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Friday, December 18, 2015

The counsel of Nicaea (3)

Nicaea imagines that one day Tancred may walk past the trees on which she carved her love sentences -- and past her very grave.

[8: 8]

Forse averrà, se 'l Ciel benigno ascolta
Gli humani preghi e se di noi gli cale,
Che venga in queste selve ancor talvolta,
Qual prima il vidi, il nostro adorno male:
E i begli occhi volgendo ove sepolta
Giacerà questa spoglia inferma e frale,
Tardo premio conceda a' miei martìri
D'amare lacrimette e di sospiri.

"Maybe, if Heaven benevolently listens
To human prayers and cares about us,
My comely evil (*) will happen to come
To this forest, similarly as I first saw him;
Turning his beautiful eyes towards the place
Where my frail remains will be buried,
He will grant my suffering a late reward
Made of little, bitter tears and sighs."

(*) Tancred. She actually says "our": a refined figure of speech that suggests Nicaea's talking to her own heart, and at the same time -- by avoiding the word "my" -- tries to attenuate her feelings. It is worth noticing, too, her doubts about God's providence; such doubts are an 'interfaith' attitude in Tasso's works (Nicaea being a Muslim, in this case).
But, poor Nicaea, this is just daydream. As a matter of fact, Tancred does not even know about her love; he [SPOILER] will mourn Clorinda's death, instead. And while in Gerusalemme Liberata we find a final, tender rendezvous of Erminia ( = Nicaea) and Tancred, nothing like that will happen here in the Conquistata.

The next post will be online on January 5.