SeeStan ChapLee

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ummah (4)

Following with the description of all the peoples who (fictionally) took part in the First Crusade on the Muslim side. A group of stanzas describes an immeasurable army coming from Egypt.

[GC 17: 23]

E quella insieme aventurosa plebe
A cui i vicini campi il Nilo inonda,
Con l'acque sue stagnando, e nere glebe
Onde verdeggi poi bagna e feconda;
Insin là dove fu l'antica Tebe,
Nel terren che di viti ancora abonda
E d'oppio che richiama il grave sonno
Ne gli egri e stanchi, che dormir non ponno.

And together with them, that lucky people  
Whose fields are inundated by the Nile
Which stagnates with its waters, and irrigates
And fertilizes the soil making it green;
Up to where the ancient Thebes lay, (*)
In that land still rich with its vineyards
And opium, that calls back Sleep to those
Who are infirm or tired, and cannot rest. (**)

(*) The area with Karnak and Luxor.
(**) An autobiographical reference, as well as an example of the Renaissance interest in medicine. Opium poppy, however, is considered to be originating from Middle East and Turkey, not Egypt.