Ma come giunta fu, levando il velo
Dagli occhi sparsi d'amorose stille,
Scaldò ne' vecchi petti il pigro gelo
E dentro vi destò dolci faville.
Tutti dicean: - Maggior bellezze il cielo
Non vide, e dura vita, oimè, sortille.
Quando hebber mai gli antichi imperi e i regni
D'amor sì cari e pretïosi pegni? -
And(*) as soon as she arrived, lifting the veil
From her eyes sprinkled with love's drops, (**)
She warmed up the lazy chill in those old
Hearts, stirring sweet sparks in them.
They all said, "Though heaven had never seen
A greatest beauty, it gave her -- alas -- a hard lot.
When did the ancient empires and kingdoms (***)
Have such dear, precious pledges of love?"
(*) Ma literally means "but," but Tasso often employs it in the sense of the Greek particle dé, that simply connected two sentences with a different subject, cf. "on the other hand, meanwhile," etc.
(**) Not "loving" but causatively, like in Latin: making onlookers fall in love with her.
(***) With a touch of irony, as there had been one, precisely that Helen of Troy who inspired these verses to Tasso.