The 7 Days of CryAction

The 7 Days of CryAction
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 5: 537-595

by ilT + Selkis

To be mute doesn’t mean
to be dumb: Dumb is to
withstand the will of
[540] LORD. So listen to the
voice of mute salmons,
whose actions teach to
partake in a pilgrimage
and abandon the bitter
waters for the fresh
(happy like flying a kite)
where the sun is sweet
and evaporation poor.
No smell of money
[550] makes them emigrate
as people do, but positively
the love of offspring.
Besides, Giants in ancient
times existed, now Nature
whelps them no more, why?
Pachyderms and whales
survived though, the work
of divine design, therefore
genuinely good. They
[560] so huge as hills
humble human pride
by frightening our eyes
with their “terribilità
and monstrous mass.
When God gave rise
to so many animals
varied and revolutionary
He made some to Man’s
utility and authority—that’s
[570] seldom soft to bear(s);
some for his own-Herr-ship
to supply us with a sample
of his multitasking tools
and power that pops up
differently here and there.
But Greeks those geeks
turned God’s grand deeds
into a jongleur’s joke
with luminous lies
[580] believing that beyond
Gibraltar some gorgeous
kingdoms and Disney
islands lay; add Ulysses
trip and the tremendous
people-eater Physeter
swallowing whole armies
so its sty-lish stomach
is to enemy nations
a bloody battlefield.
[590] But ships being sunk
by the White Whale
thousands and thousands
is no fairy tale at all,
and no joke was Jonah
gulped by Liopleurodon.

(to be continued on Jan. 29)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner


A second poet now enters this blog to play a major role: Giovan Battista Marino (1569-1625). If bias and prejudice is currently strong against Torquato Tasso, even worse is it against Marino, often reduced to a Baroque chatterbox who wasted a lot of words to talk about frou-frou. In Italian anthologies just some 'harmless,' insignificant passages from his main work, Adone (Adonis), are usually included: the description of a rose, of a nightingale. . .

It should be remembered that he was not simply reproached but officially condemned by the Inquisition, like Galileo Galilei. And why? Because in Adonis there appear some undressed chicks? Literature and art of the time were full of that stuff. We will have to make the Marino Scandal clearer in the next weeks, and months, and years.

Since Adonis is thrice as long as the Divine Comedy, it would be crazy to translate and comment the whole of it. But, very many poignant passages will be selected and examined. So, save the date! Each Friday, Giovan Battista Marino will be waiting for you on these pages. To make you enjoy life. And at the same time, to make you discover that the world is not what it was supposed to be at first sight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (9)

[16: 83, again the Muslim prisoner speaking]

Non v'ha chi sentinelle o guardie faccia
Fra tante schiere, o chi si cinga intorno;
Ma si vanta ciascuno, ciascun minaccia
A' Franchi morte e vergognoso scorno.
Copron le squadre la deserta faccia
De l'ampia terra ovunque appare il giorno,
E 'l gran numero par d'horrida turba
A quelle arene egual ch'Austro perturba.

"No one, over there among so many armies, is on sentry-duty or stands guard, nor does anyone keep ready with a sword; (*) but everyone boasts, everyone threatens death and a shameful defeat to the Franks. The squads cover the desert surface of the wide land everywhere the daylight is spread, and the great number of people in that horrid crowd seems to match the grains of sand whirled by the wind."

(*) Now, disorganized armies do exist, and "the enemy" is, by definition, weaker than "us"; but the first two lines in this description are 'frankly' ridiculous.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 5: 481-536


Not so Adam’s damned
and blasphemous sons.
We change the contracts
and keep occupying
the natives’ inheritance
and building brothels
and wrecking countries
by force and fright.
Cetaceans acknowledged
[490] their natural lots
(and dishes): the deep sea
isle-less beyond inhabited
lands, lacking any
form of terra firma
coasts or canyons,
in unreachable ranches
where no ship should
peep at new peoples
and gain novel glory.
[500] There, no reports
will escort the ship
of human madness.
That very liquid limbo
welcomes Moby Dick
as whalers witnessed,
no island or town there
was destroyed by his
stupendous strength;
there all leviathans
[510] as in a cute quarter
or one’s home town
settle submitting to
Deus and disposition.
Some species expatriate
in self-imposed exile
to go to queer countries;
they start in thousands—
soldiers who at the signal
cross the encampment
[520] following the shofar
in sensible season
awakened by ancient
Nature’s norms and
hasten northwards.
Imagine them dashing
Propontis to Pontus:
Who is their leader?
What king commands?
What browser brings
[530] the iron orders
or pilgrimage plans?
Sanatana Dharma entails
both trifle and Totum,
which herrings don’t err
in obeying while obdurate
Man fights foolishly.

(to be continued on Jan. 22)

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (8)

[16: 82, the captured spy speaks]

Questi, che d'Orïente estremo aggiunse,
Con le sue squadre attendò lunge e 'n disparte,
Perché da gli altri suo valor disgiunse
Lui che stimato è quasi un novo Marte;
Et a' carri falcati ivi congiunse
Destrier che frena con mirabil arte;
E questi ancor da l'indïane selve
Gli elefanti conduce, horride belve.

"This, (*) who came from the farthest East,
Camped with his squadrons far, on his own, since
His strength was kept apart from the others
By him who is considered a new Mars; (**)
And to scythed chariots he also adds
Steeds driven with a wonderful technique;
He, moreover, from the forests of India
Brought the elephants, frightening beasts." (***)

(*) Adrast
(**) Emiren, the general -- fictionally -- sent by the Sultan of Egypt, and the supreme head of the Muslim army in this final stage of battle for Jerusalem. A made-up character.
(***) Elephants were better known in Europe in the Renaissance (when Tasso wrote) than in the Middle Ages (when the story is set), but remained amazing animals anyway.
In the 11th century Islam had started to penetrate some areas of India, but of course Indian Muslims did not take part in the First Crusade! Adrast and his whole army are fictional characters too; we will see what literary sources Tasso drew on to depict this alleged far-eastern leader's intervention in battle.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (7)

[16: 81, the prisoner keeps answering Vafrino's questions]

Di nuovo il timoroso a lui ragiona:
- Fuor di Gaza Emiren gli Eggitii accampa,
Ché di muro o di vallo altra corona
Non voler dice in cui si fugge e scampa.
Arabi, Assiri, Mori ove risuona
Il mar han teso, e dove il lido avampa;
Ma fra terra Altamor co' Persi alberga,
Con gli Indi Adrasto ove il terren più s'erga.

Again the man, frightened, speaks to him:
"Outside Gaza did Emiren set his Egyptians,
Saying he does not wish to leave any wall
Or rampart to which people may escape.
Arabs, Syrians(*), Moors have been positioned
Where the sea resounds and the shore burns;
Altamor and his Persians in the hinterland,
Adrast and his Indians in the mountains."

(*) The text literally says "Assyrians," but the two names were often confused with each other in Medieval and Renaissance descriptions. As this stanza shows, Tasso turns the First Crusade into a sort of First World War, all the more so if we remember that the Crusaders themselves (are here supposed to) come from all Europe, "Vikings" included.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 5: 405-480

from the DantEsq. set (go)


The octopus also uses
deceit. After clinging
to a stone undersea
he quickly takes on
the habitat’s hues;
[410] when a foolish fish
passes by and sees him
as an ordinary rock,
the damage is done.
Analogous are ass-lickers
in the palaces of power
and economy, who echo
the praise to the prodigies
of Fortune and transform
themselves thousandfold
[420] according to occasions
and times and tigers
by modifying moods
and words; with polite
people they play polite
suffering with the suffering
snobbish with the snobbish
adopting the others’ taste.
It is not easy to skip
meeting these managers
[430] and keep safe from
devils in the disguise
of Papal supporters.
Voracious wolves
put on lamb fleece
and look harmless:
Flee flee O friend
unclear connections!
Love Aletheia and
the soul’s innocence
[440] true trustworthiness.
Shape-shifting is the snake
consistently condemned
to slither on the soil.
Reliable are the righteous
just unlike Jacob, and
welcomed by LORD.
Our ambiguous habitat
as well as the wide sea
hosts serpents, Gwoemuls
[450] and monsters roaming
and krill all in the fray
being carefully curbed
by a wise and lawful
government: good
examples shower.
Don’t blame Big Boss
if beings are full of flaws.
Think, first of all, that
to every fish He fixed
[460] its proper place
with borders not to be
trespassed—or seldom—to
occupy private properties.
Inside its own turf does
each clan command.
No surveyor measured
areas or added walls
to their liquid palaces;
everywhere soft-wares
[470] are available
and distinctly destined.
This sea if for such fish
the other for the others,
no rivers no ridges
may halt their armies,
but an inflexible law
assigns harmoniously
nice neighborhoods
where the livin is easy
[480] and food sufficient.

(to be continued on Jan. 15)

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (6)

[77.5-8 and 79, the spy answers Vafrino's questions]

- Nacqui in Cirene appresso il verde Eggitto,
E 'n Grecia fui lunga stagion captivo;
E da l'antica Gaza hor ne venìa,
D'uno essercito a l'altro amica spia.

. . .

Me (disse) l'Admiraglio a questo affanno
Co' suoi doni ha sospinto e con promesse,
Perché brama saper s'ardire havranno
I Franchi d'aspettarlo ov'ei s'appresse
O se, spiegate pur le vele, andranno
Dove è chi fila in aspettando, e tesse:
A riveder ciascun la donna e i figli,
Già stanco de la guerra e de' perigli -.

"I was born in Cyrene(*) near green Egypt, and have long been a captive in Greece; (**) from the ancient Gaza(***) I was now coming as a friendly spy from one army to the other. [. . . ] The Commander(****) pushed me to such a distress with his gifts and promises, since he wishes to learn whether the Franks will dare wait for him if he intervenes, or, after unfurling their sails, will go back to those who spin and weave while waiting for them -- to see again, each one, his own wife and children, as already tired of the war and its dangers."

(*) In Libya.
(**) The Byzantine Empire.
(***) Gaza has always provided the geographical and strategic link between Egypt and the Holy Land.
(****) Emiren, the head of the army -- fictionally, not historically -- sent by the Sultan of Egypt to help the Muslims under siege in Jerusalem. Though entering the stage quite late, Emiren will prove one of the main military leaders in the final phase of the poem.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The future is Utopia _and_ Dystopia


Many features of Renaissance Utopias are reused, more or less parodied, by HP Lovecraft in his short novel At the Mountains of Madness. The dystopian side of it lies in the fact that the superior civilization described in this case belongs to alien entities who conquered Earth some 1,000 millions years ago and, incidentally, did create the first human beings as their food and pastime. But, after all, "Scientists to the last—what had they done that we would not have done in their place? God, what intelligence and persistence! . . .  Radiates, vegetables, monstrosities, star-spawn—whatever they had been, they were men!" No, the true problem is that other cosmic forces finally succeeded in destroying them, and are ready to destroy us.

By the way, have a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

On Christ's Native-E.T.


And this is the interpretation of the picture provided by Mauricio Yushin Marassi of the Italian Zen community La Stella del Mattino ("The Morning Star," see website):
The space full of birds of prey, while Man is in a beam of light on a robotized earth. . .  as if Man were good, and evil "somewhere else."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A great jump forward


In his illustrations for Orlando Furioso, Fabrizio Clerici (see) seems to represent Rodomonte as what we would call an X-Man, a mutant; at least, he makes Rodomonte's body merge biologically with his armor, that is made with the skin of a dragon. This recolored version simply highlights the concept.

What better wish for the new year than to admire a genius being futuristically reinterpreted by another genius? May the Renaissance spur us to a true renaissance.
Have a great 2017!

. . . But, wait, earlier than that, there will appear a Christmas greeting card on December 25.

Fantastic Design and Where to Find It

click to enlarge

Crazy ornaments, both small for the tables and big for the buildings, were a must-have to Renaissance nobles; a task with which great artists were entrusted. All sorts of things could be assembled to make pots, etc., from mold copies of eagle claws to coconuts being labeled as "fossils" to cameos with Biblical or mythological or erotic scenes. The outcome would turn out either refined or kitsch.

An amazing set of modern objects in that line, especially the refined side, can be seen in the book: Cristina Morozzi (ed.), Terrific Design, Milan (Italy): 24 Ore Cultura, 2014, pages 242, euros 45, from which the items in the collage above have been taken. With many thanks to Libreria Bardamù, Perugia.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (5)

[76.1 - 77.4]

Poi che s'avide che non può dar crollo,
Svelle la chioma e la sua nera barba,
Come fa de la menta o del serpollo
Il villan, che cogliendo egli dibarba.
Alfin premendo l'una mano al collo,
Che parea tinto dove nacque Iarba,
Gridò: - Confessa, mentitor fallace,
Il vero a me, se vita brami e pace.

Di' chi sei, donde vieni, ov'era dritto
Dinanzi il tuo corso errante e fuggitivo.
E non mentir, che non sarai trafitto,
E quinci partirai satollo e vivo -.

When he(*) saw that the man could not move, (**)
He tore off his hair and his black beard,
As with a plant of mint or wild thyme
A farmer does when he uproots them.
Then pressing one hand against his neck,
That looked as dark as in Iarbas' birthplace, (***)
Vafrino cried, "Treacherous liar, confess
The truth now, if you love life and peace!
Who are you, whence do you come, and where
Did your wandering, fleeing route lead?
Do not lie, for you will not be slain,
Yeah, you will leave sated and alive."

(*) Vafrino
(**) The Italian phrasing echoes Dante, Inferno 25: 9.
(***) Iarbas was a North African king mentioned in the Iliad. The definition of Africa as "the land of Iarbas" comes from Dante, Purgatorio 31: 72, where Iarba already rhymed with barba (beard) and dibarba (uproots), but here Dante's "strong oaks" are replaced with humble herbs. In the third line, the unusual form serpollo instead of serpillo (wild thyme) is due to the needs of rhyming. Tasso's love for plants and their uses emerges in his contemporary long poem Il Mondo Creato.

Christmas break: The GC posts will restart on January 7.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 5: 344-404

by ilT + Selkis

All the more so with Man:
corporations controlling
humble people heavily
drink Dracula-wise
the blood of buyers.
Is a soul stimulated
[350] greedily towards gold
different in depth from
Leviathan that hunts
thousands of tiny fish
to fill its own flesh?
New blasphemous Ahabs
dispossess the poor and—
you enjoy the exile’s
goods, you now gnaw
old spoils shamelessly
[360] adding to you account
such past usurpation
and proving a pig worse
than the primal pig.
Therefore mind the doom
that falls on the fish
preying on its peers:
hook or net or bow-net.
You won’t avoid after
so many misdeeds
[370] a punishment proper
that looms like a lasso.
Of a small crustacean
learn the subtle traps
and be free from fraud:
The crab craves for
the shell’s sweet pulp
a very precious prey
since a hard defense
was given her by God
[380] with vigorous valves
that shut super-strongly
and neutralize nippers.
But if the sea’s smooth
in sunny serene weather
the relaxing rays are
loved by the she-shell
who opens up, and lo!
he throws a stone inside
and makes her harmless
[390] so shrewdness wins
where weakness cannot.
Odi malizia” of a man
unjust and unrefined
silently fraudulent!
If you aim at the art
of acquiring, avoid
bothering your brother.
Shun damned souls
be content with things
[400] provided by poverty
without humiliating honors
or pompous pride:
Master your own mind
that’s more than America.

(Christmas break: to be continued on Jan. 8)

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (4)

[16: 75]

Ma di creder Vafrino anco s'infinge,
Sin ch'ebro il vede e di parlar già stanco,
E sovra l'herba, che l'humor dipinge,
Posare il capo non ch'il tergo o il fianco,
E chiuder gli occhi gravi: allhor gli scinge
La spada, che pendeva al lato manco,
E mentre il sonno più l'affrena e lega,
Egli co 'l proprio cinto anco il rilega.

But Vafrino makes as if he believed him,
Until he sees him drunk and tired of talking;
On the grass -- red with wine -- the man finally
Lays his head, not only his back and hips,
And shuts his drowsy eyes. Vafrino unfastens
The man's sword, that hung on his left side, 
And when sleep dominates him wholly,
Ties him strongly by using his own belt. (*)

(*) In the final printed version, the text is slightly different, and specifies that Vafrino ties the man by using "his own and other belts," probably because one belt would not suffice. At the same time, it is not clear whence these other belts come.
The man, as it has become clear by now, is a Muslim spy -- though a very bad Muslim (he drinks a lot of wine) and a very bad spy! A poor devil, after all. His story will presently confirm the impression.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fab and Furious

British knights look,
amazed, at the Hippogriff

The Battle of Lampedusa
(3 Christians vs. 3 Muslims)

The search for the [almost] complete catalog of Fabrizio Clerici's illustrations for Ariosto's Orlando Furioso has proved successful, at last! The book, published in 1981 after an exhibition in Bologna (Italy), includes 158 ink and watercolor pictures made in 1964-67, that cover basically the whole poem while summarizing the whole of Clerici's career. The references to art history and other literary sources also are many, but the main influences apparently come from the drawings -- not the paintings -- by Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Füssli/Fuseli, possibly Picasso too (especially the Vollard Suite), as well as comics, children's books, pulp novels, and illustrated magazines.

This album can be listed, imho, among the greatest achievements in the history of illustration, together with William Blake's works for Paradise Lost, Salvador Dali's for Don Quixote, Gustave Dore's for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Renato Guttuso's for Les Misérables, Beppe Madaudo's for the Divine Comedy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (3)

[16: 73]

Greco d'esser dicea, che già molti anni
Guerreggiato ha co' Franchi in Asia, e vinto;
E i rischi de la guerra, e i lunghi affanni,
Dal primo egli narrava all'anno quinto.
Guata Vafrino il viso, i modi e i panni,
Né presta intera fede al parlar finto;
E mentre l'un contrario e l'altro accoppia,
S'accorge ben che quella fraude è doppia.

A Greek, he said he was; who many years now
Had fought with the Franks in Asia, (*) and won;
And the perils of war and wearing times
He recounted, from year one to the fifth.
Vafrino inspects his face, manners, clothes, (**)
And does not believe his false words at all,
But by comparing one side and its contrary (***)
He well understands there's a double fraud.

(*) Asia Minor, current Turkey; the self-styled Byzantine soldier says he fought against the Muslims in his own country when the Crusaders, called collectively "Franks," passed through it coming from Western Europe.
(**) The same method that will be adopted by Sherlock Holmes.
(***) Echoing Dante, Purgatorio 16: 57.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Learning Latin with the Renaissance method



There is a place where reading and speaking Latin and Greek is taught as it was in the Renaissance: through music! An alternative, exciting, easy, and working method. It is the international Accademia Vivarium Novum (website), whose current headquarters is in the wonderful Falconieri Villa in Frascati, Italy, near Rome. The building dates back to the 16th century, although it has been reworked in the following centuries, as usual.

If you happen to visit it, you may feel thrilled and moved by listening to a girl who sings Dido's last words in the Aeneid according to a melody that is very likely to match the original Latin music. Or, you may have a Mexican student, a discipulus de Nova Hispania as a tour guide, who tells you about the place's history in Latin. Well, tour guides are called ciceroni in Italian, after the name of the Roman orator and philosopher whose Villa lay in the very neighborhood of the Falconieris'.

The founder of Vivarium Novum, Luigi Miraglia, invested all of his (noteworthy) financial means and his (noteworthy) talents to start this project. Erchou kai ide!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 5: 271-343

by Selkis + ilT

But the feeble fisher
by the Mar Tirreno
or Adriatic, Aegean
Caspian, Euxinus Sea
or Red Sea or Ocean
in northern Europe
and islands and India
who grew hoary on
the most solitary sands
[280] roving on the rocks
with his hook and net—
could he ever recount
the thousands of types
of the slippery progeny
the numberless amount
of scaly ways of life
all around Arda?
Some species in Egypt
others in the Eritrean Sea
[290] or Caspian or Persian
or at Atlas’ slopes
or at Indus’ mouth
may appear like aliens
or perplexing pilgrims.
How many are made by
the Ocean beneath Ursa
or on the opposite side
that resemble monsters!
But they all developed
[300] from the one Voice
who promoted plurality.
Some initially lay eggs
though without brooding
nor composing a nest
not fishing for food
but the water welcomes
and fortifies fries.
Some are viviparous:
differently from mules
[310] and many hybrid birds
their purest progeny
spreads forever fertile
through lawful loves.
Rules are rules: Although
morays mate with snakes,
the latter leaves its poison
otherwise the former flees.
No family of fish has
teeth in one sole section
[320] of their poor palates
like goats and oxen;
no fish—many think
ruminates replete,
except for scarus.
They all show saw-
like teeth in two rows
and different diets:
slime or fungi or algae
sea or swamp weeds
[330] or by the riverbeds.
Some believe in the bait
put by human hands,
fond of man’s food—
of lethal hidden hooks.
Most of them however
destroy one another:
To be small is to be meal.
But often opportunely
the proud predator will
[340] find a bigger fiend
try to vanish in vain
and be inexorably eaten,
two titbits in one belly.

(to be continued on Dec. 18)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tasso Art: Edoardo Matania

Mission: Not Impossible

Erminia's self-investiture
[Nicaea's, in G. Conquistata]

Crusaders were not saints

The illustrations of Edoardo Matania for Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) were first published in 1895, not by chance in the 300th anniversary of Tasso's death. Though less original and powerful than Gustave Doré, Matania was more technically skilled, and his engravings stand out for their style, refinement, and historical accuracy.

Noticeably, here the 11th century Crusaders are not armored like Renaissance knights. As for the clothing and architecture in Muslim countries, in European art history there had developed a true mania during the 19th century, see Eugène Delacroix.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (2)

During a stop in his journey, the Christian spy Vafrino meets a strange guy.

[16: 70]

Quindi mentre prendea posa e restauro,
Meschiando il vin di Creta e l'onda fresca
E, sibilar udendo il pino e 'l lauro,
Dava al corpo digiuno humore ed esca,
Vi giunse huom di color sembiante al mauro,
A cui par che 'l vïaggio homai incresca;
Ma l'habito avea greco e l'idïoma,
E come greco lunga e culta chioma.

While he here took a break and refreshment,
Blending the wine of Crete with fresh water (*)
And, listening to pines and laurels that whistled, (**)
He gave his body something to eat and drink,
There came a man whose skin was like the Moors',
Apparently tired of his own long travel;
But Greek were his garments and language,
And his hair, long and combed as the Greeks have. (***)

(*) In past times, wine was quite thick, and had to be watered down before drinking it. Greek wines were renowned, and Tasso was a connoisseur.
(**) A Tassean touch in the landscape.
(***) What have today become folkloric costumes were the actual garments of peoples. "Greek" here means "from the Byzantine Empire."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

If Donald Trump could see this!

click to enlarge

In this world map of 1548, the territory of the current USA is shown as an extension of China, and honorably so.

The map, drawn by Iacopo Gastaldi, was included in an edition of Ptolemy's Geography printed in Venice, the publisher G. B. Pederzano. Source: Isabella Pezzini (ed.), Exploratorium. Cose dell'altro mondo, Milan (Italy): Electa, 1991, pages 228, full of pictures. The very interesting essays in the book deal with the time period between the late Middle Ages and the 19th century, with the Renaissance obviously as the key focus. Cose dell'altro mondo literally means "things of the other world," but it is a common phrase referring to something unexpected and shocking.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (1)

The Crusaders decide to send a spy to the Muslim camp: Vafrino, a squire of Tancred.
The episode was set in another section in Gerusalemme Liberata (cantos 18-19), and was quite different in its developments. In both versions, however, Vafrino starts by disguising himself as a Muslim, or rather, as Arabs often appear in modern children's books, stickers and comics.

As it can be inferred from other episodes in the Jerusalem-poems as well as from other works by Tasso, he loved detective stories. The major example is in Gerusalemme Liberata, canto 8, when false clues make some Crusaders believe that the knight Rinaldo has been murdered by order of no less than Godfrey of Bouillon. The parallel episode in the Conquistata (where Rinaldo has been changed into Riccardo) has, unfortunately, not been dealt with in our posts because it belongs to the part missing in the manuscript.


[16: 67.5 - 68.8]

Così parla Vafrino, e non trattiensi,
Ma cangia in lunga vesta il suo farsetto
E scopre ignudo il nero collo, e prende
Sottili e 'ntorno al capo attorte bende.

La faretra s'adatta e l'arco siro,
E barbarico sembra ogni suo gesto.
Maravigliosi ragionar l'udîro,
E 'n sì diverse lingue esser sì presto
Ch'eggittio in Menfi o pur fenice in Tiro
L'havria creduto e quel popolo e questo.
Egli se 'n va sovra un destrier ch'à pena
Segna correndo la più molle arena.

So speaks Vafrino, then does not tarry, and
His doublet replaces with a long garment;
He shows a black neck naked, then wears
A long, thin cloth all around his head;
Arranges a quiver, a Syrian bow,
All his gestures now recall the heathens'.
All were amazed while listening to him,
So skilled in so many different languages
That he could have passed for an Egyptian
In Memphis, a Phoenician in Tyre.
He goes, riding a horse who hardly leaves
A print on the finest sand by galloping.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 5: 202-270



Dolphins talk as have
both blood and lung
but no tongue to
shape their sounds.
There snort in sleeping
some slippery fish or
armored arachnids too,
even without eyelids
[210] to be lowered on
their tired sight;
but their relaxed rest
with swinging tails
informs the fisher
who won’t harpoon
but can catch them
and regularly ransacks
sea rocks and sands
to seize the specimens
[220] secretly sleeping.
Using sharpened iron
Sparus, Perca are caught:
deep in their Dormitio
they will hardly wake up,
sleep passes into death
from slight to endless sleep
almost inadvertently.
Dolphins and tremendous
whales while sleeping
[230] set on the surface
their spouting spiracles
and fluctuate on fins.
At dead of night rather
than any other time fish
sleep—easy in summertime—
when herds are reared
by Proteus in his ponds:
Pistrices and sharks
whose bed is weeds
[240] snore sonorously
with their chef-herd
who counted sea sheep.
But old fables fit better
somewhere else. I won’t
argue about Arion who
was helped by a dolphin;
nor deal with the love of
a bottle-nose for a boy
whose death destroyed it
[250] and defeated by grief
it passed away on sand.
If we refuse faith to
such tales, let us trust
Natural History where
piety is pedagogically
foretasted by fish.
Dolphins have udders
to breast-feed babies,
their wombs welcome back
[260] a son who seeks
shelter there when the sea
is darn dangerous.
Growing up sub gurgite
the son learns to swim
not afraid of foam
taught by his daddy
the signal of sailors,
so that seamen foresee
the War of the Winds
[270] and quit their cruise.

(to be continued on Dec. 11)

Friday, December 2, 2016

The ancestor of NSA (5)

[16: 62, Godfrey speaks]

Scenderan (se fia d'uopo) incontra gli empi
Angeli amici da' stellanti chiostri,
A' quai non son l'hore prescritte o i tempi,
Com' a noi tutti et a' nemici nostri.
Liberarem la città sacra e i tempi,
E cadranno d'Egitto i feri mostri;
E fia di varie genti e d'una terra
Vittoria integra in glorïosa guerra.

"Against the impious, if needed, there will
Come friendly angels from the starry courts(*) --
To whom hours and times are not prescribed
As they are to us all and our enemies. (**)
We will free the Holy City and temples,
And the fierce monsters of Egypt (***) will fall;
And out of many peoples and one land
Full victory will rise in a glorious war."

(*) Literally "cloisters," a metaphor often used by Tasso.
(**) The angels will be able to intervene at any time, and immediately so, not needing to prepare equipments, etc. The predicament of humans is hard and tiring, to whatever religion they belong.
(***) The umbrella concept of "paganism" makes Tasso shamelessly mix up Islam and the religion of Ancient Egypt. He deals more diffusely with the monsters/gods of Egypt in his long poem Il Mondo Creato, on which he was working at the same time as he edited the Jerusalem-poem. This octave, anyway, provides a fine example of Baroque imagery and rhetoric.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The ancestor of NSA (4)

Jerusalem in Gustave Dore's illustrations
for Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso

Godfrey of Bouillon comments on the intercepted message with his knights.

[16: 61]

Ma qual d'aquila volo, o di colomba,
Veloce è come la celeste aita?
Qui dove hebbe il Figliol tormenti e tomba
Aspettar noi debbiam vittoria e vita.
Né vi turbi il romor, ch'alto rimbomba,
D'innumerabil turba o d'infinita:
Ché nostre fian le lor sì care salme,
E cresceranno a voi trïonfi e palme.

"But what flight of an eagle or a dove 
Is so rapid as the heavenly help?
Here, where the Son(*) had sufferings and grave,
We must expect both victory and life.
Don't be afraid of the resounding noise
Of their countless, even endless army:
Ours will be, in the end, their dearest spoils, (**)
Your triumphs and trophies will keep increasing."

(*) "Jesus" in the final printed version. The octave had undergone a thorough editing already in the manuscript. "Life" in the following line does not only refer to the Christian knights' success in the war but also to their eternal reward in heaven. And once in a while, the reason of the whole crusade is recalled: the reconquest of the Holy Sepulcher.
(**) The city of Jerusalem with its holy places.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Clerici vagantes

From left: Astolfo, Saint John,
the magic shield, and the Hippogriff

Pope Alexander VI
(Rodrigo Borgia)

One of the most interesting artists who illustrated some of the 'greatest hits' of the Renaissance was Fabrizio Clerici (1913-1993). Usually considered the main exponent of Italian Surrealism, he in fact had only some points in common with that movement. A very cultured man, an old-fashioned aristocrat as well as an independent and revolutionary artist -- snubbed by the leading official criticism both during and after the Fascist Era -- Clerici was therefore a Renaissance personage himself, in a way. He worked nonetheless as a painter, illustrator, and set designer up until his last days, thanks to a sufficient number of people all over the world who believed in his talent. He illustrated Leonardo Da Vinci's animal tales in 1945, The Prince by Machiavelli in 1961, and Ariosto's Orlando Furioso in 1965, always skipping commonplace and offering powerful, intelligent, experimental and multidisciplinary versions of the texts.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The 7 Days of CryAction 5: 143-201

by ilT + Selkis
from the "DantEsq." set

Speechless species
and selfish are fish
impossible pets to be
carefully cuddled,
only occasionally
endowed with some
unusual sounds or
[150] even with voice
or a clumsy language
to express experiences.
Too slow is their spirit
unable is their lung
wet is their windpipe,
their speech is shaped
solely in their throat:
tongue and teeth are
needed, otherwise no
[160] concept can come.
Otherwise sounds shatter
as in the bees band
wound round their waists
that spoils the spirit
in Antinfernal anguish.
Other bugs break their
breath in that band
and sing wing-songs
so the forests are full
[170] of cicada jazz swing.
But in the fish family
scaly or crustaceans
some have no sound
some snort or shriek
and the water whirrs;
such concerts caused
the lyre-fish’s fame.
Pecten creaks as well
as the sea swallow,
[180] both fly high above
the waters with wings.
Aspropotamus River
hosts an abyssal boar
and the creek cuckoo
lullabies like the bird
but that’s no true voice
it’s merely the outcome
of grossly shaped gills.
More truly talkative is
[190] the half-fishy frog
the star of swamps
with lung and tongue
perfectly formed:
the former as in a fish
the latter (its clapper)
sticks to its throat.
Frogs frequently hoot
as hot fish also do,
a Cupid call by which
[200] males fu** females
their sweet spouses.

(to be continued on Dec. 4)