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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let he who loves me follow me (1)

[6: 109]

Parte la vincitrice; e que' rivali
Quai prigionieri al suo trionfo avanti
Seco n'adduce; e tra speranze e mali
Lascia la turba poi de li altri amanti.
Ma come uscì la notte, e sotto l'ali
Menò il silentio e i levi sogni erranti,
Secretamente, com'Amor gli informa,
Molti seguir d'Armida i passi e l'orma.

She won, and now she leaves, preceded
By all those rivals as prisoners at the head
Of her Triumph(*) -- leaving the throng of
Other lovers between hopes and sorrows.
But when Night came, under her wings
Driving silence and soft, errant dreams,
Secretly, as Love had taught them all,
Many followed Armida's steps and prints.

(*) Recalling the classic Renaissance imagery of the Triumph of Love, especially as described in Francesco Petrarca's Triumphus Cupidinis. In the previous octave, here not reported, Tasso had even parodied Petrarca's famous verse Erano i capei d'oro a l'aura sparsi ("Laura's golden hair was loose in the air," with a pun between l'aura, the breeze, and Laura) saying that Godfrey's words of advice to the knights to be careful while escorting Armida were a l'aura sparse, "scattered in the air." In current Italian there still exist the phrase parole al vento, "words [spoken] to the wind." Armida, before leaving the Christian Camp, had shrewdly suggested to many excluded knights that she could hardly do without them.