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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Casta Diva (1)

[7: 29]

Et a quel verde pian molto vicino,
Dove Argante l'attende, anco non era,
Quando in leggiadro aspetto e pellegrino
S'offerse a gli occhi suoi l'alta guerrera:
Bianche via più di candido armellino
Le sopraveste havea con pompa altera,
Su l'elmo d'aureo fior quasi corona,
Al fianco di fino or gemmata zona.

He had not yet approached that green
Open space where Argantes waited for him
When, beautiful and graceful, the high
She-warrior offered herself to his eyes:
Much whiter than shining ermine was
Her surcoat, superb in its magnificence;
She had gold flowers crowning her helmet,
And a bejewelled belt in fine gold.


Notes
Tancred is stopped by the sudden appearance of Clorinda, who has been sent by the Emir as a member of the security detail of Argantes. She is described as alta, meaning both tall and noble (a pun here clumsily rendered with "high"). The phrase "offering oneself to somebody's eyes" comes from Dante, Inferno 1: 62. Clorinda's belt is called zona, that usually means "zone, area" in Italian, but here echoes phonetically the Greek zōnē. For the -- one way -- love story between Tancred and Clorinda, see here.