SeeStan ChapLee

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1046-1139

The Battle of Zama in a painting of about 1521

To what possible purpose
does the elephant’s odd
trunk or nose exist?
Since it’s a behemoth bigger
[1050] than most animals
it inherited the trunk
as a weapon, note well.
It functions as a neck
insofar as the true one
cannot extend to the soil
and could not be longer.
Therefore the elephant
fetches fruits by using it
and because it is a cable
[1060] too, it can accumulate
nearly a lake inside;
it then sprays rivers
as a Berninian fountain
in Renaissance Rome.
Like an artistic spring
with a faun’s face on
which out of its mouth
or perhaps its penis
pours water everywhere,
[1070] so good Ganesha
gathers his humor first
then his nose imitates
a gorgeous geyser.
This nose often works
as a multitasking hand
twining and stretching.
When a quiet elephant
walks through a flock
of simple-minded sheep
[1080] it does not disturb
them and passes peacefully;
but it grips Gradassoes
lifts them in midair and
smashes them merciless
like a projectile that loads
a catapult then crashes
according to kinetics.
Short is the elephant’s neck
otherwise too weighty
[1090] for its balloon body
that stands on rough feet
which appear inarticulate
and the legs like pillars
of a basilican skeleton.
The beast bends them
when it must sit down
but turning on one side
because of its big mass
(impossible to sit upright)
[1100] so that it always has
to lean left or right.
Only its knees it can
bend, similarly to men:
its paralyzed elbows
force it to find props
against the trees and
sleep hard and deep. . .
look! the trunk collapses!
But often it’s been cut
[1110] by mean smugglers
in search of ivory
to be transformed into
African handicrafts.
The elephant crashes
after the falling tree
like a building broken by
a treacherous earthquake
then resting in ruins.
Prevented from picking
[1120] itself up, it trumpets
stabbed in its belly—
because its bristly back
is spear-proof—and
dies with dire moans.
Its Atlas-like shoulders
can transport towers
stuffed with soldiers
while it knocks down
every enemy it meets
[1130] like a living fort;
Hannibal and Indians
thus put armies to rout
made arms red with blood
trampled on infantry.
This pachyderm, provided
hunts and wars allow,
lives three centuries
and exerts its religion
by adoring Artemis.

(to be continued on Oct. 1)

Friday, September 22, 2017

[GBM] Dating Agency Venus

Leda by a Renaissance painter,
Francesco Ubertini called "Bacchiacca"

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: In this second phase of the beauty contest, each goddess -- in addition to showing herself naked to Paris -- makes a promise. Juno says she will make him the "ruler of whole Asia," basically the Sultan! But, on closer inspection, she is not promising much insofar as Paris is already a son of powerful Priam, though currently in exile. Minerva says she will turn him into an invincible warrior. In retrospect, that would have proved useless since, in the future War of Troy, Paris, though 'weak,' would kill no less than Achilles. He anyway, like Adonis (into whose story his own story has been inserted) later on, does not seem to be interested in such gifts. And now, again, it is the turn of Venus. She stresses that Paris, yeah, is of royal origin, therefore he needs a mate better than any peasant or wood nymph. He deserves the most beautiful woman in the world. He deserves Helen.


"Jupiter left Leda's womb pregnant
with this new sun I am talking about
when, soft and swift, onto her he flew
transfigured into a fair, noble swan.
White and pure she is, as it becomes
a girl born of a bird so white;
smooth, delicate, as bred and fed
inside the frail shell of an egg."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The first assault

[GC 17: 102]

The Syrians, raising their dry shields     i.e. wood. Then edited: heavy
and frightful shouts around Argantes,
now uncertainly attack the firm wall,
the sea and the coast echoing the sound.
Against the children of cruel Ducat     Argantes & Co.
and their faithful, unfaithful to Christ,
from the towers our men threw stones,
driving them away from guarded places.     chiostri (*)

(*) literally, "cloisters," a term often employed by Tasso as a more solemn synonym of "place." See Dante, Inferno 29: 40 and Purgatorio 7: 21 (both times chiostra).

Monday, September 18, 2017


Again some materials on the Battle of Lepanto, 1571, that is much more interesting to "see" through the eyes of its contemporaries (e.g. here) than those of modern authors, who often are either Catholic or anti-Catholic fundamentalists. Renaissance poets and artists could make something epic, even witty, out of that event. For example, let's have a look at a painting by Paolo Veronese (above, left) nominally titled Perseus freeing Andromeda, of the years 1576-78. It strikes the eye that in the background a big city rises, which 'suspiciously' recalls Constantinople. In fact, the jaws of the "Orc" look the same as in the painting The Battle of Lepanto by El Greco (above, right).
Though, well, incidentally, the main reason why I love this work of Veronese so much is the monster's flipper, possibly one of the most impressive pieces of science fiction in art history.

The Battle of Lepanto is dealt with in one of the new sections added by Torquato Tasso to his Jerusalem-poem, i.e. shifting from Gerusalemme Liberata to the Conquistata. Giovan Battista Marino too provides a description of the sea war event in his Adone. Both passages belong to the later parts of the respective poems, so it will take a while for us to get there, "if God helps us, and the devil does not put his tail on it" (Emperor Charles V).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 989-1045

Darwinism, by ilTM + Selkis (and D. G. Rossetti)

How could curiosity lead
[990] me absolutely astray?
We were wondering about
providence in Day Six.
Providence, not selection
made the animals that
finish off the food chain
little less than infertile
while plentifully prolific
are harmless herbivores
which all too easily
[1000] turn into titbits.
Dozens of babies are born
of a hare, a pair each time
of a mountain goat and
twins of a wild sheep
for a fruitful offspring
means more survivors
after the lions lunch.
While a lioness scarcely
bears one, that rips her
[1010] belly with its claws
as a cub born to kill
thru a splattering uterus.
The viper also violates
its mother’s meatuses
by breaking her body.
Paying attention to
animal anatomy you see
Shaddai didn’t shape
too much nor too less.
[1020] He fixed the fangs
within the whole mouth
of fierce flesh-eaters
but partially empty are
the jaws of herbivores
that ruminate tranquil
in their lazy lifestyle.
All those biological bags
and digestive systems
like food refineries
[1030] to fuel the physical,
the pure and the impure
that ends up expelled
are not pastime toys
but tools indispensable
to sustain existence
either enduring or brief.
The camel’s neck extends
up to reaching the earth
and grazing the grass.
[1040] A short neck is shown
by lions tigers and bears
and all other orders that
don’t process the plants
and don’t go grazing
but are blood bandits. 

(to be continued on Sept. 24)

Friday, September 15, 2017

[GBM] Triple sun-bathing

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: The judge's reaction to the divine lap dance show. The vision of three suns recalls some natural/psychological phenomena already described by ancient authors, but also implies a mischievous reuse of Christian imagery (see e.g. Dante, Paradiso 33.76-78, 100-102, 112-117; Torquato Tasso, Il Mondo Creato / The 7 Days of CryAction 1.12, here).


Paris himself in those extreme joys 
cannot live, no, except via his eyes.     but see lines below
Such an excess of light, he, shocked, fears
it may steal his sight and life at once.     pun: vista/vita
His eyes are not enough to so many rays,
his heart not enough to bear three suns.
A tripled flash forcibly shuts his eyes—
one sun in the sky, three on earth he sees.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Shakespeare for Italian actors

A new, 'free and easy' Italian translation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has just been published by Grazia Cavasino (go to the online shop). As indicated in the book flaps, the translation's target is the stage, so as to prove useful, i.e. both flowing and effective, for acting. In order to do so, it plays with the different speech levels, from the still existing refined Renaissance words to the everyday people's, even gross usage via the musical/sung forms.
So, G. Cavasino makes us agree, more and more, with a remark made many decades ago by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: that is that, paradoxically, the true language and manners of Italians in the Renaissance were rendered much better by Shakespeare than by the 16th century Italian poets, who tended to shape their own texts on the basis of classical models. (According to one of the many revisionistic theories, in fact, the real authors of the plays 'under the name' of the Bard should have been two Italian exiles. Or, is this nothing more than our scholars' envy?)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


The Muslims prepare to attack the Christian fort near the harbor of Jaffa, in five squads. Meanwhile one of Argantes' brothers, Norandin (all of these are fictional characters), rides back to the Muslim ships in order to ask for more help, but. . .

[GC 17: 95.7 - 96.8]

But, on his superb horse's back, he cannot
avoid an untimely end in a hard death.
He would not see again the high walls
of Aelia and of the embellished palace     A. Capitolina (Jerusalem)
that he had occupied as his own home;
in vain had he hoped in a happy return—
a dark whirl of war tore him away
as we see a fir, an ash being uprooted.
He fell where a cruel spear pierced him,
a man who opposes his fate in vain.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 932-988

by Raphael, ilTM, and Selkis

I have till now neglected
(not even one tiny word)
the illustrious horses
the comrades of knights
in jousts and army jobs
sharing their vicissitudes.
You verily are warriors
stirred by the trumpets
[940] you partake in pursuits
that give gold and glory.
It was seen in Pisa and
Olympia every four years
and in Thebes and Troy
in Greek games and wars
like Marathon and Leuctra
Pharsalia and surroundings;
carrying knights on your
strong backs in battle as
[950] one mighty monster
you created the centaurs.
Who could fittingly tell
about your enterprises?
You poured precious
blood with your riders
but even—incredibly—
shed sorrowful tears
because of their death.
You partook in the triumphs
[960] of heroes and emperors,
Bucephala (now Jalalpur)
was named after a steed.
Not Neptune’s trident
was your obstetrician
no potter produced you:
God’s vigorous voice
trumpeted your birth
even before bothering
about Adam.
[970] That voice obviously
obeyed by Nature now
perpetuates your race.
But may your majestic
almost-human spirit be
edified by Jesus Christ
who on a Palm sunny day
held a donkey dearer
leaving you to the leaders
of the ruling countries.
[980] Let power and pomp
and mundane magnificence
yield to humbleness
to the silent suffering
of the donkey dignified
in Bethlehem as behooved
by the heavenly King
who has no horses and
no equine escutcheons. . .

(to be continued on Sept. 17)

Friday, September 8, 2017

[GBM] Bodies of evidence

Minerva by Paolo Barbieri

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: In the end, all three goddesses accept to strip in front of Paris. A cosmic event, that affects the whole Nature.


As finally those three models of
perfection put down their clothes,
and, of their immortally beautiful bodies,
the most hidden parts were exhibited,
among their own shadows novel lights     "their" i.e. of the caverns
were seen by the most secret caverns;     allusion
and no created thing in the environs
failed to feel love's power in itself.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

War balances

The Battle of Lepanto in a cartoon
by G. A. Sartorio, about 1930

Now, in Tasso's fictional narrative of the First Crusade, two Christian knights both called Robert (respectively from Frisia and Normandy), volunteer to go and defend the harbor of Joppe/Jaffa. Meanwhile Argantes, one of the main leaders of the Muslim army, attacks a fort that has been built by the Crusaders near the harbor -- by piling up their very ships. This whole, long section did not exist in the Gerusalemme Liberata, it was added in the Conquistata after the model of the Iliad. This serves two purposes: 1. Giving Tasso's poem a Homeric solemnity, and

2. Counterbalancing the war, so that, while the Christian army besieges the Muslim army in Jerusalem, the opposite occurs in Jaffa. This sort of "fairness doctrine" or "equal treatment" played a key role in Renaissance literature, worldview, and practice. The actual Battle of Lepanto, 1571, did not aim at 'destroying Islam' but simply at re-establishing the military balance in the Mediterranean Sea by "showing that Turkey was not unbeatable," as reminded by a Christian soldier who had been there: Miguel De Cervantes. Argantes speaks:

[GC 17: 90.7b - 91.6]

". . . I will not come back
without glory and booty, O fellows!
I hope I'll adorn the Asian coast and farthest
territories with enemy spoils, rather,
by depriving the Franks of the den     i.e. Westerners
where their extreme hope now lies.
You just follow me, and I feel that
the slow, the scared will become bold!"

Monday, September 4, 2017

Renaissance born again

It occurred in this blog to call Salvador Dalí "the last Renaissance artist," but it would have been more exact to say "the first artist of the New Renaissance," as he loved to define himself. This qualifying side of his art emerged clearly thanks to an exhibition held in Pisa, Italy, between late 2016 and early 2017, that was devoted to Dali's Dream of Classicism. The link with Greek art was provided precisely by the 15th-16th century Italian masters. The exhibition, and all the more so the catalog that includes a greater number of works, shows the deep influence that the the whole bundle of the most significant Renaissance artists had on his paintings, even on his lifestyle: Piero Della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, Paolo Uccello, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Vannucci il Perugino, Raffaello/Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, Luca Signorelli, Benvenuto Cellini, Michelangelo. Some materials published here are virtually impossible to be found elsewhere, e.g. the book pictures diligently divided by Dalí into squares so as to being able to reproduce the works (or, have them reproduced) on a larger scale on canvas before modifying them for his own purposes.

The Spanish painter subjected his past colleagues to the same treatment to which they had subjected the ancient Greek themes. Particularly striking are some paintings in which details from Michelangelo's sculptures or sketches have been reworked in a different context, giving them a surprising meaning. For example, the famous Moses is struck with lightning by -- himself? -- and therefore resembles, at the same time, Zeus and the Tower of Babel, and/or the Tower in the Tarot deck. See René Thom's Catastrophe Theory, followed by Dalí in his late years. Adam's head, from the Sistine Chapel, turns into a sort of night spirit. The Palestrina Pietà now looks like a brawny, two-headed Venus being born from the sea. In the big-sized Searching for the Fourth Dimension, 1979, many "quotes" from Renaissance artists are rearranged within a typical Dalinian setting.

The catalog also includes Dali's illustrations for the Divine Comedy, of 1950-52. For some surreal reason, the captions are crazy.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 845-931

Kommissar/Commissario/Inspector Rex

Is any memory firm as
that belonging to dogs?
Or, is there any greater
example of thankfulness
than a dog’s who dares
[850] attack a thief
and wreck his robbery?
He is ready to die with
his owners, or for them,
and save their lives
by sacrificing himself.
Often before a court
a four-footed friend
accused the culprits by
barking and was believed
[860] so that the sentence
fell on the right fellow.
In Antioch—stories tell—
in a solitary place a man
(owning a dog) lay dead
at the uncertain hour
that divides day and night
and calls the employees
to their job or to the joy
of a deserved rest. The
[870] murderer, a mercenary
as violent as Vanni Fucci
imagined he could hide
his crime under the cloak
of tenebrous night;
the same mantle he
put on and went away.
The dead man remained
pale in his own plasma.
People came to peep
[880] as the dog dismally
mourned his own master.
Meanwhile the murderer
sullied by his sin but
simulating innocence
paced back to the place
cos he intended to chat
scot-free about the “feat”
(beware of blah blahs!).
Joining the onlookers he
[890] displayed a long face
and viewed the victim.
Then the brave beast
stopped suddenly to wail
and jumped for justice
with frightening fangs
and growling low made
all people perplexed.
To stress his trustworthiness
he stopped the contractor
[900] by dint of teeth
till the killer shocked
could no longer offload
the guilt of that gruesome
effect of his hate nor
silence the suspicions
emerging in all minds.
No witness will defend
him against a dumb dog:
He is tied and executed.
[910] This is one thousandth
of the deeds of dogs
often beautifully buried
together with their lords
or put on the same pyre
or among slaying soldiers
expressing big exploits.
They got rid of tyrants
so lets make monuments
to canine champions
[920] carving their conquests;
after wars and wanderings
they triumphed together
with human partners and
hurried back home.
Greece greeted them
so did innumerable islands.
Wilderness witnessed
their valiant victories,
their heads were honored,
[930] thousands of trophies
were hunted with their aid.

(to be continued on Sept. 10)

Friday, September 1, 2017

[GBM] The best evidence rule

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: Now Paris has a hard time trying to choose the most beautiful among Juno, Minerva, and Venus. So -- surely following a cue from the poet -- he establishes a new rule: The three goddesses will have to show themselves naked to him. Juno and Minerva make "as if" they will not absolutely accept, at first. Venus takes her chance.


But the sea's daughter, who in courteous     a true court. . . esan
acts has grace and boldness as needed,
"I'll be the first to untie my covering,"     arnesi, usually "armor"
cries, "and unveil the most unknown parts,
so that it will be clearly seen and shown
that not only beautiful eyes and cheeks
I have, but there exists a correspondence
between exterior and hidden beauties!"     see Orlando Furioso 7.14

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sad news from Jaffa

After Vafrino has finished to inform about the plot against Godfrey of Bouillon, Count Raymond of Toulouse (a historical personage) lists the other many problems of the Crusaders.

[GC 17: 76.5 - 78.6a]

And Raymond said, "A more annoying
and sad news I have, more bitter grief;
I'd like not to redouble anxiety,
but omitting would prove of no help.
Goldemar and Peletto marched to the port
as a good escort to Ligurian friends
by leading one rank and the other,
but between Lydda and Rama they
were attacked. Giberto, Aicardo died,
too thick was the mob of those infidels;
now all the men left to me are weak,
or did shed their lives with their blood.
Joppe, an old city and unsafe,
unpeopled, cannot defend itself,
but leaves its solitary walls -- like
things neglected -- to conquerors.
Our fleet in its harbor there can resist
no more. . ."

Monday, August 28, 2017

Christianity "abolished" slavery?

Galleria Sabauda, Torino;
from a Renaissance painting

Since it happens to hear progressive Catholic authors say that one of the social effects of the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman/Western world was to lead to the abolition of slavery, it may be worth recalling this passage from Giacomo Leopardi's Pensieri ("Thoughts," first published in 1845, no. 66):
In our current century the black people are believed to be of a completely different race and origin from the white, and this notwithstanding, completely equal to them as far as human rights are concerned. In the 16th century the black, though believed to share one root [in Adam] with the white and belong to one and the same family, were considered -- especially by Spanish theologians -- as for their rights, to be, by nature and God's will, way inferior to us. And in both eras the black people were and are sold and bought, and forced to work in chains under a whip. This is what ethics is worth; and that much the beliefs in the field of morals have to do with actions.
We could update, and add to the list.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 766-844

R'lyeh by ilTM + Selkis

If the love for children
or intimate intercourse
goes so deep with deer
what will it make with
[770] us the selfish species?
It wont look unbelievable
if so many many times
such a passion produced
inextinguishable flames
like Ithaca against Troy
in wrath and with steel
fires carnages collapses
throughout city and sea.
Now lets deal with dogs
[780] with super-senses:
What human minds can
scarcely philosophize
on subtle syllogisms
weaving different figures
with Gordian knots,
a dog can undoubtingly
learn led by Nature.
Finding the footprints
of a hare or, say, a stag
[790] where a path splits
in two directions or more
he examines and scents
every end of the routes
and to himself he seems
to mumble, “The game
went this way or that
or the third hypothesis;
but not one nor two
therefore it chose three.”
[800] Thus the dog deduces,
his senses allow the art
of determining truth.
Not more methods were
listed by philosophers
or carved on sea sands
for any argumentation;
out of three things two
were sentenced to death
and the third found to
[810] be true, though ready
to be washed away.
The bombastic brains
of miserable mortals
does not see the sand
where truth lies unless
divine light vitrifies it,
otherwise at sunset
the wind will delete it.
Old civilizations boasted
[820] of Pantagruelian pillars
with the portraits of arts
in Hermes’ sanctuary
and renowned in R’lyeh
were columns containing
safe from fires ’n’ floods
pre-human memories:
Well, of neither nowadays
any ruin remains, and
night hides their names.
[830] Against detective dogs
the preys developed
the technique of deleting
their footprints so that
no sign of life is left;
they also know about
the winds that would
hand them to the hounds.
So Providence permeates
everything—He sometimes
[840] helps the preys’ escape
but often offers them
to the bolder beasts
distributing their spoils
and supplying strength.

(to be continued on Sept. 3)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Imagine all the peoples

Details from a sculpture on the Charles Bridge in Prague; most statues there date back to the early 18th century. Paradoxically, this work is not "racist" while -- more or less -- aiming at being so! It shows the non-European peoples who literally "support" the Western civilization epitomized by a Catholic missionary on the top. At the same time, however, the portraits of Asians, Africans, Native Americans are of healthy, handsome men, so that it turns out to be one of the most interesting representations of the world peoples in Baroque art (which was imported to Prague a bit late, from a chronological viewpoint). We will meet an international male beauty contest like this in G. B. Marino's poem Adonis too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Renaissance made it better

Qui mira e qui ti specchia,
secol superbo e sciocco,
che il calle insino allora
dal risorto pensier segnato innanti
abbandonasti, e volti addietro i passi,
del ritornar ti vanti,
e procedere il chiami.
---from Giacomo Leopardi, La Ginestra ("The Broom," 1836)

Look here (*) as in your mirror,
you proud and silly century
who left the path until then
marked by the risen thought, (**)
and by taking backward steps, (***)
you boast about moving back
while defining it "advancement."

(*) The towns destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy in the year 79 AD.
(**) The Renaissance, paraphrasing the Risen Christ in a secular key.
(***) See Dante, Purgatorio 10.123.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 661-765

by Nivalis70 (website)

A hind in labor reveals
a wisdom wider than
any other animal having
a seed of reasoning;
to human hospitality
she confides her fawns,
for fear of wolves
avoiding the wilderness
and untilled terrains to
[670] follow the footprints
left by leather soles.
There she happily litters
while eating “seselis”—
or shelters in a cowshed
from the wolf’s fangs
or in a fissured rock
she builds a bunker
for her still frail fawns
and feeds them with four
[680] udders, or two if Nature
made her more meager.
Being melancholy-less
she enjoys a long life
and occasionally albino,
is worshiped by peoples
like the one who wandered
untied in a hortus conclusus
freed by a Capuan king.
Fame endowed that doe
[690] with golden antlers
and an adorned necklace
though antlers actually,
the deer’s distinguishing
mark, Nature denied to her
while embellishing the males
who renew them regularly;
the old ones fall because
of their weight, the forehead
will acquire a new crown
[700] with one more horn
as each spring appears
(sometimes ivy even
grew on them, Munchausen).
Paradoxically, my Darwin,
Nature gilded with glory
this timorous beast
elegant dandy endowed
with useless artillery.
His heart tho huge-sized
[710] boasts of no boldness
it only contains cowardice;
as in ever-running hares
his blood is poor in fibers
therefore not thick
but resembling milk
not fortified by rennet.
Sometimes however Love—
when the Earth’s womb
opens viridescent, ice
[720] already disappears, snow
makes streams muddy—
encourages the stags
to turn into warriors
and fight in the forests.
Then not only wolves, tigers
bears, dappled bobcats
wild boars (rubbing their ribs
against trunks to shape
a hard armor of mud)
[730] start to roam on heat
but the hind too, unmindful
of her defenseless fawns;
the shyest species are
spurred by sex pangs.
A flaming fury leads
beyond Bithynia, Ida
Euphrates and Taurus
the maniac mothers,
beyond ridges and rivers
[740] crags and rocks
and valleys—not towards
Apollo’s birthplace but
North, West, and whence
Auster saddens the sky.
Does distil a poison
nicknamed “hippomanes
by shepherds, often
reworked by witches
with unholy herbs
[750] and foul formulas.
All-including, the longing
for ones offspring
and mad mating now
physically flares up
and brings up battles
not only between bears
but humble herd leaders.
Observers in suspense
of such cruel contests
[760] between superb stags
are the belles who bet
on the knights more likely
to become their barons;
seconds do not dare
separate the adversaries. 

(SUMMER BREAK: to be continued on Aug. 27)

Friday, July 28, 2017

[GBM] Venus got game

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: Paris is charmed by Venus much more than by the other two goddesses. The general tone of the episode makes us suspect that Venus would "offer herself" to Paris if the myth had not already provided a different solution (Helen).


The shepherd, conquered by her graceful words     parolette (Dante)
and tied and bound by such a great beauty,
on those new, those immortal marvels     "miracles," etymologically
is all intent, spiritless and pulseless.
Love has hit his heart with sweet arrows
and inflamed his chest with sweet sparks,
so that, with deep and broken sighs, he
moans, languishes; and dazed, has no words.     non fa motto (Dante)

- - - - -

SUMMER BREAK, AND BEYOND. Starting from August 29, the posts on Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme Conquistata will be resumed on Tuesdays. As it had been mentioned (here), the final section of the poem is the most actually 'Tassean' of it, with some basic features belonging to his later period, especially the use of long paragraphs stretching beyond the 'borders' of an octave, and the use of a complex language full of difficult phrasings and words, including e.g. place names that are fascinating to listen/read, but boring to trace back. Translating a stanza here and there proved an unsuccessful method. So, a more experimental kind of translation will be adopted from now on -- though less experimental than The 7 Days of CryAction (see) -- choosing the section lengths independently of the octaves, and preserving the 'esotic' sounds without trying to find the English equivalents of those terms by any means. Hope you will enjoy it.

The posts on G. B. Marino's Adone (Adonis) will be regularly published on Fridays, starting from September 1.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

[GBM] Tits and brains

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: Paris 'obviously' grants Minerva the victory, forgetting what he had promised the wife of the supreme god. But 'obviously' the third candidate now talks privately to him: Venus. And she adopts a completely different approach, not trying to frighten him, but, on the contrary, calling him by name as her first word.

2.102, line 1 - 103, line 1

But Love's mother, in whose beautiful face
the three Graces put all of their delights,
turning her eyes⎯ that open heaven on earth⎯      or paradise (paradiso)
towards the boy, now approaches him
and, composing her sweet, serene face
in a mood of joyful friendliness,
she pleasingly looses her language
able to charm the hearts, and says,

"Paris!. . ."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 599-660

from HD Wallpapers (site)

Oh maternal love that
[600] even softens the tigress
who pursuing a prey,
and tired, suddenly turns
back to check her cubs;
she finds the den devoid
of her adored offspring
and springs at full speed
after their kidnapper.
There flees, and swiftly,
the hunter on horseback,
[610] who to save his skin
(no other way works)
with a fiendish fraud
deludes the yellow fury:
he throws a transparent
reflective ball before her
she sees herself and
thinks it’s a tiger cub
so she brakes and tries
to catch her own child,
[620] bring it back home.
She loses a lot of time
because of that bluffer
then runs back in anger
to nab the kidnapper
and she nearly succeeds,
but again he avails
himself of that method
and stops his pursuer.
No oblivion obliterating
[630] her maternal sentiments
she unfortunately surrounds
the diabolical icon
misinterpreting it more.
Her fearful symmetry
loses sons and vengeance
that is always so sweet.
A tiger loves her sons
a lioness loves them also
as well as a wild bear
[640] so its nothing noticeable
if an innocent sheep or
a savagely shy hind love
their newly-born babies.
Among a thousand sheep
a harmless lamb plays
then slinks off the fold
but remembering mom
and desiring a snack
he hurries back home
[650] an udders-addict
even if they prove empty;
even if others are full
he’ll surely skip those tits
for mom’s is the one milk.
And she detects her son
among a thousand others
with senses substituting
the role of reason: senses
maybe more developed
[660] than Aristotelian logic.

(to be continued on July 30)

Friday, July 21, 2017

[GBM] Paris at the Crossroads

by Annibale Carracci, 1596

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: In order to strengthen her candidacy to the Most Beautiful Goddess Prize, Minerva also introduces herself as Virtue in the flesh. As a consequence, Paris -- if we take into consideration his next dialog with Venus -- will find himself in the same position as Hercules at the Crossroads, a major topic in Renaissance art and literature. Juno here can be practically dismissed, as she plays a quite stereotypical role.


"Virtue I am, of whom no mortal ever
saw anything but a picture, a trace.
To you, however, with unveiled rays
I represent its very bodily shape;
whence, if you are wise, you can take
the authentic norm for true beauty
and know on earth, without obfuscation,
what must be followed and worshiped."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

E. T. A. Hoffmann translates Ludovico Ariosto

by Selkis + ilTM

In his experimental novel The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr (1819-21), E. T. A. Hoffmann inserts a stanza from Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (31.1):
Che dolce più, che più giocondo stato
Saria, di quel d’un amoroso core?
Che viver più felice, e più beato,
Che ritrovarsi in servitù d’Amore?
Se non fosse l’huom sempre stimulato
Da quel sospetto rio, da quel timore,
Da quel martìr, da quella frenesia,
Da quella rabbia, detta gelosia

It basically says that nothing would be more pleasant than love if jealousy did not spoil it. Hoffmann himself translates the text into German like this:
Gab's süßres noch, gab's höheres Entzücken,
Als wenn das Herz entbrannt in brünstger Liebe?
Könnt den ein sel'gres Himmelslos beglücken,
Der in des mächtgen Gottes Fesseln bliebe?
Vermöchte nicht den Menschen zu berücken
Der finstre Geist Verdacht, der Furcht Getriebe,
Trostlose Qual, Wahnsinns wuchernder Same,
Der Hölle Furie, Eifersucht ihr Name!

His translation is a bit free and very interesting, especially with reference to lines 3-4. According to a plain English translation, Ariosto's words in fact mean: "What a happier, more blessed life / Than finding oneself in the servitude of Love?" But in Hoffmann's version, "Can a more blessed heavenly lot make him happy, / Who lies in the bonds of the powerful God?" -- that reinterprets the text in the atmosphere of German Romantic culture, and especially of Hoffmann's own worldview, where the "bonds of the powerful God" imply both Cupid and Destiny at the same time. Not to speak of a potential pun, since Himmelslos (heavenly lot) might be mistaken for Himmellos (heavenless).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

[GBM] Wisdom

G. Doré for Poe's Raven

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: Paris promises Juno that he will proclaim her the winner in the beauty contest. But he speaks too early. Minerva also comes and asserts her claims; and more cleverly than Juno-she is the goddess of wisdom, after all-appealing to Paris' qualities, not only her own. 


"You, who own much light in your mind,
you, who esteem valor and courtesy,     from Dante, Purgatorio 16.116
within your wise spirit will examine
all that I am worth, all that I am;
so I cannot but believe that easily
you will make my beauty the winner,
granting me the reverence and right
that I deserve, want, and demand."

 - - - - -

N.B. The posts on Torquato Tasso's 1593 long poem Gerusalemme Conquistata are temporarily suspended because, if we have a look ahead, it becomes clear that the job needs some rethinking. The remaining part of the poem, more or less one third, underwent extended reworking, so that most of the text is completely new, with no parallels in the Gerusalemme Liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered") published in 1581. In order to translate all this into English, a lot of terms and details would need a line-by-line commented edition of GC as a starting point, that is precisely what does NOT exist. Moreover, since Tasso's experimental style in his later works is based on long phrasings, it spoils the effect to choose one stanza at a time (as we awkwardly did in these past weeks); and even worse it would be to simply provide summaries of the episodes. A solution is already taking shape, but we will deal with it next September. For the time being, selected passages from G. B. Marino's Adonis will be posted on both Tuesdays and Fridays. Meanwhile, our free translation of Tasso's poem Il Mondo Creato, called "The 7 Days of CryAction," will keep appearing on Sundays. Many thanks for your attention.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 543-598

How great how grand
how majestic O Master
is your portfolio, full
of infinite wisdom!
We Adam’s descendants
as a biological bonus
have congenital faculties
[550] fixed in the fetus
and exhibited after birth.
No law no folklore no
example samples them
to the simple-minded soul
in its delicate limbs
but its very Will within
stirs and drives it.
Who taught it to hate
the diseases that destroy
[560] humanity, and death,
without texting to it?
No law and no intellect
but she who sweetly
makes us the mentors
of ourselves: Physis.
In this fashion the soul
voluntarily shuns vice
without being warned,
so that seeing sexy Virtue,
[570] Man’s mind falls in love
and flies away from Sin
and hijacks to heaven.
Vice is interior illness
burning with blue desire
while virtue contrariwise
is the heart’s health
firm and unforgetful.
Therefore Astraea is a star,
Prudence praised, Temperance
[580] thanked, and tougher
still is fearless Fortitude
(the fu**er of Fortune)
honored with arches
and altars and temples:
Psyche’s saintly friends
and beauties still better
than physical health.
Children! Respect dad
and let dad do the same,
[590] don’t strain them
for Nature knows better.
If a relentless lioness
loves her children and
a wolf fights for his cubs
till death, can human dads
cruelly despise their kids?
Fierceness, forgetfulness
in the acts of parents?

(to be continued on July 23)