SeeStan ChapLee

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tolkien, "The Fall of Arthur" 4: 15-35a

L'alba sorse di soppiatto;   sulle facce scure
delle montagne millenarie   rivolte a levante
lampeggiò la luce.  La terra tutta scintillava.
E venne splendido il sole.   L'Aurora d'argento
emerse dal mare,   ascendendo abbacinante
per il cielo scoperto,   così blu e sublime.
I raggi attraversavano   obliqui le radure,
diagonali danzanti   nella fosca foresta;
gocce piovane percorrevano   foglie fruscianti
cadendo poi cristalline  come biglie.
Belve basite,   cinciallegre in ascolto.
Lenti come lupi   che battono i boschi,
cavalcavano accorti   i cacciatori di Mordred;
massicci, affamati   mastini li accompagnavano
fiutando le péste,   abbaiando feroci.
Cercavano la Regina   con freddo rancore,
ma li deluse la speranza   tra pietraie spaesate
e fecero stop, insoddisfatti,   sotto le colline
granitiche del Galles.   La guerra alle spalle,
buio in Britannia.   Il vento era stravolto,
Mordred mordeva il freno.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The reasons of the heart (5)

[7: 80]

Ama et arde, la misera, e sì poco
In tale stato che sperar le avanza
Che nudrisce nel sen l'occulto foco
Di memoria vie più che di speranza;
E quanto è chiuso in più secreto loco
Tanto ha l'incendio suo maggior possanza.
Ma di novo destò la dolce speme
Quando vide i nemici accolti insieme.

She loves and burns -- the poor girl -- and so few
Reasons of hope are left in such a condition
That she inwardly harbors the hidden fire
Of memory much more than of hope;
And insofar her fire is kept in the most
Secret place, more and more powerful it grows. (*)
But again she reawakened her sweet hopes
When she saw the two adversaries meet.

(*) Freud will agree, in describing the effects of the unconscious.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Muppet Renaissance

art by Bruce McNally

The cult animation movie The Dark Crystal, 1982:
written by David Odell
directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz   e scusate se è poco
set design by Brian Froud   e scusate se è poco
produced by Jim Henson and Gary Kurtz

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, things were basically the same as on our planet during the Renaissance. Just, this time -- unlike in Ariosto's, Tasso's, and Camões' poems, but like in Milton -- the story is told not from the point of view of European conquerors, but of Native American victims. The other Renaissance ingredients are not missing: experimental science (used for the benefit of the powerful), the search for the elixir of life, fierce social competition, luxury, slavery, astronomy, magic (both evil and good), the charm of uncontaminated Nature, young heroes of both sexes who accomplish the enterprise.

TRIBUTES, see links:
1. Skeksis
2. urRu
3. Gartim
4. Landstrider
5. Gelfling
6. urSkek

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tolkien, "The Fall of Arthur" 4: 1-14

4. Arthur torna, e guadagna la spiaggia grazie a Gawain


Ululavano i lupi   ai bordi della boscaglia;
alberi arruffati dal vento   singhiozzavano storti
e le foglie in fuga,   smarrite senza casa,
mulinavano fino a morire   in valli lontane.
Scura correva la strada   per umide insenature
tra colline crescenti   abbracciate dalla bruma,
fino ai fortini del Galles   che occhieggiavano a ovest,
scabri e scuri in faccia.   Verso monti color carbone
cavalieri acceleravano,   senza incidere tracce
sulle pietraie spaesate.   Acque assordanti
precìpiti dalle cime,   schiumanti nell'oscurità,
essi sentirono nel tragitto   verso il regno celato.
Cadde la cortina notturna.   Il clop-clop dei cavalli
smoriva nel silenzio   in quella dimora d'ombre.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The reasons of the heart (4)

[7: 79]

In Èlia venne, e qui Nicea raccolta
Dal gran Tiranno fu del Regno hebreo.
Ma de la madre sua, ch'ancisa e tolta
Le fu da morte, pianse il caso reo;
Né 'l dolersi per lei ch'era sepolta
Né l'essiglio infelice unqua poteo
Spegner favilla in lei di tanta fiamma,
Ond'ella si consuma a dramma a dramma.

To Aelia(*) Nicaea came, received here by
The great Tyrant of the Hebrew kingdom. (**)
She then mourned the sad end of her mother,
Who was killed, and taken away by death;
But, nor her sorrow for her buried mother,
Nor her unhappy exile ever succeeded (***)
In extinguishing a spark of that huge fire
By which she was consumed inch by inch. (****)

(*) Aelia Capitolina, the name the Romans had given Jerusalem after conquering, destroying, and rebuilding it.
(**) That is, Emir Ducat, the current Muslim king of the formerly Hebrew land. To call him a "tyrant" is mere war propaganda.
(***) The structure of these two verses echoes Dante, Inferno 26: 94-96.
(****) Literally, "drachm by drachm," from Dante, Purgatorio 30: 46-48, where the word dramma already rhymed with fiamma (flame, fire).

In general: In Gerusalemme Conquistata Tasso modifies Nicaea's story quite radically -- starting from the name: she was called Erminia in Gerusalemme Liberata. Tasso however does not modify the whole plot accordingly, so that the Conquistata is affected by several inconsistencies. For example, here Nicaea mourns her mother, but she will not even meet her father, the powerful Turkish king and knight Solyman, who also lives in Jerusalem now. The reason is that in the Liberata Solyman was not her father, so no relation between them was needed. As a paradoxical consequence, in the final part of the poem, Nicaea will mourn Argantes' death, not her father's.
Gerusalemme Liberata had been praised for its 'compactness' against the puzzling maze of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso. In the Conquistata, Tasso -- as a true Renaissance author -- concludes that consistency is not a fitting key to "re-present" life, least of all in his own worldview.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Interview with the top fantasy artist in Italy

Paolo Barbieri's illustrated book L'Inferno di Dante (see) is a gold mine: the more you examine it, the more you will come across intriguing details, in a perfect balance between high fidelity to Dante's text and personal reinterpretation. He kindly accepted to answer some questions:

Some sort of alien entity seems to be exploding out of Minos' head . . . ?
"As a matter of fact, it is a sort of crown that merges into one with Minos' head -- it might be called biomechanical, although there's nothing truly mechanical to it. My 'game' in this picture is precisely that of letting readers free to interpret it."

The Irascible: There is a strange rock on the left, like a Leviathan surfacing.
"Yeah, I applied this method wherever possible, that is, to create a sense of mystery in the very settings. Are those mere rocky formations? Or fossilised monsters? Or what?"

Lucifer is three-faced. Or, are they just masks? Other eyes, Gigerian or Lovecraftian eyes, can be seen between them.
"Ditto. I tried to add mystery to mystery -- or, to horror. Your remarks confirm that it worked."

Last but not least, Barbieri provided a 'map' to identify the demons who (pretend to) escort Dante and Virgil in Inferno 21-22. His apparently fanciful renditions are accurately based on Dante's hints:


Un(s)even: A rare subject

(a detail)

An unusual view of Tasso on Jesus Christ concerns the seventh day of creation, the day of God's rest, interpreted as a prophecy that God would became man and share our need for sleep. It is not clear whether Tasso found this idea in some author, e.g. among Church Fathers, etc., but it surely fitted his own experience. "Jesus sleeping" is a rare subject in art, the masterpiece in this field being probably William Blake's illustration for Milton's Paradise Regained. In art, Jesus' sleep usually concerns the 'symbolic' episode in which he rests while the disciples' ship is threatened by a storm on the Lake of Galilee. In a Roman Catholic devotional trend that developed from the Baroque Era, but now almost disused, the "Infant Jesus sleeping" was often portrayed.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tolkien, "The Fall of Arthur" 3: 193-228

Spuntò un sole sfocato.   Su spiagge grigiastre
la spuma scintillava   fioca e fantasmatica;
diminuiva la marea,   smoriva la tempesta.
La luce balzò su   dalle lunghe ombre
e deambulando sull'acqua   accendeva le onde
come cristallo con   sfumature smeraldo-argentee.
In sonno pesante   davanti al davanzale
languiva Lancelot,   solitario e sognante,
col capo reclinato   contro la svelta vetrata.
Poi aprì gli occhi   alle prime luci del giorno:
il vento virava ancora   per il vasto cielo
aleggiando lassù,   ma sull'umile terra
era piombata la pace.   Le polle riflettevano
l'astro angolatissimo,   screziate d'argento;
asperso dalle acque,   il mondo ammiccava;
allodola chiamava allodola   tutta allegra.
Gli crebbe il cuore   come se un gran peso
fosse svanito.   In piedi,  senza compagnia,
con l'oro dell'aurora   che gli ornava il viso,
sentì risorgere   un canto a lungo sepolto
che echeggiava nel cuore   come un arpeggio.
E là Lancelot,   piano piano, sottovoce,
cantando a sé solo,   salutò il sole:
dal buio, abbagliante   saliva la Vita
nella cupola del cielo,   schivando la Morte.
Sì, i tempi trascorrevano,   mutavano le maree,
sui colli rischiarati   la Speranza correva
a svegliare gli stanchi,   ora e per sempre.
Lancelot non capì l'ora:   mai più quell'ora
sarebbe sopraggiunta,   tonante di tempesta,
chiamando alla guerra   con gli squilli del vento.
I fiotti della Fortuna   rifluivano all'indietro,
la piena era passata   scivolando via in silenzio.
Lo chiamava la Morte,   il giorno del tramonto
oltre il limitare del tempo,   per mai più tornare
sui sentieri dei vivi,   né ora né per sempre.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

La rabbia esaudita: Obama



Qui verrà collocata la

statua colossale della

Technike alata,

dieci volte più

grande della Libertà.




*

Friday, May 22, 2015

The reasons of the heart (3)

[7: 78]

Così, se 'l corpo libertà rihebbe,
Fu l'alma in dura servitute astretta.
Ben molto a lei d'abbandonare increbbe
Il signor caro e la prigion diletta;
Ma la regia honestà, che mai non debbe
Da magnanima donna esser negletta,
La costrinse a partirsi, e con l'antica
Madre ricoverossi in terra amica.

So, if her body regained its freedom,
Her soul was reduced to harsh slavery.
She regretted much to have to leave
Her dear lord and her beloved jail;
But royal decency, which must never
Be neglected by a magnanimous lady,
Forced her to go. With her old mother,
She then took shelter in a friendly land.


Notes
Nicaea's torments of love are described by resorting to typical late Medieval and Renaissance paradoxes. Such commonplace, however, acquires a stronger significance in Tasso, who had spent seven years in hard prison.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tolkien, "The Fall of Arthur" 3: 174-192

Però non pervenne   chiamata da Corte
né appello dall'amata.   Solo il vento veleggiò
sulle ampie acque,   irato e indifferente.
Ora la gloria di Gawain   -- che cavalcava dorata
come il sole verso ovest,   scaldando il mondo
prima di tuffarsi, rosso,   all'orlo dell'oceano --
abbagliava Arthur;   e l'Oriente si oscurava.
Guinever, acquattata   nelle grigie ombre,
a occhi aperti attendeva,   mentre il mondo tremava;
sempre più cupa di cuore   nell'agonia della gioia,
soppesava i pericoli   morbosa-mente,
e le speranze schiantate,   considerando come
plasmare le Parche dei maschi   ai propri fini.
Proprio allora Lancelot   oltre leghe di mare
guardava e rimuginava,   solo soletto,
con cuore dubbioso.   Era calata la notte.
Lui lasciò lì il corno,   non chiamò eserciti;
ponderò, e non partì.   Il vento ululava,
le torri fremettero,   scosse dalla tempesta.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The reasons of the heart (2)

[7: 77]

L'honorò, la servì, di libertate
Accrebbe il dono il cavaliero egregio,
E tutte da lui fûro a lei lasciate
Le gemme e l'oro e ciò che vale il pregio.
Ella, veggendo in giovenile etate
E 'n leggiadri sembianti animo regio,
Restò presa d'Amor, che mai non strinse
Laccio di quel più fermo onde lei cinse.

The noble knight honored and served her,
Then added freedom also to his gifts;
He left her all her jewels, and the gold,
As well as everything else that is precious. (*)
Seeing such a royal attitude in such
A young age and such a graceful countenance,
She was caught by Love, (**) who never tightened (***)
A stronger lace than this, which bound her so.

(*) Hinting at Nicaea's "integrity."
(**) Cupid
(***) The Italian wording echoes Dante, Inferno 5: 127, the well known episode of Francesca Da Rimini. The real Tancred was a bit less chaste than his literary version.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Off Topic: Certa gente è come la gramigna

by no less than Jack Kirby

Tolkien, "The Fall of Arthur" 3: 158-173

Metà e metà,   sperava e scongiurava
che giungesse la chiamata,   il chiaro ordine
a rinnovellare la sua leale   alleanza al Re:
di lui, Lancelot,   al suo sovrano Arthur.
In quella giunta, a Guinever   ripensò rammaricato.
Era buio in Britannia,   si gridava alla guerra;
se la Regina risolutamente   restava fedele,
correva pesanti pericoli.   Lui l'amava alla follia.
Sì, adirata lei lo aveva lasciato,   priva di pietà,
sdegnando i suoi sentimenti   algida e altera,
ma la amava alla follia.   All'arrivare del pericolo,
se lei mandasse messaggi,   svelto, entusiasta
contro scrosci e cavalloni   al suono di chiarine
lui passerebbe lo Stretto,   snudando la spada
nel regno in rovina   per la battaglia estrema,
supplicato dalla sovrana,   pur rigettato dal Re.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

La rabbia esaudita: Scienza e fede



«Eppur si muove!»

gridò il Galileo indicando

la sagoma oscillante

di Lazzaro che

usciva dal sepolcro.




*

Friday, May 15, 2015

THE Knight

by ilT + Selkis

One of the most interesting shifts from Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata to its remake, the Conquistata, concerns the main hero, originally called Rinaldo, then Riccardo (Richard). And while his weapons in GL consisted in a classic enchanted armor of fantasy literature, in GC it turns into a high-tech, super-powered, sci-fi device, quite like Iron Man's. The far source is Achilles in the Iliad, but reinterpreted in a very modern key.

This illustration was first published in the US anthology Emanations: Third Eye, International Authors, 2013. Indirectly, with a tribute to Go Nagai's space knight Duke Fleed, aka Actarus.

THE Dragon


Glaurung, from JRR & Christopher Tolkien's Tale of the Children of Húrin.

Lineart by ilT., colors and background by Selkis.

The reasons of the heart (1)

The duel between Tancred and Argantes is suspended because night approaches. They will resume it tomorrow. Meanwhile, both peoples make predictions. Tasso now focuses on Nicaea [she was called Erminia in Gerusalemme Liberata], the Muslim princess who, quite surprisingly, roots for Tancred, not for Argantes. And the reason is that . . .

[7: 76]

E sta sospeso in aspettando il male,
De la crudel tenzone al fine intento,
E se 'l furore a la virtù prevale
O se cede la rabbia a l'ardimento.
Ma più di ciascun altro a cui ne cale
Nicea n'ebbe pensiero, anzi tormento,
Perché da lui, dopo l'alta ruina
Del regno, ella hebbe honor d'alta regina.

They remain on edge, expecting the worse,
Trying to guess the end of the cruel combat;
And whether fury may prevail on valor,
Or vice versa, rage must give in to courage.
More than any other caring about it,
Nicaea is worried, much troubled indeed,
Since, after the deep ruin of her kingdom,
By him (*) she was honored like a high queen.

(*) Tancred. He was not mentioned in the previous stanza, so his name must be mentally integrated by following logic -- or rather, the heart.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Un(s)even: Another Day in Paradise

(cropped)

During the Middle Ages, the Earthly Paradise was 'described' in fictional adventures, including Dante's Purgatorio, or Biblical commentaries, rather than actually looked for. Renaissance explorations seemed to offer the thrilling opportunity to discover the true Eden. It was identified either with central Africa at the sources of the Nile (see Ariosto's Orlando Furioso), or with certain islands in the Atlantic Ocean, especially the Canary, or with America itself, or -- in the opposite direction, as Vasco Da Gama does in Camões' poem The Lusiads -- India. In Il Mondo Creato, Tasso lists some further hypotheses about the place of Eden: Does it simply mean the whole Earth? Or, was it that "third heaven" to which St. Paul was 'abducted'? Or, the Moon? Only Milton, in Paradise Lost, maintains that Paradise is lost forever, and for a long time now, having been destroyed by the Flood.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Everlasting landscapes


Paolo Barbieri's Inferno (Milan: Arnoldo Mondadori, 2012) provides not only a modern and powerful rendering of Dante's nightmares, but also a set of illustrations on subjects that are ubiquitous in mythology and fantasy literature and art, from ancient Greeks to the Renaissance, like Cerberus, the Minotaur, dragons, etc. His awesome landscapes, moreover, would be perfect to represent such Tolkenian places as Menegroth, Angband, or Gorgoroth.

Somebody to Love


Torquato Tasso, Rime amorose [Love Poems], Milan: Società Editrice Sonzogno, 1909, pages 104, cm 11 x 17. The price was 30 cents, N.B. not 30 cents of one Euro, but of one lira, that would currently mean some 0.02 cents of one US dollar.

A brief but significant selection. Just, as a clear example of how deeply biased Italian criticism is towards our poet, the editor in the foreword starts by maintaining that he can freely omit Tasso's biography since it is "all too well known." Well, for one thing, he ignores that Tasso was gay, or 'bi' but mainly homo. But the most ridiculous statement is that the poet's misfortunes should be "ascribed, as to their very main cause, to his religious monomania, that was instilled in him from his early years, as a subtle venom, by Jesuit tutors."

This having been said, these poems -- sonnets and canzoni -- obviously follow the Medieval and Renaissance patterns while spicing them with typical Tassean ingredients: already Romantic landscapes, a sense of horror, Natural History (cf. Il Mondo Creato), the end of the world, etc. Very interesting is his witty re-use of classical lore, especially in the canzone Chi di mordaci ingiuriose voci, in which the chaste Diana / Moon is described as a slut by twisting her mythological adventures. Very interesting, too, is Tasso's way of quoting Dante: He usually cites from Paradiso, not from Inferno as it has become commonplace from the 19th century on; and, Dante's words are often inserted in a very different context, making them acquire a very different meaning. Here's an attempt to translate the sonnet Non potea dotta man ritrarci in parte, dealing with the Countess of Scandiano who had just given birth to a daughter.
No expert hand could portray, even in part,
The rays and gold of your eyes and hair,
Nor the great treasure disclosed by two lips,
Nor your roses strewn among the privets; (*)

No metal, or marble, or paper were worthy
Of containing their lights and their merits.
So Nature prepared to shape this beautiful
Work where, trembling, Art had to withdraw;

And out of your blood, of yourself, She made
A living, breathing image, in a little face
Expressing great things, unbelievably charming.

You enjoy, happy, mirroring yourself in her;
And she now recognizes you by your smile; (**)
And in her smile, others can admire her mother.

(*) Common Renaissance metaphor to hint at a woman's breast; more often with lilies than privets.
(**) Quoting Virgil's risu cognoscere matrem.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

High breeds: Spider-Gollum


"I isss the ssson, or, the ssspawn of Gollum and Ssshelob. But I chossse the way of Righteousssnesss. With great powersss come great resssponsssibilitiesss! Yesss, my preciousss! Ssso beware, Sssauron, and all of you villainsss and criminalsss!"

Tancred vs Argantes (7)

[7: 69]

Vinta da l'ira è la ragione e l'arte,
E le forze il furor ministra e cresce;
Sempre che scende il ferro, o fora o parte
O piastra o maglia, e 'n van il colpo non esce.
Sparsa è d'arme la terra, e l'arme sparte
Di sangue, e 'l sangue co 'l sudor si mesce:
Al romor tuono, al fiammeggiare un lampo
Pare ogni spada, e fulminato il campo.

Both Reason and Art are conquered by Wrath,
And Fury provides, then increases strength;
Each time a blade hits, it pierces or splits
Plate or mail, no blow is landed in vain.
The earth is full of weapons; the weapons, full
Of blood, and blood is mixed with sweat;
Each sword's sound is like thunder, they shine
Like lightning -- blasted looks the whole field.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Biblical Star Wars


Based on John Milton's description of the cosmic Christ putting on his armor to fight against Satan. The italicized words come from the Italian theme song for the Japanese TV series UFO Robot Grendizer (locally "Goldrake").

Tolkien, "The Fall of Arthur" 3: 143-157

Dai porti di ponente   si avvicendavano voci
di un Arthur armato   contro il suo proprio regno;
una flotta terrificante   con le Furie per ciurma
era pronta da un pezzo,   solo la violenza improvvisa
di una titanica tempesta   l'aveva trattenuta.
Sul Lord di Logres   e sulla lega dei traditori
che tramavano per il trono   ruminava Lancelot:
ora avrebbero visto   cos'era un valoroso cavaliere
per salvare dal disastro   la sacra corona,
per lucrare l'Occidente   lavato dal mare,
munendo le mura   contro il crollo del mondo!
Ora avrebbero atteso   le straordinarie spade
del clan di Ban,   le loro bandiere brillanti.
Ora Lancelot   come un fuoco fiammeggiante
avrebbe arso il fronte   accanto al suo signore.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Tancred vs Argantes (6)

[7: 62]

Sol de' colpi il rimbombo intorno mosse
L'immobil terra, e risonâro i monti,
Ma l'impeto di gravi, aspre percosse
Nulla piegò de le superbe fronti.
L'uno e l'altro cavallo in guisa urtosse
Che non fûr poi, cadendo, a sorger pronti;
Lâsciar le staffe e i piè fermâro in terra,
Cominciando i guerrer spietata guerra.

The mere rumble of the strokes shook
The motionless earth, the mounts echoed,
But the impetus of such harsh blows
Did not even bend those proud foreheads.
The one horse and the other clashed so
Hard that they fell and could not get up;
Both knights left the stirrups and secured their
Feet on the ground, starting a ruthless battle.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Un(s)even: Rome and Juliet

(by Selkis; a detail)

Renaissance Rome would have seemed science fiction to Dante, who saw the Eternal City in one of its worst states of decadence and abandon: underpopulated, with monuments in ruin, sheep grazing in the fields about the Colosseum, and the Pope residing elsewhere (in Avignon, France, till the late 14th century). The Rome described by Tasso, on the contrary, had regained all of its past glory, or even more -- with a side effect: Since Popes and Cardinals were now the official sponsors of literature and art, Renaissance authors in Italy could no longer attack the Church so overtly as Dante did (see e.g. Paradiso 21: 130-134). But, of course, they knew how to do it without attracting attention.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A tribute to the Holy Shroud

Jesus' Last Dream
design by ilTassista
colors & background by Selkis


The relic is currently -- as it seldom happens -- on display in Turin, Italy. Torquato Tasso went to that city, for the only time in his life, precisely as the Holy Shroud was transferred there in September 1578, but, quite puzzlingly, it was probably a chance.

Un(s)even: Movida!

(by Nivalis; a detail)

By translating and reworking -- in Il Mondo Creato -- an old text that described nightlife in Byzantium, Tasso gives us some hints about entertainment in Renaissance cities, "lap dance" included. In theory, his verses aim at condemning moral decadence, but, as a matter of fact, he renders the subject with great style, thus betraying his deep-rooted involvement in that world. In fact, during the years of his imprisonment, he asked for out-of-cell time in order to partake either in the Catholic Mass or in the Carnival shows, which were among the main public events, as gorgeous as the opening ceremonies of nowadays Olympic Games.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tancred vs Argantes (5)

[7: 61]

Posero in resta e gîr drizzando in alto
I duo guerrier le due gravose antenne;
Né fu di corso mai né fu di salto
Né fu mai tal velocità di penne
Né forza o furia eguale al fero assalto
Quando Argante e Tancredi in giostra venne.
Rupper l'haste negli elmi, e volâr mille
E tronchi e scheggie e lucide faville.

Both warriors laid their heavy lances 
In rest, put them high up, and started;
No such speed was ever seen in a run,
Nor in a jump, nor in a flight, no such
Strength or fury like that fierce attack
When Argantes and Tancred jousted.
Both spears broke against the helmets, away
Flew a thousand splinters and shining sparks.


Notes
Descriptions like this were frequent in Ariosto's poem of chivalry Orlando Furioso, but usually with some irony included (the splinters flying all the way up to the "sphere of fire," etc.). Here Tasso is being serious, with the paradoxical effect that meaningfulness follows parody, not the other way round.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tolkien, "The Fall of Arthur" 3: 124b - 142

                    Pena provò Arthur
nella cella del cuore;   la sua casa gli sembrò
ingrigita nella gioia,   alterata nell'allegria,
per la improvvida perdita   del prode cavaliere.
Non da solo sul suolo   natio oltre la Manica
andò Lancelot:   erano parecchi e potenti
i signori del suo sangue.   Alte sugli alberi
le bandiere di Blamore   e di Bors il forte,
di Lionel, Lavain   e del leale Ector,
beniamino di Ban.   Veleggiarono a Benwick
abbandonando la Britannia.   Mai più in battaglia
in aiuto di Arthur   sguainarono le spade;
ma sui bastioni di Ban,   alti e arroccati,
sedettero di sentinella   scordando la guerra,
assistendo amorevolmente   Lancelot, loro Lord,
nei giorni dell'angoscia,   che era grande.
Aveva tradito il Re   arrendendosi ad Amore,
ma abbandonando l'amore   non riebbe il Re,
e adesso lo separava   dall'amore il mare.



Saturday, May 2, 2015

Un(s)even: The Amazing Bull-Man

(cropped)

In Renaissance Italian the word mostro still echoes the Latin monstrum, i.e. something amazing, something exaggerated, not necessarily a "monster" in our current sense. In the section of Il Mondo Creato devoted to this subject, Tasso starts from a brief remark by Dante, Inferno 31: 49-57, but develops it much more in depth. In fact, in the crystalline worldview of the Late Middle Ages, they tended to water down everything that put rules at risk, while Renaissance authors were interested precisely in exceptions, in the puzzling complexity of the universe, therefore studying even natural phenomena that would shock Medieval eyes and minds, like deformed fetuses, etc.

As to monsters in the strictest sense, including those of classical mythology, Tasso introduces -- or adopts -- an interesting explanation: Hybrids like the Minotaur, or critters with an extra number of limbs like the dragon in the Book of Revelation, were suggested by Nature because of the many freaks "she" gives birth to. Sort of an inverted Euhemerism, as well as a sign that the cosmos was no longer seen as a perfect clockwork. To the extent that Tasso sometimes shows a proclivity for, at least, a half-Gnostic pattern of Nature.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Off Topic: Studenti stranieri e problemi di integrazione


È nato lo SporDillo!, sportello scolastico -- ma anche blog -- per far incontrare insegnanti, alunni immigrati e loro famiglie. Tutte le info e i materiali all'indirizzo https://spordillo.wordpress.com/

Tancred vs Argantes (4)

[7: 60]

Ma poi ch'in ambo il minacciar feroce
Quinci e quindi infiammò l'orgoglio e l'ira,
L'un come l'altro rapido e veloce
Del campo prende, e subito si gira.
Musa, hor mi da' canora ed alta voce,
E furor pari a quel furor m'ispira,
Sì che non sia de l'opra indegno il carme
Ma s'agguagli il mio canto al suon de l'arme.

After in both of them the fierce threatening
Inflamed their pride and their wrath alike,
Each crosses the field as swiftly and quickly
As the other, and immediately turns.
Now, O Muse, give me a strong, high voice,
And inspire in me a fury like that fury,
So that my verses may suit the deeds
And my song match the sound of weapons!


Notes
Already Dante had asked the Muse for disharmonic sounds (see Inferno 32: 1), but it is quite unusual in Christian poetry to invoke fury on oneself, although there is some parallel -- if ironic -- example in Ariosto (see Orlando Furioso 1: 2).