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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Timber! (2)

As it is suggested here, and much more evident in his Il Mondo Creato, Torquato Tasso developed a very early - 16th century! - ecological awareness. In the latter poem, for example, he not only notices that the shapes of coasts vary in the course of time, but also that lions have disappeared from Europe because of man.

In the GC passage we are examining a subtler element is present too. Among the trees being hacked up, yews are mentioned, a tree whose Italian name is "tasso" like the poet's name ("tasso" also means badger, but that's not the case here). Besides, Tasso adds a character called Tranquillo (Tranquil) in the plot, who clearly has autobiographical connotations: a poet who had written love songs, now dealing with war, etc. Quite interestingly, Tasso will 'have himself' killed, as Tranquillo, by an arrow shot by Clorinda, the main heroine. A 'sweet death,' for a man who wrote to a friend that "were it not for my Christian faith, I would already have killed myself."