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Friday, January 30, 2015

Duel (3)

[7: 28]

Già cedea ciascun altro, e non secreto
Del sommo duce era il voler mirando:
- Vanne a lui (disse). A te l'uscir non vieto,
Gloria d'Italia e del valor normando -.
Ei tutto in vista baldanzoso e lieto,
Per sì alto giudicio Iddio lodando,
A lo scudier chiedea l'elmo e 'l cavallo;
Poi, da molti seguito, uscia del vallo.

All others had already given up, nor hidden
Was the wondrous(*) will of the supreme leader,
Who said, "Go against him! I won't prevent you,
O Glory of Italy and of the Norman valor!"
He, all bold and glad in his countenance,
Praising God for this gratifying judgment,
Asked his squire for his helmet and horse;
Then, followed by many, exited from the wall.

(*) There is nothing especially wondrous about Godfrey's words; the adjective, in Italian, is substantially a filler for the sake of rhyme. These verses are less plain than what meets the eye, anyway. Tancred's jolly boldness prepares, by contrast, the poor figure he is -- unexpectedly -- about to cut. Besides, by exalting him as the "glory of Italy and of the Norman valor," Tasso hints at two of his own political ideas: cultural nationalism, along with the disgust for the weak Italians, who should take the Nordic peoples as an example. We can find something more about this latter view in his long poem Il Mondo Creato.