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Friday, October 17, 2014

A temporary farewell to arms (7)

[6: 85]

Parte, e porta un desio d'eterna et alma
Gloria ch'a nobil core è sferza e sprone;
A magnanime imprese intenta ha l'alma,
E pensa di trionfi e di corone,
E tra feri nemici o morte o palma
Per la fede acquistar d'aspra tenzone;
Veder le porte Caspie e gli aspri monti
Del Caucaso, e del Nil l'ascose fonti.

He leaves, longing for an eternal and noble(*)
Glory which is the heart's lash and spur.
His soul aims at magnanimous enterprises:
He thinks about triumphs and crowns,
About gaining death or victory for Faith
With hard battles among fierce enemies;
Seeing the Caspian gates, the rugged mounts
Of Caucasus, the hidden springs of the Nile.

(*) Actually alma meant "life-giving," from the Latin verb alere, to feed; see "aliment." But, as a matter of fact, in poetry it finished by meaning any noble connotation of anything. Cf. alma Roma in Dante's Inferno 2: 20, simply translated as "great Rome" by Longfellow. Here, moreover, Tasso makes a pun between alma as an adjective and the noun alma as a poetical form of anima, soul. Incidentally, alma does mean "soul" in Spanish.
Richard is a good example of the so-called "restlessness (and annexed bellicosity) of the Indo-Europeans," though the events will soon take a different turn.