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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

This is a thriller night (1)

[7: 110]

Essa veggendo il ciel d'alcuna stella
Già sparso intorno divenir più nero,
Precipita gli indugi, e 'nsieme appella
Con bassa voce un suo fedel scudiero
Et una cara sua diletta ancella,
E parte scopre lor del suo pensiero:
Scopre la fuga, e la colora, e finge
Ch'altra cagione a dipartir l'astringe.

She,(*) seeing the sky getting darker
And darker with some scattered stars,
Wastes no more time; suddenly calls
A trustworthy squire under her breath,
And a maidservant who is dear to her.
She reveals a part of her thoughts, namely
Her escape, but masking it by pretending
That some other cause forces her to go.

(*) Nicaea. Noticeably, she does not even devote a thought to her father, Sultan Solyman (one of the two most valiant knights in the Muslim army, together with Argantes), who also is in Jerusalem. The 'reason' is plain: In this episode, Nicaea corresponds to Erminia in Gerusalemme Liberata, but Erminia was not the daughter of Solyman (who plays basically the same role in both poems). Tasso obviously didn't feel like rewriting the whole section.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The 7 Days of CryAction 1: 249-326

by ilT + Nivalis70, The Magic Trio


As in Lesbos and Samos
[250] a craftsman creates
and paints endless pots
while retaining his art,
which will keep creating,
so the divine smith’s skills
are wider than one world:
He matches the multiverse.
The philosophers’ Physics
of a bottomless Bohu
with no loft no left no right
[260] out of meeting minutiae
fortuitously flying
(see the puzzled particles
where a sunbeam shines)
makes and wrecks worlds
different in place and shape
by union and disunion:
an Arachne-ish web
to be easily blown away
by Fortune’s phew,
[270] by wandering winds.
But on powerful pillars
the Earth stands, instead,
according to God’s will
and no twister shakes it;
his will only will shake it,
his Will which has recesses
of endless abysses.
Look, blind blockhead, you
who un-limit the world
[280] who put out its fire walls
who view the Void:
Don’t give Chance
a chance to reign!
Fool! You fail to see
the Prime Pattern
in the Maker’s mind,
wider than the work
He gave us to gaze at.
As an artist turns
[290] a rich round gem
into a starry sky,
into these gyrating globes
the Pantokrator put
the infinite Idea
unmatched by Ms. Matter—
who was produced
not picked by Him
(no cheating with causes).
She dresses up for Dios,
[300] proudly pregnant
with scores of shapes,
reflecting showers of rays.
Out of two sources some
derive either exclusively
good or overflowing evil
by splitting sovereignty,
and dream of a dark king
crowned with their cruelness.
No way. This would make
[310] Matter a rebel, or vice
versa slow and shy towards
the One who enamored her.
But she readily receives
and transforms all things
according to his thelema
the best species especially,
and loves them so as not to
lose them before the Big
Crunch, the sun and stars
[320] failing forever.
Matter may freely be this
or that, but not boasting
of eternity nor enjoying
as many millenniums
as her aged Father
aged Lord aged God.

(to be continued on Oct. 4)

Friday, September 25, 2015

The die is cast (8)

[7: 109]

Così ragiona, e stimolata homai
Da le Furie d'Amor, più non aspetta
Ma, raffrenando i suoi dogliosi lai,
L'arme involate di vestir s'affretta.
E farlo puote, e n'havrà tempo assai,
Perch'ivi dianzi si restò soletta
E la notte i suoi furti allhor coprìa,
Ch'ai ladri amica e agli amanti uscìa.

She was thinking so, and now goaded(*)
By Love's Furies, (**) she tarries no longer
But, forcing herself not to moan, (***)
Quickly steals and puts on the armor.
She could have done so at her leisure
Since she was completely alone there
And Night covered up her theft while
Rising, the friend of thieves and lovers. (****)

(*) Stimolata, from Dante, Inferno 3: 65. The original Latin meaning of stimulus was "goad," in fact.
(**) An example of Renaissance original re-use of classical mythology; Furies usually goaded the conscience of murderers.
(***) Dogliosi lai, another echo of Dante's phrasing, see e.g. Purgatorio 9: 13.
(****) A typical Tassean psychologically-connoted landscape, including two contrary aspects in one line.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The die is cast (7)

[7: 107, Nicaea speaks]

Sì, potrò ben, ché mi fara possente
A sostenere il peso Amor tiranno,
Da cui sospinti ancor s'arman sovente
D'ardir timidi cervi, e guerra fanno.
Io, se non guerra a la nemica gente,
Farò con l'arme un ingegnoso inganno:
Finger mi vo' Clorinda, e ricoperta
Sotto l'imagin sua, d'uscir son certa.

"Yes, I can, since Tyrant Love will make
Me strong enough to bear the weight:
Driven by him, even the shy deer
Feel much bolder and undertake battles. (*)
Though not any battle against enemies,
I will manage a trick with her weapons:
I will pretend to be Clorinda and, hidden
Behind her semblance, exit safely." (**)

(*) Not simply commonplace: this natural imagery is thoroughly developed in Tasso's long poem Il Mondo Creato, written in 1592-94 i.e. in the same period as Gerusalemme Conquistata.
(**) Noticeably, a speech strategy from theater scripts, when a character gives advance notice about what he/she is about to do.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The other Vasco, not Rossi




In 1945, when the social and economical situation in Italy was even 'a bit' worse than now, a publishing house called UTET -- still existing, a specialist in high profile works -- published this edition of Camões' Lusiads. The national poem of Portugal, written in the 1560s and devoted to Vasco Da Gama's enterprises, is currently almost unknown in Italy, though it probably had better days in the 19th century. This UTET version, curiously enough, is in prose, while following the text carefully and preserving the stanza numbers.

In spite of a translation that honestly did not turn out gorgeous, the book must be praised for its attempt to widen the cultural horizon of Italians. Other foreign books made it in the first half of the 20th century, especially Moby-Dick, that has become a Classic in this country too, from then on.

The best Italian version of The Lusiads is probably the one by Mercedes La Valle, published by Guanda in 1965.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The 7 Days of CryAction 1: 161-248

by Nivalis70 & Selkis, The Magic Trio


God, peaceful spring
great sea of goodness
never polluted by envy,
Perfection pouring
goodness onto others.
Pregnant with goodness,
He spread it as the sea
and the shining sun does:
it was his will and nature.
[170] His buds or births were
his creatures, conveying
Him somehow, who blazes
from top to bottom.
In all the Maker marked
his sign, within and without,
but good goodness
appears in those who have
sky-ward foreheads
and partly represent God.
[180] Yet no creature’s contemptible:
not one—however far
from the sky’s splendors
is wearily winding
or earthbound or hardly
sticking to a sea stone
or in swamp or valley—
will not show and tell
the art of the Artist who
made zoa from zero.
[190] Think, this was the First
Cause of creation with its
effects, and endless in stock,
never giving greedily
its benefits. Add
God’s unhidden glory.
And as among the stars
in his eternal temple
many voices worship
Him in perpetual praise
[200] re-echoed throughout
the East West North and South,
the mounts of eternity singing
hallelujah in harmony:
here on Earth there cannot
be missing ministers
who worship Him loudly.
What God’s goodness made
is made by God’s glory too,
that fills all and enlightens
[210] both borders and core.
Now the divine decree
of Anarchos-Athanatos
began, binding time
and the theology of time.
As out of a lake lying
motionless without waves
a swift stream spouts,
from God’s gathered Now
(the circle/center of itself)
[220] time took its course
when He made room
and Stillness instilled.
The invisible incomprehensible
beings existed “before” as well
as the seeds of the sensible.
It started. The supreme Father,
always with Son and Spirit
in their worldly works,
concreted the cosmos
[230] the oldest of all creatures:
He made heaven and earth.
But in a skyscraper
as high as a hill, hiding
its head in the clouds,
the foundations do not
mean the whole mass;
one step is not the stairs;
so the Point pointed-at
by Time is not its travel
[240] going then going back.
God shaped outer space first
then the seemingly still
Mother Earth in the middle
a not obscure outcome
of his will and power,
unlike the opaque shadow
of an illuminated log.
He decided, could, did.

(to be continued on Sept. 27)

Friday, September 18, 2015

The heirs of Ulisse Aldrovandi



Here's a wonderful direct descendant of a kind of books that become established in the Renaissance. It provides many data coming from the scientific observation of animals, both anatomy and ethology, while not forgetting the cultural, religious, medical meaning of many species -- of insects and the like, in this case -- in different world areas and eras. Beautiful illustrations unite accuracy and a sense of wonder, even of adventure. Tasso would surely have been fascinated by this book, and taken further cues for his long poem Il Mondo Creato.

P.S. for Italians born in the 1960s or 70s: The general organization of these books recalls the 'legendary' series Guarda e scopri gli animali, now framing pages horizontally.

Susan Barraclough (ed.), Insetti. Piccole creature spaventose [orig.: Bugs], Rusconi Libri - Dix, 2015, pages 192, wholly illustrated but guiltily omitting the artists' names

The die is cast (6)

[7: 106, Nicaea speaks]

Ma, lassa, i' bramo non possibil cosa
E tra folli pensieri in van m'avolgo:
Io mi starò qui timida e dogliosa
Com'una pur del vil femineo volgo.
Ah! non starò: cor mio, confida et osa!
Perch'una volta anch'io l'arme non tolgo?
Perché per breve spatio non potrolle
Sostener, benché sia tenera e molle?

"Alas, I long for something impossible
And get lost in crazy thoughts in vain:
I will remain here, shy and suffering,
Precisely like any cowardly woman . . .
Ha! Won't! My heart, trust and dare!
Why not take up arms, once in a while?
Why shouldn't I be able, for a brief time,
To bear them in spite of my weakness?"

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The die is cast (5)

[7: 103, Nicaea speaks]

Ahi! perché forti a me Natura e 'l Cielo
Altrettanto non fêr le membra e 'l petto,
Onde potessi anch'io la gonna e 'l velo
Cangiar in gran corazza e 'n fino elemetto?
Ché sì non riterrebbe arsura o gelo
Né turbo o pioggia il mio infiammato affetto,
Ch'al sol non fossi et al notturno lampo,
O fra' compagni o sola, armata in campo.

"Ha! Why didn't Nature and Heaven (*)
Make my body and heart so strong too,
So as to let me replace skirt and veil
With a great armor and a fine helmet?
No heat and no chill, no swirl, no rain
Could then hold back my burning love
And prevent me from being in battle
By day or by night, in team or alone."

(*) The identity, or not, between God and Nature was -- already before Spinoza -- a crux in late Medieval and Renaissance philosophy. Some hints can be found in the Divine Comedy, but the phrase "Nature, that is, God" is even more clearly used by Dante's son Jacopo (James). Tasso positively subordinates Nature to God in his long poem Il Mondo Creato (see). . .  in some passages, at least.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The 7 Days of CryAction 1: 97-160



Let Greek the liar forget
about Ouranos and Saturn
and gelded gods
[100] and Titans being tied
in the deep pits of Night;
usurpation, an unjust son
desecrating his own dad;
a whole-geared goddess
popping out of his head
Osiris, howling Anubis,
monsters… murky Egypt
throws truth into lies.
Mayday! May they listen
[110] to Her, the emanation
of the Most Highs mouth
before Big Bang, together
inhabiting Eternity Mounts:
the First-Born in Phos
our ungone-to goal,
this eternal Daughter
with Him without start
far from the turns of time.
Abysses were absent
[120] springs sprung not yet
when She was conceived,
no Pyrenees no Alps
no Ossa Pelion Olympus Atlas
and so on, no rivers
ran towards the seas
from North East South West
when God begot Her.
Together they drew dark
walls around the abysses.
[130] Together they fixed stars
and suspended waters.
Together they determined
and normed the ocean;
even when He founded
the Earth, She was there.
Together they shaped
all, day by day, as joking.
This gave a golden home
of stars, strewn with gold,
[140] to worldly Wisdom too
partly partaking in eternity.
But that home oddly
chances to change
and cooling by changing
it would lose its light
and frail and falling,
it would wobble—therefore
here comes a Comforter
all love light and flame,
[150] undissolving, undaunted
before any death and crash
due to time’s turning—
belying all rubbish of
Ixion and anguished Atlas.
In Him the us-including cosmos
finds rest and foreverness;
and She, with Him before
He made his masterpiece,
was with Him when
[160] He spoke his splendor.

(to be continued on Sept. 20)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

The die is cast (4)

[7: 102]

E tra sé dice sospirando: - O quanto
Felice è la fortissima donzella!
Quanto io l'invidio, e non l'invidio il vanto
E 'l pregio femminil de l'esser bella.
A lei non tarda i passi il lungo manto
Né 'l suo valor rinchiude invida cella,
Ma veste l'arme, e se d'uscirne agogna,
Vassene, e non la tien tema o vergogna.

She sighs and thinks, "Oh, how great
The happiness of the strongest of ladies!
I envy her so much -- and not because
Of the female honor and glory of beauty.
No long cloak ever hinders her steps,
No jealous room jails her valor: She
Takes up arms, and if she wants to leave,
She leaves, undaunted by fear or shame."


Notes
This rebellion against the standard condition of woman distinguishes another character in Tasso's works: Princess Rosmonda in Il Re Torrismondo (King Thorismond), a Shakespearean tragedy set in Scandinavia in the seventh century or so, i.e. basically in the same era and half-heathen society as in Beowulf.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The die is cast (3)

[7: 101]

Vennevi un giorno ch'ella in altra parte
Si ritrovava, e si fermò pensosa,
Pur tra sé rivolgendo i modi e l'arte
De la bramata sua partenza ascosa.
Mentre in vari pensier divide e parte
L'incerto animo suo, che non ha posa,
Sospese di Clorinda in alto mira
L'arme e le sopraveste, e ne sospira.

She came there(*) one day: Clorinda was
Somewhere else. She stopped and thought,
Reflecting on the best ways and devices
To leave secretly as she now longed for.
While different hypotheses divide
Her wavering, never-pausing mind,
She notices, hanging high, Clorinda's
Weapons, armor and surcoat -- and sighs. (**)

(*) Nicaea to Clorinda's quarters.
(**) According to Don Quixote's critical friends, she-warriors only belonged to the fantastic characters who packed the poems of chivalry. Camões, on the contrary, reports that there were some in Muslim armies.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The 7 Days of CryAction

Torquato Tasso
IL MONDO CREATO
(1592)

Songday 1

by Selkis, The Magic Trio




Father! and Fathers
co-eternal non-created Son
the sole Brain-child
Image identical to your
Pattern, Light out of Light!
and You brilliant breath
of Both, twin-light Spirit
sacred lamp and flame
shining river out of its spring
[10] true of true Image
Prime Pattern’s equality
say—and tripled Sun
lighting souls and intellects
holy Gift holy envoy holy knot
linking the three Persons!
Un-solitary God unifying
the then scattered Whole
focus of God’s thought
Love of his own Rta.
[20] Come from Father-Son,
inhabit my heart, the Two’s
grace bring, inspire my senses,
make me sing the master-piece
by You, down from You
going so gorgeously:
this world woven by You
in six days! Teach this,
You who synthesize space
and the rotating maze
[30] of ever-turning time.
Fire-forged by You, I’ll
sing the seventh day too,
sweet rest where You give
not only light and delight
but after brief trouble
safe crowns on high, heavenly
triumph. In the mean time
may this “rest”—in tears and anger—
that makes me old, makes me cry
[40] look like that, to which
well grounded hope calls us
attracting the heart with glory.
Remind me of the reasons
of katabolé, You first cause
of creation already ante
the fast unfastened aeons;
what moved the Unmoved
Mover to a wonderful work
then novel out there, now old,
[50] holding the whole in its womb,
following those first laws,
gleaming with light and gold,
with many shades and shapes
painstakingly painted.
Tell me what work or rest
was in the noble Nous
in that happy eternity;
in what unknown Concept
You smith saw a pattern
[60] for your throne and temple.
You know: speak! Make
your art accessible to me.
LORD, I am the lyre that,
moved by you, melodiously
sounds and sweetens
the hearts of hard Adam(as).
O Spirit, here’s a hoarse
trumpet for your triumph
if You don’t divinize it.
[70] Magnify your marvels thru me,
LORDa great song of grace,
to be heard by the Tiber
and Sebeto Arno the royal Po
Mincius Brembo Rhine Danube
and the noisy Nile;
may the deaf-cos-of-sin
be awakened by the hymn.
Before barà Elohim
no powers produced
[80] warring the world.
Nor did silent, solitary
the Father haunt the dark
but with Son and Spirit
He sat in himself
king of conceived worlds:
thought as a work within.
Needed no military
nor theater to his glory
that shows ’n’ hides Him.
[90] But nobody knows
no man’s mind comprehends
how out of Himself He
laid Logos, and the pattern
of progeny, the puzzling birth
of his Son whom He makes
majestically his peer.

(to be continued on Sept. 13)

Friday, September 4, 2015

The die is cast (2)

[7: 100]

Questo Nicea sol tiene a lei secreto;
E s'avien che talhor si dolga e lagne,
Reca ad altra cagion del cor non lieto
Gli affetti, e più s'infinge ov'ella piagne.
In tale stato, a lei senza divieto
Spesso venìa, lasciando altre compagne,
Né uscio al giunger suo giammai si serra,
Siavi Clorinda o sia in consiglio o 'n guerra.

This only (*) was kept secret by Nicaea to Clorinda; and if she sometimes happens to complain and groan, she ascribes the feelings of her unhappy heart to some other reason, feigning all the more so when she cries. In such a state, Nicaea often came to Clorinda's rooms without any ban, leaving other companions. No doors are closed before her, both when Clorinda is in and when she takes part in a council of war or in a battle.

(*) Love thoughts. In the original manuscript Tasso here wrote "Erminia" instead of "Nicaea," instinctively going back to the character's name in Gerusalemme Liberata.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The die is cast (1)

[7: 99]

Costei soleva in compagnia sovente
De la guerrera far lunga dimora:
Seco la vide il sol da l'occidente,
Seco la vide la novella aurora.
E quando son del dì le fiamme spente,
Un sol letto l'accolse ambe talhora;
E nullo altro pensier che l'amoroso
L'una vergine a l'altra havrebbe ascoso.

She(*) was often in the habit of remaining
With the she-warrior(**) for a long time:
They were seen together by the setting sun,
They were seen together by sunrise.
After the day's flames were extinguished,
Sometimes one bed received them both; (***)
And no thoughts, except those of love,
One virgin would hide to the other.

(*) Nicaea
(**) Clorinda. She hadn't been mentioned for many pages now: Tasso -- as elsewhere -- ask readers to complete the description by recollecting past episodes.
(***) Situations like this already appeared in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, where however the hints at homosexuality were clearer.