Creation of the World (Il mondo creato), International Authors, 2016. The book includes some 60 illustrations by The Magic Trio: Nivalis70, Selkis, and ilT. The new digital backgrounds added here have been kindly provided by Selkis. Felt-pen drawings from personal stocks; other materials from Web sources. Pictures assembled and reworked with DeviantArt muro tools.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 4: 459-519

by ilT + Selkis

We will now show the
[460] full moon’s usefulness
for earthly items
and sea species by
swelling itself and life,
and vice versa by waning,
in a balanced blend
of humidity and heat.
No, no cold celestial
mass is the moon, though
less hot than Apollo.
[470] When she in a circle
shows her warm curves
bullying her brother
as a past-midnight sun,
nights become welcome
more than when she has
a scythe or silver horns
because of sunbeams.
Then verdant trunks
germinate greener
[480] and flourish fatter;
more savory undersea
are clams; and caravaneers
sleeping outside feel
their brains banging.
We’ll skip her skittering
effects on wind ’n’ waves:
let it suffice to cite
her place and power.
Human nous should never
[490] dare measure the moon
since our science sways.
She’s so great as to grant
light to cities set apart
by oceans and countries—
either in the wild West
or in Aurora’s halls
or below the Bears
or in the burning belt
that splits the planet,
[500] all are equally lit
all with direct rays.
This definitely fixes
its big size, in spite of
any sense or reasoning
so shut up, O sophists.
He who gave us gnosis
will hopefully help us
approach aletheia.
His world-forging wisdom
[510] is big in tiny things
and bigger in big ones
for example moon & sun;
but by weighing either
against their Author—
He who gathers greatness
in himself and holds
the Whole in his hand
both will be just like
Ant-Man or Meister Floh.

(to be continued on Sept. 4)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Trees are tough (5)

[16: 23]

Esce allhor da la selva un suon repente
Che par rimbombo di terren che trema;
E d'euro e d'austro il mormorar si sente,
E quel de l'onda che si rompa e gema.
Come rugga il leon, fischii il serpente,
Com'urli il lupo e come l'orso frema
V'odi, e v'odi co 'l tuono ancor la tromba:
Di così vari tuoni un tuon rimbomba.

From the forest a sudden sound then comes
That recalls the echo of an earthquake; (*)
They hear the whisper of Euros and Auster (**)
Together with breaking and moaning waves.
As if a lion were roaring, a serpent hissing,
A wolf howling, a bear growling they hear,
And a trumpet mixed with thunderbolts: from
So many different tones one tone blows. (***)

(*) Renaissance Italy experienced some disastrous earthquakes.
(**) The western and southern winds in Greek parlance.
(***) Tasso plays on the double meaning of the 16th century word tuono: thunder (the same as in current Italian) and musical tone (tono in current Italian). This "acoustic horror" is quite typical of him, who often suffered from auditory hallucinations.
Unfortunately, the pun disappeared in the final printed text, which in line 8 simply reads "sounds . . . sound" (suono instead of tuono). Some other stylistic variations were introduced, but preserving the general description.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

1628: The Astrology Affair

digital background by Selkis

One of the craziest episodes in Tommaso Campanella's crazy life was the Astrology Affair. In 1628 some astronomical phenomena made wheeler-dealers think, hope, and say that the Pope -- Urban VIII -- would die soon, in 1630. [He would reign until 1644, and would meanwhile condemn Galileo Galilei, even if they used to be friends.] For a counter-omen the Pope asked the top expert in the field: Campanella, who however was a notorious and dangerous "heretic" whom the Inquisition had kept locked up in jail for 27 years, so the meeting needed some discretion.

Campanella reassured the Pope about his death date, and would finally prove to be right, but his, or rather their enemies divulged the philosopher's secret instructions on "How to escape Fate" (De siderali fato vitando). Campanella reacted by writing another booklet, Apologeticus ad libellum De siderali fato vitando, that aimed to show that his ideas on astrology were perfectly orthodox; but Urban made more than that. Since he was furious about having become the villain of star wars, in 1631 he issued a Papal bull, titled Inscrutabilis, which banned all kind of books on horoscopes, divination, palmistry, etc. It was forbidden to read and even to own one, and punishments would be tougher than against the heretics. So, poor Campanella -- who fled to France -- had to write one more essay, the Disputatio an bullae. . ., to demonstrate that official Church documents did not prevent Catholic scholars from dealing with astrology, at least in order to challenge it.

The only type of astrology that remained legitimate was what we would simply call weather forecast, to help agriculture, health care, and travels. This position is well mirrored in Torquato Tasso's long poem Il Mondo Creato (1592-4), which reworks and updates St. Basil's sermons on the Hexaemeron (the six days of Creation), which in their turn are sometimes quoted in Campanella's works.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Trees are tough (4)

[16: 22]

Questi, appressando ove il lor seggio han posto
Gli empi demoni in quel selvaggio horrore,
Non rimirâr le nere ombre sì tosto
Che lor si scosse e tornò ghiaccio il core.
Pur oltre ancor se 'n gìan, tenendo ascosto
Sotto audaci sembianti il vil timore,
E tanto s'avanzâr che lunge poco
Erano homai da l'incantato loco.

These, (*) approaching the place where the ungodly
Devils set their own seats in that wild horror, (**)
No sooner had a look at the black shadows
That their hearts shook and turned(***) into ice.
Yet, they marched on keeping their cowardly
Fear hidden under bold countenances,
And advanced so much as to being not far
From the very enchanted forest now.

(*) The knights escorting the carpenters.
(**) Tasso often employs the word "horror" hinting at its original meaning, from the Latin verb horresco, "to be bristling" with branches, thorns, etc.
(***) Here the Italian verb tornare, usually meaning "to come back," is used in the same sense as "to turn into."

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A mystery during the Carnival -- or Lent

click to enlarge further

In Bruegel's Fight between Carnival and Lent (1559) there appears an unusually puzzling detail among the 'usual' bizarre things: An old woman pulling a cart in which. . . a dead man lies. The concealment of a murder? Or maybe the victim of a plague, to be carried away from the town?
On closer inspection, it may even look like a "portable" reproduction of the Holy Shroud -- the one now in Turin -- whose devotion in fact was widespread during the Renaissance (in the Netherlands, too?), but then, the cart also contains a trivial wicker basket. So. . .
What is that?
Agnes Karpinski, a graduate student at Saarland University (see her G+ profile), kindly commented, “I think the dead person stands for the future of all human beings, their death. The depicted ‘theme' can be found further on this picture. The pig, for example, is placed very close to the roasted pig. How the dead person died is left to speculation. In all meanings, death and misery seems to be a consequence of the very nature of mankind. A disturbing painting, however beautiful."

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 4: 389-458

by ilT + Selkis

The same considerations
[390] can be made on the moon;
its body is very big
and—except for the sun—
no other shines as much
but it not always appears
and its brightness varies
either full-surfaced
or dimly diminishing.
By waxing and waning
it partly disappears:
[400] Eternal Intelligence
with his articulate art
provided a clear proof
(the metamorphic moon)
of Man’s manifoldness
with our fickle lives
without one Tenor
and any fixed firmness.
Both begin by growing
up to the uppermost point
[410] then both burn out
turning into nothingness.
Let no guy glorify
himself or boast of
wealth or power
with pissing pride
fiercely full of shit
for a Congress chair.
Down with our decaying
side, up with the soul
[420] that lives limitless!
Remember the randomness
of man-things and maintain
your hold of Leholam.
If a dismal moon
can sadden our spirits
let us rather rue
the vanishing of virtue—
a theological treasure—
and the end of Edenic
[430] decorum and dignity.
Really the revolutions
of this planet pattern
the Nietzschean nuts
as moonish as the moon.
Man’s mind—some say—
having two halves:
powerful and passive,
the former forms a sun
the latter illuminated
[440] defeats darkness
in the moon’s manner
which shines secondarily.
Our mortal mental part
(provided this applies)
thanks to the other’s light
spots shapes in itself;
but the superior source
won’t be afraid of death,
to the extent that heathens
[450] grasped it as God.
No god—others objected—
but a creature, although
as splendid as the sun.
But let reason rest
in peace, prone before
the philosophy of faith
that treats intellectual
truth directly in Dios.

Summer break: 7Days posts will resume on Aug. 28

Friday, July 29, 2016

Trees are tough (3)

[16: 21]

Torna la turba, e misera e smarrita
Varia e confonde sì le cose e i detti
Ch'ella nel raccontar n'è poi schernita,
Né son creduti i mostrüosi effetti.
Allhor vi manda il sovran duce ardita
E forte squadra de' guerrieri eletti,
Acciò ch'a l'altra sia secura scorta
Quando il timor l'assale e la sconforta.

The group [of carpenters] comes back [from the enchanted forest], and being miserable and puzzled, they make such a mess of things and words that they are mocked by all others, who do not believe in those hideous phenomena. Then the supreme leader [Godfrey] sends a strong and bold squad of chosen knights with them to encourage them in case they are assailed and disheartened by fear.

This half-humorous interlude is sociologically remarkable insofar as it shows the air of superiority of the knights towards the carpenters, obviously considered ignorant, fearful and superstitious. As it is even clearer in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, knights of either religion -- Christianity and Islam -- had more things in common with the knights of the other front than with the peasants of their own people. It would be interesting to know in what measure this was the case not only in literature but in true life, too, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Summer break: The posts on Gerusalemme Conquistata will resume on Aug. 23

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Trees are tough (2)

[16: 20]

Qual semplice bambin mirar non osa
Dove insolite larve habbia presenti,
O come pave ne la notte ombrosa
Imaginando pur mostri e portenti,
Tal huom temea d'estrania horribil cosa,
Non conoscendo pur quel ch'ei paventi;
Se non che 'l timor forse a' sensi finge
Maggior prodigio di chimera o sfinge.

As a naive kid does not dare to look
Where he makes out strange apparitions,
Or as he trembles in a shadowy night
Imagining monsters and phenomena,
So did the men fear some alien horror
While not even knowing what it was --
Unless fear itself showed to their senses
Marvels greater than a chimera or sphinx.

Psychological horror was one of the trademarks of Tasso's poetry: suggesting, often by means of sounds, without describing in detail the source of that creepy feeling. The English term "alien" well renders both meanings of the Italian adjective estraneo (here in the outdated feminine form estrania), especially as used by Tasso.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 4: 328-388

If from the tall top
of a giant you gazed
[330] at a valley below
what about the oxen
or the plow-people?
They turned into ants,
their limbs shrinking
to dim dimensions:
so totally lessened
is our sense of sight
in spaces stretching
far away from us.
[340] If from a cliff
you watch the waves
what is any island
that lies lost there
or a commercial cargo
whose white smoke
looks like wings
over the cobalt back?
Dimmer than a dove
is such a big bulk:
[350] there vanishes in vacuum
the might of Man.
Mountains and meadows
show no distinction
since no grottoes give
the effect of relief,
everything is equalized
by disturbing distance
that deceives the eye.
Towers look round
[360] in spite of their sides
towards Aquilo and Auster
and East and West.
Undoubtingly believe
that infinitely far icons
deceive your sight.
So, massive is the sun
and this shows its size:
There are scores of stars
each full of photons
[370] but all together do not
tear the night’s attire
while the sole sun rising
or even when, waited for,
it is almost about to,
destroys darkness
snobbing the stars;
the air, thick with chill,
is warmed and melted,
sweet clearness shines
[380] and a balmy breeze
mounts murmuring and
down pours the dew.
Marvelous the Master’s
skills who setting the sun
so far, tempered the heat
thus saving the soil
from temperature extremes
and safeguarding fertility.

(to be continued on July 31)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trees are tough (1)

Muslims in Jerusalem prepare to defend themselves against a new attack. But precisely in order to attack, the Crusaders need new siege devices, and therefore wood: they will have to get it in the only place handy, that is the forest that has been enchanted by Wizard Ismen, though they obviously don't know about this.

[16: 19]

Ma in questo mezzo il pio Signor non vuole
Che la forte città in van si batta,
Se non è prima la sua maggior mole
Et alcuna de l'altre ancor rifatta.
E i fabri al bosco invia, che porger sole
Ad uso tal pronta materia ed atta.
Questi a l'oscura selva andar con l'alba,
Quando l'oscuro ciel primier s'inalba.

Meanwhile, the pious Lord (*) does not mean to attack the strong city in vain, unless the bigger device and some more are rebuilt. So, he sends the carpenters to that wood that can provide them with suitable materials. They went to the dark forest (**) at dawn, when the dark sky just begins to get clearer.

(*) Godfrey of Bouillon, the head of the Crusaders. He is called "pious" -- meaning "righteous, devoted to duty, and God-fearing" in Latin -- after Aeneas, who in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was considered the model leader par excellence, a providential or even Christian leader ante litteram.
(**) Here the reference to Dante's selva oscura is expressly pointed out. The last line seems to add solemnity and a feeling of sacred expectation to the episode by hinting at John 20: 1.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

War strategies (5)

[16: 18]

Hor questo udendo, il Re più s'assecura,
Sì che non teme le nemiche posse.
Già riparate in parte havea le mura,
Che de' montoni l'impeto percosse;
Con tutto ciò, non rallentò la cura
Di ristorarle ove sian rotte o mosse.
Le turbe tutte, e cittadine e serve,
S'impiegan qui: l'opra continua ferve.

By learning this, the King feels much safer
And fears no longer the enemy forces.
He had partly repaired the city walls
That had been hit by the battering rams,
And now did not slow down the efforts
To restore them where broken or fallen.
All the people, both citizens and slaves,
Are employed: the work proceeds feverishly.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A newly discovered text of Tasso on angels

digital background by Selkis

A so far unpublished text, or possibly so, by Torquato Tasso can be found in this book that has just been published in Italy: Liber Angelorum, "The Book of Angels," edited by Dr. Grazia Cavasino. It transcribes/translates a mysterious manuscript discovered in 2010, that includes a set of miscellaneous texts mostly from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, about apparitions of angels and holistic worldviews.

Il "Liber Angelorum." Testo e contesto dell'inedito di Valambros, ed. Grazia Cavasino, YouCanPrint, 2016, pages 112 with illustrations, euros 12, can be ordered here or here.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The 7Days of CryAction 4: 278-327

Thus the Father gave
clear rules to Ra
[280] and made the Moon
with her argent halo
the numen of night.
In front of each other
were the two sky torches,
the sun rose right then
while Selene halved—
but if the sun sets
Selene shows her
fine face in the East.
[290] In different forms
she won’t wane at dawn
for in her full shape
in her perfect figure
crowned with candor
she’s the night sovereign
superior to the stars
the ersatz of Sun.
He is the day’s David
who just-married comes
[300] out outstandingly
with a cooler crown
fencing his forehead,
and truly titanically
crosses the sky, he
the lord of light.
Milder is the moon
but secret is its size
compared with constellations
or included in itself
[310] in a refined ring:
like a sea? like the sky?
How can it illuminate
the boundless balconies
of earth sea ’n’ sky?
A perfect circumference
to Ethiopians Indians
Hyperboreans it appears
by setting or rising
or high in the sky;
[320] its size gets not smaller
because of one’s site
on the world web
nor bigger because of
closeness (as usual).
And the sun always looks
at the same distance
from any inhabitant.

(to be continued on July 24)

Friday, July 15, 2016

War strategies (4)

[16: 17, Ismen speaks to the Emir]

Tu vincerai sedendo, e la fortuna
Non credo io che tentar molto convegna.
Ma se 'l tuo figlio altier, che posa alcuna
Non vole, e benché honesta ancor la sdegna,
S'accende, come suol, d'ira importuna,
Trova modo pur tu ch'a freno il tegna,
Ché molto non andrà che 'l cielo amico
A te pace darà, guerra al nemico -.

"You will win (*) remaining seated; I guess
That it would not be wise try our luck.
But if your proud son (**) -- who does not like
Any pause, however honorable --
Burns with inopportune wrath as usual, 
Please find a way to hold him at bay,
For a friendly Heaven (***) will soon give
Peace to you and war to our enemies."

(*) Thus in the manuscript, as already in Gerusalemme Liberata. In the final printed text of the Conquistata the verb will be changed into guerreggierai, "you will wage war," that however seems less effective.
(**) The powerful Muslim knight Argantes, who in the Conquistata -- unlike in the Liberata -- takes on the role of one of Emir Ducat's sons; the latter being a historical personage, while Argantes is merely fictional.
(***) Or, cielo may simply mean the sky, i.e. the weather; see stanza no. 14.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Once upon a time, there existed Tasso Tourism

Tasso hugs his sister Cornelia again
(it happened in Sorrento, 1577;
he introduced himself as a pilgrim,
and said that Torquato was dead
in order to test his sister's love);
picture by Alfred De Curzon

A dear friend, Elena (see her website), has recently been in one of the most famous tourist places in southern Italy, Procida Island in the Bay of Naples. There a museum called Casa di Graziella (Graziella's Home) even exists in honor of the novel Graziella by Alphonse De Lamartine, published in 1852. Well, Lamartine's pages reveal that places related to Tasso were among the goals of foreign travellers' Grand Tours in Italy. For example, the passage reported below reads:
Finally, after satisfying my hunger for Rome, I wanted to visit Naples: Virgil's grave and Tasso's "cradle" especially attracted me. In my eyes, landscapes are always embodied in human beings, so Naples was Virgil and Tasso. It seemed to me that they had been alive not later than yesterday, and that their very ashes were still warm. In my mind I already foretasted Posillipo and Sorrento, Mount Vesuvius and the Sea, through the atmospheres of their beautiful and tender genius.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

War strategies (3)

[16: 16]

Again Wizard Ismen speaking to King (Emir) Ducat. According to astrology -- or more simply, weather forecast -- a heavy drought will bring the Crusaders to their knees, but not so with the inhabitants of Jerusalem, because. . .

Né solo intorbidasti i chiari fonti
Ma da marmoree conche e lucide urne,
Con l'industria de' tuoi, che fûr sì pronti
Per molti mesi a l'opere diurne,
Sotto le valli e sotto i cavi monti
Per tenebrose vie, quasi notturne,
In due gran laghi l'acque hai qui condutte,
Di fuor lasciando l'altre parti asciutte.

"Not only did you poison the fresh springs [making them useless for the Crusaders], but, out of marble basins and water tables, thanks to the industriousness of your men who worked hard for many months, day by day, now under the valleys and the mountains through dark channels you gathered the waters in two great lakes, while the surface lands have been left dry."

This was an actual war strategy. But especially, we have here an example of the great interest of the Renaissance in hydraulics, see Leonardo Da Vinci.
On the other hand, important hydraulic systems had been realized in the Holy Land already in the first millennium BC. Many data about this can be found in the detailed German pilgrim's guide Im Land des Herrn (here), of which an Italian -- and later, English -- version is about to be published by Edizioni Terra Santa (here).
From the Middle Ages, Crusaders and pilgrims ascribed basically all majestic public works in the Holy Land to King Solomon, 10th century BC, but modern archeology provides a more complex picture.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 4: 196-277

See no inconsistency
in our Father’s fixing
light before the sun-lamp;
there was light without
[200] any sun and any stars.
As body serves soul
and chariot, charioteer,
the two globes were given
to light—and it flashed.
It flashes first of all
to immaculate intellects
in its Blakean birth
then to superficial senses
by driving day and night
[210] never tarrying or tired
along crooked curves.
Yes, pure light preceded
the sun-delimited days:
while He himself divided
its dazzle from darkness
He asked the sun to
note night and day.
He offers the objects
to our spirits; the sun then
[220] distinguishes them.
Administered to the moon
is His splendor too
so as to hew the hours.
We dare therefore
intellectually at least
separate sun and light
as in fire we find
both lighting and heat.
It already happened
[230] when Ruby received
its shine separately
from pyrogenous power
that remains in rest:
God is so great that
He can isolate either.
In the day of donating
eternal prizes and pains
He will unfix the fire:
light will lie together
[240] with the well-graced,
heat will go to hell.
Metamorphic Moon
shows and tells the same
with different dresses;
by losing light, she
doesn’t get disembodied
but puts on and off
her silver splendor
therefore her flesh
[250] is not her aura.
The same with the Sun
but his light lies still
as a gift from God.
The Moon’s mantle
is basically borrowed
and follows her phases.
So He told them how
to divide the days from
their neighbor nights
[260] abstaining from cocktails
friendship and feasts
of Light and Night united.
Day includes darkness;
analogously in the night
Nosferatu Nature
must subject shadows
to the shine of stars.
Westward shadows
at dawn, then eastward,
[270] minimal at midday,
bypassing the Bears.
Night yells and yields
to the photons’ fury,
it is simply a shadow
of the opaque orb
that soon at sunrise
flies and fades away.

(to be continued on July 17)

Friday, July 8, 2016

War strategies (2)

[16: 14, Ismen speaks to the King]

Soggiunge appresso: - Hor cosa aggiungo a queste
Fatte da me, ch'a me non meno aggrada:
Quando fia il Sol nel gran Leone celeste,
Vibrerà Marte seco ardente spada,
Né potran più temprar l'arsure infeste
Aure o nembi di pioggia o di rugiada;
Ma 'l Cane insieme uscito, horrida fiamma
Spargerà, che la terra e 'l cielo infiamma.

He then says, "I will add to these things
Made by me, a not less pleasant one:
When the Sun is in the heavenly Lion,
Mars will wield a fiery sword, nor will
The obnoxious heat be tempered 
By air, or by rainy or dewy clouds;
The Dog will just then spread frightful
Flames to burn both the earth and the sky."

The Italian verses reported above correspond to the final printed text in which Tasso, further reworking the manuscript, modified many minor details and completely changed the last two lines. The final version, rather than the manuscript as we usually do, has been chosen because its details are better finished.
Astrology, together with magic, was a 'great hit' in Renaissance culture. Astrology was officially condemned, even mocked at -- see the Catholic Catechism of the Council of Trent (published in 1566) -- but the Popes themselves resorted to it. Moreover, it was the most "ecumenical" subject across the whole Mediterranean civilizations as astrology books were written, read, and shared by both Christians and Muslims and Jews. Tasso well witnessed this ambivalence in judgment in his long poem Il Mondo Creato, that he wrote in the same years in which he was preparing Gerusalemme Conquistata.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

War strategies (1)

[16: 13]

Il mago, poi che homai nulla più manca,
Da quel notturno incanto al re se 'n riede.
-  Signor, lascia ogni dubbio e 'l cor rinfranca,
C'homai secura è questa eccelsa sede;
Né rinovar può gente ardita e Franca
L'alte machine sue, com'ella crede -.
Così gli dice, e poi di parte in parte
Narra i successi de la magica arte.

Now that all is fixed, the wizard goes back
To the king(*) after the nocturnal spell.
"My Lord, do away with doubts, cheer up!
This high seat(**) is now perfectly safe,
Nor can our enemy, however Frank, (***)
Build new siege devices as they think,"
He says, then explains to him in detail
The successful works of his wizardry.

(*) Emir Ducat, a historical personage.
(**) The king's stronghold in Jerusalem, more or less corresponding to the Antonia Fortress.
(***) The pun works, or fails to work, in both languages. As a matter of fact, not even in Italian does franco precisely mean "valiant." As a people's name, "Franks" was employed by Muslims as a synonym of Westerners, Crusaders in general; the term is used still nowadays by Palestinian Arabs.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 4: 146-195

Creator Trinity based on
the Hamilton Bible, 14th century

Summing it up. First Sky,
earth, and light: done.
Night and day: distinct.
The sky also existed
[150] named after “firm,”
the shell of universe.
Dryness, underwater
so far, was partly freed
from waves, and waters
were gathered together.
The planet was pregnant
with Flora full of
grass and fine flowers.
Green the quivering
[160] trees. And nevertheless
no Apollo no Artemis
no launcher of light
no transformer of things
produced by Pomona—
he whom a quid pro quo
of mortals misguided
by senses did sense
as God. But his good
opus was over in Day
[170] Three: Four follows.
Let there be,” He bid,
two lamps to illuminate
the soil by splitting
the duration of day
into light and night.”
He Worded and Worked.
He” who? Won’t you get
the mystical mystery of
two Hypostases? A history
[180] full of philosophy
revealed to holy writers
and now wrapped up
as in a covering cloud.
Won’t you get the great
utility of that utterance?
Now shine,” He said,
and illuminate Earth
and warm her wellness!”
And He forever had
[190] the sun’s rays sent
to the just and the unjust
as He benefits both
giving gifts and grace
even to evildoers
via sun and stars.

(to be continued on July 10)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cosmic poetry, Tasso to Teilhard

After Teilhard's short story The Painting (1916);
with a digital background by Selkis;
The Sacred Heart by Pompeo Batoni (1767);
book cover picture from Fra Angelico

The "Christian cosmic" poetical genre was launched in western literature by Torquato Tasso with his long poem Il Mondo Creato, that the regular readers of this blog may happen to have already heard of. Tasso's descriptions most probably inspired the "song" of creation in Milton's Paradise Lost, bk 7. Paradoxically, or maybe not, the genre did not experience a revival after the scientific revolution of the 19th century -- though hints at evolution already existed in Tasso himself, depending on his main source, the Sermons on Genesis by St. Basil the Great, who in his turn depended on Greek science/philosophy. Studying the past paved the way to the future. William Blake's cosmic myths in fact date back to few decades before the epoch of Charles Darwin (he made some illustrations for a book written by Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus).

In a sense, a fascinating poem singing the marvels of the "modern" universe can be considered E. A. Poe's book Eureka, or at least, Poe said that "it is as a poem only that I wish this work to be judged after I am dead." And in this sense, we could read as a Christian and inspired poem Fr. Pierre Teilhard De Chardin's descriptions of the cosmos. The book whose cover is shown above is an Italian version of the French anthology Himne de l'univers; it was first published in 1961, immediately before the Teilhard-mania broke out worldwide (after his death in 1955, since he had been prevented from publishing his theological essays by his superiors of the Jesuit Order). The anthology includes some 80 brief passages from Teilhard's main works, but is remarkable especially because of two literary texts of 1916 and 1919, in which he does not provide theories but powerful 'optical' experiences: The Christ in Matter, three short tales after the manner of R. H. Benson, and The Spiritual Power of Matter, a Jacob-like struggle of the author himself with a mysterious entity. Here are the first lines, though just a translation of a translation:
The Man, followed by a companion, was walking in the desert when the Thing assailed him.
From afar it had looked very small, crawling on the sand, not bigger than a palm of the hand of a baby; a yellow and elusive shadow. . .
The Thing seemed not to bother about the two wayfarers; it wandered whimsically across that wilderness. But suddenly making the direction of its movements clearer, it darted definitely towards them like an arrow.

Friday, July 1, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (11)

[16: 12]

Venieno innumerabili, infiniti
Spirti, parte che 'n aria alberga ed erra,
Parte di quei che son del fondo usciti
Caliginoso de l'opaca terra;
Lenti, e del gran divieto anco smarriti
Ch'impedì loro il trattar l'arme in guerra;
Ma qui venirne hor non si vieta e toglie,
E ne' tronchi albergar e tra le foglie.

And there came countless, endless spirits,
Partly those who dwell and roam in the air,
Partly among those who rise out of the
Dark bottom of the opaque earth --
Slowly, still puzzled by God's ban which
Prevented them from partaking in the war; (*)
But this place is not forbidden to them,
Nor to dwell in the trunks, among the leaves. (**)

(*) Recap: In the long GC section we had to skip, God authoritatively stopped all forays of the devils into the Crusaders' camp, commanding them not to mix up with the battles any more. Declaring the forest "extraterritorial" is a literary trick to let them re-enter the stage.
(**) This line was modified in the final printed version, probably to avoid a repetition of the verb albergare (to dwell) already used in line 2, so that the new text reads: "It is not forbidden to them to come to this place / Among the hard trunks and the sylvan leaves."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (10)

[16: 11, Ismen speaks]

Per lungo disusar già non si scorda
L'arte a cui dà la morte ampio tributo,
E so con lingua anch'io, di sangue lorda,
Quel nome risonar grande e temuto
A cui né Dite mai ritrosa o sorda
Né trascurato in ubbedir fu Pluto.
Ma ecco io già. . . - Voleva più dire, e 'ntanto
Conobbe ch'ubbedìano al fero incanto.

"A long disuse could not make me forget
The art to which Death gives a huge tribute; (*)
I also know how, with a bloodstained tongue,
To utter that great and dreaded name (**)
To which Dis(***) isn't reluctant or deaf
In obeying, nor does Pluto neglect to. (****)
But, lo! I. . ." and he meant to say more when
He saw that they obeyed his fierce spell. (*****)

(*) Black magic. The text was plainer in Gerusalemme Liberata (13: 10): "The most efficient help of cruel arts."
(**) Probably Demogorgon, according to scholars. The King of Fairies according to some traditions retrieved in the Renaissance, he will play a cameo role in Milton's Paradise Lost. Theologically speaking, He whom all necessarily obey should be God/Christ, but this would not fit in well with the context.
(***) Here feminine, therefore meaning the "city" i.e. hell in general, not Satan.
(****) "Neglect" (trascurato) corresponds to Tasso's text in GL and in the GC manuscript; in the final printed version of GC it will be modified into tracotato: "Pluto would not dare to."
(*****) To be noticed the theatrical dramatization of Ismen's actions and words. Theater was, for Tasso, the key category to understand the universe.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 4: 76-145

by Nivalis70, from the anthology
Emanations: Third Eye,
International Authors, 2013

Me, Tasso, tour operator
guiding foreigner guys
to the top towers
of some Chinese city,
[80] that is, souls of seekers
(so far erring on earth)
to the sublime secrets
of this huge heavenly
City the old home
of our ancestor Adam
and gold-sharing God.
We were thence exiled
by the Assas-Sin
who hooks and kills
[90] eternally, enslaving
us with strong strings
of hardest adamant.
My guests will guess
the auriferous origin
of everlasting soul
as well as the suddenly
attacking atrocious Death
the worthy son of Sin;
of Sin, the firstborn
[100] of Dis the disobedient
the prince of pollution
the evocator of evil.
Theyll know themselves
as fatally frail
while also the work
of God’s crafts-Manship,
therefore themselves
launching towards El
worshiping Wotan
[110] serving Shaddai
praying the Supplier
glorifying the Giver
the Lord of all lives
on earth and in heaven.
This they will learn
and exalt Him endlessly
insofar as his presents
to us mean mortals
support his promises about
[120] extraterrestrial treasures
and his divine dome
to which He calls Hope
who otherwise snakes.
If ever-changing chaff
is nice nonetheless,
what about Walhalla?
If visible vanity
looks so pleasant,
what about aorata?
[130] If the sky’s size
overcomes measure,
who will comprehend
the infinite Physis?
The sun is splendid
true to its turns
useful to humankind
the eye of the sky,
we long for its light
every evening, even
[140] if it will die one day:
What about the beauty
of the Sun of dikaiosyne?
If night proves a pain,
what will the damned do
without the true Light?

(to be continued on July 3)

Friday, June 24, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (9)

[16: 10, Wizard Ismen conjuring devils]

A quel parlar, le faci onde s'adorna
Il seren de la notte egli scolora,
E la luna si turba, e le sue corna
Di nube avolge, e non appar più fora.
Irato i gridi a raddoppiare ei torna:
- Spiriti invocati, hor non venite anchora?
Forse aspettate, o neghittosi e lenti,
Suon di voci più occulte o più possenti?

By saying so, he discolors the lamps
That adorn the serene sky by night;
The moon darkens by enveloping 
Its horns in the clouds, and disappears.
In anger he now redoubles his shouts:
"Conjured spirits, aren't you coming yet?
Are you waiting, O you lazy and slow,
For more secret or more powerful words?"

Something is apparently going wrong with the ritual. Ismen reacts in a typical fit of rage (a mood Tasso knew all too well), i.e. insulting those he should 'charm.' Noticeably, Ismen's phrasing was less offensive in the corresponding octave in Gerusalemme Liberata (13: 9): "Why do you tarry so long?"

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In the dark, dark forest (8)

[16: 9, Wizard Ismen conjuring devils]

Prendete in guardia questa selva e queste
Piante, che numerate a voi consegno.
Com'è il corpo de l'alma albergo e veste
Hor sia de' nudi spirti il duro legno,
Onde il Franco ne fugga, o almen s'arreste
Ne' primi colpi, e tema il fero sdegno -.
Disse; e quelle, ch'aggiunse, horribil note,
Lingua, s'empia non è, ridir non pote.

"Be the guardians of this forest, of these
Trees that now I mark(*) and entrust to you.
As the body is the soul's home and dress,
So be the hard wood for you, naked spirits,
Thus making the Franks flee, or at least stop
After the first blows, afraid of your wrath,"
He said; and the frightful notes he added
No tongue other than ungodly can repeat. (**)

(*) Literally "number," that suggests both a magic effect reaching the trees one by one and the use of numbers like in esoteric formulas. It is a technical term, and so is note in line 7, that follows the Latin word notae (signs, marks, stains) while also hinting at a chant (musical notes), whence the very term "en-chant-ment" comes.
(**) The poet does not report such "notes" partly because it would be ungodly to do so and partly because, probably, he does not know them. In fact, the evocation made by Wizard Ismen draws on classical sources rather than on actual magic formulas, which "sounded" quite different.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 4: 1-75

Songday 4

While watching wrestlers
or hundred-meter runners
during grand games
or the Army’s achievements
at home and abroad
or tour tournaments
you are moved within
by feelings following
the battling boys,
[10] so, are a fan perforce
of one opponent
waiting for his victory
n’ shouting savagely.
Ditto with those who
look to trans-logical
horizons or hear about
incomprehensible hints
at ineffable Phronesis:
they will in themselves
[20] burn with perception
in contemplation to catch
so many marvels made
by Ho Theos in a trice.
With all of their strength
as faithful friends
they will have to help
truth not to be stifled
and without any faults
enlighten the hearts.
[30] But, am I boasting?
In this holy enterprise
in which I temerariously try
to weigh the Whole by
depicting the beginning
and our ball’s birth
not searching at random
throughout gross Greece
as boobies do, blinded
by false philosophies
[40] like Plato’s or Aristotle’s
let alone Egyptian geeks
but directly and divinely
from the Red Sea savior—
may he escort me safely
out of this terrifying
sea of petty pride!
Clement! Moses’ copy
renewing his example
and, like him, a slide
[50] of the Sky’s Sovereign
though in worldly shadow:
You are currently the true
living and illustrious image
of God’s spotless glory,
you reflect its rays, so
please share something
of it with my poor mind
and may your light lead
the spirit-pilgrims.
[60] If they ever elevated
their eyes in the evening
to the starry systems
and thought about theology
(Who created cosmos?
Who forged fantasies
with gleams and gold?
Why does Vorstellung
win against Wille?)
and if by doing so they
[70] learned to look at God
and from unseen shapes
to imagine the Invisible—
they will surely sit
in this theandric theater
where his Doxa dives.

(to be continued on June 26)